How to fall in love with you: step one

Conway2 Continuing on from Wednesday’s post, one of the most powerful ways i found to connect with the me I’d been shunning was to take myself out on dates. Having been in relationships all my adult life, i wasn’t used to doing certain things on my own, and the day i took myself to the cinema, all on my own, was a day to remember. I’d always thought that people who went to the cinema alone were a bit tragic, a bit Billy-no-mates. I know, I know, what a hideous thing to think, but it was coming straight from my own fears of being alone and loveless/friendless. But if we fast forward to now, going to watch a film on my own is one of my favourite treats: I buy something hot and calorific from Starbucks, see whatever film i want and sit wherever I want (without someone fidgeting beside me or kicking the back of my seat). I sink into the womb-like darkness of the auditorium and lose myself for a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon. Total bliss.

Once I discovered the joy of a lone cinema visit, I started getting bolder: i tried a lunch on my own. And i don’t mean a humble sandwich quickly eaten on a park bench. I’m talking about ordering a delicious lunch from a menu somewhere nice. I’m talking waiter service and a bill at the end. There is something extraordinarily empowering about taking yourself for lunch. The first few times i felt a bit awkward and ate quickly and left fast, but these days i sit and savour my space. I might bring a book or notebook, and sometimes i’ll be working at my laptop, but I also like not having anything to hide behind – just me, my plate of food, a room full of people to watch, my thoughts to think and some space to breathe. To be me… in public. I especially like having lunch on my own while abroad – San Francisco and Montreal provided a few memorable opportunities for me to sit quietly and watch the world go by; i even refused the offer of a newspaper to read. I’ll sometimes get a few quizzical stares from patrons, but generally people are too wrapped up in their own lunch to notice me sitting there. I always share a secret smile with other women I see eating on their own – maybe they’re like me and dig the lone dining mission, or they’re taking a break from work, or are mums who’ve escaped their kids for an hour or two. I like being a member of the lone diners club and i can’t wait to take myself out on a gastronomic tour of London when i return in the summer.

Now for some of you i imagine this might all sound rather obvious and if you’ve been self-dating for years keep doing it! But if you fear, like I did, that doing this stuff alone is sad or, more likely, exposing and makes you feel vulnerable then i invite you to give it a go the next chance you get. Start with an afternoon’s cinema date, and then work your way up to a lunch date. Take a book, find a cosy spot in the corner of the restaurant and see what happens… if nothing else, the feeling of accomplishment will keep you buzzing all the way home!

They say we must eat sensibly, exercise regularly and take time out to de-stress – I’d like to add ‘fall in love with ourselves’ to that list. To be able to cultivate our self-esteem and sense of worth we need to get to know ourselves – the soft tender places and the bold and powerful places. The hurts and fears, the joys and successes. We are worth this nurturing time – we deserve it! It keeps our heads and our hearts healthy and makes us better daughters*, sisters, mothers, partners, friends, employees, entrepreneurs, dreamers.

Can i get an OH YEAH!

* and sons – hello to my handful of male readers**!
** in particular Robby, a 14-year-old book-loving rockstar who just left a comment. I am so impressed with your blog! I hope my nephew follows in your footsteps :)

How to fall in love with you: step two :: step three :: step four



52 responses
  1. Qui

    Those dates do sound sublime. It is really important to know that we can be alone with ourselves…thanks for the reminder :)

  2. Steffi

    Oh yeah! So good! ?

  3. Debi

    Susannah – Oh yeah! The bliss of oneself. I cannot survive without it.

  4. Stacy

    Yeah, I love “Stacy dates.” I find the more I do them, the better company I am.

  5. robby

    Hello! :]
    This was such an inspiring post. I’m a teenage boy, getting lost in the world of high school relationships. I need to distance myself from that part of my life.
    This post reminded me why I need to do just that.

  6. Susannah

    Hi Robby! *waves*

  7. Marthe

    This post is great!
    I’m to fearful to have lunch on my own, so you can imagine I have had many meals on benches (or even just walking around).
    I’m not even comfortable with having a coffee on my own, even if I have uni work I can bring.
    I wonder if there are any other tricks, or if I should just start doing it and get over it…

  8. pat

    oh yeah! what a thought provoking post! “aloneness” is the best way i know to check out yourself & its a whole different way to commune with our fellow citizens (like the smiles & eye contacts we experience). words are not always necessary!

