Help me date myself
October 14, 2013 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I went through a pretty wretched breakup of a long-term relationship earlier this year and am still dealing with the ill effects. I'm not interested in dating anyone, or rather don't think I should date anyone, for a while. But I'm getting really into the idea of dating myself. Please help me come up with ideas to do that!

I'm in grad school and my relationship with myself of late has been kind of like the boring part of mundane relationships: watching TV, staying at home, junk food, perfunctory sex (well, masturbation). I'm interested in being more... sensual. Into myself. Enjoying being in my skin. The dual reasons are a) wanting to be more comfortable and have more pleasure in the body I'll be in for a hopefully long time and b) wanting to bring more sensual pleasure and excitement to any future relationships or lovers.

This week, I've switched from wham-bam masturbation to the same porn as always to trying new stimulation, new styles of porn/erotica, and trying to treat masturbation more like sex with myself. Tonight I took a long, sensual shower like I would with a lover. I do semi-regularly go to the movies by myself, but don't do many other date-like things. I'd like ideas for what can help me nurture a positive, excited, sensual relationship with myself, that hopefully won't cost too much. What can I try to feel more engaged with my body, excited to be by myself, and to enjoy life kind of the way you do when you're in the early stages of a new relationship? I know I've focused on sexual things here, but really anything that would help me feel more connected to myself and engaged with my body are welcome.

I'm in my mid-20s, female, living in San Francisco. I'm poor on money and time, eat pretty healthily most of the time but don't work out. I'm very liberal, kinky, just starting to explore the idea of a kink community, so any sex-positive workshops or events you recommend, I'd probably be down.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, this is great. I often ask co-dependent people what would it would be like if all the qualities your partner brought to the table, you brought to the table for yourself. Feeling taken care of and loved, especially. Dating yourself, I love it. I'm not a sex expert but finding hobbies, even in that area, is great, like something you really love. That's all I got. :)
posted by phaedon at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

If my partner is out of town, I date myself. What this means to me is:

* Dress up pretty. Put on those killer heels even if they are killer.
* Dinner, either out or something luxurious at home, usually something my (vegetarian) partner doesn't eat.
* Movie or a nice walk by the beach or through the city.
* Shopping, not necessarily with the intention of buying anything, but to try on fun things.
* Long bath, with fancy soap, and a glass of bubbly.

San Francisco is pretty liberal, so they have a pretty big kink scene. There are lots of resources online. (I do not live in San Francisco.) They might have some fun sensual dance classes, or yoga groups, but if you're actually looking at playing with people, I don't think you'd be dating *yourself* anymore.
posted by ethidda at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you eat meals in front of the TV or computer, take a break from that and allow yourself to focus on the meal instead. Play music or listen to a podcast but don't stare at a screen.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:10 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The big thing for me is to make more different parts of my life into pleasant events. So that means that if there was a thing I'd fancy up if I were with another person, I try to fancy it up anyhow. Suggestions

- Make a real dinner with courses and (if you drink it) wine and set the table up nice and have some chill relaxing time eating. Light candles. Put on music.
- Dress up when you go out places (if you like dressing up). Even when you're just out on errands, put on earrings, makeup (if you do that) decent shoes and socks and clothes that look good on you (in my usual life I dress one step up from a hobo, so maybe people don't need this advice)
- Make your place smell awesome. One of the sensual things I think people leave out is good scents. This doesn't have to mean everything smells like vanilla or whatever, but think about scents you like and try to use things with those in them.
- Real People Interactions - not just for you but for other people. One way I think to get positive attention back on you is to spread that attention out to other people who could use it or would like it. Be nice to other people. Say hi to people out in the world. Don't begrudge people some minor chitchat (in appropriate circumstances). Lots of random strangers aren't a substitution for closer relationships but real life strangers/acquaintances and interactions are good for you to keep your social muscles flexed.

I'm a middle aged lady in a long distance relationship, so I spend a lot more time alone than coupled. The best "date myself" thing that I do is to try to set up future-me to have an awesome time. This means doing things in advance that I would normally dragass on (leaving snacks in the freezer right before I go on a long trip, cleaning up after fancy meals the night before so I wake up to a clean kitchen, getting myself flowers when I'm out at the store or in a meadow someplace). Things that you can appreciate in the future and think "Hey thanks for making the effort, past-me" Everyone is different in what would make stuff special for them btu I can use this to sometimes make me make the effort when I might not otherwise.
posted by jessamyn at 5:18 PM on October 14, 2013 [26 favorites]

Given that your stated goal is to become more sensual:

Personally, I find that pushing your body to its limits on a semi-regular basis helps you to get to know it better. Something physically intense, like yoga, martial arts, climbing, interval training... things that force concentration on the task at hand. It's meditative, in a way, and the endorphins released have similar (but not the same) emotional effects to oxytocin.

Follow that up with something less intense and more sensual, like a scented bubble bath and relaxing music, followed by wrapping up in something soft and indulging in some sort of decadent food. Again, focus on the experience at hand.

