I dated myself for a week and this is what I learned


Society has conditioned us into believing that we’re not complete if we don’t have a second half.

Like most people, I certainly wouldn’t mind having the companionship eventually but at this point in my life I feel like I’m not quite ready for it and that I’ve still got a lot of soul-searching to do.

I've figured that the best way to be with someone else is to learn be comfortable being on your own, which means taking the step to be bold enough to go to places commonly known for being massive social gathering spots. Alone.

This was quite a daunting prospect for me because I’m generally not a social person and I’m super anxious to boot.

But I decided to be brave and take myself out to places I’d normally prefer to go to with people.

Here’s how it went:

The movies

I think the best and easiest place to start is the movies due to the darkness and the anonymity that being in a movie theatre provides. 

I’ve been meaning to go and watch Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-nominated movie The Shape of Water for ages and decide that, considering it’s been out for a few weeks and that the cinemas would probably not be overwhelmingly full, I’d head on out and catch an evening show.

Things I did: showed up way early, wandered around the mall feeling weirdly anxious about this and walked into the theatre about 15 minutes too early.

Once the movie started and as people started showing up I relaxed and it alleviated my fears that I’d be alone in the theatre. It helped though that the theatre wasn’t too full so I could just sit back and enjoy my own company without the need for making conversation with a neighbour.

In fact, I can finally understand why so many of friends aren’t afraid of doing this and I'll definitely be treating myself to a solo movie date more often.

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Coffee on my own

Despite the fact that I see so many people sitting down for a cuppa, this one proved to be a little harder to do.

For one there’s no dark protective theatre shield and at any given time of the day you’re pretty much guaranteed to find yourself surrounded by a good number of people (with movies you do luck out with empty theatres sometimes).

In many ways I think this task was a bit of a failure because from the beginning I set myself up to simply survive the experience instead of enjoying it.

I also brought a book as my shield. Just so that I could avoid making eye contact with anyone (accidental or not) except the waiters.

To be fair, I’m a big book nerd so I always carry books with me and am likely always to be found in a spot that allows for reading).

Would I do this one again? I think I should – surviving was step one but perhaps enjoyment can be achieved second time around?

READ MORE: 4 ways to make your next blind date a lot less awkward

A walk in The Company Gardens

One of the most low key things I did and one that proved to really put me at ease was simply hanging out at The Company Gardens.

Not only is it a great spot for getting out of the office and grabbing a bench to enjoy lunch and indulge in a bit of read but has the kind of green scenery that you need when you want to play tourist in your own city.

It’s also a great opportunity to people watch and no one can say that feeding the squirrels isn’t fun. Would 100% and easily do this again.

READ MORE: 11 things to do around South Africa that won't cost you a thing

WATCH: South African Museum was actually FREAKING AMAZING | Things to do in Cape Town

The museum

Museums, like art galleries are fun when you go with someone, but the experience is only truly savoured when you’re browsing on your own time and don’t have to be conscious of the fact that you’re with a group who may or may not want to stop at the same work or display you want to take in. 

A space that is soothing and an educational, this spot proved to me one of the most stress-free solo outings ever. It also reminded me just how much of my city’s tourist spots, historical sites and art galleries I’m still missing out on, so there’ll definitely be more of this in the future.

What will I be trying next? Perhaps a visit to Zeitz MOCAA to view the gorgeous art, or to the Planetarium (it’s been ages since I’ve been there). Maybe I’ll even venture out and do a wine farm tour on my own.

READ MORE: Why relationship goals shouldn’t be based on what you see on social media

I’m a little more open to doing things that scare me and realised that sometimes my own company is pretty awesome.

And it turns out that although a few of you find the idea of dating yourself a little weird, most of you either take yourself out all the time, or are convinced that you should definitely treat yourself more often.

And then of course there are those who already practise this wonderful art of self-care and self-love.

And if you still need a little more convincing, we chatted to counselling psychologist and South African author of the book Self Help Stories: A therapist's stories to teach, heal and inspire change, Joanne Macgregor who gave some wonderful advice to anyone who is afraid of learning to enjoy dating themselves:

The longest relationship you’ll ever have is the one with yourself, so it makes sense to invest time, energy and money in getting to know and like yourself. Besides, it’s fun!

Solo dates give you an opportunity to learn that being alone doesn’t mean the same thing as being lonely.

"They teach you to be comfortable with being on your own and you’ll discover that going out alone can still be a rich, enjoyable experience. Some people are so afraid of being alone, that they settle for poor or even abusive treatment in their intimate relationships or friendships rather than calling it quits.

But solo dates are liberating and empowering, and an excellent way of nurturing yourself. Solo dates can build confidence, independence, self-sufficiency and the awareness that your happiness is your own responsibility.

In relationships, every decision is a compromise – the colour of the curtains, what’s for dinner, the movie you’re going out to see.

It allows you to experience the rare joy of doing precisely what will please you – be it a stroll through an art gallery, or an afternoon at the cricket — without worrying if your partner or friend will enjoy it.

They're also a good tonic for these days when we are always socially connected – if not in person, then online. They remind you to be in the moment, especially if you come on out from behind that device where you’ve been hiding, and take in the experience fully."

Do you date yourself? What kind of places to you love going to on your own? I’d love to hear your stories.

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