What To Know About Sologamy

If there's one personal development concept that sounds simple but is difficult in practice, it's self-love. In recent years, a self-love revolution has taken over social media feeds, self-help sections in bookstores, and even T-shirts. But despite the message of loving yourself being ubiquitous, it's not always so easy to adopt.


In a Psychology Today article, Dr. John Amodeo, a marriage and family therapist, explains that most people learn to view themselves through a lens of negativity, focusing on perceived flaws rather than strengths. On top of that, some may believe that happiness and self-acceptance are luxuries they aren't allowed.

Fighting back against low self-esteem can be a long, though completely worthwhile, journey that may require a little therapy and a whole lot of introspection. Working on self-love might result in you setting better boundaries, learning healthy coping strategies, and forgiving yourself when you slip up. And for a growing minority of people, self-love can even lead to sologamy.

What is sologamy?

Monogamy might be the norm in most cultures today, especially when it comes to marriage, but sologamy — sometimes called "self-marriage" — offers an alternative for those who want to marry, well, themselves. By expressing their devotion to themselves, sologamists can kick up their self-love practice a notch (or several), as Sasha Cagen, author of the book "Quirkyalone: A Manifesto For Uncompromising Romantics," told Vice. "Creating a ritual is more powerful than just sitting in your room and journaling that you want to love yourself, or even writing a love letter to yourself," Cagen explained. "When you make a ritual, you're making a vow. It draws a line in the sand and it has a depth and a weight to it, like marriage."


Kshama Bindu, a woman who married herself in 2022, agrees. "Self-marriage is a commitment to being there for yourself, to choosing the livelihood and lifestyle that will help you grow and blossom into the most alive, beautiful, and deeply happy person you can be," she shared with BBC News. "For me, this marriage is really a deep act of self-acceptance. What I'm trying to say is that I accept myself – all of me, even the parts that don't look pretty."

The ceremonies aren't so different from conventional weddings

While you might joke with a friend about marrying yourself after a bad first date, some who practice sologamy take it pretty seriously — even dropping thousands of dollars on boujee wedding ceremonies. According to BBC News, businesses have responded to the sologamy crowd by offering travel packages, self-marriage counseling, and wedding rings.


Some solo brides and grooms spend lavishly on these services, just as many couples do, and they may also don a fancy gown and partake in other common wedding rituals. Linda Baker, one of the first to popularize the idea of sologamy, wore white and ate wedding cake when she married herself in 1993 (per Los Angeles Times). She even recited wedding vows, proclaiming "I do" to caring for herself till the end of her days.

The ceremonies can also be deeply healing, especially for those who haven't always had a healthy relationship with themselves, as Gabrielle Penabaz, an artist and self-marriage officiant, told BBC News. "80% of the people whom I married to themselves shed a tear reading their vows. They usually say things like 'I forgive myself' and 'I will no longer call myself ugly.'" Regardless of how symbolic these rituals may be, however, it's important to note that they aren't legally binding.


Why sologamy may be on the rise

Though it's difficult to tally how many people call themselves sologamists, there's some evidence that self-marriage is becoming more common. Greater awareness of self-love might be one driver, but there are other social factors at play too. Fewer American adults are married to a partner today than in past decades, according to Pew Research Center, likely because relationship expectations have increased while financial stability has decreased, making marriage appear less attractive. Today, more people are looking for alternatives to the marriage-baby-house life trajectory.


Some may decide to cohabitate as an unmarried duo, but research also confirms that a growing share of Americans are completely unpartnered and living alone — 38% in 2019 compared to 29% in 1990.

Following these trends, the COVID-19 pandemic may have solidified the sologamy route among those who were single and social distancing. "With increased time spent at home alone, individuals have opted for new methods to appreciate themselves and enhance self-compassion," Ieva Kubiliute, a psychologist, stated to Insider. "Conducting a sologamy ceremony can be the perfect way to enhance self-compassion and appreciate yourself in the best way possible."

Women are leading the trend

In the majority of sologamy stories in the media, women — not men — are the ones slipping on formal wear and throwing a self-marriage party. For some women, sologamy can be a clap-back to the social expectations placed on them. Sasha Cagen explained to Vogue, "Clearly women feel much more pressure to be married [in order] to feel validated as women and adults. The mythology of completion on your wedding day with the dress, the ring, the man—these are all the stories that are sold to girls from day one in a way we don't sell them to boys. So there is a deep anxiety and longing in women for a ritual of acknowledgment."


A page explaining sologamy on the website I Married Me echoes this statement: "Women get the brunt of the stigma surrounding being single – bachelors are eligible but spinsters are crazy old cat ladies. ... Today, when a woman has a wedding without a husband, it is an empowering response to a society that tells her she needs a man to live happily ever after. She refuses to feel ashamed, rejected or 'left on the shelf'; she is choosing life – she is choosing herself."

Sologamy can be one way to flex those feminist muscles, but that doesn't mean it's limited to cis-gender, heterosexual women. Men, too, can marry themselves, as basketball player Dennis Rodman claimed to have done in 1996. LGBTQ people may also find comfort in a self-marriage ritual, as Cagen noted to Vice.


Not everyone supports sologamy

Walking yourself down the aisle may be an act of self-love and empowerment, but not everyone sees it that way. "To me it seems like a very strange concept," Dr. Savita Malhotra, former dean and professor of psychiatry, stated to BBC News. "Everyone has self-love. You don't have to break it up or create an external replica to demonstrate self-love. It's intrinsic to all of us. And marriage is about two entities coming together."


Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo somewhat disagreed, telling BBC News that wedding yourself can be a "helpful" way to process trauma. Still, sologamy shouldn't come at the expense of other relationships. "If you rely too much on yourself and constantly put your own needs ahead of everyone else you may be slipping into narcissistic territory — and that's an unhealthy and lonely place to be," said Nimmo.

Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist, also takes issue with the symbolism of sologamy. "By using the wedding ritual as a template, people who are self-marrying are just reinforcing the power of the traditional wedding, when what they're trying to do is resist that power," she explained to Vice.


Still, many sologamists have taken the pushback in stride. Linda Doktar, who married herself in 2017, remarked to ABC Everyday, "Ninety-five per cent [sic] of the comments [in response to my wedding] were negative. [...] But it was funny, I laughed." She added, "It shows that we're so conditioned to what marriage is, or what we think it should be."

Sologamy doesn't require committing to singlehood forever

Sologamy may have the word "solo" built into it, but not everyone who marries themselves is unpartnered. And of those who are, they typically don't intend to stay that way forever. Take a few famous sologamists as examples. Adriana Lima, Emma Watson, and singer Fantasia Barrino all embraced self-partnership shortly before entering into relationships with another person (per Insider).


Cris Galera, a model who married herself in 2021, even went as far as "divorcing" herself after finding a partner to settle down with. "I started to believe in love the moment I met someone else special," she revealed to Daily Star. For partnered sologamists who choose to stay committed to themselves, however, there are clear relationship benefits. As noted by Psychology Today, self-love helps build secure, healthy relationships that are free of codependency. In other words, a positive relationship with yourself doesn't have to compete with the other relationships in your life — it can contribute to them.