Going_out_alone_Paolo_Pineda.jpgWhen you’re unattached, getting a date isn’t exactly the problem—it’s finding a constant companion to take you out on all those unbooked Saturday nights when your committed BFFs (as well as some of the single ones) are being wined and dined by their significant others. Still, that’s no excuse to hole up in your house on a happening weekend when you’d rather be out and about—who cares if you don’t have an escort? Times have changed, and the rules of social interaction along with them. Whereas before, a woman sitting all by her lonesome in a restaurant, bar, or theater would be the object of pity and ridicule, now such a thing is deemed nothing out of the ordinary.

However, as many of us will confirm, going out alone is hardly as easy as it sounds. In order to truly enjoy herself in this manner, a single girl has got to come prepared. Knowing how to act, who to talk to, and what to bring is essential to flying solo on date night. Take a gander at Female Network’s tips on how to do just that—and we guarantee you a successful non-committed night out.


PICK A FUN PLACE

One of the best things about going out alone is that you don’t have to compromise on where you want to go. You are at liberty to do whatever you want, without worrying about another person’s level of entertainment. Take advantage of this autonomy by going to a place where you’re sure to enjoy yourself—like the mall! Some activities that might not suit the parameters of a “great date,” such as shoe-shopping, book-browsing, or simply taking a long, lazy stroll, are ideal to do on your own. This eHow.com guide even suggests visiting a zoo or a newly opened art gallery.

If you prefer a little more social interaction, hit a watering hole that caters specifically to single folk. Bars advocating “Ladies’ Night” are perfect for you, as they give you the opportunity to mingle with your own kind—and the pleasure of drinking for free.


BE SEAT-SMART

Every social environment has an unspoken seating plan, whether or not you’re aware of it. For instance, in restaurants, large groups of friends usually occupy the busy center, while couples choose to be seated in the back or the most intimate corners. To avoid the inevitable racket of the former, as well as the romantic antics of the latter, grab a seat at the bar, where the stools are made for one. Sitting at the bar gives you the best of both worlds—you can still engage others and observe the room from where you’re situated, but you also get enough distance from the crowds and the couples to avoid feeling out of place. Plus, there’s always the chance of a cute bartender to keep you company on your dateless night.


MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE STAFF

If you’re a regular at any bistro, pub, or cafe, get to know the serving staff. Make nice when they take your order, avoid nitpicky complaints, and tip generously, especially if your server deserves it. This is important for several reasons. First, you’ll always get a good table or save your favorite seat, no matter how packed the place is that night. Second, date or no date, you’ll always have a friend to talk to—whether it’s the owner, your favorite waitress, or the previously mentioned cute bartender (or barista). Third, in the event that you receive unwanted attention (as women who are out alone often do), someone will always have your back. This WikiHow.com article cautions that “you could be targeted by bad people with bad intentions,” so having a buddy or two on the staff is certainly to your benefit.


BRING READING MATERIAL

A foolproof way to avoid feeling awkward when you’re out alone is to bring the right props. A novel, a magazine, or even your netbook should do the trick. When you have an immediate means of occupation, you naturally feel less self-conscious. You have a purpose, a reason to be sitting at the corner table in that quaint cafe alone—you’re there to read, whether for work or recreation (and you hardly need a date to do that). Having a book in hand also fends off unwelcome admirers. Unless they are utterly obnoxious (and blissfully unaware of it), most men tend to steer clear of the lone lady with her nose buried in a book.

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Books are also handy props to hide behind when people watching (especially when the people you're watching are cute guys). But make sure to bring a book whose cover won't give off the wrong vibes—lone woman reading is one thing, but a lone woman reading a book with a modern-day Fabio on the cover is three degrees south of sad. But if you've brought a book you don't want others to see you reading (you know, something you put on the highest or lowest shelves so your visiting friends are less likely to spot it), make sure to wrap it in a book slip or cover protector—you'll look like a conscientious and even hip book owner rather than someone whose sole source of romance comes from a mass market paperback.


EXUDE CONFIDENCE

What it all boils down to is your attitude. If you walk into a place feeling pathetic because you aren’t on anybody’s arm, it will read instantly on your face. If, on the other hand, you walk in with confidence, determination, and no qualms whatsoever about being single on a Saturday night, then people will be drawn to you on the mere basis of your presence, as this eHow.com guide shares. Don’t be sorry about flying solo—for one thing, there’s nothing wrong about spending time by yourself; for another, it helps you break out of ridiculous social norms that have restricted single women and bred calloused spinster jokes for years on end. Going out alone can be one of the most liberating experiences you can give yourself—so instead of seeming apologetic, be magnetic!


(Photo by Paolo Pineda)

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