Date night with myself, and what I learned

I am a huge believer in ‘date night’. Life happens. Unless we catch our balance, it keeps happening. Hours spin into days, days whirl into weeks and years slip past.

For folk not familiar with the term, ‘date night’ is a time when you and your romantic partner pick a night or a day or an hour to do something special. You plan something, get dressed up, switch your phones off and focus on each other.

Date night (or date day) sits separately to every-day routine. It sits apart from grocery shopping or running a chore. It’s not the same as flopping on the couch hip to hip, playing with your phone. Date night/day sits in a planned, agreed-upon, clearly-defined space.

One of the homework tasks from the workshop I attended a few weeks ago was to go on a date with myself. There were helpful suggestions about going to bookstores or libraries, of buying pens and so forth.

My first reaction was, nup.

I love my own company. I spent as much time as I can alone. This task, I decided, is for folk who have a house filled with people, who are stretched every which way with duty and responsibility. I spend delicious chunks of my day alone. This task is irrelevant.

Or… is it?

My mind slid to ‘date night’ and what that concept means in the context of a relationship with a live-in partner. Date night sits separate to the every day, to the chores and the routines and the flopping.

A date with myself would, therefore, be different to all the other hours of being alone. Date night has a different energy and focus and intention.

This flash of insight made me shrug off the ‘nup’ and lean into the challenge. My shy lazy mind immediately launched into the ‘let’s go shopping idea’. I reigned that in. I am very good at shopping. I go shopping all the time. I buy a ridiculous amount of things, including pens and books.

Nope, a date needs to be different. A date needs to be outside the comfortable and the every day. A date needs to stretch us!

I picked a restaurant. I picked an outfit (you don’t go on a date in your house-dress). I booked a table (booked it for one, because I am NOT ashamed of dating my, er, self lol).

Being very shy and awkward in social settings, I was kind to myself. I booked the table at opening time, so it was nice and quiet. I drank cocktails (let’s face it, first dates can be awkward) and I brought a magazine so I wouldn’t need to twitch and burn and feel as awkward as a lump on a log (or a well-dressed lady sitting alone in an empty courtyard).

The magazine was a compromise. After all, you can’t play with your phone during a date, right?

I confess I very nearly piked. It was cold. It was getting dark. I was getting over a virus and I was hacking up a lung. But… you don’t cancel a date last minute, do you?

What did I learn? Well. On the night I learned the gnocchi at that place was far too salty for my taste. I reinforced my existing knowledge that I loveeeee cocktails.

Most of my learnings were leading up to the date, in recognising why being alone for this hour (or this date) was different from the previous hours of being alone in my house.

During most of that date I was IN the moment with myself. I was eating, drinking, watching trucks dropping things off and people arriving. The past and present rarely intruded into that space. I was present with myself in a way I am not present doing the dishes, or grocery shopping or lazing about on the couch.

Fortunately for me, I enjoy my own company. There was no awkward conversation, no push to smile or be curious or show an interest in someone else. The ‘date’ was soothing and reflective and left me feeling grounded and peaceful.

Will I do it again? Probably!

Sometimes, homework can be fun!

What have you challenged yourself with lately? Is it time to do something a little bit different and quirky?

First published on my website 3rd June 2021