Up until this year, I have spent most of my time romantically involved with someone else, or hoping to be. I am such a hopeless romantic, it's sickening. I would always plan thoughtful dates, that deep down I wished someone would care enough to plan for me. I'm going to be honest with myself here when I say I am responsible for the best dates I have ever been on, regardless of who I was with. It took some time for me to realize that I put all my effort into doing things for people in hopes they would reciprocate the effort. I wanted to be swept off of my feet. I was disappointed more often than not.
At 21 years old, I find myself single, after years of dating, relationships, and pouring myself out for other people. I actually became single just days before the pandemic flipped the world upside down. As you can imagine, the current state of the world is not conducive to dating, and I did not have the luxury of easing gently into solitude. Nope. The pandemic ripped off my training wheels and tossed me head first into perpetual aloneness. Here and there, I would swipe through dating apps to pass the time or hush my feelings of loneliness. Small talk with potential suitors kept my phone buzzing, but did not make me feel any less alone. I went on some dates, and none were what I wanted them to be.
I have since shifted my efforts inwards. I've always wanted someone to do for me what I have done for them. It took longer than it should have for me to accept that I am someone, and I can treat "me" the way I want to be treated. I can do the things I have always romanticized doing with someone else, and I can do them with myself.
If you can relate to any of this- whether you are single or in a relationship- and want to improve the relationship you have with yourself, keep reading. Below, you will find over 30 different date ideas to try with yourself. There are ideas for everyone, regardless of your gender. This is a field guide to self-care, self-love, and dating yourself like no one else can.
Let us begin.
At home dates:
Prepare the ultimate bath time playlist. Make yourself some chocolate covered strawberries. Pop open a bottle of bubbly. Set up a speaker in your bathroom. Set out a fresh set of towels, just for you. Draw the bath just how you like it. Set the mood with some candles (you can never have too many). Toss in your favorite bath bomb, some bubble bath, herbs or flowers (heck, toss them all in if you want). Silence your phone. Slide on into the water. Lather up. If you're going to shave, shave with care. Let the music play while you soak in the luxury of your own company.
Sacred bath ritualGianna Palermo
You can do this with or without the bubble bath. Put on some relaxing music. Slice up a cucumber or potato and throw the slices in the fridge. Make an exfoliating face and body scrub. You can look up recipes online, or you can do what I do and just throw together what you have. I tend to use what I have laying around. I use sugar as the exfoliant, and depending on what my skin needs, I might add any combination of the following: coconut oil for moisture, tea tree oil for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, apple cider vinegar for acne, honey for skin repair, bacteria balance and acne, and/or green tea leaves to slow down aging and repair skin.
Set out a fresh set of towels, a clean robe, and some cozy socks. If you have masks for your hair and skin, set them out too. If you don't have a hair and/or face mask, look up recipes online and make your own.
Hop in the shower. Use warm water at first. Wet your hair and body. Shampoo your scalp like they do at the hair salon; slowly and thoroughly, without rushing. Rise. Condition your hair. If your hair type permits, use a shower brush or wide tooth comb to gently work the conditioner through your hair, beginning at the ends and going all the way up to before the root. With the conditioner in your hair, tie your hair back and out of the way if it is long enough. Grab your homemade exfoliating scrub, and gently scrub your face with it, from the edges to the center in a circular motion. Use the rest to exfoliate your body; arms, legs, butt, feet, and wherever else may need it most. Leave it on as long as you want. If you would like to shave, rinse off your body, get a new razor head and go to town. Take your time and be gentle. Be present, and use this time to feel and appreciate your body. Rinse off. Use a gentle face and/or body cleanser. Rinse out your hair.
Adjust the water so it is cold, or as cool as you can handle. Cold rinses are great for skin and hair health, especially for dry skin and damaged hair. Cold rinses close your pores and reseal your hair strands that relax and open up under hot water. Rinse your hair and body for a few minutes in the cold water. Towel off. Apply your face and hair masks. Throw your hair up or wrap it in a tee shirt or microfiber towel (these fabrics do not tug on or break the hair strands.) Lotion your whole body thoroughly. Slip into your comfy robe or pajamas and cozy socks. Grab your cucumber/potato slices. Lay down (put a towel down if your hair is still wet). Place a slice over each eye (cucumber and potato are natural remedies for under-eye puffiness and dark circles, and potato slices can also be used on the skin to reduce acne redness and inflammation). Set a timer for 20 minutes and simply relax.
