Solo Supplement: How to start doing things on your own
To be suddenly living alone and to be suddenly single can be overwhelming, leaving many people literally not knowing what to do with themselves, and how to cope in social situations where they had previously been in a couple. I’ve recently written an account of the circumstances in which I started to do things on my own when a relationship started to break down. When, in fact, I became a ‘cricket widow’. That brought back memories, I can tell you. But, the breakdown of a marriage/ long-term partner relationship is the most common cause of adults in the UK living alone, many for the first time.
As the author of a self-help guide for people who live alone, Solo Success! You CAN do things on your own, I’ve also been asked a number of times if I can give a few tips to people who just don’t know how to get started, how to build up the confidence to go out and about on their own socially. And I mean going out: leaving your home and stepping across the threshold of another building, or into an outdoor space.
There’s a full step-by-step guide in my book, but here are a few points to get you thinking about what you might want to do, or to try out in order to claim your place in society as an adult who can operate solo, not just as part of a couple. In case I’ve not been clear, this isn’t about how to find another partner – there are other guides for that.
1. Make something that you do on your own part of your regular routine. For example, go for a tea/coffee after doing the supermarket shopping and before going home. Most large chain supermarkets have a café, or call into a favourite one that is on the way home. If you want to make sure you will have someone to talk to, check if there is a Chatty Café in your area, usually one of the Costa group, where there will be a designated table for people on their own to drink and chat. (www.thechattycafescheme.co.uk)
2. Go to places that you know because you go there, or have been there, with family and/or friends, as the surroundings will be familiar to you. You will know, for example, whether the seating is comfortable, if food is served, where the loos are, if there is a garden. Go there on a day or at a time when you wouldn’t normally go with other people. You never know, you might even bump into people you know.
3. Whenever you will be sitting at a table for one, take something with you to read or to otherwise keep you from staring at other people – unless people watching is your thing. As table bookings for one at restaurants have substantially increased recently, the person at the next table might also be on their own!
4. Become a regular and valued customer at a café, bistro, pub or eating place where you really like the food and the ambience. It makes all the difference when asking for a table for one, if one of the waiting staff says, “Hello again,” and smile and ask you where you’d like to sit. Take yourself out for lunch to start with, rather than dinner.
5. Set a ‘solo event date’ with yourself to do something special on your own once a month. Check what’s on in your area and book a ticket to see a film or play, hear a concert, attend an exhibition or take a daytrip to a country house or National Trust property, a garden or museum. Something that YOU want to do.
6. Check the internet for groups/clubs in your area where you can pursue an interest or hobby, perhaps even something that you haven’t tried before. Or look online for Meet Up groups in your area see if there are more informal get-togethers around interests that you could go along to.
Finally, get used to doing things on your own gradually – you don’t have to do everything on your own. Hopefully, you still have friends and family to socialise with too, but think about all the solo activities you’ll be able to talk to them about. Whatever you do and wherever you go, remember you have the same right to be there as everyone else.
Solo Success! You CAN do things on your own by Christine Ingall is available in paperback and e-reader formats on Amazon.