  9. Catherine

    This post is so perfect! I absolutely adore going to the cinema by myself. I told my mom (directly after I saw An Education sans company) that even when I’m married, my hubby will have to stay home when I go to watch a movie. The past 6 months have been a true study in getting to love myself. I even graduated to lunching alone recently!
    “the womb-like darkness”… so true!

  10. lucy

    I’ve been single for 12 years after many relationships, living together, and marriage. It’s taken me awhile to learn to love myself and discover who I truly am as an individual, and who I want to be in a future relationship. I’ve discovered that if you wait around for someone to do something with, you’ll never do much! So while I do plenty of things with family and friends and the occasional date, I regularly go walking alone, shopping alone, dinging alone, traveling alone, and exploring alone. As you say, it is a liberating gift to yourself. Thanks for a great post.

  11. Kelly wills

    I loved this! One of my favorite times was when I took myself out to a “learn to swing dance” class….all on my own. I felt giddy, a little silly, but I HAD SO MUCH FUN! I look back and have to laugh. Such a brave thing to do. I would do it again in a heart beat. We were new to Salt Lake, Jason was out of town with the kids and I needed to dance. I ended up dancing with an old man…he had to be 80 or so.
    I love the idea of falling in love with yourself.
    It’s time for another date night.
    Thanks for inspiring me.

  12. suzie

    this is great advice! I have to say tho’ in France it is not at all uncommon to see women dining alone, or sitting by themselves in a cafe watching the world go by. Could it be a cultural thing? Perhaps a little aloofness brings self-sufficiency along for the ride?

  13. quirky brunette

    I love your blog, and your last two posts are especially fantastic and poignant — thank you!
    Being alone and being lonely are two very separate things, and we should not be ashamed — in fact we should be proud — to be a party of one! We are independent and know our own minds and know when we need quality us-time.
    Thanks again!

  14. Tor

    I just love taking myself out on a date. Despite feeling very comfortable going on solo dates I’ve always looked at it as a slightly odd thing for me to do, especially as I have a lovely partner to enjoy these times with. However, now I’ll regard my occasional solo lunch dates/cinema dates/gig dates as a way to fall in love with myself and not a strange loner thing to do.

  15. charlane

    my date days with myself are sometimes my most favorite days. a bit of food, a book, my camera, maybe a bit of prezzie at the thrift or a boutique. it’s days of adventure.

  16. Johanna

    This post strikes such a chord with me. I too am fearful of being exposed and myself in public. I am getting better at it but it is hard to find the confidence to be myself (true authentic self) around strangers.
    I think I need to take myself out on a date.

  17. Amanda {Mocking Bird}

    Even though I am in a relationship, I consider myself a loner. Is that weird?lol
    I once took a trip to Europe on my lonesome in my 20s and I look back now and think I must have been nuts but it was good. I could go where I wanted to and not have to wait for anyone.
    I’ll never forget my hotel in Rome however. Every night I’d go down to this little restaurant and order a meal for one. The waiter would look at me with sad eyes and say “just you, again?” and then pout for me.
    He must have thought I was the saddest girl on the planet but it just made me laugh and gave me one of my happy, funny memories of Italy.
    The only thing I didn’t like about it was standing in front of the Trevi Fountain for the first time with my “oh my!” and then turning to see nobody standing next to me.
    But yes, alone time is good for the soul.

  18. Susan

    Luckily I had the example of my mother who went to films by herself. All the more to enjoy herself. I’ve no problem going on dates with myself. I now have the opposite problem…oh well:)

  19. Stephanella

    I don’t know whether it is down to being an only child or what, but I’ve always thought, and I always say, that I am my own favourite company. I suppose that explains why multiple trips to Paris, Chicago and San Francisco have been so successful and fab. May I suggest Paris to anyone in search of a companion. Any unaccompanied woman there becomes a Man Magnet. You don’t even have to try anything, just sit around and see. Très, très jolie pour la self-esteem my friends!

  20. amy

    i adore going to the movies alone (and drinking cups of tea in cafes — mostly with a book) but i’d never thought of it as a date with myself. when i was younger, friends did ask if i worried what other people thought when they saw me munching on my popcorn by myself.
    on a practical level, as a single woman, i would miss out on too many things that make me happy if i stayed home. i think one thing that helped me was spelling out the fear in blunt terms — a complete stranger that i’m unlikely to ever see again is going to think that i don’t have any friends. to me, that makes it sound like a silly thing to fret about.
    i get the Trevi Fountain feeling though… i have definitely felt the same thing on my travels. that taps into a sadness about maybe being alone in life, rather than what other people might make of my aloneness.
    i think i might go to the movies this afternoon!

