“Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first.” - Carrie Bradshaw
Table for One
In the age of Self-care Saturdays and Self-love Sundays, taking yourself out on a date shouldn’t seem way out of left field. But when is the last time you actually planned a date for yourself – I mean actually set a time on the calendar, blocked it off, and didn’t cancel?
Cue the excuses. I’m too busy. If you saw my work schedule. I have three kids. Money is tight.
Okay great. We all have them. Try this instead, and see how it feels: “Making time for myself isn’t a priority.” How does that sit with you? Say it again. “Spending time with myself, with the only vessel I have on this earth, without interference from others, isn’t a priority.” If that works for you, and you feel good about saying that statement out loud in a crowded room, then you do you boo. This is a judgement free zone.
However, if you’re having any inkling of doubt about that statement, then what’s the harm in trying out a little alone time?
Reasons We Love It
You are your own captain. There’s something so freeing about having no one to answer to – no partner, no kids, no coworkers, no social media. Just you, yourself, and whatever you’ve chosen to do on this time dedicated to you. There’s no right or wrong, and that’s half the magic.
Would you date you? Taking yourself out gives you a chance to get comfortable with yourself and who you are. Do you like the person you’re becoming? Do you enjoy yourself enough to spend time alone? I hope so. If not, then it gives you the chance to evaluate what about yourself you can improve upon.
Recharge your batteries. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time alone to reenergize, reboot, and then have the energy to come back and show up for the people in your life. If you’re constantly giving of yourself, you’re always going to feel worn down. Especially if you find yourself in a role of constant “giving” at the office and then are coming home to more of that. Dating yourself allows you to receive some of the love you’ve given out so that you can be more present in other aspects of your life. If you’re finding yourself constantly snapping at coworkers or your kids, it might be time for some alone time.
Socializing is exhausting. Research out of Durham University found that socializing is draining for both introverts and extroverts. It takes a lot out of you. Between talking, actively listening, processing, and intaking all kinds of sensory information, day to day conversations can take a toll. That is, if you don’t have moments of rest to reboot. Over half of all respondents in their study (extroverts included) reported that solitude is restful. Go forth and prosper… alone*.
*When I say “in solitude” or “alone”, you are more than welcome to spend your date around people, just not people you know.
Relationship Status: Dedicated to Personal Growth
If you’re sold on it, here’s how to get started.
Begin by setting a time, just as you would with a friend or partner or Tinder date. It doesn’t need to be long. I mean come on, it’s a first date; don’t expect to stay for breakfast. Your date can range anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. This is all about you. It doesn’t need to be a big to do.
Figure out what you’re going to do on your date. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, it doesn’t have to be fancy. If all you can afford to do this week is pack yourself a bagged lunch and enjoy thirty minutes of solitude on your lunch break, then go for it. Take your lunch to a quiet spot near your office and take in the fresh air. Enjoy the time alone. Here are a few of my favorite dates that I’ve actually taken myself on:
Take yourself to Sunday brunch with a good book. It’s best when crowded because you find that you have the innate ability to tune everyone else out, enjoy a good cup of coffee (or screwdriver or both), an Eggs Benny, and some light reading on a Sunday morning.
Learn something new. Take yourself to a dance class or rock climbing. Try a beginner pottery class, or learn how to play chess. Sign up for cooking lessons, or go surfing. Try yoga or meditation.
Become one with nature. Go hiking on a trail you’ve always wanted to explore. Try kayaking or canoeing. Simply go for a twenty minute walk after work and notice all the things around you that you may not have before.
Immerse yourself in culture. Go to an art gallery (usually free) or museum. Go to an open mic night or poetry reading. Go to a record store and thumb through old records. If you have a player, buy the first random record you can find (or take down a few of the artists’ names and go on Spotify when you get home) and throw a mini dance party for one. Pro-tip: never underestimate the power of a dance party for one.
Do something at home. Buy new crayons and colored pencils, print off some adult coloring pages, and go to town. Find a recipe you’re excited to make, go to the grocery store, get all the ingredients, and make yourself the fanciest meal you can – garnish and all. Try your hand at poetry or a short story. Write down your intentions for the day, week, month, and year – decorate them and place them in spots you’ll see them everyday.
Don’t cancel on yourself. Have the commitment of The Grinch: “6:30 - Dinner with me. I can’t cancel that again!” Show up for yourself. No one likes a flaky date.
Give yourself the attention that you would a date. Be present. Don’t check your phone. Enjoy the atmosphere and the time spent. Be cognizant of “your date’s” needs – let’s say you planned rock climbing a week ago, but that huge presentation at work exhausted you, it’s okay to change plans. It’s your date. Show up for yourself and be your best version of you there.
Evaluate how it went – which by the way, this is how every first, second, or third date should work. In the words of Mike Todd, “A date is an event. It happened. It’s over. You should assess it.” That’s all there is to it. Did you enjoy your time? Were you committed to spending the time with yourself or did you worry about your long to do list the entire time? Did you feel the need to constantly check your phone or were you unplugged? How can next week’s date be better?
Have fun, get creative, and by all means, stay out past midnight if you so desire.