“Being alone is very difficult.” — Yoko Ono

When FOF sister, Shelley, and I passed by a neighborhood coffee shop today, she announced, “I could never eat at a restaurant alone. I love being by myself, but that’s one thing I wouldn’t ever do.”

“Why do you feel this way?” I asked. “I love to eat out alone.”

“I think people would see me and say to themselves, ‘Look at that woman. She doesn’t have anyone.’”

“But you do have someone,” I answered, of course referring to Rusty, her husband of 41 years.

Irrational or not, we all have things that make us insecure, and Shelley’s thing is eating at a restaurant alone. I don’t like it when the music starts at a wedding, or other event, signaling the start of dance time. Always the tallest girl in grade school, I’d sit on the sidelines while all the short boys (it takes them longer to mature) danced with the shorter girls. Over the years, I’ve thought of taking dance lessons, but now they’re not on my list of 100 things to do before I die.

Some women won’t go unescorted to dinner parties, movies, or on a trip. I adore going to the movies alone.  Besides, who talks to her companion during a movie, anyway? While I’d rather take a trip with someone stimulating, I wouldn’t hesitate to travel alone if I couldn’t find someone to go with me.

My mother never dined out without my dad, a friend or relative, but when daddy died, she was comfortable having dinner at a restaurant by herself. Sometimes we’re forced to do things that take us out of our comfort zone, but I do think it’s worthwhile trying them when we don’t have to.

I’d love to know how you feel about being alone?

 

33 Responses to ““Being alone is very difficult.” — Yoko Ono”

  1. Genie in Dallas says:

    I love being alone! I jealously guard my time. That is, when I’m not working, or hanging out with a friend or family member. I’ve been divorced so long I can’t fathom sharing my home with anyone. I’m spoiled as rotten as I can possibly be (I don’t have money, but I have good health, albeit too many pounds), and I love being able to text, answer my phone or not; connect with folks via social media. I wouldn’t mind having a gentleman friend to fly me to Europe now and then, but he’d have to live in his own house, not mine. It’s great being a lady “of a certain age” !

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  2. Dale van Dommelen says:

    I’ve been receiving mail from FOF since it’s inception but today is the first time I’ve actually started looking at all there is to offer. This blog is especially meaningful since I’ve been trying to cope with being alone for 5 years now (divorce) and reading other’s thoughts and experiences is something of a comfort. I’m hoping that instead of feeling that being alone is “hard” I will start to find new experiences and opportunities that I didn’t “see” before. Thanks.

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  3. Kaylynn says:

    It always seemed easy and natural to dine alone on a business trip in an unfamiliar city; but I used to feel awkward dining alone or going to a movie solo in my home city. But I shop alone and run errands alone. Why not dine or see a movie alone? And as a FOF, why should I worry what someone else thinks? And dining alone is the best opportunity to really view your surroundings and do some fabulous people watching! Being alone does not mean being lonely. I love my “alone time.”

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  4. Regena says:

    I don’t have a problem eating out alone, although I would prefer to have something to read to occupy me while I wait for my meal. I have also been known to go to a movie alone occasionally. I am a loner of sorts anyway, but I occasionally feel compelled to be in the company of friends and be sociable.

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  5. Jewel Hopson says:

    Being a Spicy Spinster, I learned long ago the joys of my own company. While it’s nice to share experiences most of the time; being alone with my own thoughts, doing what I want without considering anyone elses agenda or time is less stressful. Food can taste better if you don’t have to justify the fattening sauce you just had or the desert you ordered. Furthermore, I love to browse and feel irritated when others want to zip into a shop, get what they want and get going.

    Sometimes I miss my youthful days when I was a flight attendant on layovers by myself. I didn’t have to consider anyone’s activity priorities but my own.

    Life is precious whether you’re having fun with someone or if you’re savoring by yourself. As the young people say, “It’s all good!”

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  6. Louise says:

    I was in my 20s, already married, when I ate a meal in a restaurant alone for the first time. I was uncomfortable at first but I pulled out a magazine. It was a prop because what I really wanted to do was take in the people around me and watch the bustle of activity by the waitstaff.
    I don’t need props anymore. I have found waitstaff that are more than willing to engage me in conversation, giving me more attention that I’d ever get if I wasn’t alone. Even nearby diners will speak up a bit to get my attention and eventually include me in their conversations for a little while.
    I do just about everything alone these days by choice. I like being viewed as an individual instead of part of a couple or group. I’ve also gone to social gatherings alone, always happy that I did that rather than stay home.