  21. natalea

    I have been going out to eat lunch at least once a week alone for years now- and that’s while being married and having friends who would probably go! I just love that time alone. I usually read a book, but sometimes I stay for a couple hours, have wine, relax, and enjoy it! It’s been one of my favorite things to do in the last few years. I actually prefer a day out shopping, eating, movie alone, and yet I consider myself a “people person”. I think it’s just important to spend some quality fun time with “you”. I’ve even gone to dinner in the evening alone and thought nothing of it…now I wonder who thinks I’m a weirdo! Maybe i like being out and about alone a little “too” much!! ha!

  22. donna good

    oh i love movie dates with me! as you described the “womb-like darkness”…so perfect to relax in! wish i could wear my pajamas there…

  23. fat mum slim

    I love this. LOVE it.
    I used to self-date, a lot. That was before I married… and then I was too busy being a wife, and a employee, and then I had my daughter and I’m too busy being all three.
    I have been craving something, and I think it’s this. Alone time. Quality time with myself. Not just time to do chores without people near me… but quality time with me, for me.
    Thanks for the reminder. xx

  24. vera b

    hell yeah, Susannah!
    it always feels like you are talking straight to me. your words are always just what i needed.

  25. Amber

    Dates with yourself are definitely the way to go. I discovered the awesomeness of them on a solo trip to Australia almost four years ago and they are divine. Thanks for this and your last post, Susannah. They are both wonderful.

  26. Angie

    I have awarded you a Sunshine Award, to read why go to

  27. Tricia

    Thanks for reminding how good it feels to lunch alone… somewhere ‘posh’… I remember a day at The Baltic in Newcastle… I treated myself to lunch… with a glass of wine too… sitting in the sunlight room…over looking the river… bliss… must do it again…:)

  28. crystal

    This post is so inspiring to me! I love the idea of going to a movie alone, or lunch alone… my husband and I are ALWAYS together, and I feel guilty doing these things without him. I’m not sure why, because he wouldn’t mind a bit, but I think it would be good for me to spend some time out in the world with just me. I think I’ll try it this week. :)

  29. Lula

    A couple of months ago I did my first try in a bar at night alone here in my city, just for a coffee. I was a little bit terrified but at the same time feeling strong and enjoying the moment so much, looking at the people having fun in the bar and passing on the street. Somehow I was used to be alone when leaving in another country, and to eat alone was not a problem. But somehow,to do it now, on my place, being married and with a son was different. I think here the concept is that if you are alone at a bar you are looking for a guy desperately or you really have nobody. But I´m fighting against those stupids thoughts and planning to do it again soon!!!

  30. Kelly

    This is so timely. I had one such date just recently, and I had almost forgotten what it felt like. It encompasses a leisurely browse through Anthropologie on Regent Street, dropping off films at the Lomography store, and lunch at Ping Pong. It was lunch that was the big deal, as the temptation when you’re out and about on your own is to grab a quick sandwich in a coffee bar, but a proper LUNCH with *gasp* a kumquat mojito, alone, in the middle of the day, that was bliss! Although it must be said that the chocolate banana spring rolls certainly helped. And yes, I shared one of those smiles with a girl that came in on her own a little later. It did remind me of how much I love these dates, and I’ve even taken another one since then.

  31. Brigitte

    Oh yeah! My life had a turning point two years ago when I decided to take a sewing class ALL BY MYSELF. I asked and pleaded with my friends to join me and none would. At the time, I was petrified of being “alone in a crowd,” so while it’s a small thing, taking that class changed my life. I just got back from another class at the same shop, and I was just reflecting on all the other things I’m not afraid to do now. Dance classes (I am a huge klutz), lunches, I even HATE shopping with other people now. So much has changed.

  32. Andrea B

    Years ago I began doing things by myself because others weren’t always available & didn’t want to forego an experience just because I was by myself. Now, years later, I’ve done so many things alone, I can’t hardly imagine doing things with others. I WANT to because sometimes it is fun to do things with others, but I’m afraid to reach out. It’s a lonely place and I hate it. I’d like to be able to do the independent thing because I WANT to not because I’m afraid not to.

