March 13, 2023

Date Yourself

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What does it mean to #dateyourselfinstead? Ofosu and Leah talk about their experiences of taking themselves out on solo dates and why they're important, even if you're in a relationship. They also discuss tips to help you prioritize dating yourself, push against your comfort zone, and nurture your independence.

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▶️ You can watch the latest episode on YouTube here:

🎧 What's in this episode:

  • (02:43) - Leah's experience going on artist dates
  • (03:23) - Ofosu's experience eating solo at a restaurant
  • (05:55) - How to push against your comfort zone
  • (06:34) - Learning how to be truly autonomous
  • (07:20) - The difference between spending time by yourself and dating yourself
  • (07:39) - Going on N.I.C.E dates
  • (08:23) - How Leah prepares for a solo date
  • (09:40) - Nurturing the independent part of you
  • (10:22) - Taking micro-dates with intention
  • (12:07) - Feeling awkward when you're out by yourself
  • (14:21) - Do you really know yourself?
  • (14:39) - How to prioritize dating yourself
  • (17:11) - Overcoming mom guilt
  • (19:12) - Dressing up for yourself

🧘 About Balance: Well Balanced is co-hosted by Ofosu and Leah, Balance’s Co-Heads of Meditation. Balance is a highly personalized meditation and sleep app that's been named Google's App of the Year and Apple's App of the Day. Completely free for the entire first year, Balance is helping 5 million+ people around the world improve their stress, sleep, focus, and mood. Unlock your free year of Balance today by downloading it from the App Store or Play Store:


Ofosu: Have you ever taken yourself out on a date? 

Leah: Yes. 

Ofosu: Okay, well that's, uh, a big part of what we're gonna talk about today cause there's a huge trend on TikTok, the hashtag date yourself instead, which has 96 million views on it. And, uh, yeah. So it's up for people right now. 

Leah: Yeah. Well, I, I think that's an interesting topic to know, like what does it mean to date yourself cause I'm sure there's lots of wild ideas about that.

Why should we do. Why is it important and why is it weird or difficult to do? You know? Why does it seem like a strange notion?

Ofosu: What's up y'all? I'm Ofosu Jones Quartey. 

Leah: And I'm Leah Santa Cruz. 

Ofosu: And we're the meditation coaches on the Balance app. 

Leah: And this is our weekly show, Well-Balanced, where we explore ways that you can live a healthier and happier life. 

Ofosu: And before we dive into taking ourselves out on a date, uh, we've got a little podcast announcement.

We want to hear from you about what you like about the show, what you're not a fan of, and what you want more of. So we've got a link to a very quick survey that you can share your thoughts in the episode description. 

Leah: Really, we love making this show because of you. And so after you're listening today, check out this link because we would love to hear from you.

Ofosu: Yes, yes, yes. All right. And now let's dive into what it means to take yourself out on a date. Leah, you said that you've taken yourself out on a date before. So can you, can you tell me about either like the best one or the most recent one, or, yeah, whichever. 

Leah: Think of several and, um, you know, I got inspired to do this by reading The Artist's Way, the book, um, this was a very foreign idea to me about 10 years ago.

So I started reading this book about how to live a more creative life, and one of the assignments was to take yourself on an artist's date once a week. And I thought, well, that's interesting. I never really thought about doing that. You know, every time I'd gone to a restaurant it's always been with someone else, and practically most places that I go, I would go with someone else.

Um, otherwise I'm, I kind of find being a homebody or just go into the gym or yoga class, which I don't really consider a date cause it's more of like exercise. But yeah, I have recently been exploring like what, which just sort of suits an idea of fun for me. Um, what sounds interesting and different and maybe even a little challenging.

So I started doing pottery at a local pottery place, and that was sort of an artist's date that I was doing for quite a while, and recently going to art galleries or walking through just really cool design stores and just getting, getting inspired has been really, really fun. What about you? Have you done, have you been doing this?

Ofosu: Yeah. I mean, I really like being in nature when I'm, uh, taking myself out on a date and I took myself on a two hour hike around, uh, a lake that we have out here. There's also restaurants. When I used to live in Bethesda, Maryland, I used to love going on a by myself date at Chef Tony's. And then just sitting there and eating great food and, and thinking, you know, and just like giving my brain space to breathe and not having to you know, perform for anybody else or to be forced to consider the, uh, the thoughts and feelings of others. You know, I'm just really just eating what I want, you know, it's like down to your menu choices, everything. You know, you're not, you're just doing what would make you feel good in that moment.

