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April 2, 2011 10:01 PM   Subscribe

I don’t remember how to be single. Help?

So, last night I walked home alone after my late-twenties birthday bash, the only one at the party to do so. I was in a relationship, and now I am not: though it was upsetting and sudden, he had to move across the country, so we ended things. For the first time in four years, I am single (before this, I was in a three-year relationship that I thought would be my last, so, of course, it ended badly).

I don’t really know what to do with myself. It feels weird that I don’t know what to do with myself. But I don’t. The thing is – when I look back at my single years for guidance, I look back at myself when I was 20-23 years old. I was very different then. At the time, I hung out with my friends and had casual dalliances with boys. I felt there was no use in having a relationship with a man, as men were for sexing, not relating. I had tons of free time to do whatever I wanted, wander the city, and generally bask in the glorious frivolity of my early twenties. Now, however, I am about a thousand times busier, working on what you could label my career, in addition to a number of other outside projects. My friends are less up for wandering, as they’re partnered and puttering about the house, and even if I am still a huge fan of sexing (hell, even more so than I ever was before), casual sex isn’t fun in the way it used to be. It has lost its appeal and seems lacking. I want something more. But I also have no intention of rushing into a relationship, just because.

The thing is: I do not know what to do with my time. What do busy people do with their time when they’re single? With the boyfriend, we used to camp out in a coffeeshop so he could read while I would work, and that was a fun little slice of multitasking. Now when I am alone with my latte and my laptop, I feel like I'm moping. A part of me was thinking about how it would be nice to meet someone new, but I don’t know how to make that happen given my introversion, my schedule, and my newfound rejection of hookups, in addition to not wanting to jump into yet another heartbreak. And there’s always just “going about and living your own life,” but things have undergone so many changes recently that I don’t know what that means when applied to me.

I guess the question is: if you are single and busy (the type to work 60-70 hours a week), what the hell do you do with your free time? Are you dating? Avoiding dating? Going to restaurants and galleries alone? Finding new, single friends to go with you? What on earth do you actually do, in concrete terms? Because I feel that I am drifting from coffeeshop to coffeeshop, and it’s kind of an awful feeling…

P.S. Before anyone goes down this road: don't suggest online dating, please. Thanks.

P.P.S. Yeah, I hate to add yet another rambling, emo question to the human relations section, but I feel like I need actual concrete advice here; when I woke up this beautiful, sunny morning, I had several hours free, but couldn't think of what to do with myself, so I just sat down at my desk and worked. Which...sucks.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! to Human Relations (38 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not single, but I am in a long distance relationship, so I spend a lot of time alone. I'm also really introverted. Although I find myself always drawn to the internet, I find I end up feeling crappier about myself and my activities when I spend a lot of time on it. So maybe, if you do hang out in a coffee shop, do so with a new book instead of a laptop. Try learning a new language. Try cooking new foods. Arts, crafts, etc.

And if there's a reason why you keep going to coffee shops instead of staying at home with coffee, try making your home more enjoyable to hang out in. I love sitting around having coffee in my apartment before I do something else.
posted by wondermouse at 10:11 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hobbies. Do you have any?
posted by palomar at 10:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


volunteering can be a good way to meet new people and get out of your own head. Try this if it's in your city www.onebrick.org Also a lot of single people do group sports. Join a running club (hash house harriers) or a biking club or train for a marathon. Book clubs can be fun too.
posted by bananafish at 10:13 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Argh, I hit post before I meant to. My answer continues...

Hobbies. Do you have any? What did you do with your free time in your early twenties, before you got so busy with career stuff? I know, you said you had plenty of free time to wander around and do whatevs... but what? That's a potential clue into what you can do with your free time now. What did you enjoy back then? Did you read for pleasure? Consume a lot of art and music, or maybe create your own? Commune with nature? Exercise? Think back to how you have amused yourself in the past, and build off of that.

And if you can't remember what you used to do, or none of it appeals anymore, then this is the perfect time to try something new. Have you always wanted to learn to dance? Or play an instrument? Draw, if you don't know how? Knit, sew, weld, cook? Why not try now?
posted by palomar at 10:22 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being single is awesome! In fact, I gave up on dating years ago. Too much trouble. If that makes me sound like a spinster grouch, then so be it. Tis the truth.