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  7. Frances says:

    A few years ago, I found I’d have time to kill between work and an evening meeting. Rather than run home and get involved with something there, and maybe be late for my meeting I started going to town and having dinner myself. At first it was weird to say the least, I’d make sure I had something to occupy my time with – a magazine or book. I’d be served, eat my dinner in a hurry – there was no-one to talk with to pace myself with conversation, so I’d eat and leave and be early for my meeting. It took quite a while before I was comfortable with that. Then as the marriage went further and further south I found myself even more comfortable.
    Years after he left and the kids were grown and doing their own thing, I decided I’m not sitting home alone like some pathetic old biddy on New Year’s Eve. So I began my tradition of going to a movie by myself. Granted you don’t talk in the theater, but you do on the way there and back. But I’d go to the movies and try to be in the theater around midnight. Then drive home – the roads were safe because all the party goers were still at their parties at midnight. I’d declare I have my new years date with …… whom ever was the leading actor – one or two years it was Johnny Depp – not a bad date for NYE!
    Now I’m trying to get myself to go to the symphony and live theater by myself. I’ve done one cabaret show, that wasn’t too good – sitting at tables with other – in my case a family who weren’t overly friendly. In time, I’m learning. The History Museum is a great place to go by yourself, you can take as much time as you like!

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  8. Brenda M says:

    I am single, and have been for almost nine years. I have always considered myself on the shy side, but I discovered that, even single I still deserved and needed to remember and celebrate that I was attractive and fun. I go out with friends,but more likely I am by myself. I travel, go to movies, dinner or lunch, and concerts, by myself. Sometimes I have to push myself, but I always think, If I don’t go by myself, I have to stay at home alone. Although I have recently retired and fixed my apartment with all the things I desired to make it my “private Haven” , sometimes I would rather just be out and about. I paint with watercolor, do chinese watercolor, craft and take photographs to paint. Hobbies are essential to my life. I even went to the 2011 FOF Beauty Bash by myself and had an awesome time!

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  9. bmarie says:

    ps: And, yes, going to films solo is a relished treat! walking solo to ponder, take the sights, I like it. But I am basically one who needs another.

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  10. bmarie says:

    My work in public relations for the lifestyle and hospitality industry takes me out at night for dinners and drinks. I relish a meal solo when I travel, or when I am out during the day running errands, or between meetings, stopping by a favorite lunch spot and enjoying my own company. In my twenties I couldn’t fathom dining alone, in my insecurity I thought onlookers would assume I had no partner, no friends. That mood didn’t last long, I love a quiet table, my book, notebook, newspaper while I slowly appreciate the good food set before me. I do not like to travel for leisure alone, however. I am a Libra with many planets in my 7th house of friendship and relationships. I adore good company.

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  11. Norma Byrd says:

    I guess I’m the only fish out of water. I have been divorced for over twenty years and alone for over fifteen years. I always enjoyed being out with my husband or significant other and have never been comfortable dining out alone or going to a movie or concert by myself. Not necessarily because I feel like a flashing light that says “Look at me! I have no friend!” though that’s kind of how I feel. But it’s more that I have no one to SHARE the experience with. No one to say to “This dish is wonderful! You have to take a bite!” or “Wasn’t that play great? Could the casting have been any better?” or “Check out this scenery!” It’s just not the same when there’s nothing but emptiness opposite you. OK, so I’m wimpy.

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  12. Robin says:

    Hi Geri,
    I also have no problems eating out alone. I have traveled alone especially on day trips. I get to meet some really neat people that way because I am not engrossed with a companion and talking to them.
    Thanks

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  13. Kathy says:

    I meet people when I eat alone. Years ago while on vacation by myself in Stowe, Vermont I dined at a wonderful restaurant. While seated alone waiting for my dessert, I was approach by a “representative” of a table of older ladies. She apologized for interrupting, but asked me how I enjoyed my crab legs…they were thinking of ordering too. If I was seated with someone else, I don’t think I would have been approached. I’ve found similar situations while in lines at Disneyland and elsewhere….since I’m alone strangers will strike up a conversation.

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  14. Karen C. says:

    I was a divorced single parent for many years, and when my son was busy with friends or school activities, I did go out to restaurants and coffee shops to dine alone, or even to a play or movie. I loved the solitude and loved watching other people! I was comfortable with “me.” I am remarried now, but I still spend time alone going to see a movie or show if my husband is busy, I love my time. Remember, your life is too short to care what other people may think about your dining alone, they are probably jealous!

