My divorce was an empowering experience which inspired me to grow in ways I couldn't have imagined. After breaking out of the mold that my ex thought I should contort myself into, I was free to experiment and experience the world on my own terms. As I marched forward into my new life, I spent a lot of time getting to know myself.
Along the path toward a more fulfilling existence, I was fortunate enough to meet the Ultimate Love of My Life: Me! After some time I realized, while romantic partnerships come and go, the most important relationship I must nurture is the one I have with myself. Because all good relationships require a commitment, I now set aside quality time for me, alone. I enjoy going to the movies and dining by myself. For the past two years, I've even indulged in a solitary vacation.
Although I've come to relish these experiences, I continue to meet others who tell me they can't bring themselves to go out alone. If this describes you, please keep reading to find a short list of tips for solo dating.
The Movies. If you're a novice at solo dating, the movie theater is a good place to start. Lots of people meet friends at the movies, so it's not odd to buy a single ticket. And the theater is dark, so nobody will see if you're alone. The truth is, nobody cares anyway, but it doesn't feel that way the first time around.
- Pick a movie that you truly have a desire to see. The idea is to spend quality time with yourself, not just waste time alone.
- Dress up just enough to feel confident, but don't try to impress anyone. You Are Enough.
- Don't skip the snack bar. You don't have to share the popcorn and candy with anyone else. Indulge and enjoy.
- Choose your seat mindfully. Find a spot that appeals to you instead of rushing in and sitting down.
Dinner (or Lunch, or Breakfast). Dining by oneself presents a stronger mental hurdle because the lights are on and you're exposed. I used to feel embarrassed at the thought of sitting alone in a restaurant, but I've come to love the experience.
- Take something to occupy yourself while you're waiting for your food. It might be a book, a crossword puzzle, your smartphone or a journal.
- When the host/hostess asks, "How many?" Confidently reply "One, please." Sometimes I hear myself saying, "Just one," and I think it sounds a little sad.
- See your server. Dining alone affords you the opportunity to make a friendly connection with the wait staff. This can be difficult when you're conversing at a full table and the waiter/waitress's presence could be an intrusion. In this case, s/he is there to serve you alone. Smile and be grateful. Your server will appreciate the genuine exchange.
- Order something that makes your mouth water and then savor every bite. Take your time to enjoy the meal and let it nourish you.
Vacation. This is a big one, and it can be terrifying. On the up-side, a solo vacation can also be extremely peaceful and gratifying. An easy way to dip your toe into this experience is to book a close-to-home hotel room for a weekend. This is a less intimidating and more affordable option. When you're ready to take a bigger step...
- Pick a destination you'll want to immerse yourself in. It could be somewhere you've always wanted to go, or it might be a city that your ex despised. Whereever it is, make sure you'll have enough to do outside of your room.
- Prepare a loose itinerary. If you're not one to schedule everything ahead of time, at least have an idea of the individual sites you want to see while you're there. I caution against complete improvisation because such an attitude makes it all too easy to hide out in your accomodations.
- Pack a variety of reading material (or handheld video games). The idea is to always have something-to-do stashed away in your purse.
- Prep for the journey. If you're driving, double-check the GPS directions, get your oil changed and que up a soundtrack or a good audio book for the road.
- When you arrive, call the person who is worried about you and tell him/her that you're safe and feeling great.
- Sleep in, or get up early. Whatever you want, because this trip is all about you.
- Step outside your comfort zone. Test your limits, just a little bit, each day.
- Appreciate the silence. Or the noise, as the case may be. Whatever the scenario, sit still and marinate in the perfect moments that are all yours.
- Pat yourself on the back. Not everyone can vacation alone.
Over the years, me, myself and I have had some wonderful times together, and I've learned the expansive experience of growing inward. You can too.