How to date yourself: 8 things you can do to practice self-love

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By Fournine

Jan 31, 20225 mins

How to date yourself: 8 things you can do to practice self-love

In many ways, the relationship we have with ourselves is no different from our romantic relationships. Both require effort, commitment, understanding, and most of all, love.

The thing is, self-love is quite an easy thing to neglect in our busy lives. After all, many of us wouldn’t even consider it a necessity. We can get by just fine without taking the time to shower ourselves with love and affection, right?

But if getting by is your only aim, then, of course, denying yourself love is not going to be a priority. Unfortunately, though, if you don’t nurture the relationship you have with yourself, you run the risk of harming your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. 

The reality is, your own personal relationship with yourself is the most important one you will forge in your lifetime, and it’s vital you ensure it’s a happy and healthy one. 

So, whether you’re currently single or in a stable relationship, we’re encouraging you to date yourself

Now, this certainly doesn’t have to intrude on your actual love life - if anything, practicing self-love should complement your other relationships. Because when you’re able to accept yourself for all your flaws, quirks, and idiosyncrasies, there’s less of a risk of insecurities, jealousy, and self-sabotage plaguing your romantic relationships.

So, without further ado, here are eight things you can do to practice self-love.

1. Treat yourself to something special

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One of the many ways we show our other halves how much we adore them is by doing something special for them. Now, this could mean whisking them away on a surprise holiday, getting them tickets to a big game, or perhaps buying them dinner at a swanky restaurant in The Shard.

But when was the last time you treated yourself? Remember, your relationship with yourself is as important, if not more, than any of your other relationships. Be generous and loving with yourself. Show yourself how important and worthy you are.

And if you’re in need of any ideas, psychotherapist Sam McCarthy suggests “arranging a bouquet of flowers” or a “specially chosen gift” for ourselves as an “occasional pleasure”. She stresses, though, that while these occasional pleasures are a nice treat, acts that “demonstrate an acceptance and commitment of being true to ourselves are long-lasting and can serve to remind us of our capacity to love and to be loved.”

2. Prioritise your needs

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Know your worth and start making your own needs a priority. Of course, prioritising your needs isn’t a one-size-fits-all - it will look different from person to person depending on your particular lifestyle and circumstances. If you have children, for example, tending to their needs as well as your own is definitely something you’ll have to navigate. 

McCarthy tells Four Nine: “Asking ‘what are my needs?’ takes practice; listening to parts of ourselves that may at times be hard to hear. Attuning to our body, listening to our thoughts with curiosity and kindness can clear channels that once opened, allow us to trust our instincts and value our own position.”

To be clear, making your needs more of a priority certainly doesn’t mean you have to neglect your romantic partner or make them feel unimportant. It’s simply about ensuring that you’re not being left behind - that your need either for alone time, for an evening out with your friends, or perhaps some time off from the housework are being met. It’s something that you’ll definitely have to work around with the people you live with, but it’s entirely doable.

3. Communicate with yourself in more compassionate ways

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Stop talking down to yourself. It’s toxic - even if it’s only in your head. You have immediate access to all of your thoughts, so if you’re constantly judging or scolding yourself, you’ll never get any respite from the negativity. Be your own safe haven. Talk to yourself the same way you would a good friend or a stranger in need. 

It may not be easy to switch from habitually talking down to yourself to instead communicating in a way that’s gentle and understanding. You may even think that you have no control over the thoughts that flow through your mind - but you’re the one who’s thinking them.

So, the next time you notice that you’re beating yourself up about something - perhaps over an interaction with an acquaintance that didn’t go particularly well - try to stop yourself in your tracks. Reason with yourself - is it really as bad as your thoughts are making it out to be. Will you even remember it a decade from now? If not, it probably isn’t all that significant.

