I used to love going to the movies alone. I could see what I wanted, when I wanted. Phone off, no clients calling.
Then I started dating a guy who loved movies too. We went to the theater together and he bought the popcorn.
I married this guy. Had a kid. Haven’t been to a non-animated film in seven years. And rarely go anywhere by myself anymore.
But, once-in-awhile I’ll eat a meal at a restaurant alone or grab a cup of coffee by myself at the café’. I like the people watching and the quiet that allows me to think or zone out. I like choosing where I want to go without needing to negotiate or check childrens’ menus, and each time I’m surprised by how much I enjoy the time.
More Fun than Expected
Marketing professors Rebecca Ratner and Rebecca Hamilton found, after surveying hundreds of people, that most had more fun than expected while out on their own.
First though, they had to get over their own self-consciousness. Many study participants assumed that others would think that they had few friends if they were spotted alone in public. This made them reluctant to go out in the first place.
But truth is, most people aren’t paying attention to us at all, according to research by Thomas Gilovich and others.
Due to a unique phenomenon called the “Spotlight Effect” we tend to think everyone is looking at us or noticing more about us than they truly are. Reality is, most people are too self-interested, busy, or focused on other things to pay much attention to what we’re doing.
So, if you are sitting home alone just because you don’t have anyone to accompany you to the hot, new Italian restaurant you really want to try, just get up and go.
Once you get over the I-wonder-what-others-are-thinking discomfort you’re likely to have a good time. And aside from some delicious red wine, you may even encounter new people, different activities, and more possibilities for fun. All things you’d miss if you are afraid of going solo.
*Portions of this post first appeared on Psychology Today.