Five Reasons to Go on a Solo Date—and How to Do It
By Rebecca Deczynski
When you think of dating, you probably imagine any number of coupled-up activities—grabbing a drink, making dinner together, catching a movie, and so on. But you don’t have to be with another person to go on a date. In fact, solo dating is a great way to make time for yourself if you’re feeling dating app fatigue, don’t feel like dating, or just want some good old-fashioned alone time.
Not familiar with the term? A solo date is an intentional activity that you do alone. Key word: intentional. It might feel a little awkward at first (especially if you’re not used to doing things alone), but it’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone and prioritize your relationship with yourself.
The right solo date for you will depend on what you find fulfilling, and it’s a good idea to start out small, says psychotherapist Meghan Watson. If going to a concert or even out to dinner alone sounds too intimidating, you can start with something simple, like cooking yourself an especially extravagant meal at home or going out to a favorite cafe for a journaling session. What’s important is that your solo date is scheduled outside of your normal routine, says therapist Brittney Cobb. That way, “it shows commitment to doing something nice for yourself or trying something new.”
Once you give solo dates a try, you might be surprised just how much you enjoy your own company. Not to mention, there are many benefits from this intentional alone time. Here’s what solo dates can do for you:
Help you reset
If you’re experiencing dating fatigue, a solo date can help you reconnect with your feelings, says Whitney Goodman, psychotherapist and author of Toxic Positivity. “When you’re alone, you have a lot more access to your own thoughts and emotions,” she says.
Sure, you might already spend time alone when you’re grocery shopping or commuting to work, but the new environment of a solo date is especially conducive to the self-reflection that could help you get out of a rut, explains psychotherapist Sadaf Siddiqi. “We need a little bit of change now and then,” she says. “That’s how our brains work.”
Offer up new experiences
“Oftentimes, we put our lives on hold until we have somebody we can do things with,” says psychotherapist Alyssa Mancao. That might look like missing out on seeing one of your favorite bands play live, signing up for a cooking class, or even trying out a cool new cocktail bar you spotted on social media. “It’s important to ask yourself, ‘What’s wrong with my own company?’” says Mancao.
Solo dates can help you to focus on what you want to do—without having to rely on a romantic partner or even a friend for their company. And having those new experiences will benefit your overall mental health. “When we aren’t having new experiences, that’s when we feel stagnant and burnt out,” says Goodman.
Teach you what you don’t like
The activities that you do on a solo date—enjoying a special dinner, seeing a show, going to a museum—might be similar to the activities you’d do on a romantic date. And this comes with an unexpected benefit, Watson says: Solo dates can give you a better understanding of what kinds of dates you actually like, without the added pressure of another person in the mix. “You might realize that you’ve been going along with certain types of dates because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do, rather than what you actually enjoy doing,” she says. Then, if you do reenter the dating pool, you can apply that insight to make your future romantic dates much more enjoyable for you.
Give you confidence
An experience that might be a little anxiety-inducing, like a solo date, can make you more confident because it pushes you outside your comfort zone. If you’re eating alone at a restaurant for the first time, you might find yourself thinking, “Is everyone staring at me?” If you feel anxious, do your best to push through the discomfort, says Cobb. Once you prove to yourself that you can do things alone, you’ll feel “more confident, independent, liberated, happier, more relaxed, and at peace,” she says.
When you get over any initial nerves, you’ll also realize that your happiness doesn’t depend on other people, Siddiqi adds. “You’re the common denominator in every experience in your life,” she says. “So why would you not want to nurture the relationship that’s going to follow you in every single thing that you do?” Even if you’re not single, solo dating can help you to foster a sense of independence, which is important for healthy relationships, adds Watson.
Help you meet new people
The point of a solo date is to spend time with yourself—but that doesn’t mean you have to shun other people’s company in the process. In fact, solo dates are a great way to meet new people. “Being pushed out of our comfort zone motivates us to meet new people and have experiences that we probably wouldn’t have had if we were with a friend,” Mancao says. This could mean starting a conversation with a fellow museum-goer and realizing you have tons in common! Or making pals with another solo diner eating at the counter.
Solo dates are a great activity if you feel like you need to check in with yourself, whether you’re taking a break from dating or not. After all, the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself—so give it the time and attention it deserves.