And there's, there's a, there's a real sense of like, when I, even just going back to think about those times gives me a boost of like a jolt of goodness, you know?

Leah: I like that you mentioned going to that restaurant with Tony's chef, um, because I think that's what separates taking yourself on a date versus just the traditional, like, I'm gonna go down to a taco truck for lunch.

You know? Which might be something very normal that you do, but I think what is interesting about, okay, I'm taking myself on a date, it's like intentional, right? And it is probably something that you wouldn't typically, well, this is how I think about it. I wouldn't typically do this on my own or it feels like something special.

Something interesting, right? Like taking yourself to a fancy restaurant where there's chefs and you're eating gourmet food might be something that you would do on a date with somebody. So if you're gonna go there by yourself and sit on your phone on social media the whole time. It's, it's kind of, would you do that on a date?

Would you be on your phone the whole time? No. So treat yourself to the ability to enjoy your food and to reflect and not like you have to talk to yourself like a, like a weird person. 

Ofosu: I mean, if that's your thing, that's all good. You could! 

Leah: You could bring a pen and paper. And you have like some good reflections or just strike up a conversation with people or the server and, and just feel like you're treating yourself. The first time I took myself to like a fancier restaurant by myself, I actually felt really awkward at first. I was like, I wonder if people were looking at me like I'm weird because it was so weird to me to, to do that cause I was the only person I saw in the restaurant that was there by myself.

And I was like, I wonder if they think that I got stood up on a date or something, you know, like, uh, there was a little bit of self-consciousness that made it hard for me to relax, but it was good for me. It was good for me to, to challenge myself in that way. It was sort of like pushing against my edge of my comfort zone.

And I think that's what also makes it a kind of a cool thing to be on, to go on a date with ourselves. And I think it's because like a lot of us, we have these stories about the importance of finding our better half while we're growing up and like my parents said that many jokes like, oh, this is my better half.

But the power of those words is that like somehow we're not complete. That you're not whole. We enter this world and neither are they. We have to have another person. And so I think the mentality, um, makes it hard for us to learn how to be truly autonomous, whether we are single and we're looking for a partner, or we're in a partnership.

Ofosu: Yeah. You know, I, I travel quite a lot and so I find that I'm always on like some kind of micro date with myself cause you know, I'm just, I might be in some state by myself. And yeah, that's the beautiful thing about traveling is just the way that you get to experience yourself outside of your norms. 

And I, I think that goes back to what you were saying is that, you know, a date is something that you might not ordinarily do. And I think it's a good question. Like, what makes it a date? You know, like you ever seen a sitcom where two people are just having like a burger together. And then someone's like, is this a date?

And they're not exactly sure, you know? So I think the, the designation of like, it's special. Maybe that's the simple, simplest thing. It can be something that you do all the time, but you, you, you are making it special, you know? For what? In, in, in your own way. 

Leah: You know, a friend of mine told me something that I will always remember and that it's you should take yourself on a nice date, and that is new, interesting, challenging and exciting. So any one of those elements alone is good. But if you combine them and it's something that's new and it's something that's also interesting and challenging, makes you get outta your comfort zone a little bit, but also exciting, then it's like that's, that's a kind of cool date. 

And so I, I try to keep that in mind when I'm planning dates for myself. Uh, and it doesn't always have to be challenging or always have to be super exciting, but it is a kind of a nice guideline to get creative and to think about what could I do that falls within these categories?

Ofosu: How do you, how do you feel when you are out on a date with yourself?

Leah: First, I'd like to present myself in a nice way, so that means wearing an outfit that makes me feel fun or playful or beautiful. And, um, and just taking the extra time to get ready and take care of myself. Uh, I find that really enjoyable and it already starts to have an impact on my mood and get me in more excited place.

And, taking the time out means I have to make some negotiations because I am a mom and a wife, and so I have to coordinate with a babysitter and or my husband and fit it into my calendar, so to speak. It does not just gonna happen someday I'm gonna sit around and I'm bored and then I'll, I'll think, what should I do right now?

