You’ve seen her — the woman sitting alone at a table for two, contentedly perusing the menu and sipping a glass of Riesling. Perhaps she’s reading a novel. Maybe she’s responding to a text with an amused smirk. She may coyly flirt with the waiter or pass the time before her entrée arrives by watching the activity at the tables around her. But one thing’s for sure: There’s nothing pitiable about her. This, you think as you watch her, is a woman who enjoys spending time with herself.
Hanging out alone can be awkward, especially if you’re used to having at least one friend along whenever you fancy an excursion. But there are benefits to the solo hang session. Attending an event alone can be an exercise in self-awareness. If you attend a gallery opening and hate the art, you don’t feel the pressure to be polite about it. If you’re an adventurous eater and can never find a friend willing to sample the pan-seared squid, you can check it out for yourself and keep an open mind without the echoes of “eeeew!” from across the table killing your buzz.
It’s always nice to take a break from socializing and curl up at home with a good book. But it’s another feat entirely to brave the coupled and grouped world as a single sojourner. Here are few places to go to test your tolerance for enjoying yourself alone:
1. Movie theaters
You want to see the latest summer blockbuster the weekend it opens, but none of your friends is available. Do you wait for them so you have someone to discuss the flick with? Or do you strike out on your own and tell them to catch you (and the movie) later? If part of your movie-going enjoyment is the group thing — sharing snacks and trading whispered barbs about the bad acting — you may not be able to have a great time by yourself. But if you can laugh it up without someone in the seat beside you, it’s a really fulfilling experience.
Museums can be a great place to go it alone. There are people around, but because art appreciation is so subjective, you get to decide how you feel about each piece and hone your own observations and opinions without outside influence.
Can you geek out about your favorite band without someone you know cheering for them alongside you? Some people can’t. Concerts are notorious “team effort” spaces; it always seems more fun when someone’s there with you. But if you know you’ll love the performance just as much alone as you would with friends, it should be a great relief to discover you can buy one ticket for yourself as soon as sales open, rather than having to wait and coordinate the outing with others.
Are you comfortable frequenting social spaces alone or do you prefer having a friend along for the ride? Is it easy for you to find ways to amuse yourself?