The #solodate hashtag has over 200 million views. Countless, predominantly female creators are sharing their solo picnics, cinema trips, meals out, or whatever else they fancy doing. The main message is to prioritize self-care and cultivate your relationship with yourself. It’s the most important relationship you have, one that you are forced to maintain throughout your life.
In the Autumn of 2020, amidst uncertain futures and an overwhelmingly frightening pandemic sweeping the globe, I escaped to Madrid. At 18, I left to explore a new culture, language, and city independently. I’ve never felt so free. Knowing no one and battling a formidable language barrier, I was forced to spend more time alone.
I spent my days off work wandering the city, exploring galleries, writing in cafes, reading in parks, and I started to truly enjoy my own company. Miraculously, I even started to like myself; something I had seriously struggled with throughout my teenage years. Three years later and I am a huge advocate of solo dates. They are a great way to enjoy time alone and build your confidence, and it seems like many other people agree.
How to Enjoy Time Alone
The first time you attempt to do an activity alone, it can certainly be daunting. Fears of other’s opinions can cause you to over-think and over-analyse your situation rather than simply enjoy yourself. This is especially difficult for university students who are so used to being constantly surrounded by their peers. When there is always someone to talk to whether a roommate, course-mate, or partner, it can seem unnecessary to purposefully spend time alone.
However, even at university, there are times when your friends aren’t around, or maybe just not interested in what you want to do, in that case, it is equally valuable to do the activity alone. One tip is to have something there to distract yourself from any self-conscious feelings. Whether you enjoy reading a book, playing music, listening to a podcast, anything can help. It’s also important to remember that no-one else really pays much attention to what you’re doing. Do you remember the last time you saw someone sitting alone? Can you think of a time where you judged someone else for being by their self? I doubt it, and other people are equally as oblivious. Student, Issie Wilkinson, shares her love of solo zoo dates, she says:
Especially in a place with so many families and people going on dates I sometimes feel a bit of a loner. But I’ve come to realize that no one really cares. I’ve been challenging myself this year to do more things on my own such as going to the theatre and I think it’s important to be able to be comfortable in your own company. But also, I think I’d really struggle going out for dinner alone…so I guess it’s different comfort zones for different people!Issie Wilkinson
Main Character Energy
Another way to tackle embarrassment is to think of yourself in terms of a plot or narrative. Main characters in movies are often alone because they are interesting and engaging enough to not need social interaction constantly. You too can be that moody character sitting in the park, too cool to worry about what other people might think. Why not create an image for yourself, tell yourself who you are, how you want to think about yourself. There’s no pressure but just try to embrace how you’re feeling. Observe your emotions, sit with them, be grateful and kind to yourself as you would a loved one.
Why has Solo Dating Grown Now?
Across social media, there has been a rise in the topic of “self-care”, predominantly because of an underlying theme of TikTok therapy. Everyone, across generations have experienced so much uncertainty and anxiety due to Coronavirus in the past few years so it seems understandable why people’s mental health is being spoken about. Spending quality time alone can be so beneficial to self-esteem and overall happiness, for Issie,
Being able to get myself out of the house and be outside has definitely been really helpful when things feel like they are getting on top of me. I think it’s also shown me that I don’t need to rely on anyone else to do the things I want to do and that I should just enjoy myself rather than panicking about constantly being surrounded by others.Issie Wilkinson
I think the self-care movement has recently been propelled by “TikTok therapy”. These online conversations have allowed people to broaden their understanding of relationships. Relationships don’t have to simply concern loving partnerships, they can also be between friends, family, and even yourself. Who says that you cannot act in a loving, romantic way towards yourself? TikTok therapy has encouraged conversations about the way in which we think and act, from attachment styles to love languages, these conversations allow us to understand what we need in our lives and why. Understanding the basics allows us to feel empowered to work on changes that can be made in practice – like solo dates.
Where’s your next date going to be?