It doesn't work out like that for me. I have to intentionally plan these things and so even just like 30 minutes of time is great, but you know I love, and I've talked about him before, um, psychologist Gay Hendrix and him and his wife Kathleen. They're authors of some really incredible books and relationship, uh, counselors.

And they wrote, he wrote this book called The Big Leap, and there was some really profound advice in there on solving relationship problems, but it was actually surprising. It was take plenty of time for yourself. So long as the intention is to nurture the independent part of you. 

Ofosu: Yeah. I think that's what all this points to is nurturing the independent part of you and I know that when I'm away for, um, for days at a time, you know, I'll come back and I'll say to my wife, like, do you want to do like a staycation for yourself? And, you know, and just get like a break, you know, all the way. And, um, you know, she always says yes. So, and she's an introverted person also, so I know that her getting some time to herself is, is, is a huge deal, and I think that that helps our relationship as well. And I, and I feel like it's possible to take micro dates too, like, like a simple walk, you know? But, but having the intention that like yes. There's gonna be like an exercise component that's good for it, or yes, there's gonna be like a mental health component that's good for it.

Leah: It's like it's self-care. It's a self-care ritual. 

Ofosu: Yeah. Yeah. Yes, yes. I'm just, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm just doing this to take care of myself. 

Leah: It's like simple as like a hot bubble bath, you know? It's like the luxury. Or um, cooking yourself a nice dinner and just so it's just for you, you know?

Ofosu: That's a nice one. Making yourself a nice dinner. 

Leah: Getting your favorite takeout. 

Ofosu: Or yeah. Or getting your favorite takeout for sure. But like, yeah, and maybe, and just doing it without having to think about like, does this fit what other people expect of me. 

Leah: Exactly, exactly. Thinking about what anybody else needs or wants or worrying about anybody else. 

Ofosu: I think doing all of this and knowing that it's not selfish, but it's actually in service to your, your human wellbeing and how that is gonna be in service to the wellbeing of the people around you. 

Leah: Yeah. You never know what you're gonna get outta that day. Like you could find, you could find a completely brand new hobby or something that you had no idea that you loved so much.

Ofosu: You also get to experience that feeling of, of being seen in the world. Without the filter of, of somebody else that's like there as your companion, you know? You get to, you know, I, I was I took myself on a little dinner date when I was in LA last week, and I had a dinner at the lux Hotel in, um, in Los Angeles.

And, uh, I felt a little self-conscious because it was, it was very much like a, maybe there was a convention or something like that. It was very much a lot of like old white guys in suits and ties. And I was like, oh, maybe I didn't get the memo that I shouldn't be, maybe I shouldn't be in here. You know?

Cause I definitely was wearing like a big leather jacket and pearls and a necklace and big bracelets and I just, you know, yeah, the usual, you know, and, and uh, it's funny cause I was in, I was, I was okay, you know, being by myself, but I was also feeling a little awkward, like, oh, maybe I picked the wrong place to go on a little date with, but then this older couple came and, uh, and sat next to me, and the lady really had a lot of questions about my outfit and, um, oh yeah. And, and just what I did for a living. And it was really, it, it ended up being really sweet, you know? And, and yeah, I really, I remember that moment.

It's just a sweet moment of, of like, there's a, there's an element of vulnerability when you're when you're out by yourself, you know, and you don't really know how the world's gonna respond to that. 

Leah: Yeah. Vulnerability, I guess that's good. And it, and it's also just like in meditation, how it can be a little unsettling at times to just sit with yourself.

And to be bombarded by what is actually going on under the surface that you've been too busy to take time for treating yourself to setting the intention and I'm gonna take myself on a date, um, really opens up that portal of okay, what is it that my heart truly desires? What is it that I've been feeling a little neglected in and maybe need a little bit, uh, of in my life?

Um, so I think it is really a deep dive into this portal of getting to know yourself deeply. And that can be unsettling. 

Ofosu: Sure. 

Leah: It's of course, probably just as unsettling as going on a date with a new person and getting to know them, because there's a lot of things that we don't look at within ourselves or take the time to get to know.

And so that's why I think it's called a date, because you're really getting to know yourself. We think that we know ourselves, but do we really?