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  15. Joan Sims says:

    The first time I ate alone I was newly separated from my ex husband and I felt a bit awkward but I said I might have to get used to this and I did.

    I bring a newspaper or a book and that helps to pass the time or sometimes I just sit and “people watch” .

    My favorite vacation trip was one that I took by myself – it forced me to become more outgoing – I met a bunch of fun people and had a blast . Everyone was impressed that I had traveled on my own. Of course you have to be sensible and keep yourself safe in these situations. Don’t do anything foolish and make sure somebody knows where you are. But being alone lets you do what you want, when you want and gives you time to rest and contemplate when you really need to “getaway from it all”.

    Don’t let doing things alone intimidate you or keep you from new experiences.

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  16. Sandii says:

    I have been without a significant person in my life for quite awhile. I want to live my life to the fullest. To do that I got over the fear of being alone a long time ago. In really good restaurants being alone can actually get you some of the best service in the world. The key is to be excited about the wine list, ask questions about the menu.
    Traveling alone gives you the freedom to see what you want to see. Every town has its charms and being unattached allows you to explore those that appeal to you. And who knows, when you explore museums and exhibits on your own, you often end up making friends in places.
    This happened to me last summer. I was alone in NE and found some of the nicest women who were there on a work assignment.
    Face being alone as a commitment to freedom from little fearful voices and life will give you many happy moments.

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  17. Marcelle says:

    I never think twice about it, I consider it me time, at 52 I still have an 11 yr old son at home, and a treat. I can order what I want at a place I like and I can take as long as I want.

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  18. SUE says:

    I only eat by myself if I’m on vacation. If I’m home I get my meals to go and eat at home.

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  19. Nina says:

    If I eat out by myself, I don’t feel bad if I have a book or magazine with me. Also, it’s not impolite to interrupt your meal with a text or call if you are alone…

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  20. Cathi Mercer says:

    I would much rather eat alone than sit across from someone who is uncommunicative. Watch some of the couples that are around you sometime. Too many are staring into space, not saying a word. I’m happier being my own company.

    I’ve traveled alone and with friends and I honestly prefer traveling alone. Doing what you want when you want to do it is a freedom you just can’t duplicate with others.

    Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy being with friends and family. I just really enjoy my own company.

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    • Jean Barry says:

      I have been married for 45 years and enjoy eating out with my husband as well as friends. However, if there is a movie I want to see or have lunch out- I am very comfortable with myself. For dining out- I bring my kindle so I have somthing to do while I wait for my lunch or dinner. I also go away by myself- bus or train to NYC to see a play , go to Lincoln center and stary over.

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  21. Joyce Acosta says:

    I have always eaten alone and there are usually an equal amount of single diners and group tables wherever I go. Maybe it’s because I live in a large city but I didn’t realize it was an issue.

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  22. Kim says:

    I would have no problem going into a restaurant and eating by myself…..take a magazine, a good book, good food and a cup of coffee and I’m in my glory. Sometimes, you don’t want conversation and you just want to realx by yourself…..little coffee shops are my favorite like Starbucks or Panera bread where you can sit at a table with your computer, read, relax and noone thinks anything of it because they are there for the same reason…..some alone time.

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  23. badgerfanz says:

    I often go alone just to get out of the house – I don’t worry about what people think and/or are thinking…………………..I make it all about me time and treat me!

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  24. Rachel says:

    A great piece! Being alone is scary, but it’s a fear worth conquering, especially as women get older. So often there’s just not a choice. (PS: We liked this article so much we linked to it in our Wednesday Blog Round-Up: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/wed-5-37.htm)

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  25. Helen says:

    It’s important to remember the difference between being alone and being lonely. I believe everyone likes some time of solitude. Everyone differs in how they would like to spend that alone time. However, not many people would choose lonliness or like being lonely. If you go to the movies or a restaurant alone by choice, and choose to spend your time that way, that is different that going to those places alone and being lonely while there.

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  26. Renee Parton says:

    I am married, and usually go out to eat with my husband. However, before I retired I would sometimes go to out of state or out of town business meetings. During those times I didn’t wait for someone to want to pair up or group up. If I was hungry, I went out to eat alone. Sometimes now, if I am alone going to antique stores or just shopping, I will stop and eat alone, either at a restaurant or a fast food restaurant. It’s no big deal.

