The Essential Guide to Dating Yourself

Katie Carrig shares her top tips for spending quality time alone without feeling terrified

As an accidental, but habitual, serial monogamist, I’ve only just begun the process of learning to be comfortable in my own company. Since the age of 18, a revolving door of romantic partners has kept me anything but alone. Now that that chapter in my life is closed, basic tasks can seem daunting. Without someone there to just hold your hand in the supermarket, the world can start to feel like a frightening place. As part of this process of getting to know myself and learning to sit in silence, I (very bravely, I know) have decided that the only person I will take on dates for the next year will be myself. Without further ado, here is the unabridged version of how to go out in public alone without feeling like a loser. 

A book is your best friend.

The first time I sat down in a cafe alone for lunch, I found myself glued to my phone the entire time. I would have rather had everyone assume that I had been waiting for someone or had been stood up than simply getting lunch by myself. It took a long time for me to be comfortable knowing I can just exist and don’t owe anyone an explanation for my presence. A book is a wonderful buffer. You don’t have to actually be reading it. Hell, you can stare at the same page for two hours. It gives you something to do, or rather if you are a self conscious type, like me, it lets people know that you are actually hard at work. Slowly work your way up to journal in public and viola! Self reflection!

It took a long time for me to be comfortable knowing I can just exist and don’t owe anyone an explanation for my presence.

Watching a match is a great excuse to drink alone. 

I’ve always considered being left alone in a bar, even if my friends are just in the bathroom, the pinnacle of anxiety. Match day is the perfect excuse to nurse a pint, be out in public and make new friends. Don’t worry if you don’t actually understand what the rules are, there will undoubtedly be a shameless aul fella there to call you sweetheart and break down every single play to you. Bonus points if he buys the next round. 

A solo trip is a gateway drug. 

It can be intimidating doing things alone in your home city. Especially when that city is Dublin and everyone and their mother is on your morning commute. A solo weekend trip can be the perfect little crash course in going out alone. Once you realise your actions have no consequences when you’re away, it’s much easier to bring that mentality back home. 

Going alone to an art gallery is actually sexy and mysterious. 

Anything vaguely cultural is a perfect first solo outing. Wandering around a museum, or going to see a play, isn’t something you need another person for anyway. Going to spaces where talking is frowned upon ensures you don’t stick out. It’s also incredibly meditative to just wander around an art gallery with music and a nice fancy coffee as a treat. 

Nobody looks twice if your hands are occupied

My final bit of advice is unorthodox and objectively harmful. Smoking is a great way to occupy your hands in public. No one looks twice at someone sitting alone in a park smoking. I know, I know. Smoking is bad. Horrible for you. I am serious, don’t start smoking just for comfort in being alone. BUT, if you already are a smoker you know that nothing brings people together quite like cigarettes. A cig, a book and a coffee are my go-to’s in gaps in my schedule. 

You are not the centre of everyone’s world. 

If you’ve only ever been surrounded by people, learning to be okay with your own company is such a daunting task. Just please try and remember, no one observes you half as much as you do. And even if they did, it literally does not matter if the barista thinks you have no friends. And if all else fails, have a cheeky cigarette or fancy coffee. You’ve earned it.

no one observes you half as much as you do.