I have friends that I schedule on my calendar for dinner. I try to see everyone at least once a month. Typically that gives me at least one dinner with friends a week. Not bad, right?

I'm a knitter. Most nights when I knock off work (around 8PM) I retire to the couch, bust out a DVD, and knit for an hour or two before bed.

Knitting gives me something to do, something to learn, something to talk about, the opportunity to take classes or join a knitting group, and an instant community both online and off. Pretty great!

I don't have very much free time. If there's something I want to do (like see an art exhibit) I'll double up, and schedule one of my friends for that thing instead of dinner. It helps mix things up a little!
posted by ErikaB at 10:24 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning today and went out for a 2-hour run with people I only see for running. Even if you don't run, there are groups who go out for all kinds of physical activities. Bird-watching, tree-planting, hiking.

Other than that, I read. More non-fiction than fiction, because I feel like I'm learning something more useful that way.

Also, get in touch with friends. Call them up.
posted by bread-eater at 10:25 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


What did you want to be when you were little? Go out and conquer a bit of that dream. It will reconnect you with something close to your free-est self, has a chance to awaken an interest that will pull you toward the future (versus muddling in a limbo-present), and may get you out and about.

As an example, I wanted to be An Astronaut! At various lulls in my life I've studied astronomy, met one of the first female astronauts, and planned a trip to see a shuttle launch.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:26 PM on April 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


My friends are less up for wandering, as they’re partnered and puttering about the house.

It sounds like both you and your friends lived in worlds that tightly revolved around your significant others. Why don't you change that? Call your friends and invite them to do something fun.
posted by unannihilated at 10:42 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I am trying to figure out how to best spend my time, I like to pretend I'm a character in an RPG.

My first inclination (when I have an excess of spare time) is to sit down and lose myself in some awesome fantasy world with magic and dragons and... most importantly... trackable/progessive character traits. Talent points. Skill levels. Proficiencies. From the first time this nerd learned Rank2 Heal, I have been on a never-ending quest to level up.

But real life is the ultimate video game, and spare time and direction is our only real currency; money and tools are just tangible expressions of that currency.

So I approach free time the same way I would a video game, asking myself the following: What will get me to the next level?

This is necessarily different for each of us at different times. Earlier this year, the next level for me was getting really meticulous about my finances. One Ramit Sethi investment, an Excel spreadsheet, and several thousand dollars later and a golden halo surrounded my character as fireworks heralded my newfound personal finance success. As a Bard, er, classical musician, taking time to hear live music (as well as learn and perform it) is a high priority for me. I invest my time in seeing the symphony and opera as regularly as my budget will allow and I sing with the Houston Symphony and a chamber choir which takes two evening a week (at least). I'm making good on my promise to pick up a third language by studying French. And I am investing in my career by spending more time at work.

Ask yourself what talents or character traits or proficiencies you need to invest in. Consciously spend your time/energy capital and you'll never regret your choices. You also won't be alone. There are almost always others making similar investments.
posted by jph at 10:49 PM on April 2, 2011 [54 favorites]


You ruled out online dating prseumably as a way to find another relationship, but you might want to consider it as way to meet friends.

Why? It's pretty much a self-selecting pool of single people who are open to doing stuff. Or, at least, OkCupid worked for me (you can indicate in your profile that you're looking for friends/activity partners). I've met some awesome friends that way and had some great experiences with those friends.

No matter what you end up doing, it will feel a little awkward at first. Having had to re-learn being single after a nearly 10-year relationship, I found that focusing on making the best of the new found freedom really eased the transition.

Hang in there and good luck.
posted by AV at 10:57 PM on April 2, 2011


Perhaps look for a fun class to take one evening a week or on weekends? Something 180 degrees from what you do all day, and definitely something creative or meditative. Sumi-e painting, or silversmithing, or glassblowing, or yoga. It's my favorite thing to do when I feel stuck and I'm working a lot. Weekend workshops are awesome because they're not a huge time commitment but they can inspire a lot of post-class enjoyment. Also, it's a nice way to interact with people without imposing a lot of explicit social requirements on yourself.

