A Love Letter to Solo Dates


Running out of my Manhattan apartment shouting taxi into a street where not a single taxi was passing by, I realised I was in fact, not Carrie Bradshaw. It was 2012, I had just moved to New York City for grad school and I was ready for my solo date; silver statement necklace weighing down my neck and everything. I had survived my late teens on a diet of watching Sex and The City on repeat, making a Tumblr dedicated to NYC and fashion magazines I bought on my student loan for my fashion journalism degree. With that said, I of course took myself to bougie Balthazar for my first solo date. I could blame the extra-ness on my astrology but delusions of grandeur have surged through my veins since I learned how to speak. 

At Balthazar, I sat with starched tablecloths and cutlery that felt like paperweights in my hand. Napkins finding a home in the waist of my high street pencil skirt. From council estate to masquerading as Black Carrie aside, I was mainly excited by my own company (and the fries, oh the fries). At the time, I had a boyfriend and some new pals from my course, but I found such meaningful magic in my solo dates. On non-Balthazar days, I was living off tins of black beans, basmati rice and plantain so all of my dates were not as extravagant as this. 

I traced the lines, studied the curves and caressed the edges of New York City, just as I would a new lover. I went to bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, parks, galleries and museums. Spending time with myself that was intentional rather than coincidental. In the same way that I write, with each word being intentional, so was my time with myself. I guess, that’s the only condition for a solo date. Do whatever you want but make your time with yourself intentional, not coincidental.

It’s a practice of not waiting. Not waiting for friends to be free. Not waiting for a partner. Not waiting to feel confident enough to spend time out in the world by yourself. Not waiting for anything. It’s a practice of being an artist in the art of solitude. We can use solo dates to learn and experience how it feels to just be with ourselves. It’s a rainy-day fund for the times when it would feel easier to leave ourselves as we have now spent a solid amount of time, practising staying within ourselves. It isn’t a substitute for community, it is an addition to it. 

I’ve been solo-dating for 11 years now, it has been the constant in the traffic of lovers and friends who have come, gone and stayed. I have experience as my companion, but I know that for most of us we have become more familiar with not being with ourselves, so the idea of sitting at a restaurant on a table for one is anxiety-inducing. Scroll for my solo date ideas.

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”

– Bell Hooks

A Mini Guide To Solo Dates

You Deserve the Table
If you feel more comfortable sitting at a bar then do your thing, but see if you can push your comfort zone and get a table for one. It’s easy to get in the “oh, it’s only for me” habit, which we need to collectively break. Some restaurants don’t even have online booking capacity for one person, as if the world is built for two. So as an act of Quiet Rebellion, call up and ask for a table for one. You are worth it and it makes for a more intentional experience than just grabbing lunch in between other things. 

Phones and Books Are Training Wheels
The idea of just being fully alone with your thoughts and senses might feel hideous, so if you are nervous then go armed with some props. Having a book or magazine to read in a restaurant might feel easier. As I said, it’s a practice, do what you have to do to just do the thing. Then, start to let go of the training wheels and see what you discover. 

Partner Up with Your Senses
Use whatever senses you have available to you, as your partner. I truly believe that food tastes better when we eat alone. The lack of conversation allows us to really be in the dining experience. Eating slower without pausing to talk. Eating more mindfully. Likewise, in a museum or exhibition we’re not rushing to keep up with whoever we’re with or pausing to discuss (while these are also wonderful, solo dates offer a new perspective). Challenge your senses and focus on deep present moment awareness. Just be here with yourself and see what happens. Go forth and date and I’d love to see what you get up to so do tag me on Instagram.