At-home nail salon
Time to get wild. Fill the tub about ankle deep with warm water and add some moisturizing soap. Put clean washcloths or hand towels in a bowl of hot water. Soak your feet for 20 minutes. Use a pumice stone to scrub the soles of your feet and remove hard, callused skin. Dip back in the water. Remove feet from water, cover with hot towels, massage, and wipe clean. Rub lotion all over your feet. Soak your hands too, if you'd like, then a hot towel, massage, and lotion them as well. Don't skimp out on the massages; your hands and feet go through a lot for you. They deserve love, too. Trim and file your nails on your toes and fingers. You can paint a clear coat on them and call it a day, or go all out with your favorite nail colors. If you are like me, take it easy afterward so you don't bang your nails on something in the first five minutes and ruin them.
Write yourself a love letter
That's right. Write yourself the love letter you have always dreamed of receiving. Elaborate on all of the little details and eccentricities that you love about yourself. Admire what makes you, you. Brag about what you do that amazes you. Express love and gratitude to yourself. Pour your heart out. Take your time, write neatly and thoughtfully. Put it in an envelope, addressed to yourself, and read it whenever you need to hear that you are loved deeply and truly by you.
"I've always wanted to get into Yoga," I would say, and never actually get into Yoga because I wanted someone to do it with. Newsflash, I am someone, so I stopped waiting around and started doing it with myself. Get a yoga mat, set it up in a spacious part of your home, or find a peaceful grassy spot outdoors. Music is optional, but I find my yoga sessions are the best time to enjoy albums from start to finish. When the album ends, I wrap it up, or play another album and keep going. If you are a beginner, try a free yoga class (a lot of yoga studios offer a free first session.) If you like it, keep going. If you can't afford it, practice what you learned in yoga class and build your practice from there. There are tons of instructional yoga videos, photos, apps, and social media accounts to guide you through it. You can also add in stretches, or have an entire stretch session. No matter what, it feels great. Remember to breathe. I like to make sure I have water handy, and sometimes I'll pour myself a cup of tea to sip along the way. Namaste.
Yoga with a viewGianna Palermo
Rainy day shows
It's a rainy day and you are still laying in bed or moping around the house. Me too. But today, like every day before it, is another day of your life, and it is just as precious as the rest, despite the weather. Roll out of bed, make yourself the best cup of coffee or tea you could have asked for (earl gray goes so well with rainy days), pour yourself a hefty glass of water and eat a big healthy breakfast. Jump into some fresh pajamas, light a candle, snuggle up in bed or on the couch, grab some snacks, and binge watch some Netflix or have a movie marathon. Enjoy this time. Do it like you want to, instead of doing it like a sad puddle of human just going through the motions.
It's 7 PM on a Friday night. You have concluded, after searching and scrolling on your phone for who knows how long, that you have no plans. You know what that means? Bust out the popcorn and snacks. Dim the lights. Set the mood. It's a movie night. If you're like me you might have a list, or multiple lists in your phone notes, text messages, and note pads, of movies you've been wanting to watch or have been recommended. Now's the time, so have at it.
Movie night with me, myself and IGianna Palermo
Paint and sip
I've always wanted to do a paint and sip (paint something while drinking wine or another beverage of choice) as a date. Well, guess what, I am the best date I have ever had, and you can be too. Cue The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, break out the paints and remember to keep your wine glass at least half full at all times.
Make your favorite dinner
People always romanticize making someone else's favorite dinner for them. Yeah, it's cute and all, but when is the last time someone made you your favorite dinner? Better yet, when is the last time you made your favorite dinner for yourself, just because you care? On that note, make a trip to the grocery store and gather everything you need. Prep the ingredients, look up a recipe if you need, and play some music to get you in the spirit. Enjoy the process, sip a little wine if you please, and dance around the kitchen while you're at it. Set the table, light a candle, and go all out. For yourself. Because you care. You deserve it.
Name a better duo than brunch on a Sunday. I'll wait...
With that being said, pour yourself a glass of orange juice (add some champagne if you want to), and get to cracking. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, omelets, fruit parfaits, the whole sha-bang. Don't forget to listen to Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson while you're at it.
