“Date Yourself”

Written by Bridget Johnson

May 5, 2021

When the Villains are Beautiful

How to Tell the World You’re Desperate in One Easy Caption

Enter warmer weather, and with it all the insecurities that we successfully buried throughout the winter under oversized sweaters and Christmas cheer. Inevitably with the return of sunshine, we see the rise of summer love and sappy posts about new relationships on social media. In contrast, we also see desperate young women using social media to tell the world how Un-Desperate they really are — a stand against the boyfriend posts and a not-so-subtle announcement of availability. You know what I’m talking about: Instagram posts of unread books and cold coffee, their true purpose abandoned as they become unwilling subjects of ameteur photography. 

Captions like “Date yourself”, “The single life is the best life”, and “No boyfriend beats a good book”, are the least cringe-worthy of the bunch, paling in comparison to the typical multi-paragraph diary entry of the poster’s “journey to self-appreciation”.  An emotional version of Victoria’s “Secret”, these announcements are applauded by those who feel the same way while the common sense community laughs it off with a slight cringe and little-to-no attention. Unaddressed and fortified by its co-miserables, the “Date Yourself” army charges forward in a grand display of self-destructive loneliness. 

So what? Who cares? Let them live their embarrassing lives. Who are you to judge? Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Maybe you’re just cynical, and maybe they actually do feel happy and satisfied in themselves. 

I used to tell myself these things, thinking that my visceral reaction to these venus flytraps was uncharitable and condescending. Perhaps it was. But a feeling persisted that there was something fundamentally flawed about the culture surrounding these kinds of posts, and I believe there is. I’ll call it the “Date Yourself” mentality, and it is flawed because it arises when a woman defines her strength only by contrast to a relationship. It also embodies a self-centered idea of romance that permeates society today, manifesting in an actual word used to describe marriage to oneself. “Solagamy”, the logical end of the “date yourself” mentality, takes the self-contradicting ideas of “one” and “uniting two things”, and attempts to …well, to marry them. 

Defining happiness as a contrast to romance is the first step in becoming a truly “desperate” woman.

Happy people don’t have to tell you they’re happy – you see it. Happiness carries itself. A confident woman does not tell you that she’s confident – you see it. She thinks about the things that interest her, she fills her time with things that she enjoys, and she certainly does not waste her time thinking about her current state of singleness — if she happens to be so.  This is not only true for single women though – the same applies to those in relationships, dating or married. We would consider it odd, slightly offensive, and certainly silly for a married woman to share with the world how happy she is that she is no longer single. It seems first offensive the husband, implying that he is a trophy or placeholder to keep the woman from being single. Likewise, “dating yourself” fills your time with potentially good things, not because they are good or because she enjoys them, but because they take the place of a boyfriend. Not exactly true self-love, is it?

Sologamy is the logical end of dating yourself. We “date” to discern marriage – so “dating yourself” must be to discern marriage to yourself. Laughable, isn’t it? But here we are in 2021, and women all over the world are “marrying themselves”. Frequently recited into a mirror, the words of the “vows” hang in the air unreceived. There is no union, no marriage, and yet no happy single life either, because they don’t want to be single. They want to be married. 

If marrying yourself is so laughable to the sensible community (which I firmly believe it is), why do we allow this idea of “dating yourself” to be perpetuated? Why does it not receive the same ridicule? 

It is a seemingly innocent step away from a healthy understanding of a relationship as two complete individuals coming together, but it is not innocent.

It is a poisonous idea that prevents women from being truly happy in their own interests, keeps them focused on what they don’t have, and ultimately perpetuates their apparent loneliness.

So, to all the women out there who are struggling in a nuanced world of dating apps, social media, and the sexual revolution: It can be hard to be alone, but if you truly want to embrace being single, for the sake of your dignity please don’t call it dating! 

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