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10 Ways to Date Yourself in the Name of Self-Love

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
A woman  smiling with a cup of tea while sitting alone at a table
It's a cliché that you need to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, but there is some truth to it. One way to practice self-love is to date yourself. If you treat yourself the way you'd like a partner to treat you, then you won't settle for anything less.

Using dating apps to find a romantic partner or for meaningless flings can be fun, but practicing self-love by dating yourself has countless benefits. You'll gain more confidence and get to know yourself better. You'll also become more magnetic, as other people will pick up on how happy and nourished you're feeling.

But how exactly do you date yourself? Here are some concrete things you can do to enjoy some of the benefits of romance without anyone else.

1. Pamper Yourself

We all feel good when we're taking care of our bodies, whether that's by taking a long bath, getting a manicure, or simply using a nicely scented lotion. The goal shouldn't be to look good for anyone else but to relax and make yourself feel nurtured and cared for.

2. Buy Yourself Gifts

You don't need to be in a relationship to receive flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or whatever else you imagine receiving from a partner. Take matters into your own hands and get yourself a birthday present. On Valentine's Day (or any day), order yourself flowers or another romantic gift. As a bonus, include a little love note to yourself in the package.

3. Take Yourself Out to Dinner

Eating alone at a restaurant can feel awkward at first, but it can be super liberating once you get over that initial discomfort. If you feel the need to do something, read a book, watch a video on your phone, or call a friend you've been meaning to catch up with. Even better, immerse yourself in the culinary experience and enjoy the food. Studies show that eating without distraction improves your sense of well-being and combats low self-esteem, especially around body image.

4. Journal to Get to Know Yourself

Pretend you're on a first date with yourself and ask yourself questions you'd like to know about a potential partner. You may be surprised by what you discover about your own likes, dislikes, interests, and personality.

One technique is to write down questions like, "What is important to me in life?" and "How would I spend my time if I could do whatever I wanted?" Then, write answers as quickly as you can without thinking.

5. Indulge Your Inner Child

Something a lot of people enjoy about dating is that it gives you an excuse to indulge your inner child. Couples go out for ice cream, play games, build pillow forts, go to amusement parks, and engage in other childlike activities. But you don't need anyone else to give you permission to do these things. So, plan an activity you really enjoyed as a kid and have been wanting to do.

If you live in a big city or one of the best dating cities, there should be no shortage of exciting things to do around you. You can also stay home and bake cookies or do arts and crafts. Activities like these help us stay young and carefree.

6. Get to Know Your Body

If you have any guilt about masturbation, you can put that to rest right now. Pleasuring yourself not only has physical health benefits but also helps you get to know your body so that you can teach a partner how to please you.

Whether you're planning on sleeping with someone on a first date or waiting until your wedding night, sexual self-knowledge is the foundation for great partnered sex. So, release any shame you have and plan a night dedicated to self-pleasure.

7. Cook Yourself Nice Meals

One simple way to show love for yourself is to cook nice, delicious, nutritious meals for yourself. You can look up recipes online and schedule a night every week to make yourself a special treat.

You can also invite friends over to share in the fun. Dating yourself doesn't mean you can't enjoy experiences with other people!

8. Dance Without Anyone Watching

You don't need a partner to dance. In fact, there's something freeing about dancing by yourself. Make a playlist of your favorite songs, and when the mood strikes you, put one on and jump around in your room. You can also head to a dance class or club if you'd like to dance in other people's presence.

9. Get Outside

Another great solo date idea is to get out in nature, whether that's hiking, the beach, or outdoor activity like horseback riding or swimming. Being outdoors helps us feel calmer and more centered. With the new outlook nature can provide, you may look at your life from a different perspective.

10. Use Affirmations

You don't need a partner to remind you how beautiful, fun, and amazing you are. When you're single (and even when you're in a relationship), you can provide this for yourself by reciting affirmations in front of the mirror, such as "I am lovable," "I am a magnet for love," and "I deserve only the best."

Transitioning From Dating Yourself to Dating Someone Else

If you've intentionally taken time away from dating to improve your relationship with yourself, knowing when to start dating again can be tricky. One way to get a sense of your readiness is to make a list of what you want in a relationship and what you absolutely won't tolerate. If you feel like you know exactly what to put on this list, chances are you're in a good place to date. If, on the other hand, you're feeling unsure, spend some more time dating yourself until you've figured out who you are and what you're looking for.

Once you're ready to make the transition from dating yourself to dating other people, you don't need to jump into a relationship. Instead, download an app like Zoosk or Elite Singles with the intention of engaging in casual dating before you commit to anything serious.

Make a promise to yourself to stay true to yourself and honor your list of preferences and deal-breakers. If someone doesn't meet your criteria, remind yourself that someone who does will come along soon. In the meantime, you still have your own company.

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
Suzannah Weiss is a writer, certified sex educator, and sex/love coach.