Art centers and community colleges are good places to browse for options. If you're near Seattle I can recommend a bunch of specific classes and teachers.
posted by SakuraK at 11:04 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another idea, especially for an unexpectedly beautiful day: walk around town or the nearest city. Wear sunglasses and earphones, so you can just watch the world as you walk. Take the bus to/from the start of your walk so you're not burdened with a car. Stop for a quick bite if you get hungry, or grab some water if you get thirsty, or pack a bit of sustenance in a backpack. But mostly, watch the world at a different speed than you probably get a chance to enjoy during your hectic days. If you like meandering, just pick a starting place and go. If you like a bit more structure, get a map of the area and mark off the streets you visited after each walk, and aim for neighborhoods you haven't visited yet.

Also, stopping in at bookstores or libraries you pass is a lot of fun.
posted by SakuraK at 11:13 PM on April 2, 2011


So you're in your late 20s and ALL your friends are so engrossed in their relationships they don't really hang out with you? Really? Because I'm in my late 20s single and I hang out with my coupled up friends all the time. Maybe not as much as my single friends, but still a lot.

You either aren't used to reaching put to your friends or you haven't cultivated enough friendships outside your relationship. You need to work on that. You need to create your own social life. You need to organize happy hours, brunch, dinners out. Whatever. Tell people to feel free to bring whoever. Rinse and repeat. Reach out to people who you aren't close to, but could see being friends with. When you start including people, they start including you. Then if you want to see an art exhibit, movie, etc, you send out an email to everyone, one or two or six are interested and off you go. It'll take a little time to build up a go to group of friends, but probably not that long.

There is a lot more planning and less spontaneity when your single. You don't just have someone to do everything with, but it's also a lot less monotonous. But you have to be pro active.

In regards to things I do by myself: take classes, work out, photography, walking around the city, reading, watching movies, reading metafilter and lots of other random things.
posted by whoaali at 12:19 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm the same way as jph; focus on the things you want to do and you won't have any problem meeting other people doing the same. If that thing is sitting around in coffee shops surfing the internet, well, that's what you're going to find: other people sitting around the coffee shop surfing the internet. If you go fly a kite, you meet other kite fliers. If you like listening to music, you go out to shows and meet… wait for it… other people that like music! See how it works?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:33 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was in your situation last, I joined a gym.
posted by salvia at 1:39 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned to schedule some regular fun things into my life, so whether I was dating someone or not I developed a sense of "my own life" beyond work. I volunteer as an usher and bartender at a theatre in town whenever a new play's on. I also got into making jewelry to sell at my mom's farmers' market stall, not for the money but to keep my mom company there on Saturday mornings. And I used to belong to a choir and take music lessons until my work started sending me out of town.

Generally speaking, it's good to get into something regularly scheduled, whether it's music lessons, a class of yoga or something, or volunteer work somewhere. Preferably something fun in a group setting or with a friend, for socializing and a sense of obligation to others to keep you at it. Then when you're feeling lonely, well at least there's this Thing you have to do on Wednesday nights to look forward to and get you out of your house.
posted by lizbunny at 3:15 AM on April 3, 2011


I'm single since forever, and also very busy with work. What I do after work is basically
- Read books
- Sketching/Life Drawing
- Saxophone
- Photography
- Meet ppl occasionally

I basically have no life :D
posted by TrinsicWS at 3:25 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


For years, I really, really wanted to learn how to play the piano. But I know from experience with other instruments that it takes hours and hours of selfish alone-time. Two weeks ago, after two years of singledom, I finally realized I had no excuse for not learning how to play the piano. Now, the first hour after I put my son to bed is pure, unadulterated, noisy, unaudienced bliss. Other things to do that are sometimes difficult to accomplish in relationships:

try gross and interesting cooking experiments
read embarrassingly cheesy books with lurid covers
listen to ABBA and enjoy
plan and take a ridiculously luxurious bath, complete with chocolate, booze, and candles
make a series of dioramas of your happy places
build diorama shelves; be sure to make lots of noise and not tidy up for a week after you're done
and yes, absolutely, take courses that involve absurdly strenuous physical activity

