Solo dining is on the rise: Why it's important to take yourself on a date

Young woman sitting in the coffee bar, solo dining, drinking coffee from a blue mug and eating healthy vegan avocado toast for breakfast
Solo dining has seen a rise in popularity this year. (Getty Images)

Have you ever taken yourself to dinner? You know, on your own...table for one? If you have, either for want or necessity, you’ll know that it can be a freeing experience.

Whether you choose to read a book while you eat, or simply take in the atmosphere, dining alone is something everyone should do – and its popularity is on the rise.

According to OpenTable’s new 2023 dining trends report, solo dining has seen an uptick in the UK this year, with Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays being the most popular days to go on a self-date,

Data from over 2,000 diners found that 5% of people are now dining out solo weekly, with 37% citing the reason for this as having ‘me time’, and a further 31% saying it’s a chance to switch off.

Leeds is the most popular place for people to dine solo, with 28% of people saying they would take themselves out to dinner. This was followed by Bristol (26%), Belfast (25%) and London (23%).

"There has been a cultural shift towards accepting and even celebrating solo dining," family anxiety support specialist, Cai Graham says.

"More people recognise that enjoying a meal alone is a valid and enjoyable experience, freeing themselves from societal expectations around group dining."

Asian man eating egg tart in outdoor restaurant
Having a meal alone can be an enjoyable experience. (Getty Images)

Other reasons why more people are choosing to dine solo include busy lifestyles, an increased focus on self-care, and decreased stigma in doing activities solo.

"The growing emphasis on self-care encourages individuals to engage in activities that bring them joy and relaxation," Graham explains. "Dining alone allows people to savour their favourite foods at their own pace, providing a moment of self-indulgence."

The benefits of spending time by yourself

While taking yourself to dinner is one way to spend quality time with yourself, Graham says there are several other activities you can do on your own that can bring a slew of benefits.

"Solo dates provide time for self-reflection, allowing you to connect with your thoughts and feelings without external distractions," Graham says.

She says that spending time with yourself can also help to cultivate independence, as it allows you to make decisions solely based on your preferences and desires.

It can also increase your confidence as they can sometimes force you out of your comfort zone, and it allows you to make plans without having to rely on the schedules of others.

A beautiful woman lies on her stomach in a comfortable, stylish bedroom. She concentrates on reading her book. Space for copy.
Reading can count as a solo activity. (Getty Images)

"It promotes self-enjoyment, fostering a positive relationship with yourself and boosting self-esteem," Graham adds.

"Solo dates empower you to take charge of your own happiness and well-being, reinforcing the importance of self-care and self-love."

The importance of spending time by yourself

Graham likens spending time by yourself as similar to tending to the roots of a tree.

"For singles, it's nourishing the core of your being, allowing your individual branches to stretch toward the sun of self-discovery," she says.

"In relationships, it's like giving your tree space to breathe, ensuring that the roots intertwine without losing the essence of each unique trunk.

"Just as a well-nurtured tree flourishes and provides shade for all who gather around, personal time fosters growth and resilience, contributing to the strength and harmony of both solitary and intertwined lives."

How to spend time by yourself

Don’t worry if you don’t fancy taking yourself out to dinner, there are plenty of other things you can do to lock in some quality time with yourself.

Graham recommends spending time outdoors, doing something creative, or even taking up a mindfulness activity such as meditation.

"Whether it's a hike in the woods, a leisurely bike ride, or a solo picnic in the park, spending time outdoors allows for a rejuvenating connection with nature and oneself," she adds.

"Or, you could dive into a creative outlet that brings joy. This could be painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, or trying your hand at a new craft. Engaging in creative activities fosters self-expression and can be a therapeutic solo endeavour."

Hiking along the beach in California's Lost Coast.
Spending time outdoors can help you connect with yourself and connect with nature. (Getty Images)

Other options include carving time out for reading, or trying some more experimental meals when you’re cooking.

"In the tapestry of life, spending quality time with oneself weaves threads of self-discovery, resilience, and balance," she adds.

"Whether immersed in nature, pursuing creative passions, practising mindfulness, diving into books, or savouring culinary delights, these moments of personal connection contribute to a richer and more fulfilling journey, both alone and in the company of others."

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