When you are a single person it is very easy to convince yourself that everyone else is in a couple, especially at a party. You stand aside watching them laughing together, schmoozing with other couples, note his hand on the small of her back, the knowing smiles and private jokes with each other. And you remember how that felt. But now, you have no-one to get you out of the corner that you’ve been wedged into by a ‘space invader’ (you know who I’m talking about), with the “darling, shall I get you some wine?”, while you manoeuvre yourself out of that tight spot. Suddenly, you feel as though it’s the first day of school again, and you’re going from group to group asking somebody, anybody to be your friend so you don’t have to stand on your own.
The easy option of course, is to say 'no' to the invitation. We’ve all done it, made our excuses, and you and I know that we were on the sofa in our pajamas by 7pm with several loads of laundry under our belt. Feeling smug for being productive, but yet again tortured by our lack of confidence to go to something alone. There is no simple solution, apart from buckling in and going for it.
Have you been out by yourself at all? I take myself out alone fairly regularly; to dinner, the theatre, a movie, a gallery. Mostly because I’d rather see something on my own, than wait for a friend to be available and perhaps miss the movie, exhibition or show. If you are brand new to being single, why not start building your confidence by taking yourself and a book to a coffee shop for an hour. After all, the only way to get used to your own company is to spend time with your own company. You’ll be surprised when you sit in a cafe at how many others are there on their own too. Fortunately, every café is bursting at the seams with people working solo on laptops, so you’ll never be the only person in there on your own.
Once you’ve mastered this first step and have an invitation to go to something that sounds potentially scary, how about telling the host that you’d love to come, but you do have something else that evening too. That way you could be brave enough to dress up, put your lipstick on and go, but know that you only have to stay for one drink and then say your goodbyes. When you know you have an ‘out’ it’s much easier to relax. And if you only speak to the host, so what? Invariably the host will introduce you to other people, and if you’re enjoying the company, why not stay for an hour?
I’ve been to parties full of couples and felt as though the spotlight was on me as the only singleton. For me, it works better if I don’t drink too much, the relaxed/over confidence feeling that booze buzz gives can sometimes work against you. And as you see others relax and get more intoxicated as the evening goes on, it can be a nice reminder as to why you are now single, and that it might not be such a bad thing.
If you’ve had a terrible time, nobody spoke to you, and you felt like a fish out of water, just put it down to experience. Go in with low expectations next time. You know nothing will be worse than the time you were left admiring the crushed velvet wallpaper on your own. Because no matter how hard you tried to speak to several people, including the host, they were too busy mid conversation to include you. And that’s what happened to me.
And who has crushed velvet wallpaper anyway?!
Cat Cooper is a forty something, single mum who lives in North London with her ten year old daughter. She is writing her first book about the roller-coaster ride that is online dating, post millennium and post her own break-up. Life’s curve balls can really throw you, and starting over has certainly been a journey of self discovery. It wasn’t until her girlfriends who enjoyed her stories so much and encouraged her to write them down, that she decided to share them. The dating research continues...
Also by Cat Cooper:
Dating This Side Of The Millenium, Do I Dare?
My First Date: 17 Years After The First
Cat Cooper: My Second Date
Cat Cooper: My Third Date
Divorce, A Lonely Business