February. The month of love. Unless you are single and then February, especially mid-month, becomes the period in which you become very aware of your singledom. There are the married folk too, this includes me, who will also not celebrate due to their spouses’ unawareness of its existence. (Just keeping it real people, keeping it real.) No worries, though, because I bring good news for all of us! For everyone; married, divorced, attached, looking, or not, I found your perfect date! I can guarantee this person will be your most valuable relationship and the one whom you should court for the rest of your life. That’s right, It’s you!
The self-love movement has picked up in the past several years, however, people still need frequent reminders why and how to love themselves. Self-love is one of the foundations for everything in our lives--our relationships with others, our careers, our health, everything. I can’t think of a better way to strengthen that foundation than to date yourself. Think about it this way. You live with you, communicate with you, grow old with you, and spend all your time with you, so why wouldn’t you date you? Don’t answer that [rhetorical question]. Vow to make February the month of self-love with some dating advice from yours truly. Like any relationship, the relationship with yourself requires attention. Work and effort. Thought. Time. Care.
1) Make a list of things YOU enjoy doing, no matter how small. Do at least one of them every day.
I’ve developed a passion for weight-lifting so for me, my daily self love activity is the hour and a half that I spend at the gym picking up heavy things and putting them down again. Some days, I can’t make it to the gym so I choose a different activity. I might take a 15 minute walk around my neighborhood, soak in the tub, or watch an episode of the Property Brothers on HGTV after my kids are in bed. Making yourself a priority is part of this whole process. You will have to decide to dedicate time for yourself every day.
2) Do something you would normally do with a friend or a date… by YOURSELF.
To this day, whenever the movie The Devil Wears Prada comes up in conversation, I’m quick to mention the circumstances in which I first saw it. Alone. Nobody went with me. There’s something so liberating about doing a common group task solo. I enjoyed the movie of course, but also eating my own bag of popcorn in Meryl Streep’s office. It’s important for your self-esteem, self-empowerment, and self-pleasure, all very important subsections of self love, to realize that you can do enjoyable things without company.
3) Get out of YOUR comfort zone.
There’s a reason that many relationships blossom and strengthen after going through difficult trials or trying times. This is because you lean on each other and grow from the experience. I don’t wish upon you to go through a tragedy, solo or even at all, but you can acheive a similar effect and still have personal growth by getting outside of your comfort zone.
Perfect example. I mentioned my love of lifting weights earlier. This past August, my husband convinced me to prep for and compete in a bikini competition in early December. Me, the school teacher, mom of two who’s been insecure about her stretch marks and varicose veins had to strut her body in the tiniest, most sparkly swimsuit known to mankind. Not only that, but the entire 16 weeks that I prepared for that moment on stage was grueling and completely foreign to me. I entered a new realm of bodybuilding that included a diet without “cheat meals” and “no rest days” from the gym and I only had myself to rely on, celebrate, or blame. The entire experience was the scariest, best confidence boosting, period of personal growth for me to date.
4) Laugh with and even at YOURSELF.
Being able to laugh at yourself displays resiliency and mental toughness. We can grieve about our imperfections or laugh at them. Reflect. Think about past decisions and events and how they’d go differently if you knew what you knew now. That in itself usually gives me a good laugh. I’ve done some pretty silly things in my past. What was I thinking? It’s also fun to look at old photos, videos, or even my yearbook. There’s nothing like laughing at your outfits and hairstyles from high school.
5) Spend more time getting to know YOU.
I believe this is the most important part of your dating relationship. On a date with someone else this would happen over dinner as you ask each other about your pasts, your hopes and dreams, and what you like to do in your spare time (Who has spare time really?). With myself, this takes place in the form of journaling. Think about those hope and dreams, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and what you like about yourself now. Write down who you want to be. Process the relationships you have with family, friends, maybe even co-workers or acquaintances.You’ll open up and be vulnerable with yourself which is always a little unsettling. You know you best, but sometimes we don’t dedicate enough time or energy to process who we are.
It seems so simple, but in practice gets neglected the most. Dedicate the 28 days of February to dating yourself. See how it feels. You will most likely feel uncomfortable at times, but it will feel magical at others, just as it would in a relationship with someone else. “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”
Since Carrie Bradshaw uttered those most wonderful words, they must be true.
Mandy Nicole Lynch is the woman behind the brand Mandy Nicole Fitness, which aims to motivate and educate others about fitness, food, and balanced lives through social media outlets like Instagram and YouTube. She also works one-on-one with clients looking to improve in these areas of their lives. When she is not working with Mandy Nicole Fitness, she trains for bodybuilding competitions, teaches high school geometry and recreational dance classes, and spends time with her bodybuilding husband Ryan and their two children.
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