Last Saturday night, I was feeling restless and lonely. My boyfriend had been working all day, and he didn't feel like going out to dinner. It was too late to make plans with friends. I considered staying in and wallowing, but suddenly, I was filled with energy as I remembered: I could still take myself out. So I threw on my best leather jacket and went out to a romantic dinner, completely alone.
As I sat with a glass of the restaurant's finest red wine ($9!) at my neighborhood French bistro, I scribbled melancholically in my journal. I felt like a mysterious solo traveller; a notebook my only companion. Leonard Cohen played softly, and as I scribbled bad poetry, I realized that I wasn't actually melancholy so much as downright reveling in my solitude.
As the wine's warmth spread through my body, I actually felt relieved not to have to make conversation with anyone but myself. An older man behind me also sat alone. I wondered if I would pity him if I was there with friends. After all, isn't it the fear of strangers' pity that keeps me from doing this more often? Wasn't I afraid of looking like a sad loser?
I still remember the first time I took myself out to a bar, alone. I was downright terrified, but I was determined to face my fear nonetheless. As I took my seat at the bar and ordered myself a drink, I felt sophisticated, even adult. But after a few minutes, the female bartender looked at me, head cocked sideways. Are you alright? she asked. You look sad. I answered that I was fine, but felt embarrassed. I left the bar shortly thereafter.
Determined not to give up, I took myself to a jazz bar and scribbled a question in my notebook that I still find myself wondering: Why do we assume that a woman sitting alone is sad?
Most of us have trouble going out alone, but I feel that is especially true for women. A woman alone is a strange thing, even here in New York City. Sure, she could be sitting in a cafe, shopping, or getting a pedicure. These are the socially-acceptable ways that many of us seek out time alone. But a woman alone at a bar? What are the assumptions we make about her?
But here's the thing: Being able to be alone with yourself, especially in a romantic way, is essential — whether you're in love, or looking for it. After all, without the ability to romance ourselves, how can we expect to exude a romantic energy, or really love ourselves to begin with?
Call me a loner, but I just think I make an interesting date. Many of you are probably already experts, but if you're still afraid of taking yourself out, there are some easy ways to start. Here are seven hot dates you can try taking yourself on.
Take Yourself Out To A Romantic Dinner
Who says you need a date? You might feel like a future cat lady at first, but trust me — you're a badass. Dressing up and taking yourself to a romantic meal is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself. When you're the one treating, you can feel like a independent-woman-baller for splurging. I recommend a place that feels vaguely European and empty so that you can pretend you're traveling. If you're nervous about sitting alone for that long, feel free to bring a book or a journal. Really try to savor your food as you eat it, and enjoy the fact that you don't have to make conversation.
Go See An Arty Foreign Film
One of my best solo dates was the night I went to see Blue Is The Warmest Color. It was opening weekend, and I got the second-to-last ticket. Sure, I was sandwiched between two creepy old dudes for a seven-minute sex scene, but because I was alone, I also got one of the best seats in the house. Be sure to buy yourself some popcorn.
Go See Some Live Music
It can be really intimidating to take yourself out to a bar, and depending on where you live, you might be worried about dealing with unwanted advances. I've found that the best loophole is going out to a bar with live music. If there's a venue in your area that has live jazz or world music, it can be especially nice to go to the kind of place where you can sit down with a martini and be all classy like that. Because you have something to watch, you're way less likely to feel awkward about being alone.
Spend An Afternoon In The Park With Yourself
This can be a great way to get more comfortable spending quality alone-time with yourself. Take a blanket and a book and try sitting alone in the park for an afternoon. If you really want to earn extra personal-growth points, you can even try meditating. Give yourself the time and the space to journal, or simply think about where you're at in your life, right now. You can even pack a romantic picnic basket with grapes and wine, because you're a thoughtful date like that.
Go To A Bookstore And Read For Hours
You know you have the fantasy of meeting someone in a bookstore. But what if you went to the bookstore with the intention of meeting yourself? Spend all afternoon at a bookstore with a fancy hot drink. Sift through all the new books you've been hearing about, and really take the time to pick out your favorite one to buy.
Take A Very, Very Long Walk
One of my favorite solo activities is to simply pick a direction, and walk. If you live in a city, try simply following the way the lights change — in other words, make your turns based on which direction has a walk symbol. By aimlessly wandering, you might end up seeing parts of your neighborhood you never saw before. Pop into new stores and cafes, and when you're starving from all this walking, treat yourself to a nice meal. Pretending you're a solo traveller in your own town while listening to music is one of the most meditative ways to spend a day alone.
Cook Yourself A Really Nice Meal
Spend an afternoon planning a wonderful meal to cook for yourself. You can go to the farmer's market or a fancy supermarket and really take your time picking out all the ingredients. After you slave away in the kitchen, you're going to feel super-accomplished and loved when you set that table for one. Be sure to light a candle and pour yourself a glass of wine. Damn, you sure know how to impress a girl.