I would like to open this article by reassuring readers that there is absolutely no shame in finding comfort being in a relationship or dating other people. In fact, there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t be able to do either, whilst also ‘dating’ yourself. I feel that, sometimes, the concept of women dating themselves is received by others as an active renouncement of men, resulting from a bitter resentment for the patriarchy.
Sure, it is associated with the notion that women do not need an all-consuming, heteronormative romance in order to thrive – despite what centuries of fairy-tales, novels and rom-coms have taught us. However, the practice of solo-dating is far more about cultivating self-love and preserving self-worth than it is a political outcry for equality.
I have always been a person who enjoys my own company. Although I love to socialise, I do not have a tendency to feel lonely when alone for an extended amount of time. I am grateful for this and realise that not everyone feels this way. I do however believe it has a lot to do with the fact that I did not enter a romantic relationship until my first year of university. This relationship was not a healthy one and I was forced to see it for what it was, after reading Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.
I feel obliged to cite this book in an article about solo-dating because Given reminded me of the importance of preserving your energy and investing it into yourself, rather than, say, a toxic and cyclical relationship headed nowhere – I highly recommend WDOYP. But like I said earlier, this is not an article about the philosophy of relationships, this just happens to be how I came to decide to make a more conscious effort to ‘date’ myself.
What other people, particularly strangers, think of you really does not matter in the slightest
People are always talking about solo-travel and how it completely reforms a person, allowing them to ‘find’ themselves in new exotic and culture-bathed regions. I do not doubt this. But travel is expensive and time-consuming and therefore far less accessible to people with jobs and bills, at least for the most part of the year. The appeal of solo-travel seems not only to be the exploration of new and exciting places but the spontaneity and freedom which comes with being alone.
Why then, can we not ‘find’ ourselves from the comfort of our own city? I’ve come to the conclusion in recent years that what other people, particularly strangers, think of you really does not matter in the slightest. Not only that, but they are definitely not giving you as much thought as you think they are – if, on the off-chance, they do give you a second thought, it is a reflection entirely of themselves and not you. I promise.
I find that our society has become a place where everything we do has to be a social event
Now that’s out the way, I urge you to ask yourself why you shouldn’t go to your favourite restaurant to devour your favourite meal accompanied by only your thoughts? When home, I spend an insane amount of my free time taking myself to Phât Phúc, a Vietnamese restaurant which serves my absolute favourite meal, prawn laksa. The beauty of these solo-dates is that I get to eat a meal that I love, without it being a social event where I have to think about and engage in conversation. It is also a place where I can go to after work or on my days off. Sometimes I bring a book to read and sometimes I just relax and eat. Either way, I am left to appreciate my own company and the meal I have treated myself to.
I find that our society has become a place where everything we do has to be a social event. Tables in restaurants are set with at least two chairs facing inwards, assuming the hospitality of two or more guests; solo-entry to a bar or club is considered suspicious. You get the picture.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Paris where my friends and I were intrigued by how alfresco seating was positioned to face the street as opposed to accompanying guests. We also came across more solo-diners than at home. The fact that this appeared unusual to us goes to show how much we have been conditioned to assume social interactions with everyday activities.
You should never let the absence of others prevent you from doing something you want to do
I have found this to be the case particularly at uni. In first year, there seemed to be this odd expectation to have to do literally everything with someone else. In halls it was assumed you would eat with, work with, and even do your laundry with a buddy. This might explain why I am yet to take myself out for lunch or dinner in Nottingham during term-time.
Instead though, I have taken myself on walks down by the lake on campus; gone charity-shopping; grabbed a chai latte in Portland Coffee. These are some less-daunting ideas for solo-dating to get you started, ones where you don’t need to worry that anyone else is wondering why you are (god forbid) alone.
Something else to remember – before I leave you to start planning your first date with yourself – is that you should never let the absence of others prevent you from doing something you want to do. Recently, I was offered a free ticket to the Nottingham Playhouse to see one of their productions. No one I knew was available, so I went alone, bought myself a glass of rosé and enjoyed the show. I was glad to have seen the play and felt good about taking myself out of the house.
For evening events such as these, I recommend telling a friend or housemate where you are going, not drinking too much and ensuring you have access to safe travel there and back. As long as you take care of yourself in the process, there’s no reason to be afraid of going solo and enjoying meals, plays and places for yourself. Remember, ‘dating’ yourself does not mean shutting yourself off to others; it simply means dedicating time and energy to yourself.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.