What to do when you’re not dating

For me, dating wasn’t just a pursuit of a romantic relationship — it was almost a hobby. I dislike being alone, and many of my friends are also busy moms with full-time jobs who may not be free precisely when I am.

So, I came up with a list of things to do besides distracting myself with dates or strong-arming my friends into keeping me company:

  • Do something outdoorsy. Go for a hike. Go kayaking. Go camping. Just go for a walk, if that’s what’s available.
  • Read a really involving book. Right after my divorce, I read “Gone With the Wind,” then the entire Jane Austen oeuvre (don’t bother with “Mansfield Park,” although it’s a shame “Lady Susan” doesn’t get more attention!), then “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” Other suggestions include the Harry Potter books and Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, if you haven’t read them already; the “Song of Ice and Fire” books that “Game of Thrones” is based on; and Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, if you like paranormal fiction. Goodreads also has a huge list of “gripping books” if none of those suit your fancy.


  • Plan a solo adventure. This summer, I went to a sea-kayaking symposium that was not only incredibly fun but increased my self-confidence tremendously. I had initially really wanted to go, but after signing up, I was terrified — what if I didn’t fit in? What if my skills were way below everyone else’s? What if I didn’t have fun? What if it was cold and miserable? It was AMAZING. I learned a ton, I met some great people, and I left feeling strong and confident and excited to learn more.
  • Work out. Look better + be healthier + feel better = triple win. I’ll have another post coming up soon on how much good this has done me.
  • Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. I learned to knit and have come to love it. Not only is it massively soothing, but it provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment, and I’ve met some wonderful people through my knitting group. I know that every Thursday, no matter what else is going on in my life, I have a place I can go where I can sit, relax, talk and vent if need be. Other suggestions: Cooking, baking, painting, martial arts, photography, playing an instrument.
  • Nurture your female friendships, or male ones if you have a lot of guy friends. (Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, not to fill in a “male attention” void.) If you’ve let your girlfriends slip down the list when you’ve been in relationships, make up for that now. Make new friends, too. One of my dearest new friends is a recently widowed neighbor about my mom’s age. She has been not only a shoulder to cry on when I’ve needed it, but a voice of wisdom and a new friend to my children.
  • Take a class. Is there a community college class that would help you at your job? A continuing ed class in something you’ve always wanted to learn?
  • Volunteer someplace that strikes a chord with you. Teach English as a second language. Tutor kids. Join Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Help out at the animal shelter. Support a candidate you like.

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