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Why sometimes a Table for one beats a Table for two
There are far worse fates than eating alone!
Let me begin by saying that while I consider myself to be a feminist, I am not a man hater! Nothing could be further from the truth! However, I've spent the bulk of my life as a single woman and thus I wish to discuss the benefits of being happy with being on your own.
There are certainly times when loneliness or simply too many meals eaten alone can cause us to wish for a change in our lives. I personally eat almost every meal in my life by myself. But, it is far worse to spend time with the wrong people, in order to avoid the time spent alone.
Truly, having been single for so much of my life I feel that I have an advantage in having made friends with myself. I know many single people who would do almost anything to avoid time spent alone. But, I have found that once you have made the effort to become friends with yourself and cultivate rituals around your time spent on your own that it is much superior to spending time with those that aren't supportive or even a good fit for you and what you are about.
When we are first starting out dating in our late teens and twenties, it is advised that we spend a lot of time between relationships in order to learn what went wrong and to not recreate the same situation with the next partner. But, I see that many people don't take any time alone in between relationships. In fact, there are those people who will not leave a relationship without first having another one lined up in the wings!
But, though it can be sad, scary and even uncomfortable to be alone after having been in a relationship, not taking this step can lead to just finding new people to have less than satisfying relationships with. Perhaps what is needed is to first have a relationship with yourself?!
Let's look at how to cultivate an appreciation for the time you spend with yourself.
Falling in love.....with yourself
It is said that until we can truly love ourselves that we cannot love another. And I have to agree with this statement! One can't fully give themselves unto another person if they aren't really in touch with themselves to begin with. It makes sense that in order to fully be in a relationship with another person we must first be in a relationship with ourselves.
To me, this is not much different than the love we feel for another. We take time to really appreciate the unique aspects that make us who we are. In knowing these things about ourselves it is possible to feel a real affection for ourselves. And, from this affection comes the desire to do for ourselves all that we wish to do for the people we love. We can start by looking in the mirror and saying "I love you". Consider what it means to love yourself. What does this mean to you? Perhaps it's easier to think of somebody else that you love and then contemplate those feelings and direct them inward. By doing this, you are focusing on all the qualities and traits that you have that are loveable. When we have found things about ourselves to love, then spending time alone should be pleasant and not sad or lonely. If you think that you are pretty funny and entertaining then bring humor to your life! Read something funny, or watch a funny movie.
Maybe you especially love your intelligence and your organizational skills. Then you might want to spend time reading, or organizing your office. Rather than a drudgery, this might be something you enjoy.
Once you really find the value of yourself, it becomes much easier to share yourself with others. You can find in others that which you value in yourself and will have a sense of harmony and compatibility with them.
I will not tell you that I love being alone 100% of the time! That would be a gross misstatement. But, of the time that I spend alone, most of it is spent feeling relatively content and not filled with angst or longing to be with others. In fact, if I don't spend enough time alone I get anxious and irritable. Even if I ever decide to remarry or have a relationship that is based on cohabitation, I know that for me I will always need a modicum of time spent alone in order to be happy. We all have varying comfort levels with intimacy and with time alone. The key is to find a balance that works for you.
While I'm extremely independent and can comfortably go long periods without other people, for some it is desirable to have less time spent alone.
If you've learned about who you are, and come to love yourself you will know what is the right combination for you. You can make choices that will give you the greatest happiness alone and spent with others.
A Table for One
I've been dating since longer than I've been driving; which is a very long time! I have had some lovely dates, and I've had some dates that had me eagerly returning to my single life! It is those latter dates that have convinced me that a Table for One trumps a table for two at times!
I would much prefer my own company and dining alone, to the company of a boorish lout, or a person who has no conversational skills! It is much nicer to order my food, sit quietly and watch people and sip a glass of wine than to be out with somebody that is making me so uncomfortable as to have indigestion! It is about being with the "right" people and not just being with anybody to avoid being alone.
There are so many things that are worse than being alone. If you don't believe me, then you've been blessed with really amazing luck in finding compatible people to spend your time with.
I will always take the option of dinner alone over dinner with somebody who's company I don't enjoy. I don't date for sport, but rather with the hope of finding somebody to be a friend. If a friendship develops then there is potential to build on that toward a romantic or partnership type of relationship. But, first I must actually like the person! I guess I've never been the type of person who chooses to go out over staying alone unless I was actually enthused about the other person. It remains to be seen if my way is the best, or maybe I'm missing out by being selective? I do wonder if perhaps I'm too comfortable spending time with only myself.
And, as I near the end of my sixth decade on this planet I also think maybe spending a lot of time alone in between relationships isn't the best choice? When we are young, we have a lot of time left, but at this stage of life, do I really want years to go by while I'm growing between relationships?
I see my 20 and 30 something neighbors and acquaintances and there seems to be very little time between one relationship and the next. One day they are dating, and seemingly the next day they are cohabiting! One day the man is talking about himself and the next day he's talking about "us". I met the latest girlfriend of my male neighbor and found her to be very friendly. Later that week when I saw the neighbor I told him "I really like your girlfriend! She's great!" to which he replied "Oh...ya, I like her". I was stunned for just a minute because I would think if they had taken the step to cohabit that the more appropriate response to me might have been "I love her" not just like her. But, maybe that is not a pre-requisite for cohabitation among this generation of people? Maybe I'm hopelessly old fashioned in thinking that to cohabit with one's boyfriend or girlfriend that there is a love relationship, and not just a friendship with sex?
Regardless of the generation you are in, or whether you love somebody and/or cohabit with anyone else, my advice is the same. Love yourself first! Know what makes you happy, know what makes you unhappy! Take that information and use it wisely as you go forward and make friends and relationships.
And remember, that eating a meal alone or sleeping alone, or living alone can all be wonderful experiences. One does not need another person in order to be happy! Be happy with yourself and the rest will fall into place!