I Took Myself On A Date -And It Was Everything I Needed
Why I decided to take myself on a date… Plus, solo dating & self-care tips
Yes, last Friday I took myself on a date. Well, why not? I wouldn’t say it was completely spontaneous, but the day wasn’t meticulously planned either. It flowed. Let me start at the beginning.
A little over a month ago now, mid-August 2020, I enjoyed yet another life-changing event. I say ‘another’, because the last few years have been one dramatic improvement after another, in terms of personal growth as well as building a cosy home life for our little family. It hasn’t been without bumps and glitches, don’t get me wrong -but with blood, sweat and tears we managed to buy our forever home, I got my perfect smile thanks to Invisalign, I learned to drive & got my driving licence last year, I celebrated my 40th this year –plus, after four years of engagement we’ve set a date for our wedding (summer 2021). So, what’s the latest? I finally got the specialist hearing aids I’ve always needed.
In the past, the cost of the hearing aids I need has been prohibitive. Although much is available on the wonderful NHS here in the UK, I need the type of hearing aids which aren’t available as part of that brilliant service. I don’t have typical ‘deafness’, which is simply a degeneration of hearing and which could be helped simply by amplifying all sound. I have severe high frequency loss in both ears, meaning that speech in particular is extremely difficult for me to understand –and the hearing aids I need are complex, and therefore expensive.
Getting Stuff Done
This year I bravely made an appointment with an audiologist (I used Specsavers –yes, they do hearing aids too), got an up-to-date hearing test done, and had a look at which hearing aids would be best for me. It was confirmed, as it had been during a previous test about 8 years ago, that I have up to 40% loss of low tones and up to 90% loss of high tones, in both ears. The completely in-the-ear hearing aids, invisible types, weren’t suitable for my particular loss. I’d need over the ear ones. That’s fine, I reassured the specialist. I don’t mind anyone being able to see them. Long story short –I picked my hearing aids, they were programmed up for me and I went back the following week to collect them and get help with the initial fitting and to learn all about them.
Wonderful times ensued, where I could hear everything. I could hear a little too well, in fact!
What has this got to do with taking myself on a date?
After the first couple of weeks of more-than-perfect hearing bliss, I noticed my right ear getting a bit sore. Really pretty sore, in fact. I tried some Audisol spray from Amazon, but it didn’t relieve it. The hearing aid was definitely pushed in far enough… Damn. I had to get back to my audiologist and see what was up. The Specsavers I used is the closest to me, but that’s still in the nearest city to our rural home– about a half hour drive away. The only time the specialist could do was half two on Friday afternoon – not great timing for the school run for my youngest! There was nothing for it – we decided that my fiancé would do the afternoon school pick-up, albeit with our friend by car, as my man hasn’t got his driving licence quite yet. This gave me the entire afternoon to get to the city, complete my appointment and have the whole rest of the afternoon to do… whatever I liked.
Now, that was an interesting and unusual proposition. My time is very rarely my own these days, and the short snippets of time where I’m alone or enjoying a break are rudely cut short by the mundane daily deadlines of real life.
I decided to spend the afternoon after my audiology appointment on a date… with myself.
My Solo Date
My self-date destination wasn’t exactly glamorous. But it didn’t matter. I was so excited to have the opportunity and time to enjoy being by myself, as just me – not a partner, not a parent – and do whatever I like. The fact that I was able to drive myself to my destination, a privilege I greatly appreciate which has only been possible a lot later in life than with many other people, added to the feeling of excitement and complete independence.
I parked up in the multi-storey, paid for my ticket and headed into town. I had a little time before my hearing aid appointment so took the opportunity to browse in some of the nearby shops, and pick up a few treats.
My audiology appointment went well, and that sense that I’d travelled there by myself and was able to fulfil an appointment alone was still keeping me on a simmer of almost smug contentedness. A real confidence boost. My audiologist took the time to show me some other silicone ‘domes’ which fit over the main in-ear part, and a smaller type seemed to be a better fit for my right ear.
Appointment kept, and hearing aid issue (hopefully) sorted, I strode out of Specsavers ready to enjoy the rest of the afternoon on a date with myself. The whole city awaited my whims, so obviously I made a beeline for Primark. Don’t judge me; I hadn’t been in one since before lockdown so that was enough reason, plus the variety of cheap clothes mean that I love a bit of Primarni when possible. They don’t sell online, only in-store, so it’s very much a ‘shopping day out’ treat.
I spent a great deal of time there, browsing everything fully, deliberately taking my time just because I could. Eventually (and somewhat reluctantly, even though my arms couldn’t bear the weight of the basket anymore), I made my way to the tills. Paying the bill I swept down the escalator and headed back to the multi-storey car park with my goodies.
