Being Your Own Primary Partner

I am my own primary partner. I do things for myself that are just to show me how much I love myself. I go on dates with me. I go on long bike rides, I row boats, I bake cookies, I wear clothes that make me feel good, I am learning to play ukulele, I snuggle with my rabbits, I read books in sunbeams, I make zines and stencils, I take long showers, I sleep alone on nights when I want to, and with others on nights when I want to.

I do not do anything solely because I feel obligated to do it.

I treat myself the way I want to treat others.

I treat myself with caring, patience, and with a conscious desire to be kind and respectful.

My life is one giant self-care ritual.

It’s wonderful.

It was not always this way. I am a super-ambitious person, who (thanks to a weird/rough/don’t we all have them home life) grew up as a caretaker. So in my mind, ambition and caretaking were side by side. Extreme self-sacrifice was an honorable thing, and it made me successful.

If you are evaluating your own self-worth by how you care for others, or even how others care for you, that is codependent behavior.

And what is codependency? A lot of bad stressful stuff. And according to some, a behavioral addiction.

(Take a look at Codependents Anonymous’ list of Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence for symptoms of codependent behavior.)

It’s bad stuff. seriously.

Being your own primary partner does not mean that you do not care about others, it does not mean that you are selfish, and it does not mean that you are incapable of relationships outside of yourself.

Being your own primary partner means that you make your own happiness and your own needs a priority over others’. It means you are independent, and emotionally self-supporting.

Why is this important?

This is important because if you take care of you, you will be in a good place when it’s time to be there for someone else.

Basically, if you don’t take care of yourself you will be incapable of supporting or caring for another in a healthy way.

Remember when your mom used to tell you that “you can’t expect anyone to love you until you love yourself”?

Being your own primary partner is kind of like that, but less fucked up.

It’s about falling in love with yourself, and committing to that relationship. It’s about self-awareness, self-care, and taking action to feel healthy self-worth.

If you are wondering how to date yourself, try this exercise.

Think about the best date you have ever been on, or a time with a friend that ruled so much you glow just thinking about it.

For example: this one time my friend Anne and I went on a bike ride and found this old construction site and climbed all over old cranes and strange piles of building material ’til the sun went down. It was magic.

Now make that happen again. Try to replicate the things about that event that felt awesome. What made you feel good? Do that.

(Sound familiar?)

This past week I was pretty stressed out, and feeling weird and restless and not so awesome. So I took that memory of that bike ride with Anne, and replicated it by going on a hike with my friend Katie. We went to a park in Virginia that I love a lot, and it felt so good to hang out with her and be outside.

And because I spent that time taking care of myself, and going on a date with myself (Katie was there too), I felt centered enough to spend time with my family, and the week was a lot better.

This stuff works.

Try it.

My friend Dana had something to say about dating yourself that I wanted to share with you all.

“I think it can also be refreshing to take oneself on entirely new dates, inspired by our dreams and fantasies. Alongside the potential joy of replicating a past encounter, I like to try something new: give myself a massage, cook myself a decadent meal, climb a mountain and holler at the top, bring a journal along to be my social companion.”

Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

One comment

  1. I’m also on the difficult path from care-taker to self-care-taker so I appreciate your insight and encouragement. Even as I read this, my mind jumped to taking care of Katie- wondering how did she feel being the non-primary dating partner. I became curious if you told her, if it ‘consensual’ or if she knew or sensed something.

    It’s an interesting concept though, If I were taking me on a date, where would we go and what would we do? The sentiment and one of your comments could become a Golden Rule for self-care: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.


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