Practicing Self-Love and the Art of Solo Dating
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By Tara Eisenhard, Featured DM Blogger - November 20, 2013

Fotolia_33187497_XS.jpgMy 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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Dress up just enough to feel confident, but don't try to impress anyone.  You Are Enough.
  3. Don't skip the snack bar.  You don't have to share the popcorn and candy with anyone else.  Indulge and enjoy.
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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...

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Pack a variety of reading material (or handheld video games).  The idea is to always have something-to-do stashed away in your purse.
  4. 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.
  5. When you arrive, call the person who is worried about you and tell him/her that you're safe and feeling great.
  6. Sleep in, or get up early.  Whatever you want, because this trip is all about you.
  7. Step outside your comfort zone.  Test your limits, just a little bit, each day.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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