Oh, I wasn’t done with the day. Not at all. This was simply a case of off-loading the shopping bags so far and heading back in for more…
As I returned to the town centre, I walked through an indoor market area and spotted a gorgeous florist’s stall. I somewhat impetuously bought myself a red rose plant – red roses are my favourite – and picked up a bouquet of fresh cut red roses to give my lovely man upon my return home. I was on a date with myself after all; it felt right to buy myself some flowers!
Bouquet in arms and rose plant carried safely in a bag, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll back through the town. I was getting peckish by this point, so decided that the cherry on my self-date cake would be to treat myself to a meal.
Table For One, Please
Going for a meal by myself doesn’t come easily or comfortably. In previous years my low confidence levels would have prevented me from doing it. I’m older now, and after working on my confidence for the past several years, the thought of it doesn’t phase me nearly as much. In truth, I was quite excited about the prospect.
Found a suitable pub/restaurant place, thoroughly sanitised my hands and gave the lady in the entrance my track ‘n trace details in accordance with the current COVID-19 rules. Found a table and made myself comfortable, carefully setting down my bagged rose plant as well as the rose bouquet. I must have looked like I’d arrived for an arranged date – and in a way, I had. I just wasn’t waiting for anyone else to join me!
Every eatery in the UK is table service only by law at the moment, so I didn’t have to worry about getting up/queuing to order, and leaving my stuff unattended by my seat. In addition, there was an app, so I could browse the menu on my phone and place my order and simply await its arrival. Perfect.
While waiting for my food and drink I made myself properly comfortable. Did a bit of people watching, took in the atmosphere (limited, on a weekday lunchtime during a pandemic, but still), then fired up my Play Books app to continue reading one of my e-books. My order soon arrived and I really enjoyed tucking in while reading, in complete, blissful peace.
I guess I must have looked quite curious, a woman eating alone with a bouquet of roses on the other end of the table, but rather than worrying about what anyone thought, it just amused me. Yeah, I’d taken myself on a date. No-one had ‘stood me up’. I was having a great self-dating day!
Time To Go
After a lovely meal and refreshing drink (non-alcoholic, obviously – I’m a driver now) it was time to make my way back out to the town. I hit up some fantastic sales as I slowly wended my way back to the car park, and was a little sad when it came time to start up the packed car and take my leave.
I enjoyed being able to walk past the buses and taxis knowing I’d passed my licence and had my hard-earned luxury of driving myself home to look forward to.
Driving home through the busy traffic I was absolutely elated that I’d managed to come all this way by myself, that I was finally enjoying true independence and that I was confident enough to take myself on a date for an afternoon. Not even the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic could cause my beaming smile to falter all the way home.
Upon arriving back at our house, and bursting through the door with a possibly over-enthusiastic, “HIIIIIIIIII I’M HOME!”, I happily told D about my brilliant afternoon out while unloading the shopping from the car.
He was over the moon with his beautiful bouquet of roses and was delighted I’d had such a wonderful time.
The evening was spent feeling very pleased with myself, with cosy snuggles with my man in front of the TV and some celebratory drinks.
Over-excited Facebook updates upon arriving home: 🙈
Fancy A Date?
If you’re feeling emotionally drained, like life is too busy, too noisy, too stressful, I’d thoroughly recommend enjoying a solo date. Before I took myself on a date last week it wasn’t something that would have occurred to me to schedule in; plus, I didn’t have my driving licence until late last year which made arranging time out by myself difficult if not impossible. Being away from home, away from the children and having got away on my own steam felt extremely healing for me. After the difficulties this year has posed, emotionally, mentally and with the physical/social restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, taking myself on a date was exactly what I needed.
I believe we all need regular windows of time where you don’t have to worry about:
- Being a partner
- Being a parent
- Whatever flavour of mess the world is in today
I don’t believe your solo date has to be expensive, and in truth, you don’t need to be able to drive. It doesn’t matter what your relationship status is, or if you have children or not. In these stressful times, surely everyone could benefit from taking a little time out to focus on themselves even if just for a short while.
You could plan a self-date for a specific day, so you’ve got something to look forward to. Walk to a nearby park, pack yourself a book to read or load up your e-reader. Take snacks and drinks for a solo picnic. Or, research bus or train timetables if you’d like to go on a date with yourself further afield. It can be as expensive or as economical as your budget allows. Prioritise this special date as a ‘factory reset’ for yourself, and don’t make excuses when the day arrives, or allow yourself to cancel.
I found that taking myself on a date was a great way to ‘check out’ of my usual, constant responsibilities for a little while. It was precious, valuable time to re-ground myself, reassess life and everything that comes with it, to feel like ‘just me’ again without relationships or children or other parts of adulting weighing heavily on my mind, body and emotions.
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