Note: I am a manly man and I endorse all these things as awesome.
posted by YamwotIam at 5:51 AM on April 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


it will get easier and you will adapt, and then someone very nice will ask you out on a date, and you will think to yourself: i'm not really sure i have time for that! and then you will laugh and remember this question.

in the meantime:

-single friends are important, but you can still hang out with coupled friends, too. my friends are all about potlucks, but the key thing here is to just keep doing whatever you were doing before. don't assume they won't want to hang out with you now that you're single, or that they'd rather be with their SOs.
-read all those books you've been wanting to read.
-get some exercise, but in a way you enjoy. swim, or wander around the city for hours, or take a dance class. just be sure you're moving your body and having fun.
-spend evenings in doing exactly what you want to do. YamwotIam's list is good, but I would add watching 80s movies in your pajamas and writing playscripts to be performed by your cats.
-if you do want to date, remember to have a sense of humor about it. i have a group of friends who are going speed dating tonight, and we've been joking about it all week. they'd all legitimately like to meet someone at this thing, but that hasn't stopped us from scripting a mock-fight they could have amongst themselves, or concocting elaborate best-case and worst-case scenarios that make us laugh.

also: be aware that your friends and family will probably start trying to fix you up with people. you don't have to give in to this, and you must retain a sense of humor about it. it is not because they think your life is pathetic or that you'd be a better person if you were partnered; it is because they like you and like this other person and think you might have fun together. they will often (usually) be wrong, but their efforts are meant well. try to find it charming and not irritating, and remember that this awkward person you're on an awkward date with is probably in a situation much like yours, and might be an excellent new friend, even if you have absolutely no interest in ever touching them in a sexual way.
posted by dizziest at 7:23 AM on April 3, 2011


one more thing: i see from your previous questions that you're (probably still) a grad student. one thing that makes this a bit easier is that if you're still in coursework, that provides a built-in way to make new, potentially single friends-- ask people in your classes if they'd like to get together to discuss a particularly interesting or difficult text, or just if they'd like to get a (casual, friendly) beer or cup of coffee after class sometime. or ask them if they'd like to study together at a coffeeshop sometime.

i definitely don't advise asking them out (i was asked out recently by someone in one of my classes, and we went on one date, and i'd prefer not to go on more, while he'd like to go one more. that class is wicked awkward now.), but becoming better friends with them might help.

(and in response to your p.p.s. if you lived near me, i'd totally have gone out to spontaneous brunch with you on this beautiful sunny morning, and i'm sure you'll find someone to do that with. it just takes a little while. good luck!)
posted by dizziest at 7:33 AM on April 3, 2011


"if you are single and busy (the type to work 60-70 hours a week), what the hell do you do with your free time? Are you dating? Avoiding dating? Going to restaurants and galleries alone? Finding new, single friends to go with you? What on earth do you actually do, in concrete terms?"

What do you WANT to do with your free time?

When I was single or long-distance, and most of my friends were partnered, I took a lot of classes (still do, when I can! It's fun!) in anything that sounded even passably interesting to me. I pretended I was a tourist in my own city and tried to go to a place I'd never been once a week (or month, or whatever fits your schedule). I made my married friends cook for me. Married people are always cooking, might as well get on that gravy train. On nice days I explored local parks and wilderness areas and hiked.

BTW, I've been married 8 years and I STILL think going to a restaurant alone is pretty much the best thing going. :) My idea of a perfect afternoon is going out to lunch by myself with a good book and then getting a massage. Nothing at all lame about doing things solo.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:26 AM on April 3, 2011


I love being in relationships and have spent the majority of the past decade in one or another. But the thing I miss most when in a relationship is having the time to indulge all my obsessions passions and to spend quality time with myself. In a relationship I sometimes start to feel estranged from my inner self, and to miss him.

