So long Cagey Guy. So long Blurred-Boundaries Guy. So long Weird New-Agey Guy Who Makes Me Laugh Inadvertenly..I'll miss you most of all
December 9, 2011 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I've decided to take a hiatus from dating. What are some things I can do in the meantime to improve my foundation before getting involved with anyone again?

I've never been very successful with relationships, and was an incredibly-late bloomer. However, for the last few years I've been trying to change this and have dated a lot. This was to get experience mostly, with the chance of meeting someone awesome being more of a secondary goal. It's mostly been a lot of fun, with a healthy dollop of shitty experiences.

Well, I had a one-too-many shitty experience recently and it's made me violently allergic to going on another date at this point. I just don't want to take the risk of getting hurt right now, even if it means taking myself out of the game. This is largely because I find myself unable to be in denial any longer about how my low self-esteem gets me into situations where I let people get away with not treating me as awesomely as they should, and I can no longer tolerate this.

So, my question is, what are some great, self-nurturing things I can do during this hiatus to make me more content with myself and my life? This is a pretty open questions, so answer as you like.

-I'm an early 30s female
-Casual sex is still on the table. The shittiness usually arises when I try dating someone on more substantial terms.

Here's what I've got going on so for:

Improved Fitness-getting there
Career advancement--working on it
Finally writing that book of short stories--working on it
posted by oceanview to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Love yourself. Therapy helps, so does working out, so does feeling accomplished, but really just taking the time to say, "I am wonderful and I deserve the best" every single morning and every night makes such a difference. The goal isn't to develop an ego or anything -- just to know yourself and be good to that person you are. I am not often good to myself. I spend so much time berating myself for stupid things and I rarely celebrate the things that do go well. I see myself from a deficit perspective, and I know that shines through when I date. I have wasted years of my life affirming that there is something wrong with me -- and there isn't! I've got my issues, I'm working on them, and that makes me just like everyone else. So now I take time to say, "Yay, me." and rejoice in the fact that I am human and life is one long learning opportunity and I genuinely, truly, honestly believe that someday, the right person will find me as I am looking for them. Affirm your worth and your wonderfulness to yourself always.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

take a class in something. This always helps me.
posted by sweetkid at 6:53 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Friends are good - I've learned a lot from my friendships about myself. And feeling loved and supported while loving and supporting others helps you love yourself.
posted by bunderful at 7:03 PM on December 9, 2011

I personally have benefited from doing things on my own. It's great to hang out with friends, but I've found it really empowering, in a way, to just go out on a weekend day trip in my area and explore just by my self.

I've also started trying to eat better. I now do a big sunday cooking for the entire week, so that I have healthier lunches at work- instead of just going out to get something quick.

I'm focusing on new experiences, invitations I might say no to- I now make a point to accept- co-worker's bbq, yes, office camp out, yes

A friend and I are starting an artistic project together- it's different to work together in this way - I find it's a learning experience on many levels.
posted by abirdinthehand at 7:07 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

New clothes. The best, most beautiful clothes you can afford. And what's up with your hair? How do you feel about it? Can you do anything that will make you like it more?

Also talking to strangers just 'cause you want to, or think you might like/ought to learn how to do so. Since you're not dating, or even looking to date for the moment, you really can chit-chat without pressure. So that'll keep you from getting rusty in terms of meeting new people.

Trust me, if you get good at talking to strangers, you'll get better at dating in the long run, too.
posted by devymetal at 7:14 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe you should take casual sex off the table until you feel good about yourself again. If you're down and vulnerable, why risk getting involved in slimy situations with predatory losers who don't give a damn about you and aren't going do a thing to help you on your path toward self-esteem?

I'm not saying all casual relationships are like that--but for someone who feels shitty and is profoundly worried about getting hurt, I can't see how the "dick-for-dick's-sake" approach could possibly be worth it.

Investing in a high-quality vibrator would probably make you happier in the long run.
posted by aquafortis at 7:16 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

I agree with aquafortis. Casual sex will be a reminder that you "need a man", are incomplete without one, bla bla bla... it defeats the purpose of dating hiatus.

