Life After Dating: A Look Back At 4 Strange Things I Did While Single

So you’ve finally found The One (or at least The One For The Foreseeable Future) and you’ve committed to a serious relationship. Now what? In our new weekly column, Life After Dating, we’ll discuss the unique joys and challenges of coupledom.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are many things that I miss about being single, for instance, watching “Rupaul’s Drag Race” and “America’s Next Top Model” whenever I felt like it, waking up at 7AM and running errands, and sitting down to a gourmet salad for one. But one thing I didn’t realize until I was no longer single, was that when you’re on your own for long stretches of time, you drop into a strange zone where it’s just you, yourself, and you. Another single friend of mine once confessed to me that she had invented “an imaginary dog” that she regularly “fed leftovers from dinner” and I nodded, as if it were a completely normal thing to do. The fact is, when you’re lonely, companionship, even in seemingly insane forms, is what keeps you sane. It’s not until you have another person to witness you, say, asking your houseplants how they’re feeling today, that you get your first whiff of, “Oh, wow, that’s a little bit crazy, huh?”

Here are a few of the things that I did when I was single that I’ve surmised, due to my partner’s frequent side-eye glances, are rather strange…

1. Extended conversations with my houseplants. When I lived in LA, I had a friend who insisted that talking to your plants makes them grow faster; I did not question this, especially when I was living alone and would go for days, sometimes, without having a conversation with another human being. At some point it transformed from talking to them because I wanted them to grow, to talking to them because I was genuinely interested in what they were up to. Honestly, I’m still genuinely interested in the rich, inner lives of my plants.

2. Pep talks into the mirror. Before I’d go on dates, to stave off nerves, one of the thing’s I’d do was give myself a little pep talk before I left the house, in which I’d remind myself, “Ami, you can do this, and if it’s awful, you can come home and cry.” I came home and cried into my mirror so many times that these pep talks became applicable to all sorts of everyday challenges, from having to return a phone call (I’m phone-phobic) to tackling a pile of unopened mail. The first time my boyfriend discovered me talking to myself in the mirror, he was understandably bewildered. “Did you say something?” he asked, and I said, “Nope, just bolstering my confidence for the morning commute.”

3. Interesting ways to get into bed. During a particularly sad post-breakup stretch in my mid-20s, I was feeling very unhopeful about life in general. I was working long hours at a job I didn’t like, had very few friends, and was living alone for the first time in my life. My way of coping with this, strangely, was to find interesting ways to get into bed (in a completely non-sexual way). One particularly genius game I came up with was something I called “Exercise Ball Catapult.” I would run from my kitchen down my hallway, leap onto my strategically positioned exercise ball (which I never used for exercise), and bounce into my bed. To exit my bed, especially on difficult mornings, I would roll stomach-first onto the exercise ball and hug it as it gently rolled me out of bed. I still use some variation of this method for entering and exiting the bed. It just makes things more fun. I don’t care how weird my partner thinks it is.

4. Hot water bottle boyfriend. Let me preface this by saying that I’m always freezing, even when it’s not that cold outside. It’s my natural state. As you all know, one of the benefits of being in a relationship is having a reliably warm body to heat your bed. A human radiator, if you will. The reason I nodded when my friend told me she had an imaginary dog, was because, for one winter, I had an imaginary boyfriend: a hot water bottle named Steve. Steve came to be on the particularly cold, loveless winter of my 30th year, when I received a heart-shaped water bottle for Christmas to “help keep me warm.” I filled it with hot water, cuddled next to it in my freezing bed, and started calling it Steve. While I didn’t talk to him like I do my plants, or leave him scraps for dinner like my friend did for her imaginary dog, Steve slept with me faithfully every night for that bitterly cold winter, and for that, I’ll never forget him.

[Photo from Shutterstock]