Brunchin' it upGianna Palermo
Dates outside the home:
Gym dates are cute and all, but it's also cool to be your own gym buddy. This is you-time at its finest. Throw on your favorite workout gear. Warm-up and activate your targeted muscle group. Get in the zone. Push yourself. Don't rush through your workout. Appreciate what your body is capable of. After you destroy your workout, stretch it out nice and easy, then hit the sauna or a massage chair (if your gym has them.) Reward yourself with a protein shake or smoothie from your favorite shake bar, and enjoy every sip.
Sweaty SelfieGianna Palermo
Anywhere you go can be a reading date if you bring a book. I like to get creative with where I read. Park, cafe, a bar, a field, by a lake, wherever. Thanks to Covid-19, some places (Philadelphia, for example) do to-go cocktails. When I'm feeling frisky, I'll pack my book and a towel, grab a to-go drink, and sprawl out in the grass in Rittenhouse Square. Chances are, there are people there doing the same thing.
Go for a stroll around a college campus
It could be your campus. It could be your dream campus. Take a stroll and discover the neat secrets the campus has to offer. Pro-tip: check out the ivy leagues... their campuses are unreal.
Rowan campus strollGianna Palermo
Take yourself out to lunch
So you want to go out to lunch but have no one to go with. Been there. Go anyway. Bring a book. You can only force yourself to look at your phone to avoid eye contact in public for so long before you begin to feel lonely. When I read in public, I feel confident in being alone.
Treating myself to lunchGianna Palermo
Breweries are all unique, and many tend to have cool ambiance. If you want to try something new, go to a new brewery once in a while, or hang out at your favorite one. Grab a locally brewed beer, listen to the music, talk to people, doodle in a sketch pad, write, or bring a book and simply enjoy.
It's game day. You want to watch the game, but you also don't want to be alone. Go to a sport's bar, wear your team's gear, and sit at the bar where you can see the TV. It doesn't matter if you go alone, because once the game comes on, everyone in the bar cheering for your team automatically become your friends. If they don't start a conversation with you, you can start one with them. Sports have a way of bringing people together.
The same thing with breweries, cafés are all unique. Explore cafés near you. Buy yourself a quality cup of coffee, hang out, grab a seat and table, bring some work to do or a book, and enjoy the coffee shop music and the white noise of chatter.
Find a tea shop. Try a new tea. Have a seat, sip, and enjoy.
Libraries have a comforting feel to them. They are full of knowledge, wisdom, and history. If the smell of old books doesn't calm you, the quiet atmosphere will. Pack some tea or coffee and snacks. Find a seat. Do homework, study, read your own book, or explore the library and find something cool to read. Browse some more before you go and check out a book or two that catch your interest. Make it a goal to finish reading them before the due date and make a date of it when you come back to return them.
Look up free live music near you. Breweries, bars and restaurants tend to have live music often, but your town may have free events with live music as well. Check it out and enjoy the music.
When you're down in the dumps, get yourself a ticket to a live comedy show. Laughter is the best medicine.
If you're feeling lonely, stop by an animal shelter or rescue farm. Odds are, they are lonelier than you are. Animals are miracle cures to loneliness. You can help out animals as they help you by giving them some love and attention. You can often give them treats, pet them, and take them out to play, as well.
Find some wildflowers and pick yourself a bouquet. Put them in a vase where you can see them. To you, from you.
Go to an arcade
Simple as that. Regular arcades will do, but adult arcades are next level. Get your game on.
Explore a new city or town
Sometimes, I take myself on day trips to new places. I ask locals for recommendations, walk around, get lost, and explore any shops or places that catch my interest. It can be fun not to have a plan when you go to a new city. When you are open to the possibilities, cool things to do and see can find you with ease. (Side note, if you are going to explore a new place alone, go during the day, and be aware of your surroundings. If you can, let someone know where you are or share your location with them. I also carry pepper spray on me, just in case. You can never be too safe, but at the same time, do not let fear make you miss out on experiences in life.)
Wynwood, MiamiGianna Palermo
Check out a local festival or carnival
Ride some rides, play some games, buy yourself a funnel cake or some ice cream, and enjoy the fun.
Go to a museum
There are museums for everything from art, to science, to natural history, and more. Stop by your favorite one or venture out to a museum that is new to you. Check out a new exhibit. Find an interactive museum. Go to an art gallery. Explore historic sites (they often have museums, too). Learn something new. Admire the displays. Be amazed.