Loneliness and heartbreak suck - try to see your newfound single status as a massive gift of time and a mandate to make yourself more interesting, and entertained. You now have the time to finally hunker down with that video game (Minecraft!), to catch up on correspondence, beer/coffee outings, movies, novels, graphic novels, rediscover that camera, see new parts of the city, etc.etc.etc. I used to hate my mom for telling me that being bored was for the boring, but oh how right she was.
posted by tempythethird at 9:35 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just checking in. Thanks for all the advice! Keep them coming! Here are a few things to guide your thinking if you'd still like to answer:

- On the friends: I do see them often, and try to stay in touch as much as I can, but with new careers, new marriages, and new babies, things are logistically difficult in a way I never experienced in my early twenties. So now, when I find myself with a surprise evening off or a few hours to kill (my schedule is packed but often changing), calling everyone up for an impromptu dance party doesn't really work, as babies need sitting, significant others have family members whose weddings must be attended, and bosses have reports that need handed in, you know? And I'll admit to falling off the radar on my end when I have a project to submit, which kills a lot of the spontaneity that I was used to.

So, maybe this is an issue of relearning how to coordinate with, and navigate, my network...?

- I do confess to having a weird thing about doing certain activities alone, like eating out and going to the movies. In my mind, it is something that just is not done, and is for parties of 2+ only! How do I get over that?

- OkCupid for friends is probably a good idea in other areas, but I am in a fairly small city with an incompatible (for me) dominant culture, so it's just not quite what I had hoped it would be (small membership, sometimes wildly conflicting interests). I actually had an account for a bit, but it never yielded much, aside from some really awkward coffee meetups and the realization that "looking for new friends" is a euphemism for many men. Which, uh, was totally fun, but not what I am looking for at the moment. I guess I just want to rock it old skool on this one.

So, bring forth more ideas if you have them!
In the meantime, I bought a fancy kite on my last vacation; I may try to go fly it now.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 10:45 AM on April 3, 2011


Long-time single-guy. I'm pretty much an introvert, so a lot of what I do with my spare time are solo activities around home. Once in a while I give dating a try, but mostly I concentrate on keeping myself happy and busy. Reading. Practicing guitar. Cooking. Puttering around the house. When I feel the need to be around people, there's a neighborhood bar to go hang out at, tailgating before games at the local minor-league baseball team, or dining out either with friends or alone.
posted by DaveP at 10:48 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The How to Be Alone video went viral a while back (in fact, I think I got linked to it via Metafilter), and if you haven't seen it, it might give you a new perspective on things.
posted by sigmagalator at 10:52 AM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's what worked for me after a breakup when I feeling newly alone and with too many hours in my day: join Meetup. Sign up for every group that even sorta piques your interest, get the weekly notification of events happening in your area, and then go to anything that sounds fun.

I have a general rule of only attending events I'd feel comfortable at alone (like you, I have trouble with things like eating in restaurants alone - I am trying to be braver). That way I don't have a shitty night if the other attendees are awful or don't show up. But this is rare, and there's usually someone friendly to talk to. I've met some really nice people doing this, and it's led to lots of secondary dates and non-date hanging-out time. And it gets me out of the house doing things I wouldn't have known about otherwise.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:20 AM on April 3, 2011


How to get comfortable going out alone? GO! Pick a restaurant you like, somewhere sit-down but casual, take a great novel, take your iPod, and go ask for a table for one. It's not weird -- I have never had a hostess go, "JUST ONE?" or anything, they literally have solo diners all the time. Go at lunch; it's quieter, and a lot of business people grab a solo lunch. Order your favorite thing on the whole menu, even if it's disgustingly high in calories. Get an appetizer. Have a beer. Treat yourself. Sit with your book and read and, if you feel too conspicuous (though you probably won't), put in your earbuds and rock out to your music too. The waitstaff is usually extra nice and chatty -- partly because they aren't interrupting your conversation with anyone else -- and you'll have a great time and afterwards you'll be like, "Oh, that was totally normal."

One of the benefits of going ANYWHERE solo is that people are more likely to approach you and strike up a conversation -- you don't have an intimidating friend-posse keeping people away. Much easier to approach one person than several. Other solos will chat with you; museum docents will chat with you; tour guides will chat with you; even couples will strike up a conversation. You can project a "fortress of solitude" vibe that keeps people away, but if you have a relaxed and approachable demeanor, people will totally approach you, and nobody ever mentions anything about you being *wherever you are* alone as if you're weirdly dateless. NOBODY. I've gone solo to stuff for years just because I like it, and I've traveled abroad solo, and nobody, NOBODY has ever mentioned my solo status as a negative. If it ever comes up, people think it's a positive. It's really not nearly as weird as movies make you think it is.