Ofosu: Do you really? Yeah. Um, I, um, Yeah, Fight Club was like, how much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight? I think maybe we should, maybe we should switch that and say how much, how much know about yourself if you've never been out on a date with yourself.

Um, hey, so I'm sure some of our listeners are wondering like, how do you even make the time to do this? And yeah, I think that it's, it's been easier for me because number one, I, it's just a part of my job for me to be running around all over the place. And then number two. Number two, so I can, I can carve that time out in with intentionally without having to plan it way ahead. But my wife, for instance, who works from home and is home a lot, and the kids. You know, always on top of mom, like, yeah, it's, she has to really plan it out more. What do you think? 

Leah: I think it's less about how do I make the time for this? Because if you were to find, if you were, let's say you were single and you were seeking a relationship and you were to match up with somebody on a dating app.

It wouldn't be that difficult to ask, how am I gonna find the time to meet this person and make a date? You would just make it a priority and find the time to open up your schedule for that. So I think it's less about the logistics and do I do it in Google calendar or do I do this or that? And more about, okay, since it's for myself, it's the mentality thing that I have to get right. 

I think it's less about the, how do I do it logistically. And more about how do I tell myself that this is important enough to make a priority. How do I get over the objections that are gonna come up? Like, yeah, but you have all these more important things to do.

How do I tap into the fact that I am worthy of this, that I am deserving of this, and that this is actually tru. Important. Yeah. So I think it's a mentality and an attitude that we have to approach in order to make this happen. Yeah. Versus it being a matter of. Scheduling, you know, . Yeah. Because that'll all work itself out when you set your priorities.

Ofosu: Yeah. So it, it, it, I feel like maybe even getting, for some people getting to the point of a date, um, might be, might be the end point of. Of, of a shifting mindset towards more self-compassion, more self-kindness, working through the, the guilt that might come up. 

Leah: You know, as a mom, I really identify with like the mom guilt that, yeah.

Oh, I'm taking time away from my, my child to do this for myself. I, I, I experienced that yesterday cause I went painting and I left the house. And I went to a friend's house and there was mom guilt there about, oh, I know he wants to spend time with me and I'm leaving while he is awake. And yeah. Yeah. So I had to get through that and then I came back and I had so much more energy to be present with him and, uh, because I had taken that time for myself.

So, yeah, I think it's really just like that first initial hurdles of, of getting there. It's kinda like bringing yourself to the gym for the first time in a long time. You gotta get through the mental hurdle. Of all the things that wanna come up and tell you there's better things to do with your time or that you're too tired or that you're not worth it.

Um, and, and just frigging do it. Don't make excuses at the end of the day. Just even if you don't feel like it, you do it anyways. Well, I enjoyed this conversation. Uh, it's given me some inspiration about my next date that I can take for myself. And. And also giving me inspiration about dates I can take with my husband.

And I just think dates are fun. Let's just do more of them please. 

Ofosu: For sure, for sure. My wife and I are scheming on a staycation tomorrow, and uh, but you know what though, if it doesn't happen, if, if we can't get like the childcare, I might just offer her the weekend. Oh, here she is, babe. If we can't get a babysitter, you know, if you want, you can just have the weekend if you like.

Leah: Aw. Well thank you for joining us today. And remember, we really wanna hear from you on what you think about the show. So please click on the survey link that we have in the episode description. 

Ofosu: And if you aren't watching this show already, go to YouTube for a video version of the podcast where you can see our faces.

And while you're at it, check out the new meditations that we have on our channel. They've got calming visuals and nature sounds, and they're new. So check 'em out.

Leah: And we'll be back again next week for another awesome conversation. See you then.

Ofosu: Take care. Remember to be kind to yourself. Have a great date.

Leah: Bye-bye. 

Ofosu: You could always slip, like add an accessory, like put on like that extra like necklace or this, you know me, I'm gonna think about that. 

Leah: You're an accessory fisher. 

Ofosu: Yeah. Yeah, I am. Add an accessory, accessorize it. Put on this, put on like the sunglasses or the pair of shoes or the, or do your nails, or, you know, something that just makes it feel a little, a little juicier.

Leah: Don't underestimate the power of getting dressed up.