  33. Mel

    Oh yes, dating yourself is wonderful. Once a week while my daughter is in nursery I go to Costa with my book, journal and camera and sit ther all morning until it’s time to pick her up. It’s great and is a proper break. A bit like a mini-holiday:)

  34. Lisa WrightStuff

    This post reminds me of a trip I took by myself to London. I spent the day just going where I wanted (mainly trailing around the National Gallery, ipod plugged in). I could have had a sandwich for lunch, but as part of the experience, I found just what I fancied. A family run independent Italian restaurant in Covent Garden where I relaxed and enjoyed a big plate of pasta and a couple of glasses of wine. It was bliss and I highly recommend it!

  35. Llyn

    I might print your post and make my siblings read it so they understand me better. You describe so perfectly how those “dates” can be wonderful. I can’t wait to have several of those in Budapest at the end of this week!
    It’s such a pleasure to read you.

  36. mary

    I found that SARK’s books where really helpful in learning to have fun (be self entertaining) by myself.

  37. margie

    being alone and being lonely are two different things. there are times when i have been incredibly lonely and yet being alone was sometimes gratifying.

  38. becky aka theRAV

    I have to admit when I was in hi school I wanted to see the movie “Billy Jack” so badly I went by myself. Never again! But being an only child I had to learn to do things alone and I can do them. I am quite comfortable with my own company. I often eat lunch alone too. I am usually absorbed like you are. I people watch, read a book or take photos. If I am cravign company, I have many friends, my husband and my son. When my hubby is hunting, my son & I often have a “date”. I loved this post though even if it brought back that painful memory of the one solo movie.

  39. Amisha

    On my b’day I take the day off. This year I took the day off, chatted with my family on the phone, had lunch, went for a private jewelry making class and went and watched Avatar alone.

  40. becky aka theRAV

    PS I also think being an artist helps. you get to the point you don’t really care what people think of you. I know I am weird. But it is handy having a son to go with you. Although if the family had not gone to “New Moon”, I would have gone by myself! LOL

  41. Rae

    I find it hard to be with just myself. I need something or someone to hide behind or focus on. I think I am going to take some time this week to be with me.

  42. rowena

    I think I spent most of my twenties doing this. Some of my fondest memories are of my time, solo, wandering New York City, just me, my journal and a paint set.
    I think I forgot in my 30’s, what with the advent of kids and responsibilities and all.
    I think I need to pick this up again as I head into my 40s.

  43. fanny

    I have to take myself on date since my boyfriend and I can’t have days off together. my favourites are a walk (which possibly involves taking pictures), lunch, and food shopping.
    thanks for this wonderful post about self love. x

  44. Howtogetyourexback

    It is easy to win someone’s heart. You need honest and know how to give :)

  45. linda

    OH YEAH! It’s funny because I think I had those self-dates in the past but somehow I lost it…somehow all the fear that wasn’t there before is there now and I feel I do have to relearn… thanks for a great post…lots to think about…

  46. kate

    I love to go to the cinema on my own!
    I felt so strange the first time but now it feels like such a nice indulgence. Its even better when you can go for free! I got two free odeon tickets when I joined lovefilm, and I went to see A Single Man (how appropriate) on my own for free with one of the tickets. It was even better because I saved my Nero coffee card so I got a free syrup-y coffee before I went to the cinema as well!
    A perfect day by myself, made even better by the use of my freebies!

  47. Colette

    Hi Susannah. It is so long since I took myself on a date. I am really enjoying your ‘fall in love with yourself posts’ in worthiness week.

  48. Elizabeth

    Just found your blog but I am a very happy newbie at your place. Finally I found someone who also loves to do by herself for herself just for the feeling of being.

  49. Carolyn

    I’ve just found your blog and love it. I’ve spent too much time trying to please others, forgetting to be me and making myself a mess because of it. Thank you.

  50. Olivia

    This is a great reminder. Thank you!

  51. Allison Fleming

    Try reading “I Kissed Dating Behind” by Josh Harris – great book, great idea and made my son’s HS years a lot more fun and a lot less pressure. Be blessed.

  52. Felisa

    I just discovered your blog through a friend and this is the first reading. Twenty years ago I had just moved to Los Angeles and would go to the movies by my self because I knew no one. I loved it, which lead me to a beautiful life of not being afraid of doing things alone. I needed this reminder as I have now moved back home and I am discovering a new city all over again. I just might be going to the movies tomorrow afternoon and lunch the following day. Thank you.

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