Have you ever said the words ‘I’m just taking some time by myself right now’? Or ‘I want to get to know myself outside of a relationship’? Or ‘I’m working on me right now?’. We’ve all been there, but how much did we really mean those things? We go through these phases and times when we’re not seeing anyone, our phones are pretty dry, but are we really taking time for ourselves, or are we just waiting for the next exciting relationship to pop up? Did we put the time in between relationships to invest in a good relationship with ourselves or did we just have fun with the single life while it lasted?
According to a recent study, more than a third of single British people have started taking themselves out on solo dates. The study of 2,000 people showed that women were more confident about dating themselves, with 41% saying they were happy to romance themselves, compared to around 37% of men.
But what does dating yourself look like? It sounds like something out of a corny early 2000s self help book, but is there some merit in the idea of it? Of investing time to get to know yourself, explore your boundaries and building your own confidence?
‘Dating’ yourself can be an opportunity to show yourself a little compassion, to prioritise your own needs and to see what you’re capable of. It’s a time to build independence, be a better friend, do away with self-doubt and re-establish what respect and healthy relationships and boundaries mean to you. It’s about loving yourself, but it’s also about putting your relationship with yourself and others under a microscope and sitting with it all for a while and seeing what happens.
So what makes for a good solo dating experience? Well, it depends what kind of date you want to have. On a normal date, you want fun, the opportunity for connection, preferably something either exciting or relaxing and generally, they’ll put you a little outside your comfort zone. It can be your definition of a good time.
What you shouldn’t feel you have to do is to go out, all dressed up and sit across from an empty chair in a candlelit restaurant like a traditional date, just solo – unless that’s something you’re comfortable with. It can be something as simple as taking a book to a café and ordering your favourite pastry and coffee. It’s all about sitting with and enjoying your own company.
Being present with yourself is the key. Don’t go on your phone or zone out – just like you wouldn’t do that on a date with someone else, don’t do it to yourself! It’s rude not to give yourself your full attention. If it all feels a little uncomfortable first, that’s okay. In this world full of distractions, it can feel weird to be out alone in a spot or doing an activity that is traditionally social or romantic. And when you finally get to a place where you’re just as happy in your own company as you are with someone else, there’s no feeling more powerful and independence inspiring.
Reflect, re-centre and recharge. Remind yourself that you’re worthy of this attention and care from yourself with some of these cute solo date ideas:
Coffee and a book
Like I mentioned before, this can be a nice easy, first step into the solo date world. A book is a relaxing activity where you’re still sitting with yourself and paying attention to your own ideas and thoughts. It’s great for a little recharging and indulging in a frothy coffee is always a great way to treat yourself!
If you love cooking or you just want to improve your cooking skills, this is a great idea! It’s a fun social environment where you can interact with yourself and self-improve all in one. Invest in yourself and in a skill that helps you look after yourself and develop new interests.
Biking, hiking somewhere beautiful, swimming at that nearby beach you’ve never made it to – taking time out in nature is one for the most healing things that we can do for ourselves. Being surrounded by greenery and nature recharges our minds and resets them for a fresh start.
Playing tourist in your own town or city can have you looking at your world with fresh eyes. It’s fun to look at the history or culture of your own town and going on a tour or doing something dorky and local can help you stop taking yourself so seriously and experience new things.
Tick off something on your bucket list
Remember, this is a time to invest in you. Going places and doing things isn’t just for couples – have you always wanted to visit Paris? Book a ticket and go for a weekend! Take yourself out to Café de Flores, take a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower, go for an amazing meal in a beautiful French bistro. This is your life and you don’t ned someone holding your hand for you to experience some of its best moments.
It can also be something as simple as staying in and having your own little cosy movie night. Make some popcorn, get your favourite treats and wrap up warm and cosy in your fluffiest pyjamas. Light some candles put on a movie you’ve always wanted to see or an old favourite and find comfort in your own little comforts.