5 reasons for taking myself out on a date

betty ming liu Inspiration 20 Comments

I’ll make you a bet right now. If you examine the lives of people you consider to be truly happy, my hunch is you’ll find that they spend quality time alone. Welcome to the notion of dating yourself!

Taking yourself out on a date was a concept I discovered years ago through that classic bestseller on creativity, “The Artist’s Way.”

Julia Cameron has written other self-help books since then, but none of them, in my humble opinion, have the impact of this first work. Her suggestion that we date ourselves once a week immediately blew me away because it’s all about taking care of myself.

To this day, my ability to practice the self-date remains a barometer of my emotional health. Can I make space for me? Or am I too stressed out by daily living? When I honor myself with a date, the sense of contentment and serenity somehow infuses the rest my life. Everything flows more naturally.

The feeling came back to me on Saturday night when I took myself to a Latin jazz concert. Until then, it had been a long, long stretch since I’d taken myself out — too busy, blah blah. So this blog post is a personal reminder to get back on track.  :)

Dating myself instantly makes life less complicated. On Saturday night, I went to hear Paquito D’Rivera perform with the Westchester Jazz Orchestra at the Tarrytown Music Hall. The legendary jazz saxaphonist and author of “My Sax Life” was in top form and playing with a wonderful group of musicians. The whole evening was fabulous — and easy. I ordered the $43 ticket online. The charming little theater was 15 minutes from my house. Street parking was plentiful. What’s not to love?

Dating myself gets me outta the house. It’s really easy for me to get sucked into an endless to-do list. The chores and bills never go away. That’s why it was critical for me to step outside of the box of my routine. The fresh perspective of being in a a new setting has done wonders for clearing my head. It has also brought new music into the rooms of my home. A win-win.

Dating myself takes the pressure off of dating. Life would be pretty depressing if I was constantly waiting around for other people. Even organizing friends for a get-together can be complicated because we all have such crazy schedules. Plus there’s another issue: What if no one is interested in doing what I want to do? Self-deprivation is no fun!

Dating myself builds confidence.In a world where the social model is to pair off with a significant other, the idea of showing up for life alone can be a bit frightening. And, lonely. In fact, I almost bailed on this adventure. As the clock ticked towards 8 p.m. on Saturday evening, my passive-aggressive machinery kicked in. Procrastinating meant that I slid into my seat just minutes before the performance began. Turns out there was nothing to be scared of. But the only way to know that is to show up for my own life, right?

Dating myself teaches me to nurture myself. I’m one of those people who was raised to take care of others, sacrifice for others, blah blah. This means that if we’re eating a meal family style, you can bet that I will give you the best pieces of chicken on the platter and take a bony scrap for myself. So it was a useful exercise for me to splurge on a ticket that was two rows from the stage instead of some cheap seat in the bleachers. What a treat to be able to view the action up close!

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I started dating myself during some of the best days of my marriage. Looking back, I’m sure it helped me to both stay married longer — and to get out when the relationship was clearly over. That’s probably been the greatest challenge of this entire self-dating exercise. The practice of staying in the moment is going to take us places.

But am I willing to go there, no matter what? Hmmm, I say, yes. Go for it. xo.

Comments 20

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    You’re welcome, June. The thing about taking yourself out on a date is that it has to be a real date. That means you can’t count fun work events and fun regular stuff in your life — that’s the component that’s so challenging for me. Here’s to new frontiers!

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  2. A great reminder, Betty. Even if we’ve done so in the past, we could all stand to re-establish a few personal dates! Especially those of us who are new empty-nesters!

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      Asianmommy, absolutely! And don’t know about you, but I’ve had bad habits to break on this issue. There’s something really wrong when giving mommies feel guilty about giving time to themselves.

  4. I’m a fan of Julia Cameron & The Artist’s Way too. Looking at the (recommended) solo weekly outings as “artist’s dates” as she suggests takes some of the social pressure off for me. It makes them seem more like “fun homework” for my artist self and of course, all of my other personas benefit as well!

