11/26/2012 10:27 am ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

Why You Should View Men Like Cheesecake

I used to view having a man as a necessity of life -- that I needed one to complete me -- and felt miserable when I wasn't in a relationship. My happiness rose and fell with every man I dated or stopped dating. Most of the women I knew were the same way. We'd get excited if we met great guys and commiserate when it didn't work out. We began to settle for "good enough." An insane amount of time was wasted first sharing every good detail about "him," then whining about the annoying things he did, or how it ended.

I usually knew early that my guy of the moment wasn't good for me, but staying seemed better than having no one. Since the message that we need someone to complete us can be strong, many women believe that being with someone annoying, or even disrespectful, can still seem better than being solo. Thankfully, as my self-love grew, so did my standards for who I gave my time to. Eventually, I recognized a strong parallel between dating and cheesecake that helped me become even more selective about who I spend time with.

I love cheesecake! It's my favorite dessert -- when it's very good. But often, when I've ordered it in the past, I was disappointed to put many hundreds (or over 1,000) calories of "just okay" into me. The quality varies from restaurant to restaurant. And there are certain varieties that I like more than others. These days, I only eat cheesecake that I've taste-tested before or if they let me have a sample and it passes my "worth the calories" test. If the cheesecake is just so-so, I'd rather pass on it. It's frustrating to eat tons of calories you don't need and not get the pleasure you hoped for.

I now view men with the same mentality I have for cheesecake. As my self-love got stronger, I began to see myself as the most important part of my life, just as the main course is the most important part of my dinner. Dessert is optional, since eating just my entrée is healthier and I can be satisfied from it. So, I see men as the dessert of my already happy existence, which is the main course of my life. And in the same way I only eat cheesecake that's worth its calories, I only go out with men who are worth giving up the calories of my time, which is precious to me.

For example, a friend tried to fix me up with someone she swore was a very good catch. In the past I'd have jumped on the opportunity to meet him. Instead, I asked questions. What made him a "good catch?" He made a lot of money. I asked her to tell me more. Everything she said sounded boring and unappealing. His main attribute was having money. I said, "No thanks." His description made him sound like barely edible cheesecake.

The "lots of money" part didn't whet my appetite. As I insisted I wasn't interested, she pushed me to at least meet him. "Why not go out with him once? He'll treat you to a nice dinner." I responded that I can feed myself. She persisted with, "But it's only a few hours. You're not losing anything if you go!" Ah, but I was. Those few hours out of my busy day meant I'd lose time I could use to go for a run or write or see a friend or a million other things I love to do.

I told her he didn't sound like good cheesecake. She said I was crazy. She was a woman who thought having a man was very important and I should settle for the good catch. A few weeks later, a mutual friend mentioned having a date with this guy. When she heard our friend tried to fix me up with him, she screamed, "What was she thinking? You'd have fallen asleep over dinner. He was so boring." Yep, not my kind of cheesecake, which I knew from his description.

A man can be a delicious part of a woman's life. But he shouldn't be your life. That's your responsibility. Take me to Junior's and you won't be able to stop me from eating a whole slice of cheesecake! But I rarely have it these days. And I now value my time instead of giving it to just anyone who wants to take me out. Loving my own company has allowed me to have my own life and have dessert when it, or he, is worth the calories. I'm complete on my own! Loving yourself enough to build a satisfying life can allow you this freeing mindset.