Lonely on Valentine’s Day? Some people dread time on their own, but it can be soothing and uplifting and make you a better person to be around. Life coach, Jennifer Boon brings you 9 steps to dating yourself, before you start dating someone else
When one thinks of date nights, the image that comes to mind is usually couple-related. But what if date nights were something we did as an act of self-love too, regardless of whether we are in a relationship or not?
Often we spend our lives without consciously planning time on our own. What if we turned this on its head and started seeing nights on our own as an act of self love and a way to boost our wellbeing?
Let me explain. All too often we fill our diaries with commitments and events without asking ourselves if we actually want to do them. Sometimes the thought of spending time on our own can fill us with dread.
When I was single, I used to dread it if my plans were cancelled last minute – another looming weekend ahead of me with no one around. But I started to see that it was an amazing chance to be free of other people’s obligations, be free of other agendas and do exactly what I wanted every single moment. What was dreaded soon turned into exquisite opportunities to really nurture and nourish my soul.
Society often frowns on indulgences for one and we can feel bad putting ourselves first. Our inner critic can have a field day saying we are selfish or some other judgment but looking after ourselves and making sure the time we have alone is nurturing, nourishing and thoroughly enjoyable is an act of self love. And it sends a strong message to ourselves that not only are we loveable as we are, but we’re worth spending time with. It also cultivates an inner self-confidence.
Date nights for one are about seizing and making the most of the day, every day for ourselves.
There are some emerging trends that are supporting putting yourself first. John Lewis sleepovers for example, give you the chance to try out sumptuous bedding and experience an amazing night’s sleep is all about making things nice for you because you are worth it. Or the growing number of people choosing to marry themselves, not as an act of amusement, but to seriously commit to the one relationship we will all have as a constant in our lives – the one we have with ourselves. For me, the following steps helped me prioritise time spent with myself.
1. Change your mindset
For me it was a change in mindset, away from the dread of time on my own to the savouring and anticipation of doing things I loved and having no one to answer to, investing in getting to know me and investing in loving me.
2. Set boundaries around you-time
One of the first places to start is by putting boundaries around your time. Get comfortable saying no to commitments that don’t float your boat. All too often we unconsciously say yes to invitations and then feel full of resentment afterwards – this can turn to anger and us seething as we have agreed to do yet another thing we actually don’t want to and have no interest in. Start pausing before you commit to invitations and instead, practice saying ‘Can I let you know?’ Once you’ve made time in your diary, now is the time to work out what you want to do with it. Getting to know yourself at your core can feel daunting though the benefits are huge.
3. Work out YOUR language of love
Not someone else’s. I came across the concept of each and every one of us having different ‘languages of love’ a few years ago. It’s aimed at couples and keeping each other’s love tank full. By knowing your language of love it helps to ensure you always feel loved. But when I was single I started using the theory behind it to ensure my own love tank was full. There are five different languages of love: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion) and physical touch. Mine was ‘physical touch’ so I started booking myself in for regular massages, and quality time. I started putting aside time for me – time for things I loved. You can find out about your language of love online.
Know your values
Sounds an odd one to have but stick with me on this. Our values are unique to each of us and when we know our values and honour them we feel more fulfilled and life feels richer and more colourful. To find out your values start thinking of a time when life felt amazing – a peak experience in your life and ask yourself, what was going on? What made it feel like a peak experience? Often our values were being honoured during our peak experiences. There are lots of specific articles on values online and when you know your values, start bringing them through into your everyday experiences to make your richer life for you.
Create a list of all the nurturing things you want to do
Things that really speak to your soul. Getting a manicure may speak to your soul, but I am meaning more the things that nourish you.
I needed to think hard about my list initially, but when I got started the list just kept growing. Food was a big focus for me- taking the time to make my favourite meal regardless of how long it took. Going for a run, stopping at the swings in the park, having warm petit pain and fresh orange juice for a Sunday morning breakfast were heaven.
Challenge your beliefs
We can often get stuck in what we can and can’t do when we are on our own. Now is the time to start exploring and questioning your beliefs. Who says you can’t eat at your favourite restaurant on your own? Or go to the theatre on your own? I used to think the cinema was not an activity for one, but one day a friend questioned this and challenged me. It opened me up to a delicious world of watching the movies I loved, eating a whole tub of popcorn all to myself and having a lovely glass of wine. There was something incredibly satisfying about not missing the movie I wanted to see but doing the things I wanted when I wanted.
Don’t stop at lights out
Date nights in for one at home can be turned into an indulgent nourishing experience by giving yourself permission to enjoy special treats things. Sumptuous bedding, nice candle lit bubble bath, favourite movies, time to really allow yourself enjoyment.
Create a calendar of joy
Creating a list of things you love doing then filling your calendar with them starts putting you in control of creating the experience you want in life and makes the time you have alone something to savour.
Take mental photographs
And with your new found time, remember to take some mental photographs. Positive psychology research shows that savouring the time we spend, looking forward to it then luxuriating in it by taking mental photographs to remind us of the experience all helps us feel happier- it gives our wellbeing a boost.
Date nights for one can to some seem frivolous and a passing fad. But to those who embrace time to themselves as something nurturing and nourishing for the soul, find that a whole new world of enjoyment, joy and self reliance opens up. Suddenly they aren’t willing to be treated in a particular way by a friend, or are unwilling to sit around and mope and not enjoy and luxuriate in the free time they have.
Life is full of different phases and perhaps at some point partners, children, commitments come along and we look back and wish we had made the most of the time we had when we had it. Date nights for one are about seizing and making the most of the day, every day for ourselves.
Jennifer Boon is an accredited life coach and author. It is Jennifer’s mission to be a catalyst for change in people’s lives, supporting you to make the most of life right now and cutting through the inner chatter to create a life you dared not to imagine.
Jennifer’s first book Survive and Thrive: Dating and Being Single draws on Jennifer’s experience as a coach and her personal experiences and challenges she faced in finding love to help others in their quest to find love, love themselves fully and make the most of life along the way.
The book is the first of a series of Survive and Thrive books focusing on supporting women through challenging life phases. The series focuses on arming women with the tools to manage the challenges they are facing as well as to savour life right now. To find out more go to: booncoaching.com