The point is to be in the moment and let yourself be aware of the way your body reacts to these stimuli. Sight is specifically avoided in these examples because it's already overstimulated in most people, which tends to drown out the other senses. When pushing yourself, don't listen to music or podcasts. Listen to your body. When relaxing, don't watch TV or movies. Don't think, feel.
posted by chaosys at 5:25 PM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yoga is always great for reconnecting with your body, as is massage. There are a few massage schools in San Francisco where you can go to their "student clinics" and get discounted massages; I've had good experiences at The World School in the Richmond, but I think there are one or two schools closer to downtown, too.

Reading actual books rather than spending time on the computer or in front of the tv also feels sexier to me, for some reason. Candlelit dinners at home with good music and a good book are a wonderful indulgence.

San Fransisco is also a great place for picking a neighborhood, wandering around while window shopping, and then picking a new place that looks good for dinner or lunch or tea. I know you said you're short on time, but that may be something to think about if you do have an afternoon or evening free. There's something about getting new sensory input that always "resets" my senses, and wandering aimlessly is generally a good way of learning what sorts of things you enjoy when you're not worried about entertaining a partner.
posted by jaguar at 5:56 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Take yourself to the kabuki spa! It's a very sensual date. Kind of a Japanese style nude spa. Jump between steam rooms, cold and hot baths. It's delicious. The Banya Russian Bathhouse is also nice, but less luxurious. More being lashed with reeds, though.

Have you heard of One Taste? I'm not personally involved, but it's an orgasmic meditation movement focused on female sensuality.

Other than that, my favorite SF me-dates are fancy films, tea at Samovar, and staring at the water from the Ferry Building.
posted by namesarehard at 5:56 PM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

Seconding cooking for yourself. Not only is it rewarding because of the eating part, but cooking the food builds it up. Even though I wasn't good at cooking when I was single, it still changed meals by myself from compulsory consumption into a bit of an adventure.

Wandering fields and buildings is also a great way to enjoy being alone and exercising your senses. Activities like exploring the silos where the state keeps the road salt or following railroad tracks into the woods are a surprisingly good time. But be safe when doing this, of course.
posted by ignignokt at 6:26 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You know how when you meet someone you try to find out about their life and interests and experiences? You could do the same thing for you. Interview yourself! Have conversations with younger you. Write your experiences in an autobiography or journal.
And you know how someone new often gets you trying new things? Introduce yourself to stuff you wouldn't usually be into. Then decide if you like it or not and tell yourself why. Once I spent a whole day just taking pictures of art that I liked, and then thought about what I liked about each.
Good luck on your dates!
posted by SyraCarol at 6:39 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Explore via your favorite modes of transportation - walk, bike, drive, take public transportation. I realized recently that I was taking my guy to places I'd first explored on my own. This can be parks, museums, tourist destinations, or quirky neighborhoods - anywhere you'd want to recommend for a date, go with yourself.
posted by ldthomps at 7:51 PM on October 14, 2013

One thing that works for me in a really unexpected way is writing little notes to myself at night to find in the morning. Quotes or little positive words or whatnot. It's like I wake up and am like " who did this?" For a second. I have a teeny dry erase board for this.

Also, laying out my clothes and packing my lunch. Just little things to help myself for the next day. Like someone who cared for me might do.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 PM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

Shower toiletries that smell good!!
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 9:07 PM on October 14, 2013

Oh and candles!
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 9:08 PM on October 14, 2013

Self picnic! Pack some snacks, a blanket, some pillows and a good book.

Also, I go to the bar by myself a lot when my bf is away on business. Usually I order two glasses and a small plate and have friendly talk with the bartender and catch up on my book.

And yeah, I do a lot of reading while I'm alone but hey, I enjoy it and that's all that matters!
posted by p1nkdaisy at 12:15 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

San Francisco is home of the creator and founding troupe of American Tribal Style Bellydance (ATS). You live in the best place in the world to learn that dance form. If you want to get in touch with your body and sensuality and you can scrape together the cash for classes, really great way to do it. You wouldn't get me out of San Francisco without taking at least one class from that studio.

Also, buy some really nice fancy underwear, just one pair at a time.

Also, might be worth it to save up for a luxury vibrator as a splurge. Was worth it for me. :-)
posted by griselda at 12:28 AM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Bodycentric stuff. Things that will put you more in touch with your body. The belly dancing is a great idea!
Hula hooping
Dancing alone in your living room
Meditation, both the kind you do quietly in a space of your own and the kind you do on long solo walks through scenic places.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 12:33 AM on October 15, 2013

My suggestions are all based upon my many MANY years of singledom. The following are the changes that I made to my life when I was single that marked a huge improvement in my life, my happiness, etc.

I do semi-regularly go to the movies by myself, but don't do many other date-like things.

Redefine what a date is. Dates, for me, are rarely things like movies. Movies are pretty passive and non-social. I've never really understood why going to the movies makes for a good date for anyone. You don't get to interact or really DO anything with the other person. So my first step, if I were you, would be to redefine what "date-like things" actually is. Think out and about, active things. I don't remember any of the movie dates I have been on. The most memorable, best dates I have been on have been ones where my date and I did things that had us experiencing something together and interacting. So take up a new, active, social hobby. Rock climbing, art class, cooking class (which would go along with my first suggestion), book club, etc.