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  27. Janice McCann says:

    I have always taught my children the importance of enjoying one’s own company. It allows us to experience any activity, no need to rely on finding a companion. With this attitude we are able to follow our whims and not hide out in front of the TV. Funny thing, when you are comfortable with being alone you actually become a more interesting person and thus attract more companions.

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  28. Laurie says:

    I am a widow of almost 12 years and have an 18 year old daughter. I eat out alone and I will go to the movies alone. When my daughter is with me we eat together but when she is not, I will eat out alone. I have family that I can invite but sometimes, it is spur of the moment and I just go by myself. I usually have my kindle with me so I read while I eat, therefore I avoid any looks from others that may pity me. I do not need their pity. Eating out alone is not to be pitied. Everyone has to eat and so it should not be something a person hesitates to do. I do understand that it can make you feel awkward. Initially, if I was going to eat alone I would stop and get a magazine to read or would bring a book with me. It helped me overcome the awkward looks. But.. when it comes down to it, it is not my problem. It is the people that look at a single diner sitting alone thinking he or she is to be pitied. Anywhere a single person is seen alone does not mean they have nobody. It just means they are comfortable being by themselves, which is not a bad thing. I think everyone should be comfortable with that concept. Too many people are “with” someone just because they can not stand to be alone. Now that is something I pity.

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  29. Kate Line Snider says:

    I realize loneliness is a big factor for some people. I’m married, but I wasn’t for a long time, and I’ve never particularly minded being alone. (I minded being without SEX, but being alone didn’t bother me!)

    I used to dine out alone, quite frequently.I’m sure people stared, and probably felt sorry for me, but I didn’t let it bother me. Sometimes now I eat lunch out alone. My husband doesn’t like some of my favorites restaurants!

    I never dated just because I was lonely. There’s nothing wrong with my own company. I’d rather be alone any time than hang out with somebody I don’t like, male or female!

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  30. Catherine says:

    As an adult, I have always lived alone. I didn’t marry. I go on vacation by myself, eat out by myself and go to the movies by myself. If I waited around for someone to do something with, I would have lost out on a myriad of opportunities. When you travel alone you have to be outgoing so that you don’t spend all your time alone. I’ve met some wonderful people that I am still in touch with some 20 years later. I find myself meeting people wherever I go. I just can’t seem to meet Mr. Right! Don’t get me wrong, there are times it is uncomfortable and it would be nice to have a travel companion, but if that is not in the cards, I’m not depriving myself of getting out there in the world and seeing what I want to see. I learned this lesson many years ago when a bunch of us (in our 20’s at the time) were saving for a cruise. Everyone was excited in the planning stage but the minute the first deposit was due, people dropped like flies. Needless to say, my plans were ruined because I couldn’t imagine going alone. I’ve never let it stop me since! And, trust me, people aren’t looking at you saying oh that poor woman all by herself, she mustn’t have a friend in the world — they’re either envious of your ability to come and go as you please or admiring your chutzpa at doing something that would majorly intimidate them. Caveat emptor — seize the day!

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  31. Sandra says:

    Geri – I have been a widow for 17 years this April. I have been completely alone since my younger child left for college in 2002. I don’t like being alone, and there are places that I don’t “love” going alone – but – I do it. I can’t just sit here in this house alone and wither away, so, like it or not, I go places alone. {Two things: I don’t care for movies, so that’s not a problem; I don’t dine out alone.} I am fortunate to have a wonderful circle of girlfriends who are happy to accompany me different places. But there are many places that I do go alone. A big part of being a happy person is learning to adjust to the changes in life, which almost always means being taken out of our comfort zone. I’m proud of my adjustments and happy in the place I find myself today. Have a great day! xoxo

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    • Geri Greene says:

      In my marriage, my husband travelled 45 or more days a year. Unlike my first marriage, he encouraged me to go to any social event we would attend, were he home with me. It expanded to my feeling comfortable going nearly anywhere solo, as I would likely encounter people I knew.

      After the end of the marriage, I had a comfortable base to build on, and had grown a little weary of spending time with people whose company I really did not enjoy as much as I reveled in the experience of my own thoughts, tastes and choices of where to dine or where to go.

      I’d like a balance of both, but at this time I am truly thrilled that I don’t give a second thought to going somewhere with someone whose company I truly enjoy – mySELF!

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