Give Your Soul What it Needs and Date Yourself

Ariel Swift

Opening the door to a restaurant to intentionally have dinner with myself was an intimidating moment after I got divorced. I felt exposed. I felt so sad.

I used to have a person. Can they tell I don't have a person anymore?

Choosing to sit at a bar, restaurant, and movie alone were life-changing experiences. There was no help. No safety net. It was me and life, with no buffer or distraction from my thoughts.

Sitting through a meal with myself was eye-opening. I didn't like it or myself very much. I didn't know myself. I was starting to understand what my inner voice sounded like, but She was SUPER far away. And I had feelings, but I didn't have the language yet to understand.

When I was sitting alone I felt lost and broken. Dating people made it worse. Drinking made it worse. Overworking postponed the pain. Almost everything made it worse. Until I found the thing that helped.

One morning I woke up, fed the cats, and looked at myself in the mirror. I stood there and looked at my face. And my skin. And my eyes. I looked myself in the eyes for the first time in a very long time, and I promised to take care of Her, that voice that was so far away and I couldn't hear yet. That I would give her time, and I would be patient.

I started to wonder: What were the things I was embarrassed for liking? Where did I want to go? What did I want to do? What did I want to learn?

I learned how to budget. I bought a home. I filled it with things that were joyful. I traveled. I started projects. I wrote. I made new friends. I experienced more pain and more heartache.

Through it all I kept going to dinner alone. I kept space open for that voice to come and visit, and I'd sit with her, and write, and eventually started to hear her all the time.

I remarried. I had children and I kept dating myself.

I recently came across this from my notebook from that time, writing questions and compliments. It seems a little childish now, but damn if I didn't feel like a lost child at the time.

"How are you, Love? What have you been exploring? Do you need anything? Lately, I really love how you've been handling your shit and speaking up even when it is hard."

At this point in my life with a seven-year- old and a one-year-old when I'm out on dates with myself, I appreciate the freedom. The not worrying about what is happening at home. Allowing for trust to grow, between me and husband, me and my insecurities, my children and their father, and me and my gut. But also at this point, a date is also completely possible with my cup of coffee, my yoga mat, and time. She is always happy when I visit. I always feel better afterward.

Getting connected with my intuition is one of the biggest benefits of self-dating. You want a drink? Get one. You want a dessert? Do it. Talk to the person, don't talk to the person. Don't have energy or time for those people? Then don't give them your energy or time.

By dating myself, I have gotten better at setting boundaries, fostering meaningful friendships, becoming more vulnerable and open with my husband. I am a better mother. I am by far still a work in progress, and thankfully so.

I date myself to grow, to rest, and to check in.

I am going to spend the rest of my life with me. And because of that, I'm working very hard to like who that is and how we live out our days.