‘Tis the season of warm hot chocolate, crunchy leaves beneath your shoes, dropping temperatures, flannel jackets and the universally dreaded cuffing season.
Those of us who are single understand the annoyance that comes from scrolling through an endless feed of romantic social media posts. A single status during cuffing season can truly amplify feelings of loneliness, desperation and sadness.
As hard as it can be, it’s crucial to date yourself through this chilly time of year when many of us are drawn to romantic relationships for their comfort and stability.
So as you figure out how to navigate independence this fall, here are a few concrete steps you can take to practice self-sufficiency and self-love:
Leaf through self-help books
Self-help books offer invaluable advice about how to foster a relationship with yourself, build your sense of confidence and self and fall in love with life. Take advantage of tactics like practicing gratitude and engaging in activities that reach out of your comfort zone.
Discover the power of detaching from others’ expectations as you seek to understand to your deeper, valued needs in “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. Transform your perspective on being alone and learn to appreciate the gift of time spent with yourself in Chidera Eggerue’s “What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough.”
Grabbing an encouraging book can help you disconnect from the societal expectation that you find a partner during cuffing season and learn more about your relationship with yourself. The next time you think about how you want to curl up by the fire with a partner, grab a book and curl up on your own. The right book can teach you how to stimulate your own mind rather than relying on a partner to keep you entertained.
Practice daily affirmations
In place of the serotonin rush that a good morning text from your partner may give you, wake up each morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself three things you love about yourself. It’ll feel awkward or ineffective the first few times you practice it, but the experience will feel wonderful when you’ve repeated the affirmations enough times to rewire your brain into believing them. If you’re not sure where to start, try writing these affirmations down or saying them out loud the next time you’re looking in the mirror:
- I am whole.
- I am my own best friend.
- I love each part of myself.
- I am confident and secure.
To find some more affirmations, check out the app “I am” for personalized affirmations that pop up on your phone. The app allows you to choose categories of affirmations, like financial growth or body positivity, and choose how often you receive affirmations on your phone. Your inner voice is your biggest determinant to how you perceive yourself. After all, you’re listening to that little voice in the back of your mind 24/7. Your frequent thoughts inevitably evolve into beliefs. Accept yourself for the wonderful person you are – you deserve it.
Ah, the dreaded “you need to learn to date yourself before you can date someone else.” If you’ve heard it, you’ve probably let out an irritated sigh in response. But it’s true – if you can’t give yourself love, how are you supposed to give it to someone else? If you can’t figure out what your standards for love look like when it comes to loving yourself, how are you supposed to set those expectations when someone else comes into the picture?
Establish your own definition of love by engaging in all of the activities you would with a partner. You can buy your favorite tulips when they’re in season, grab your favorite iced matcha or purchase an oversized sweater. While a partner may fail to meet your standards, you will always live up to your own expectations.
Defining love on your own terms also enables you to decide what you do and don’t want from a partner, filtering out the wrong potential partners and attracting the right ones who can fulfill your needs and desires when you’re ready for them. Detaching yourself from the material, transactional nature often associated with casual dating to establish these expectations on your own provides an unobstructed space to navigate your priorities. Regardless of whatever it may be, you deserve to be loved above and beyond your expectations.
Prioritize time with yourself
Alone time is critical when it comes to appreciating the simplicity of your own presence. You’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life, so learning to exist in your own company is one of the most rewarding endeavors you can take up for your self-esteem and self-love.
Set aside time each day when you are completely alone – that means clocking out from social media, too. Read a new book, attend a painting class on your own, visit a local museum, start a garden or just do whatever it is that will fulfill you. You’d be surprised just how much fun you can have on your own.
Remember that social media is a highlights reel
People only post the best of themselves on social media – after it’s been edited, of course. What followers often don’t see on TikTok and Instagram are the intense amount of work that goes into a relationship, the frustrating fights, the struggle to balance life with a relationship and so much more.
Cuffing season tends to instill in us that a relationship is all about baking holiday cookies or playing in the snow with the person you love – and while romance exists in seasonally induced relationships, there’s also a lot of emotional, mental and spiritual energy that goes into a relationship. Remember that you have to allocate quality time for your partner, meet them where they are during disagreements, communicate effectively and make sacrifices for your partner.
Whatever you do, don’t reach out to your ex
If there’s any piece of advice you take, let it be this one. They simply aren’t worth it.
The holiday season can be difficult to get through, and putting in the work to appreciate your independence can be even harder. But there’s no feeling more rewarding than that of being your own best friend. During this and every season, you deserve to be loved – especially by yourself.