By Laura-Marie River Victor Peace
I was trying to be my own girlfriend for a year or so. I’d heard the concept of being your own best friend, which I like, but I preferred a different intimacy. The experiment concluded when I decided I can’t be my own girlfriend, that relationship is about receiving something from outside myself, encountering an Other. It was a great try, though—informative.
I wanted to be my own girlfriend because I want to love myself, to bring more healing and nurturing to my life. Also, I want a girlfriend for support, learning, new behavior. My spouse Ming is more than wonderful, but it would be fun to have romantic, sexual experiences with someone who has different desires and behaviors. And a body to enjoy that is different from Ming’s, with different abilities/disabilities than what I’m used to.
I spend all my time with myself, so I was a convenient candidate. I wanted to be more self-sufficient. Seemed easier than finding another human to be my girlfriend—less potential for heartbreak, drama, and illness. Less time consuming—no commute. I wouldn’t have to fall in love with her kids and family, if any, then risk losing them also, which has happened to me so many times before.
I do like myself—the wordplay, creativity, vibrancy. Good ideas, nice writing. I’m skilled at love and loyal. I’m considerate, a true listener, passionate, making my own path. I have pretty hair. I spent many years hating my body, but I love it now.
I wanted to date myself, live with myself, love myself with a steadfast tenderness. I did spend some good time with me. I learned when I was falling asleep or waking up especially, lying in bed, to touch my own tummy, breasts, arms, shoulders, and hands, in a friendly way. That felt good; it was comforting. I said “I love you” to myself. I called myself honey, sometimes.
I didn’t buy myself flowers—seemed too expensive. I 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 a relationship is that another person is another world. Getting fresh input. Learning about them and about reality through their life. New perspectives. A relationship is about collaboration—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, with ideas. But other people surprise me constantly, every day. I’ve been with Ming for almost nine years, but he still surprises me all the time, and parts of him I’ll never know. He has a deep beautiful Mystery.
There are things I could do to discover other parts of myself—role play, trying drastically new activities, altered states. But I didn’t want to try those. Doing psychedelics 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. Maybe one day I’ll try again.
The experience helped me loosen up how I see myself and how I care for myself. It’s been a long journey from not knowing how to care for myself and feeling guilty if I tried, to doing self-care much of the day. As I find myself in middle age, I enjoy my own company more and have faith in my ability to keep changing and learning.
Laura-Marie River Victor Peace is a queer radical mental health activist living in community in Las Vegas, Nevada. She enjoys rest, riding her trike, plants, and blogging at listeningtothenoiseuntilitmakessense.com.