I'd like ideas for what can help me nurture a positive, excited, sensual relationship with myself, that hopefully won't cost too much. What can I try to feel more engaged with my body, excited to be by myself, and to enjoy life kind of the way you do when you're in the early stages of a new relationship?

Start working out. I kid you not, that alone is the #1 thing that has helped me to feel more engaged with my body, be happy with my body, and feel "alive" if you know what I mean. Working out regularly has made me so much more aware of my body, how it moves, how it feels, etc. and in a lot of ways it gave me the excitement of the early stages of a new relationship because it WAS a new relationship. It was a new relationship with myself. I discovered strengths and abilities within myself that shocked and surprised me, in the best way. Working out also aided me in my sensuality. As I became more fit and more body-aware, I became more confident and attuned to the sensations in my body.

my relationship with myself of late has been kind of like the boring part of mundane relationships: watching TV, staying at home, junk food, perfunctory sex (well, masturbation).

Don't eat junk. If you want to do something self indulgent and special for yourself, go get a massage or a hair cut or take a long relaxing candlelit bath. Move away from junk food as much as possible. Make proper, delicious, require-work meals. Have food be nourisment and work in a complementary fashion to your new exercise routines. Take pride in your body and be good to it by giving it good healthy food. Junk food will pretty much only make you feel junky and bloaty and icky. So make proper meals for yourself. Not only will you be eating better more nutritious food, you'll also be improving your cooking skills which is something that will benefit you in the long run. Believe me. Get a slow cooker if you don't know were to start.

I know I've focused on sexual things here, but really anything that would help me feel more connected to myself and engaged with my body are welcome.

Ditch your cable. TV, in my opinion, is toxic, especially for single people. When I was single I spent way WAY too much time in front of the tv, and I (embarassingly) would sometimes pass up social invitations because it would have made me miss my show(s). Spending hours sitting in front of a screen is in dead opposition to what you're looking to do here. I think TV puts people in the direction of being LESS connected to their bodies and themselves. Nothing good comes of TV. Ditch the cable. Save the money.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:27 AM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree working out is great. Just walking the neighborhoods of San Francisco can be a great workout and a real treat.

Take Muni to a neighborhood you're unfamiliar with and start walking. Pet dogs, talk to cats, smile at people. Up the hill, down the hill, up another hill. It's all good for you. You may find a funky new shop or a hole in the wall eatery or who knows?

Study in new places. If it's reading, take it to a park. Or the main library. While at the library walk around and drink in all the bookiness of it! Look at how gorgeous the building is! Check out some books.

Take a tour of older post offices. Costs nothing. The Rincon Annex used to be a post office and now look at it!

When you get cash hit the museums, monuments etc. Go to Alcatraz and check it out if you haven't already, it's pretty cool. Know the city.

Hit the farmer's markets and spend a bit more for a home grown, local, organic something. Take it home and really enjoy it.

I think a lot of this is mindfulness. Appreciate where you are, your youthful vigor and being in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Enjoying the small details of life will allow you to appreciate all of your senses.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good wine, just for you, just because. Learn about wine if that is the kind of thing you're inclined toward.
posted by gohabsgo at 7:12 AM on October 15, 2013

Hit the farmer's markets and spend a bit more for a home grown, local, organic something. Take it home and really enjoy it.

Really want to second this suggestion. One of my dead favourite things when I was single was my weekly, saturday morning market run. There is an amazing farmer's market with all kinds of amazing things in my city and it is only every saturday morning. I actively made a point of going alone and just taking my sweet time wandering through. I would save 20$ from my grocery budget each week and spent it there. Sometimes I got some incredible local vegetables. Sometimes I got some really REALLY good cheese and cured meat. Sometimes I got a cream puff from the german baker and some samosas. Sometimes I bought a bag of tiny donughts, some kettle corn, and a huge sack of spinach. I often came home with a fresh flower bouquet for my table. Whatever looked awesome that day is what I bought. Every saturday I had an incredible meal to look forward to. And bonus is that I got to eat it all myself! no sharing and no having to consider "Oh, my partner doesn't like brie so I won't get that...". I bought what *I* thought looked awesome and what *I* wanted to eat.

I still occasionally go to the market with my husband (no where near as often since we live out of town) but it is a much more "what do WE want" instead of just what I want.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:43 AM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another fun thing.

Have a special pamper evening. Perhaps Saturday nights, or Sunday to put you in the right frame of mind for the work week.

Have a lovely soak in the tub, with special bubbles, or my favorite Vaseline Intensive Care-Blue. It's about $1 a box and it's divine. Light a candle, play some relaxing music. Read a magazine, or use a salt scrub whatever you enjoy.

Rub on a special cream, that you only use on 'bath night'.

Then give yourself a pedicure and manicure. Even if you don't polish your nails, just paying special attention to your hands and feet is delicious.

Deep condition your hair. Do a face mask. Arch your brows.

Back in the day, I'd do all this and then tuck myself into bed to watch the X-files. YMMV.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:41 AM on October 15, 2013

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