I have been selectively single for two years now, and in that time, I’ve set my sights on my own growth as an individual and as a partner in all of my relationships with others. In the past two years, I have been on countless dates with potential partners, been disappointed in the outcome of the food, conversation, or a tragic combination of both. However, after one particularly bad date, I had a revelation: Why am I subjecting myself to bad dates when I could craft my own version of a perfect date for myself and eliminate the second party altogether?
Hear me out – I used to avoid sitting near single people in restaurants because I saw it as such a depressing way to spend a meal. There they were, sitting alone at a restaurant with no one in the world to sit with them. However, once I became single myself, I realized that what those people actually had was peace. There was a kind of beauty in sitting alone at a restaurant, allowing oneself to soak in the atmosphere, taste every bite of food, while silently observing others in the restaurant. Once I began to shift my own perspective, I began a journey of growth that I never knew I needed. With that being said, my one piece of advice to singles out there is this: Set a regular date night with yourself. You’ll find yourself happier, more fulfilled, and eventually more attractive to the type of people you actually want to bring into your life. Below are the five tips on how to maximize your solo date night efforts and why you’ll never feel lonely again.
1. Change your perspective
As I mentioned before, I used to see solo diners as sad and lonely people who didn’t have a soul on earth with whom they could enjoy a meal. However, once I began to see these individuals as bold, brave, and independent, I found a desire to absorb those traits myself. I am bold. I am brave. I am independent. Dining alone at a restaurant is not sad and lonely, it laughs in the face of social standards that were created by Hollywood, tradition, and probably your grandmother. Should you be single, god forbid you show yourself in public… eating (gasp!). Understanding that the taboo around eating alone at a restaurant stems from a level of self-consciousness embedded in us from a young age, we can begin to break away from antiquated social rules that no longer serve us. We no longer must feel as though we are single, sad, and destined for loneliness if we enjoy a meal alone in public.
2. Commit to yourself
The second tip for maximizing your efforts in your growth as a single person is to commit to your regular date night with yourself as if it were with the most important person in your contacts list. You must believe that this regularly-scheduled date night is an absolute requirement whereby your calendar is cleared, you reject any outside invitation for that block of time, and you commit that time exclusively to your date night. This is non-negotiable. Treating this time as if it were any other meeting or date with another person is critical. If it helps, you can think of it as a date with the future you. Think about the excitement of getting to know the future you as if it were the partner of your dreams. You wouldn’t turn down a date for your perfect partner, so why would you cancel on the perfect version of you? Along these lines, make sure that this date night is top notch. If you are strapped for cash, but imagine yourself at a steak dinner, save up and do an extravagant twice-a-year date. If you are limited on time, make it a coffee date. The frequency, duration, and cost of the date must fit in your budget, but there are so many ways to ensure that it does!
3. Plan it like you want it
When planning your perfect date night with a future partner, how do you imagine it would go? Would this person pick you up at your home, take you to a fancy restaurant, then go for a leisurely stroll downtown? Would you go for an evening hike, then picnic at the perfect spot with a view of the mountains? Does your date take you to Chili’s and order the margarita with top-shelf liquor before you even ask for it? Whatever it is you imagine your perfect date to be, make it happen. If your date picks you up, have an Uber waiting for you. Reserve a table at a five-star restaurant with a request to sit at the exact table you want with your chosen wine ready at the table. Map out the perfect hike and plan the picnic meal several days in advance. Sit down in the booth at Chili’s and order the top-shelf liquor for your strawberry margarita with the salted rim. Make. It. Happen. Whatever it is you’d imagine happening on the perfect date, make it come true for yourself.
4. Bring a “friend,” but not a phone
While the date itself must be solo, the next tip for those just starting out or still intimidated by the time alone, it is okay to bring something with you. No, it can’t be your phone. Absolutely not. This time is for reflection inward, not to scroll endlessly through social media and open the lens to the outside world. However, if you are intimidated by sitting alone, it is perfectly okay to bring along a book or a journal. I once took myself out to a nice Italian restaurant, brought my journal, and wrote nearly the entire dinner. I wrote about what I observed. I wrote about my food. I wrote about my feelings. During this long dinner, a table of two women spotted me, and just as I was about to leave, they asked if I’d join them for a drink at their table. They thought I was a journalist or food critic. Fast forward another two hours and we had formed a connection based on our mutual volunteer work in the community. Since then, I’ve worked alongside these two women half a dozen times and we’ve become lifelong friends. This connection would not have been possible had I not made a conscious effort to put down my phone and bring something a little more “inviting” to dinner with me that night.
5. Dress the part
Whatever your style, it is so important that you dress for the date night like you are meeting your soulmate. This is one of the non-negotiable tips that goes along with your solo date night. Do you picture meeting your future partner in a navy suit with a paisley tie? Wear it. Are you meeting your soulmate in a sports bra and worn-out hiking boots? Lace up. Are you meeting your soulmate in a slinky gown with bejeweled heels? Better get the Band-Aids ready. It is so important to dress for this date as if it were your last one you’d go on by yourself. Dressing for your solo date is key to giving you the self-confidence you’ll exude while enjoying every bit of it. It will also guarantee that when others look to judge you (which they will) that you beam your highest self out into the world. Shine your light and be yourself in all and everything you do during the date. Put on your best outfit. Get out the clutch that you only use on special occasions. Slip on something underneath your clothes that makes you feel like a million bucks.
At first, you might get nervous at the idea of going out and sitting by yourself for a meal. However, know that this is a commitment to your own growth as a person and as a partner. You will eventually find it easier to filter out the disappointing dates, avoiding the “wrong” types of people you’ve dated thus far. Once you’ve been on a dozen perfect dates with yourself, it will be so easy to filter out potential partners who offer anything less than your new standard.