My mom got me these three books when I was 11 or 12 called Bad Girls’ Guide to … whatever. Beneath the sparkly waterproof covers (it’s a life guide; it needs to be durable) lay all kinds of self-affirming advice and general give-no-f-cks-ery. Pearls of sarcastic and off-colored wisdom (No ziplock bags? Store your snack food in unlubricated condoms! No sticky notes? Use a pad!) that were oddly informative for my future self. OK, maybe not the snack storage example, but still.
There’s one lesson in particular that I come back to time and time again. It’s utterly profound in its hilarity, a bonafide philosophy in its silliness, and now I would like to share it with you. The Bad Girls’ Guides advise you, the intended and assumedly bad girl reader, to date yourself.
Of course, this advice can apply just as aptly to men and gender-queer individuals as well — there is no gender specificity in taking time to really appreciate yourself rather than focusing all that energy on someone else. In fact, I think it’s important for everyone, whether you’re interested in romantic pairings or not, to really lavish yourself in love from time to time. It’s not indulgent or selfish. It’s just a necessary balance to the dauntingness of everything else.
Plus, on a personal note, I’m an overall worse person when I date people. My mom says I lose my sense of self; my roommates say I obsess. I’m less happy, less creative, edgier, less tolerant — all my favorite characteristics about myself have historically gone out the window. This used to make me think swinging or open relationships would be better, since in theory I wouldn’t be quite so hyperfocused on one person. But when I tried it, I felt like I was going to burst into tears and/or vomit at any given time. In other words, it was just a much more dysfunctional version of the same thing.
I’ve been dating myself now for a little more than two months, in response to a general sense of boredom with the process of romance. Flirting, eyelash batting, banter, texting, obsessing, dating, kissing, sex. The only thing I found erotic for about a month was the feeling of snuggling up in my bed by myself. This was a new feeling for me — I’ve always spent a lot of time yearning. I had obsessive crushes and fantasized incessantly. But for whatever reason, I currently find the idea of someone else’s skin repulsive, flirting tedious, and romance uninteresting. And in my relatively asexual period, I feel more benevolent than ever.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed people as much as I have since I became Facebook official with myself. I’m an unrelenting introvert — not as in I’m shy but in the physiological definition of the term. Social interactions ramp up my autonomic responses or, in other words, make me jittery and sweaty. I’ve overridden my instinct to avoid people out of necessity but my perpetual pit stains know who I really am.
I think now perhaps I take the near-death quantity of adrenaline brought on by talking to people as more thrilling than scary. I, an unabashed homebody, went out four nights in a row last week and loved every minute of it. I made two new friends in one of my anonymous lecture classes mid-semester, well after I normally would have deemed any kind of social interaction in that context utterly impossible. I don’t know who this new person is, who I’ve become, but I really like her and want to take her out more, get to know her better.
I’m obsessively in love, just not with a person exactly. With the future, with right now, with myself. Everyone’s attractive. Everyone’s friendly and supportive. Everyone’s interesting. I feel like I’m dating my entire capstone class, and I’m getting all my kicks from writing, socializing and creating. This is the first time in my collegiate experience, hell, since my junior year of high school, that I’m so creatively satisfied that romance seems superfluous. This may be the best relationship I’ve ever had. This might be the one.
Rica Maestas is a senior majoring in cognitive science and narrative studies. Her column, “Cuffing Season,” runs on Wednesdays.