When it comes to dating (or not dating), it’s critical to be comfortable dating yourself. After all, if you’re not happy in your own company, only you can change that. Plus, it’s a great way to learn more about yourself and figure out what your true interests are.
“Having solo dates is always needed for recalibration,” Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. “Sometimes, you’re the only one who can enjoy certain things, and it’s important to take time to continue doing so, whether you’re in a relationship or not. At the end of the day, if you like yourself, why not go out with yourself on a date?”
Lately, I’ve been taking myself on dates every week, and it’s been life-changing. In doing so, I’ve learned many valuable lessons, from gaining more self-confidence to getting more out of my comfort zone. Overall, it’s made me develop a “now or never” attitude, because if you don’t try something “now” — or this weekend — when will you? There are plenty of dates to take yourself on, especially once you start brainstorming, and some will help you get to know yourself better than others. If you’d like some inspiration, here are some ideas.
1Spend Time In Nature
There’s so much value to be gained when you spend time alone in nature, whether you do so locally or drive to a nearby mountain. You can hike, walk, or just sit still. Not only will it help clear your head, but the endorphins from hiking or walking will also help boost your mood.
For instance, last year when I was trying to come up with a logo for my Nomadic Natalia website, which is focused on my digital nomad life, I took an all-day walk through a waterfall park in Croatia, and the logo suddenly appeared in my head. I’d been brainstorming for weeks beforehand, and nothing. Of course, spending time in a quiet nature setting can help you reflect on all kinds of things, from your life goals to your interpersonal relationships.
Jill Sherer Murray, an award-winning writer, TEDx speaker, and founder of LetGoForIt.com, a brand designed to help people let go for a better life, also believes in the power of walking, and in a serene setting. “Taking a long walk in the park is an ideal date with yourself,” she tells Bustle. “It’s a great thing to do alone to clear your mind, as well as come up with creative ideas for anything you’re working on and your life.”
2Take Yourself Out To Dinner
Going out to eat alone may take some getting used to, but once you do it, it gets easier and easier. You can also start small — first going out for ice cream, then working your way up to dinner. Just think about it: On a dinner date with yourself, you can order whatever you’d like, eat as slow or as fast as you’d like, check out a new restaurant without having to wait for friends’ schedules to align with yours, etc. Plus, you can get many results from it: befriend people at nearby tables (I’m close friends with various people I’ve met in restaurants!), people-watch, and so on.
Sherer Murray is a fan of solo dinner dates, too. “I love to go to dinner by myself,” she says. “It’s a great time to escape the pressure of everyday life and not have to compromise. I’ll usually bring a book and eat leisurely, and I find it very calm and relaxing.”
3Go See A Movie
I think seeing movies alone is wonderful — you can’t talk to people during them anyway — and there’s something about sitting in the dark amidst a roomful of strangers that’s powerful. And if you’re afraid to go alone, don’t be: It’s dark, no one else cares (I promise!), and there are probably other people there alone, too.
One time at a movie, I was in a row alone and a group of people were sitting a few rows ahead of me. At first, I was intimidated and self-conscious, wondering what they thought about my being all alone. But after the movie, they started talking to me, and I even ended up going on a few dates with one of them. So, you never know.
4Try A New Class
Perhaps you’d like to check out some new fitness classes, but cannot decide between them all. A service like ClassPass can solve that dilemma so you can test drive a wide array of classes and activities. It’s the perfect gift to give yourself.
Carmelia Ray, celebrity matchmaker and Chief Dating Advisor of the WooYou app, agrees. “They’re the perfect date for someone looking to get a great workout and some much-needed me time,” she tells Bustle. “Maybe you want to try a boot camp, CrossFit, kickboxing, or Zumba. Or, you may be seeking a little less rigor and a little more zen by trying various yoga classes. Plus, the benefits of exercising are plenty, including to de-stress, enhance your mood, increase endorphins, and promote better sex."