4. Learn to be okay with not being okay

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We’re only human and sometimes being human means going through tough and emotionally trying times. Sometimes we become even more upset with ourselves because we’re upset in the first place. We’re so desperate to overcome our depression, our social anxiety, or devastation over a breakup that we forget that feeling not okay in these situations is completely normal. 

It becomes a vicious cycle we don’t know how to get out of. But you can learn how to treat your emotions with acceptance and let them pass naturally.

McCarthy tells us: “Connection and the knowledge that we are not isolated or going to be abandoned is crucial to our wellbeing, but we also need to learn to be okay with not being okay, that is, to accept ourselves, with every colour, shadow or light we embody.

“Giving ourselves permission to experience a full range of emotions affords us opportunities to meet the challenges life poses and develop resilience to bounce back. We humans are pretty good at brushing ourselves off and starting again. We’re pretty practiced at it - we just need to give ourselves the chance.”

5. Log off from social media

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Now, we’re not saying that you should get rid of social media completely - as it is a useful social tool in a lot of ways. But at the very least, refrain from using it religiously, and perhaps try to go without it completely for certain periods. 

Remember, the aim here is to essentially date yourself - and if you were spending time with a partner who seemed more interested in scrolling through Instagram than enjoying their time with you, that wouldn’t exactly bode well for your relationship and its longevity. 

McCarthy says: “Disconnecting from... from our social and digital attachments and really spending time getting to know ourselves a little better, may not immediately yield feelings of love, but this enquiry into self can bring about a relationship with the person we most need to be able to depend upon; ourselves.


There are plenty of things you can do instead of mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. McCarthy suggests establishing a “connection with nature”. Or try walking “through hills, woodland, over rocks and to the sea, take time to engage all senses, mindfully attuning. 
Digging in a garden, or an allotment, accepting the seasons,” she says.

6. Spend time doing something invigorating or meaningful

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Whenever you have free time, try not to waste it either by doing something mundane or something that won’t enrich your life in any way. Of course, having the occasional chilled-out day is completely fine, but every now and then, do something that will stimulate your mind and distract you from the everyday.

For example, you could try to explore your creative side. McCarthy tells Four Nine that activities around reading, writing, art, music, or poetry are a good start. She also suggests watching a “classic film with a friend, preferably a long one with an interval where you can share your thoughts and feelings about what you’ve been experiencing.

Perhaps you could make time for a “drink in a favourite cafe with time to watch the world go by” or learn something “you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to,” McCarthy says.

Ultimately, if you spend more time doing things that are worthwhile and meaningful as opposed to banal and repetitive, you’ll get more enjoyment out of life, and you’ll begin to relish being in your own skin.

7. Treat your body well

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As the old adage goes, your body is a temple. Having a physical form that allows us to get from A to B, to view stunning sights, and experience incredible tastes is something we take for granted. We should be showing our bodies how much we appreciate them by treating them well.

And you don’t have to overcomplicate it. McCarthy suggests simply taking time to “caress your own face as you would a beloved, really feel your skin’s response to your touch,” eating “well and slowly” and taking good care of your feet by wearing warm socks and comfortable shoes.

Truly loving yourself and your body means abstaining from things that might put it in harm’s way. Try to abstain from excessive alcohol and drug use and nourish your body with good food. 

8. Accept yourself for who you are 

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We are all flawed, and, yes, working to better ourselves is incredibly important for our growth. But ultimately, there are certain aspects of our personality that are just intrinsically us.

Maybe we enjoy a very niche genre of music, or perhaps we have an odd sense of humour, or we have an unconventional dress sense - well, those are all things we should be celebrating rather than hiding from the world. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being unique. So, you need to stop comparing yourself to others as it will only leave you feeling inadequate. If you’re scrolling through social media, pining for a life that resembles that of your peers - remember that they’re usually only showing the absolute highlights of their lives. 

You don’t have to dress, act, or socialise in a way that is identical to the people around you. Do what suits you, and you’ll be a lot freer in the long run.

Featured image credit: Andor Bujdoso / Alamy


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