Leisurely strolls around Kelvingrove Park, intimate dinners in cafés you are not realistically cool enough to be in, splashing out on quirky gifts from Etsy on payday; there is no doubting that when you’re in a relationship, it’s all about making an effort with the “little things” in order to keep the spark alive.
That being said, I’m not necessarily talking about the “spark” commonly associated with your romantic relationships here. I’m referring to the one we have with ourselves. It is the most important relationship we will have throughout our whole lives. Pretty much since I started university, I have made a point of occasionally buying nice things purely on the merit of “You’re fab, Flo. Go on gal, this one’s on me”. I also frequently take myself out for lunch, because “Life is hard, Flo, you need to be refreshed. Treat yo’self!” Solo cinema trips are also a regular occurrence since “Do you know what, Flo? You deserve it. Hardworking grafter, you”.
In this sense, I have embarked on a relationship with myself. I regularly woo me. I always have tricks up my sleeve, so I am constantly surprised by what I might do next. I know how to maintain a healthy, rewarding relationship with me, myself and I – and I would thoroughly urge you to do the same. With Valentine’s Day just round the corner, it can be difficult not to reflect on your current romantic predicament at this time of year; how irritatingly great you are at making dinner portions fit for two, thinking of the last time you snogged somebody without alcohol being involved, the coldness of the other half of the bed. I mean, it’s hard not to. With every restaurant on Byres Road brashly reminding you to get your table for two booked – free wine! There’s free wine! – the realisation that you are, well…not a two, can be quite abrupt.
But who needs to be a ‘two’? Certainly not you, not at this time of the year, or at any other. By making the effort you would in a relationship with yourself, you’re effectively putting the time into treating yourself like the excellent egg you truly are. If you want to get to know how damn brilliant you sincerely are – without the help of a significant other – a little quality time unaccompanied may just be the thing to remind you that you don’t need to be validated by the presence of a significant other.
So where do you start? Doing the things you like, but alone. For example, getting over the initial social fear of going for dinner by yourself is initially difficult, but it’s worth it. Eventually, you’ll appreciate how there’s no awkward debate over where to go because they’re more of a Chinese fan whereas you prefer Indian. Likewise, you won’t worry about smudging your lipstick with your naan bread. The same applies for the likes of cinema trips, city strolls, or any other general activities you enjoy. Learning to enjoy them without somebody else will allow you to reconnect with yourself and suss out what it is you actually look for in a companion. It might also help prepare you for bigger adventures like travelling alone or moving to a place where you don’t know anyone. Investing time in yourself will, in the end, be the best thing you ever do.
These days, I’m actually with a “companion”. For the first Valentine’s Day in years, I am considering writing somebody a nauseating message on something heart printed and sparkly. I share my life and quite often my dinner table with somebody who is slightly more than a ‘good pal’; magical, but depressingly easy to lose your sense of self. Thus, putting that extra time in to reconnect with yourself and remember who your real number one is will be all the more worthwhile. To this day, those cinema trips and dinner dates are just as frequent and force me to remember that hey, I’m still one independent sister, I can fly solo, and it’s absolutely, totally cool and comfortable.
Truly, it is now that I’m in a romantic relationship with another that I feel reminded more than ever to value the spiritual one I have with myself, and I would recommend it to everyone. Making the effort that you would for a significant other but for little old you instead can be just as fulfilling as any conventionally romantic relationship – and you don’t need any naff Byres Road restaurant sign trying to convince you otherwise.
[Floraidh Clement – @FloraidhCC]