I’m Single This Christmas – So I’m Dating Myself

Being single at Christmas can be rough. All the movies are telling us that we should be meeting attractive people at German markets before finding the gift of true love under the Christmas tree. There is something about this time of year that calls for romance. The long, cold nights make us wish we had someone to snuggle up with. 
It's not like I have been ignoring the dating scene. I have been religiously swiping through the holy trinity of dating apps: Tinder, Hinge and Bumble. Back in November I messaged some women, asking if they might want to visit a Christmas market with me, only to be ghosted. I was starting to dread going through the season alone.
About midway through November I started pulling my Christmas decorations out in an attempt to make my flat feel cosier and more festive. There was one decoration I had no idea what to do with. It was a nicely made, wooden advent calendar box. Me and my ex-girlfriend got it years ago. We would fill the little boxes with cute messages or promises of activities such as back rubs or going to the cinema. I wasn’t sure what to do with it now. Last year I ignored it in favour of a cheap, store-bought calendar. I considered filling it with little chocolates for myself but then I would know what was behind each door so the element of surprise wouldn’t be there. 
In the days leading up to December I lamented my empty wooden calendar and my empty, wooden love life. Then I had an idea. One of the things I missed most about dating was actually going on cute dates. What if I took myself out? I could write out 24 date ideas, mix them all up and put them in my calendar. Twenty-four days of dating myself this Christmas. 
I fell in love with the idea and got straight to work. I found a pink piece of scrap paper and cut it into 24 squares before getting out my pen. I thought about how this would work. It would be nice to have some more adventurous dates like going on a day trip or painting pottery but I couldn’t do those every day since I didn’t have time. I decided to spread a few dates like that among a lot of cosy little dates such as visiting the market, making mulled wine, doing some crafts or watching a Christmas movie. 
I decided not to be strict with myself if I missed some days. As with any self-love thing I attempt to do, I think it is counterintuitive to beat myself up if I don’t manage it. I would keep in mind the date ideas and try to do them when I could. I also let myself save up some ideas. For instance, if I was too busy one day to go on a museum trip, then I could go at the weekend instead. 
So how did it work out? I haven’t kept every single date but I have done a few and really enjoyed them. Every time I pull out a note it makes me smile as the gesture of self-love is there. 
A couple of dates particularly stood out to me. 
Last week I was struggling with my mental health. I was quite stressed and anxious and could feel it building up in my body. One morning I was feeling particularly grey since I had work to do at home while it was nice and sunny outside. After breakfast I was procrastinating getting started so I pulled out my date idea from the calendar. The date was to go to my local beach at Penarth, near Cardiff where I live, and go fossil hunting. Penarth is on a Jurassic coastline and there are a lot of fossils around but I hadn’t had a chance to explore since moving to the area only a few months ago. I looked at the sunshine and decided to go for it. 
Walking around the pebbly beach was cold but beautiful. Concentrating on searching for potential fossils distracted me from my worries and brought me back to the moment. It helped to lift the weight off my shoulders. I’m usually a bit afraid of going out in winter and getting ill but I really enjoyed venturing outside to bathe in the sunshine and the natural world. It made me realise I should do it more. This simple date cost nearly nothing (just the bus fare to the beach) but it meant a lot to me. 
Another date that stood out was simply having hot chocolate and reading a book. I made the hot chocolate properly by melting half a bar of dark (vegan) chocolate in a pot of rice milk. Even this act of slowing down to prepare a treat for myself made me feel warm inside. I really enjoyed sitting with my drink and reading a cosy book. I used to read a lot, especially for my degree, but have found myself falling out of the habit. I often feel like reading is a chore, something I have to do, which means I avoid it. Letting myself read as an act of love made me really appreciate and enjoy it. 
Now Christmas is upon us and my advent calendar is nearly empty. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2022 was to practise more self-love so to end the year with this calendar has been perfect. I think it is so important to be good to ourselves and do nice things just for the sake of it. I am going to try and keep this attitude going in 2023 – who knows, maybe dating myself for Christmas will become a tradition. This doesn’t mean I will be deleting the dating apps off my phone just yet but it does mean I will continue to show myself love, whether I have a partner or not. 
I hope you also gift yourself some self-love this Christmas.

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