5Take Yourself To The Spa
Not much more is relaxing than spending the day at the spa, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do so (hint: Groupon and LivingSocial are your friends!). You can also create a spa day at your house, as long as you remember to unplug and leave your phone on airplane mode so that you can fully enjoy your spa experience.
“While it’s fun to visit the spa with friends, doing so by yourself can allow you to clear your mind, go inward, and foster creativity,” Hall says. “It will be a far more nurturing experience than if you had been making conversation with others all day.”
For years, I was not a fan of meditating. However, when you go to a meditation-specific place to do so, it certainly helps — that may mean a center, like NYC's Inscape, a shrine, nature, both, or something in between. In L.A., there’s a Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine that has a lake, swans, turtles, flowers, and many serene walking paths and benches where you can just sit and reflect. Plus, you can make meditation into whatever you’d like, whether it’s chanting, using visualization techniques, closing your eyes and listening to nature, you name it. Plus, meditating helps clear your head from your everyday distractions, so you can focus on one thing at a time.
“Taking time to meditate, especially in nature, is far more nourishing when you do it solo,” Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, tells Bustle. Really allow yourself to take in all of the sights, sounds, smells, and appreciate the trees, flowers, animals, and thoughts that show up.”
7Take Yourself Shopping
Not everyone is a shopper, but when you do so alone, you’re guaranteed to have a good time: you can take all the time you need in dressing rooms, go to as many stores as you’d like, spend your money how you see fit, treat yourself to fun mall food, and so on.
“One date I like to do alone is go shopping,” Sherer Murray says. “It can be a nice afternoon in the city, where I’m browsing boutiques and little shops, and then stopping for a latte or to have a nice leisurely salad for lunch. Or, it can be a morning spent in Target, Marshalls, or Costco, walking up and down the aisles, just looking at things, imagining how they are a reflection of either who I am, where I’m at in life, or who I’d like to be.” She says the point is not necessarily about spending money, but about having the time to be mindful and to escape whatever else is going on in your life.
8Go To An Animal Shelter Or Dog Park
There’s no shortage of animals that need some love, so going to your local animal shelter is not only a great date for you, but also for them. Or, you can offer to walk a friend or neighbor’s dog. In no time, you’ll start to see the benefits — you’ll not only get to know yourself better, but also start to feel better overall. I used to walk an arthritic dog, and he taught me more about slowing down and appreciating the little things more than anybody. “Walking and talking a scenic route with dogs is a very peaceful activity for a solo date,” Sherer Murray says.
Ray thinks so, too. “Spending the day learning about pets while offering a helping hand is guaranteed to leave you with warm and fuzzy feelings,” she says. “Surrounding yourself with your favorite animals and allowing yourself to get your share of cuddles is an experience you’ll value in your heart, and so will they. Plus, you may meet other (single) pet lovers!”
9Go To A Sporting Event
Once when I was visiting my hometown of Chicago, I really wanted to go to a Cubs game, but it was a day game, so it was hard to find friends to go since they all had to work. I decided to go anyway. You may think that would be tough: The stands are crowded and everyone seems to be with friends. However, that’s exactly why it’s really no big deal — you’ll easily blend in and still get to attend the game. Ever since then, I’ve gone to more games alone, too.
“Sporting events are great to attend solo,” Edwards says. “You get to see the game you want, when you want, and among fellow fans. What could be better?”
As you can see, there are many dates you can take yourself on, and the above are only the beginning. “I tend to believe that anything you can do with another person is really fair game for doing on your own,” Sherer Murray says. “I believe that it’s important to go on these solo dates as often as possible, as part of the ritual of cultivating what I call ‘Radical Self-Love’ (RSL) — which takes the take-care-of-yourself kind of generic self-love to a deeper, more grounded place by adding intention.”
No matter what type of date you take yourself on, it’s bound to be educational, and you’ll get to know yourself better in the process, which is what it’s all about.