Philadelphia Museum of ArtGianna Palermo
Pick a nice day. Pack up a towel or blanket, large enough for you to stretch out on. Prepare a nice lunch or charcuterie board and some beverages. Bring a speaker, journal, and/or book. Wear some comfy clothes. Find a nice grassy field or hill somewhere and enjoy the big blue sky. If there are clouds, lay back and find shapes in the clouds. Soak in the sun and be grateful.
Find a park
Parks are everywhere, and in my opinion, they're all pretty cute. Find a park you've never been to. Walk, run, bike, rollerblade, scooter, or skateboard around. Sit on a bench. People-watch. Appreciate the scenery.
Rollerblading in the parkGianna Palermo
Go to a State or National park
It is a life goal of mine to see as many state and national parks as I can. They have everything; waterfalls, hills, valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers, geysers, trails, wildlife, and more. Make a list of ones you'd like to see, and begin by taking yourself to one. Check it off the list and repeat.
Shenandoah National ParkGianna Palermo
If you live near the woods, like I do, some parks have forests and wooden or dirt trails. Check out a map and pick a trail to follow. Bring your dog if you'd like. Take some pictures and enjoy a relaxing stroll in the woods. Keep an eye out for cool wildlife or historic structures along the way.
A walk in the woodsGianna Palermo
Hiking alone is surprisingly nice. Look up good hiking spots for your desired level of difficulty. Lace-up your hiking shoes. Pack a bag of snacks, water, a change of clothes, and pepper spray. Get a hiking app on your phone, preferably one that can track your route offline (so you don't get lost when you find yourself out of cell phone reception). If it is a popular hiking spot, you may run into other hikers along the way or once you reach scenic overlooks. I like to say hi, and most say hi back and ask how you are. It is reassuring to have friendly people close by in the event of an emergency, or even just to ask for directions. Now, hit the trails and go hike up a mountain. Few things are more rewarding than that.
Foggy mountain top viewGianna Palermo
Catch the sunset
If you ever find yourself driving around near sunset, hunt it down. Find a spot to park your car and watch it. Or, you can plan to watch the sunset. Find the perfect west-facing view beforehand, set up a towel or seat to watch it from, and sit back as the sun paints the sky before your eyes.
Rooftop sunset in PhillyGianna Palermo
Find a spot with a clear view of the sky, like a large field, preferably somewhere with minimal light pollution. On a clear night, lay down and stargaze. Identify constellations you know. If you are a novice stargazer, there is an app I personally like to use called Skyview. It augments the reality of the sky, identifies constellations, shows the animals or figures the constellations form, shows satellites, planets, and the moon as well. There is a free version, but for $1.99 you can access all of the cool features. Best $2 I've spent. Keep an eye out for shooting stars, too! Don't forget to make a wish.
Sometimes, when I have nothing to do and nowhere to go, I like to just drive (weather permitting). Sometimes I drive familiar roads that I know are scenic, or sometimes I look online or find recommendations for new scenic drives. My favorite scenes to drive through are trees, mountains, near water, and through quaint little towns. Buckle in, fill up your tank, turn the music up, and just drive. If you find yourself in a cool area, get out and explore. Have fun with it.
Driving to nowhere in particularGianna Palermo
If you enjoy driving as much as I do, and have some free time, try to go somewhere new. You can take a day trip, a weekend trip, a week-long trip, or take as long as you'd like. Pack a bag with some comfy casual clothes, athletic clothes, a nice outfit or two, and whatever toiletries you will need. Fill up some water bottles, gather some snacks, grab a book, laptop, our journal. Make a long playlist of all your favorite music and some music you've been meaning to listen to, cue up an audiobook, or find some podcasts you want to hear. Hit the road and enjoy the journey.
Roadside viewsGianna Palermo
Sing in the car
When you're just driving along, put on some of your favorite songs to sing along to, and rock out. Shamelessly. Put on the performance of your lifetime, because you can. Roll the windows down if you want the world to hear you. Sing all the feel-good songs, all the sad songs, and all the songs you've always wished someone would sing to you. Cry if you need to. Most importantly, don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.
I have learned a lot about myself since I made the commitment to loving myself the way I deserve. I get to watch myself grow and evolve. I am present for all of my greatest and worst moments. I am my own biggest fan. I enjoy my own company. I date me as I've never been dated before. I know what I can do for myself, and I will not settle for anyone who is not worth my effort or does not treat me like I am worth theirs.
If there is one thing my experience dating myself has taught me, it is that I am the best date I have ever had.
You might just find that you are your own best date, too.