As to this: "new babies, things are logistically difficult in a way I never experienced in my early twenties. So now, when I find myself with a surprise evening off or a few hours to kill (my schedule is packed but often changing), calling everyone up for an impromptu dance party doesn't really work"

As someone in the "new baby" phase of life, I am DYING for my single friends to pop over when they have a free evening and ENTERTAIN ME. But I don't want to impose by saying, "Hey, give up your cool free evening to come try to have a conversation with me in between me repeatedly telling the toddler not to chew on the cat!" I am fairly predictably at HOME in the evenings, I'm usually cooking and can make an extra portion without any trouble, and the toddler goes to bed around 7. No impromptu dance parties, but if you just want to hang out and you can tolerate or even like being around my kids, I am dying for you to drop by. You should offer; I spend a ton more time with my friends who say, "Hey, I'd love to come by and see you and the spawn, he's getting so big!" I feel awkward inviting people over to, um, watch me watch my kid. :) But if family dinner and drinks on the patio supervising toddler adventures and neighborhood walks and buildings with legos until bedtime and then drinking wine sounds like a good evening to you, CALL YOUR FRIENDS and drop by!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:00 PM on April 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I do confess to having a weird thing about doing certain activities alone, like eating out and going to the movies. In my mind, it is something that just is not done, and is for parties of 2+ only! How do I get over that?

I don't like going out to sit-down restaurants alone, particularly ones with waiter service, though some people do that. However, seeing movies alone is nice. Really. But there are certain kinds of movies that I prefer seeing alone (usually kind of depressing or particularly thoughtful indie movies), and others that I prefer seeing with others (goofy comedies like Jackass 3D, or in general the big blockbuster types).

Start reading about what obscure movies are out there that you don't think any of your friends would even want to see, or that you don't think would benefit by seeing them with friends. Since you say you live in a city, I imagine there's some little art cinema that plays limited release things. A lot of people go to those movies alone.
posted by wondermouse at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lots of good suggestions here, I'd think (disclaimer: I'm married).

Anecdote:
One of my compadres is single and has a similar work week schedule. He always goes snowboarding in the winter, and has been a volunteer docent at a local plane museum for a couple years (longtime interest). He's got the solitary dining/coffee house thing down, and also meets up with friends when he can.
posted by luckynerd at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2011


Check meetup.com for activities you might like. It's been my experience that it's low pressure--you just all don't want to go to the opera alone, for instance. You're not looking for a new BFF or soulmate. If you have to cancel, no big.

Join a book club or start one at work. Another low pressure activity that forces you to actually read the book.

If you want to meet someone try "reverse stalking." Go to the same place every day, like a coffee shop, so guys know you and feel comfortable saying hi.

Sounds like you are the victim of "too many choices" syndrome, so you end up doing none of them.

Before you know it, you'll have a life again.
posted by PJSibling at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love going out on "dates" by myself. Eating out alone is the BEST! Like you, I had a small complex about it, but I tried it and really enjoyed it. I also found that hiking by myself is the best thing ever. Just last night I went to a sports event by myself (well, I met up with friends) and when I decided I wanted to leave before it was over, I did. And then when I stopped for food on the way home, I relished not having to negotiate any of it with anyone. Oh, it was so good. I love being single.

Develop a working out habit, and all of your free time will evaporate. I swear, my answer to every ask me is "work out!" but it really does solve a lot of issues! It makes you feel awesome, gives you goals to accomplish, leads to a community of healthy awesome people...
posted by palegirl at 8:50 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I do confess to having a weird thing about doing certain activities alone, like eating out and going to the movies. In my mind, it is something that just is not done, and is for parties of 2+ only! How do I get over that?"

I used to feel the same way about eating out alone (and movies, natch) as you do. But I eased into it by going out to lunch alone in the business district of my city. Usually these places had really decent lunch menus, and the people who weren't alone were generally there on meetings, so you could tell they were actually envious of me for being able to sit and enjoy my book.

After a month or so, I got used to eating alone and started to truly enjoy it. I made twice-monthly dates with myself and a good novel. I'd pick interesting restaurants and, sometimes, even make reservations for a table of one (and no host ever indicated that he or she thought it was strange).