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      Rose, did you ever read the Julia Cameron memoir? It came out a few years ago and the book left me feeling like she’s turned into a horror show. All sorts of drug and relationship issues. But that has nothing to do with her power in “Artist’s Way.” Speaking of various personas, maybe her problems stemmed from struggling to manage her multiple roles. Not easy. Anyways, H-A-P-P-Y should be the operative word for us. :)

  5. Yes Betty, I did read “Floor Sample”, as well as many of her other books & also ‘have taken a couple classes f/her in Manhattan. It is quite interesting getting varied glimpses into other people’s lives, especially ones we have come to admire for one reason or another. We all have our own brand of crazy & it can be disheartening and/or empowering to find it in each other.

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    I think that for the next few weeks, I will come back to this post and report in about my latest self-date. The practice of this? To remind me to do it. I recently spoke to a physical therapist who said that it usually takes about a month of a patient doing prescribed exercises before it becomes part of their routine. So here goes…

    So I had my date this past week on Sunday afternoon. Took myself to a house concert at my neighbors’ house down the street. Fantastic! Trina Hamlin played harmonica while simultaneously rocking either a guitar or keyboard — by wearing the harmonica on a rack that goes around her neck. Hands-free blues-y harmonica while her hands were busy with the other instrument. Here’s an earlier link about these concerts and the joys of living in Hastings. :) https://bettymingliu.com/2013/02/in-praise-of-the-suburbs-or-why-im-never-moving-back-to-nyc/ I wonder what I’ll come up with to amuse myself this week…

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    Rose! I just went to the curioushudson.com website. Had no idea that this place existed. Looks really interesting. Do you think they would want me to teach? I’d be happy to help out. Thanks for looping me into the local scene. :)

    Meanwhile, here is my self-date for this week: I spent an hour sunbathing on my deck while listening to Pandora.com. It’s been at least two years since I’ve laid out on my deck and I don’t think I ever did it with my Pandora radio blasting!

    Here’s where it got interesting….that one hour turned into 90 minutes. And tonight, my normally quite house is filled with music. Can’t remember that last time I’ve been mellow in this way.
    Pandora.com is on right now and I’m listening to all the music I love: Usher; Ne-Yo; Earth, Wind & Fire; Al Green; Lauren Hill; Erykah Badu; Michael Jackson; Isley Brothers. Sigh….so nice.

    If you don’t know how it works, all you do is go to Pandora and type in key words. You can type in the name of an artist, a song title or music genre and the website will deliver more songs to you in that vein in an instant radio playlist. So I typed in “Champagne Life,” a reference to the Rick Ross hit.

    There are other websites besides Pandora. If any of you have others to recommend, please do!

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    Okay, now for my next self-date, which took place last week: A one-hour deep tissue massage! For Christmas 2011, my daughter gave me a gift card for this treat at a nearby spa. Didn’t have a chance to use it until now. It was lovely.

    Need to think of something good for this week’s date. Still have a few days left….

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    Great date with myself yesterday morning….and didn’t even initially realize it was a date because it was totally spontaneous! Was driving by Bloomingdale’s in White Plains while grocery shopping and impulsively went into Bloomie’s for a new swimsuit. I’ve been thinking of getting something nice because even though I just ordered a new plain Jane black speedo one-piece for the pool ($25), haven’t bought anything pretty in….SEVEN YEARS.

    The store was having a double points day (earn 5k points and get $25 in cash) so I opened a credit card that gave me 20% off anything I buy this weekend. Well, $458.54 later, I walked out with a new two-piece ($137), a beach cover-up ($98), an easy long summer dress ($138) with a built-in bra plus two great sale items: A new, lounge-y red sweat shirty thing ($195 marked down to $78) and a nice blue T-shirt (originally $54 marked down to $22.03).

    This was a good date because I lavished money on myself, just threw it around without counting pennies. Don’t you love it when you date someone and they do that for you? Hasn’t happened too much for me so here was my chance to set things right and get some retail therapy in the process. But now I also know why I never shop in Bloomingdale’s…it’s just too dangerous, haha!

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