We are naturally sociable animals. Just as gorillas helpfully pick flies off open another, so too do our wingmen, buddies and mates help us feel more comfortable in social situations. If you’re the gregarious type, going out by yourself for the night might feel a daunting prospect, but we live in an age where plans can be made and broken at the last minute. The mobile phone allows us to be fickle and let our friends down, and social media, with its ceaseless fomo-feeding ticker of alternative events are like shiny silver to a jackdaw. So it’s inevitable that one day you’ll be left perfectly groomed and looking sharp, almost out of the door, when you get that text saying “Actually, mate…” and left to fend for yourself.
Go where you want
Aren’t you sick of pals saying, “Oh, we must try that hot new restaurant” but never actually getting round to it because of schedule conflicts, general uselessness or a reluctance to go but not wanting to betray it? Exactly! So go do it anyway. That way, you can be the first person to recommend it or, if you’re unlucky, give it a drubbing. Experience makes you an expert very easily – who’d want to pass that chance up?
If you eschew small bars in favour of big clubs you’ve more chance of someone talking to you. And if nobody bites, you will stand out less own a larger crowd. If you’re worried you look like a saddo because you’re out on your own, don’t.
You might be tempted to say your friends are at the loo or you’re meeting someone there, but you don’t have to explain yourself. “I just fancied a night out” or “I’m by myself tonight” will do. If you’re feeling sassy, you could hit them with “Why aren’t you alone? You should be.” But this is real life not an episode of Arrested Development so that may not fly. If you are really stuck and don’t have the nerve to brazen it out, just say, “I’m sure my friends are in here somewhere. I’ll catch up with them later.” If someone reacts badly to the fact you’re on your own, it’s on them, not you.
Don’t stare down at your phone in embarrassed mortification. Stare out into the action. This makes you look more open and approachable. Plus there’s the chance you’ll catch someone’s eye and they’ll come over to talk to you. A guy on his own immediately looks less intimidating than a bunch of people out together. Groups are much less open to suggestion, or intrusion, whereas people on their own come across as friendlier, as if they are looking to meet new people. Important: this also has a downside, of course.
Embrace the freedom
Going out by yourself means no one else’s feelings to worry about. You can switch location if you want, head out to dance, drink a shot, order a cocktail. Whatever. Any hierarchy or group-think evaporates immediately because only you’re invited to this private party and you control everything you do. Talk to who you like, free of your friends’ hangups.
There’s no competition
If you are looking for some kind of romantic diversion, perhaps going out solo is the right choice for you. That friend who always talks over you or cockblocks you whenever someone comes over to you? Gone.
You will relax eventually
If you drink, a couple of those should sort you out. Obviously getting drunk on your own probably isn’t the one, to be honest, so avoid chucking back the booze in the guise of dutch courage, because the courageous phase has a very brief window before it turns into “arsehole”. But this is a perfect opportunity for you to be yourself. No oneupmanship, no banter, no joking around or being influenced by your friends in who you should or shouldn’t approach, or who may or may not fancy you – you are shaping your own destiny, uncoloured by external noise. Pretty zen when you think about it – even if the club is blaring out “Despacito” and everyone is singing along tunelessly.
Ignore people who don’t ‘get it’
Why would you come out alone, they might say. Well, why wouldn’t you? You can’t hear a word anyone is saying anyway – the chats between you and your mates are hardly going to be deep and meaningful. The main pleasure of going out together is watching your friends get progressively more drunk and/or ridiculous and then have the pleasure of relaying all their misdemeanours back to them the next day. All that ends up on Instragam anyway. You don’t need to see it in real life.
Don’t be put off by a bad night
If nobody talks to you the first time, don’t worry, the next time might be different. Set yourself a couple of challenges to keep you motivated – pledge to talk to X amount of people or the next person who nods and smiles at the bar.
Learn to love small talk
Small talk gets big fast, so embrace the early inanities. These are just a way of weighing up whether the other person is interesting enough to carry on with. Keep it light, and general, avoid being personal and take care with compliments. If they drift away, it’s no biggie, someone else will be along in a moment.
Going to the cinema alone
It’s not all about going out drinking, of course. Going to see a film by yourself is 100 per cent normal and acceptable. You’re sitting in the dark in silence for two hours anyway. If you’re desperate to discuss the film you just saw, may I introduce you to this marvellous things called the internet, where the entire world is waiting to filmsplain to you.
There’s something hella luxe about sitting in a restaurant tout seul, ordering whatever the hell you want. Take the time to ask the waiting staff for their recommendations, approach it like a scholar and congratulate yourself on not being beholden to arguments over bill-sharing, friends insisting you share a starter or the inevitable wanker of the group who loves to humiliate the staff. This is your time. Enjoy your brief reign as king before you have to go socialise with the rest of the world again.