Honestly, now that I'm coupled up again, I miss my AmandaA dates. I relish the evenings when he's out of town and I can go out on the town.
posted by AmandaA at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Movies on your own are the best thing ever! You can really concentrate on the film and eat all your snacks yourself. I also eat on my own quite a bit. It's best at lunch time, because everyone is doing it then. You have lots of elbow room! Ditto galleries.

I try to make sure to have a nice thing scheduled to do with somebody at least once a week. That way I can look back at my diary when I'm feeling lonely and think - oh yes, I had that nice cup of coffee with my old friend Dave that day. People have suggested making new friends - and that's great! - but spend some time with the people you already know, too. I bet you have single friends or acquaintances-who-are-nearly-friends that want to do singleton things with you.

As for casual hookups, perhaps you could look into starting a longer-term casual relationship? It is nice to have good friends you can have sex with. Maybe with a couple? That way they already have each other so you don't have to worry so much about them getting attached. Obviously this depends on how you feel about this sort of thing, and it could all get complicated, but this could be a good middle ground between relationship and one-night stand.
posted by teraspawn at 11:49 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess the question is: if you are single and busy (the type to work 60-70 hours a week), what the hell do you do with your free time?

This.
posted by xm at 8:05 PM on April 4, 2011


I am newly single. I take long walks. I drive to neighboring small towns and walk up and down the empty downtown streets and trespass in abandoned warehouses. I schedule time with my 4 girlfriends every month (individually, so that's one a week). I sit on the patio of the local really great beer bar and read a "hard" book and drink IPAs until I'm too snockered to comprehend what I'm reading. I go see movies by myself. I keep the house very clean, except when I don't. Once a week, I cook a difficult, time-consuming, exotic dish. I watch entire television series on DVD in binge-like bursts. I take banjo lessons, and spend a lot of time practicing the banjo. I go to sleep early. I go see live music with friends. I go to a contra dance once a month, which is extremely dorky but the most fun I've had in a long time. They teach you to do it before the dance starts and you dance with everyone in the room, so it's a fun way to connect with people. Plus it's great exercise. I go to thrift stores on backroads and look for vintage stuff I can sell at the hoity vintage store in town for a 100% markup. I check out books at the library. I go to church. I take care of my chickens, cat, and bees. That's about it.

I don't feel lonely, I feel busy. I also write down in a day planner when I do one of these activities. At the end of the month I look at the calendar and am always pleased to see all the notes. "Oh yeah, I did that! I forgot about that, that was cool/weird/potentially dangerous." I reminds me that I'm a happenin' babe.

Tonight I'm going to a free performance of a Bach chorale at the university here. Living in a university town makes it much easier to find things to do. Good luck.
posted by staggering termagant at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks, guys. This is a pretty solid list that I am going to tape up and review when things settle down* and I feel like I need some guidance; as PJSibling said, I think some of this ennui comes from "too many choices" syndrome, honestly.

Leaving this open, though, because there are some unsettled feelings I don't think can be quite settled by this set of suggestions (and so that enthusiastic, hypothetical future readers can suggest away if they are so moved). I am difficult, apparently.


* seems I've decided to relive my early twenties. and teraspawn gets 20 bonus points for making an unexpectedly accurate, psychic prediction. whee!
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 9:59 PM on April 12, 2011


I too recommend online dating. On the good sites, most active members are of high quality.

As to what to do in your free time, there are a million hobbies and interests you can take up.

If you think hobbies are somehow unncessary, look at the activities differently: as part of personal development. There still are a million if not more. Steve Pavlina . com lists them somewhere.

If you don't think personal development is necessary...then, well for a start, you can try to read some of e.g. Steve Pavlina!
posted by MBViktor at 5:45 AM on April 13, 2011


I am in your situation as well. I am newly single in my late twenties and I refuse to try online dating. I did try meetup for things I like to do outdoors. It was fun and some people are very interesting. It is nice to meet people that have similar interests as yourself. I know it is difficult sometimes to see your friends in a different spot in life than you but just remember that not everyone goes along the same path at the same time.
posted by Dee123 at 8:25 AM on October 26, 2011


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