This essay originally appeared in the radical mental health zine functionally ill 26: more vibrant than usual.
being my own girlfriend experiment concluded
For a year or so, I was trying to be my own girlfriend. The experiment concluded a few days ago when I decided I can’t be my own girlfriend. It was a great try, though–informative.
I wanted to be my own girlfriend because I want to love myself–healing and more nurturing. I want a girlfriend for diversity of support, more love in my life, new behavior. Ming is more than wonderful, but it would be fun to have experiences with someone who has different desires and behaviors. And maybe different body parts, and different abilities and disabilities than what I’m used to.
I spend all my time with myself, so I was a convenient candidate. I want to be more self-sufficient. Seemed simpler and easier than finding another human to be my girlfriend. Less potential for heartbreak, drama, and illness. Less time consuming. I wouldn’t have to fall in love with her kids and family, if any, then risk losing them also, like I have so many times before.
I do like myself–the wordplay, creativity, vibrancy. Good ideas, nice writing. I’m skilled at love and usually loyal. I’m considerate and a true listener. I have pretty hair. Many years I hated my body, but I love it now.
I wanted to date myself, and I did spend some good time with me. When I was falling asleep or waking up especially, lying in bed, I would touch my own tummy, breasts, arms, shoulders, face, and hands, in a friendly way, and that felt good. It was comforting. I said “I love you” to myself. Called myself honey, sometimes.
I didn’t buy myself flowers–seemed too expensive. Didn’t take myself out to dinner; I don’t drive. Dating seems expensive, the way most people do it. I could have taken myself to a park for free, but I don’t feel safe at parks, by myself.
Mostly I thought about it, and I decided the main appeal of relationship is how another person is like another world. Getting fresh input. Learning about them and about reality through their life. New ideas and perspectives.
Relationship is about collaborating–making a new thing together that never existed before. Can’t really collaborate by myself.
I realized I usually know what I’m going to do. I do surprise myself, sometimes, but it’s rare. Other people surprise me every day. I’ve been with Ming for almost eight years, but he still surprises me all the time, and parts of him I’ll never know. He has a deep beautiful mystery to him.
There are things I could do to discover other parts of myself–role play, trying drastically new activities, altered states, like using psychedelics. But I didn’t want to try those. Doing mushrooms seems too difficult right now. I wanted more like bubble baths and lighthearted fun. But we don’t have a bathtub.
I still want to be there for me and take all I learned from this experiment into the future with me. Maybe one day I’ll try again.
Reading this essay a year later, I see that I did incorporate into my everyday life the good that I learned from this experiment. Yay for self-love and DIY self-science. This post about being my own dog is good too.