Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Given my title, you may think this post will be about conversations in which you date yourself by revealing, intentionally or not, your age or generation. No. It’s about inviting yourself on a solo date and then doing what’s necessary to ensure a fine time. Because a core element of a satisfying life is being comfortable and content with, and by, yourself.
If you’ve not dated yourself, you may feel awkward at first. Perhaps you assume a solo date is a public confession that you have no friends? If your embarrassment pertains to dining alone, you’re not alone: “solomangarephobia is the name given to anyone who has a hard time eating alone in public. It’s a hyper-specific variant of social anxiety.” But the reality is no one wonders — or cares — why you’re on your own in a restaurant.
On the early dates, take time to become acquainted with yourself — to figure out your likes, dislikes, strengths and sensitivities. You want this relationship to work; after all, the longest, most important relationship in your life is with yourself. Try to subdue your negative voice. If need be give your inner critic a silly nickname — such as Debbie Downer or Belittling Barry — to make it less threatening, easier to ignore. Then talk positively with yourself, as you would with a good friend.
Choose appropriate activities and venues for your solo dates, the most common being to go for a walk. You can also visit museums and galleries, picnic in a park, tour local attractions, attend an event, take a solo sojourn. A favourite date of mine: sitting in a cinema, the lights go down and a movie begins (well, following annoying advertisements and enticing, or not, trailers).
Once you’ve attained a degree of self-awareness, you conceive topics to discuss with yourself on your dates. “Barbenheimer” occupied my inner conversations for several weeks this summer, as did the research for my post on intergenerational influence. And a spate of novels treating the theme of forgiveness led to hours of deliberation. What is forgiveness? The conscious decision to overcome anger, resentment or vengeance toward a person who’s harmed you? A transformation of feelings and behaviour to express compassion to someone who has wronged or hurt you? Who gains from forgiveness: the forgiver, the forgiven, both?
BENEFITS OF SOLO DATES
- develop a healthy relationship with yourself
- practice self-care (helping to manage stress, to lower risk of illness, and to increase energy)
- promote personal growth (building independence and confidence)
- have fun engaging in preferred activities
- improve your relationships with others
With practice, you’ll get used to dating yourself. And you’ll look forward to the occasions when the only agenda you accommodate is your own. •
P.S. In addition to my pleasure in self-dating, I enjoy dates with Glen, my friends, and my family.