Find hobbies. Take fun classes, like arts, cooking, philosophy of ancient peoples, or whatever would put a smile on your face. Volunteer. Finding activities that make you happy, which you can do on your own, is a great way to build self-esteem :)

Good luck!
posted by Neekee at 7:25 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Consider hormonal issues as part of your journey. I've read that relationships buzz a woman's oxytocin producers ("the cuddle hormone"). There are other ways to get your oxytocin, though. They tend to be a lot of the feel good stuff listed here, but if you are scientifically-minded, you might want to research a little about raising your oxytocin hormones yourself.
posted by letahl at 7:39 PM on December 9, 2011

Train for and finish a marathon! I was an out of shape asthmatic that never ran a mile before I made the decision to do this. I trained with AIDS marathon. You raise funds for them and they provide you with amazing and effective marathon training. You get put into a group of people that run the same speed as you (and there is a group for EVERYONE no matter what shape you're in). You spend a lot of time in an incredibly positive environment, you will be in the best shape you've ever been in and psychologically you will get a HUGE boost. There's magic in finishing a marathon, akin to climbing a mountain. It made me feel so confident and ready to take on anything. I loved tying it into raising funds for the Aids Project. It is hard to give up when you know that you're supporting a great cause.
posted by dottiechang at 10:34 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pick a physical activity you've always enjoyed and go for it. Really go for it. For instance, I always loved cycling, but had never had a bike of my own – my parents only let me borrow their old beaters, which weighed a ton and had derailleur problems to where not all of the speeds worked very well. So, I got myself a nice bike thanks to the help of great guys in a cycle shop, nice shoes (holy cleats of iron, Batman, do good shoes make a huge difference), and, omg. Who needs a lukewarm relationship when you can hop on your bike and go wheeeeee! Pick a sport that makes you feel happy and do that!

Same with creative ventures, you're doing well with the short stories :) Also put more of yourself into friendships you trust. After the latest debacle-of-a-relationship, I realized, "wtf was I thinking? Here I was sharing cute things every day with this fake jerk (he lied in a big, big way, then didn't even bother to apologize) when I could do the same thing with people I've known for years, thanks to the wonders of social media... why was I holding back before??" Being more involved has very much helped my own self-esteem, paradoxically.

Plan a travel outing somewhere, if you can afford it. I've gained a lot of confidence by hopping to places nearby on the cheap and exploring what I can. You learn more about the world and yourself, and it gives you great conversation fodder, which also helps in the self-esteem department!

Owning your own place does wonders for self-esteem as well. I've had my apartment for almost four years now. At first I was scared out of my wits that I was going to face flooding, electrical fires, collapsed walls... so far there's only been flooding. :D On the other hand, I've learned to take care of so many things, and also, being able to do whatever you want with a place is huge. You get to return to a cozy home every day that you know is yours, and done to your tastes. It also helped a great deal with the last dorkbutt, who I was able to kick out of MY apartment. Sitting on my couch, telling him to take his things and get out, shutting the door behind him and throwing the deadbolt... priceless. (It's going to take a lot of time and a fantastic man to convince me to sell my place and move in together, heh.)
posted by fraula at 2:12 AM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

I agree that it might be a good idea to stay away from casual sex for a while, because typically the vetting process for casual sex partners tends to be faster and looser than that for guys you're dating, meaning that the probability that you'll end up banging a jerk goes way up. Telling yourself that because it's "just casual sex," you won't have any emotional response to it, seems not to work for my friends - the constant exposure to guys who just want sex and are kind of douchebags means that it's harder and harder for them to believe that there's anyone else out there. And providing yourself with lots of exposure to jerks is the opposite of self-nurturing.

Do things on your own. Reach out to friends. Make new friends. Pick up hobbies. Travel. Do things you've wanted to do but haven't gotten around to doing. But most importantly, be kind to yourself. You're human. You're fallible. Make your list of goals if you're a list-y kind of person, but remember that life sort of happens and sometimes lists don't get completed and that's okay. Try to take things day by day and do things that make you happy in the moment.
posted by posadnitsa at 5:59 AM on December 10, 2011

take a really great solo vacation somewhere--like, china or something.

also, i don't know where you live, but maybe you have an outdoor/adventure group like this to join. even if not, there are often biking or marathon-training groups for beginners that might be fun.
posted by elizeh at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2011

Learn to organize a social event. Is there some kind of activity you like doing in a group? (For me, this was playing board games; for you, could be anything from watching football to knitting to going to see bluegrass shows).

Find some activity you'd like to have in your life, that you don't have a group for yet, and make one yourself.

When you're the one who's organizing the activity, you'll be busy enough trying to keep everyone else happy/entertained/engaged that you won't have time to worry about yourself. I learned a whole ton about human interaction, and about myself, through trying to get various groups together. Plus hey, having people around to do Fun Activity with is fun!
posted by nat at 10:09 PM on December 11, 2011

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