Monday, August 15, 2016

Single Vs. Married

     As I mentioned in a recent post, I drove up to a folk music festival by myself the other weekend while B went to a baby shower for her niece. On the one hand, I liked the idea of going off by myself for a day. But then I felt awkward and a little out of place once I arrived at the venue and wandered around all by myself.

      There was a dance tent where a surprisingly large number of people were learning a folk line dance. I would likely have joined in if B was with me, but she wasn't. That's one reason why, by and large, I do not like to travel by myself -- and why I'm glad that I have a partner, that I'm not single.

     I will go to a diner or fast-food place by myself, but never a nice restaurant, or even a Chili's or Applebee's. I have been going to Florida for a few weeks in the winter for a number of years. I'd really rather have B go with me, but she's still working. And even though I spend a few days visiting my sister in Jacksonville and my friend in Ft. Myers, I still feel I miss out on things because I'm by myself, and I get lonely after about a week on my own. I go to the beach and watch the sunset, alone. It's kind of sad. Last year I took an airboat ride in the Everglades -- myself and three couples, two with kids. I felt kind of stupid.

     Of course, my problem may be that I lack the self-confidence, or self-possession, to appear in public on my own. I feel self-conscious, like people are feeling sorry for me because I have no friends to go out with. Or maybe I just do not command the social skills to insert myself into a crowd of strangers, meet new people and make new friends. Maybe it's just that I don't like my own company.

     I don't have a lot of experience being alone. I have never really lived by myself. I had a roommate when I moved to New York City after college, then was married for 29 years. After we got divorced I shared custody with my ex-wife, and my son was with me in my condo three days a  week -- and my daughter came home for college vacations as well. Also, my ex-wife lived around the corner, and we had an amicable relationship and did things together once or twice a week, especially when the kids were around.

     By the time my son went off to college, and my ex-wife moved away, I had a new girlfriend, and we soon moved in together -- and we've been together ever since, about ten years now.

     I've never had to make it on my own, make new friends. I've had the same friends for decades. We do things together, mostly as a group. But I've never in my life called up a friend and said, "Hey, I'm going to the beach. Wanna come with me?" Or, "Would you like to go to the movies tonight?"

     Is that why I feel awkward when I'm alone?

     My older sister, now married, was single for most of her life. She goes out to lunch with her own friends, without her husband, and goes walking on the beach, and attends the symphony with her single friends. Once or twice a year she'll go away for a weekend with her girlfriends.

     B also has her girlfriends. They go out to lunch, or occasionally to dinner or to go see a chick flick.

     I don't have any "single" friends, and I don't think I could handle being single very well. I don't have the coping skills. Is that because I've never been on my own? Or is it because I'm a man, and men don't make friends as easily?

     B and I go to a dancing class once a week. The class consists of four couples, along with one single man. I feel sympathy for him, because he's alone, although he seems to handle the situation quite well. But I could never be that guy.

23 comments:

Jane said...

I suggest challenging yourself to make independent plans on a regular basis. Start small and make an effort to chat with someone each time.

Wisewebwoman said...

I don't think you're complaining Tom or are you? I'm a gregarious loner so I need a lot of alone time as I enjoy my own company far too much. I had to spend most of the afternoon with a charming and witty man and I was itching to get home after 3 hours and be by myself. Img great company, I think, but I'm rationed. LOL
XO
WWW

Luke Osborne said...

Tom, I spent the better part of four decades in military service then a decade in the corporate world. I observe that men need the company of other men. Golf is an excuse to hang out with other guys, as are poker, drinking in bars, and going to the ball game. It's something we need and it's not at all a rejection of women. You and I have never met so I can't say I know you, but this business of male loneliness is common to many of us.

Carole said...

Interesting. I tend to be on the shy side and sometimes think that it leaves me out of activities and relationships that I might otherwise enjoy. Our society does seem to be more geared towards couples. I have a couple of close friends that I enjoy doing things with. My classes at the Y are always fun. I enjoy the people there, but they are more like casual friends that I only see at class. I sometimes envy those who can be the life of the party no matter where they are or who they are with. But that is not me, and likely never will be.

retirementallychallenged.com said...

I'm not all that comfortable doing many things on my own, especially when most people are paired up or in groups. I love shopping alone, though, and going out with girlfriends is fun. Dance classes are easy when couples rotate. My husband and I met that way since we both wanted to learn to dance and decided to take classes alone (although the classes were larger than what you described, so being alone didn't stand out). When I used to work and had to attend conferences now and then on my own, I always looked for another loner who looked uncomfortable and chatted them up. They were grateful to have someone to talk to and I was no longer alone!

Tom Sightings said...

Oh no, I'm no complaining, or I don't think I am. I think by this time in our lives, we all know ourselves, and I know this about me, which is probably why I've always be "attached." It's not a character flaw, but it is a character trait a lot of us (esp. men?) share -- altho' I do admire people who are perhaps more comfortable in their own skin and can thus better face the world alone.

DJan said...

Some people make friends easier than others. Although I'm married, we rarely do things together. We like different activities. I go with my own friends, and he goes with his. And of course we have our times together. I like it this way, and I often go to movies alone but rarely eat out alone. He's too good a cook and always has food in the fridge for me. :-)

Barbara Torris said...

When you figure this out let me know Tom.

If there was a way to always be around other people yet not responsible for keeping up the conversation, life would be perfect.

My husband and I have been married for almost 56 years. I was 19 when we married. Being alone is such an unknown for me. Unlike you, I have never ventured out alone on a boat ride or a short vacation. The idea just makes me feel bunchy!

Be well.

b+

olynjyn said...

I've been divorced for 20 years...the fact that you and your ex could be together once or twice a week is something that puzzles me...why get divorced if you can tolerate each other that frequently and live so close to each other and possibly run into the other one at any time. I'm sure it was wonderful for your children, but you might as well save the double rent if you are still doing things together and close enough to see the other person's comings and goings.

I have dated someone for 15 years...I will never get married again. I don't mind traveling alone and prefer my own company. This person would be at my home or calling daily and it got to be grating on my nerves. So, we are still friends but he has moved on to someone who is happier to cook for him daily, put up with his son's nasty and cranky disposition since he still lives at home and is close to 40.

The awareness that you shared about needing someone else's company is the awareness I eventually came to realize about myself. I was the oldest of 4 and always had to be a semi-parent, had to share my bedroom, toys, clothes, etc. so I was never alone. I believe you are the youngest of 4 and therefore were used to being on the receiving end of the closeness.

Stephen Hayes said...

I've been married for 42 years but as a writer/painter I spend much of my time alone, at least until my wife retires next year. I don't have a problem dining alone although it doesn't happen too often.

retirementreflections said...

This is a thought-provoking post, Tom. I love the balance of doing things together with my husband, as well as with just my girlfriends. I also greatly appreciate my alone time. In my case, I think this is because I am an extroverted-introvert (and one who loves balance). Thanks for the great post.
Donna
www.retirementreflections.com

Jane Gassner said...

When I first started reading this, I was confused that these sentiments were from the male perspective. Generally, the traditional understanding is that it's women who have no social life without men; women who are afraid to eat by themselves in nice restaurants; women who need bucking up to get out and live life. I had to do a bit of a revision of my cultural understanding to get what you're saying here, Tom. Once I did that, I thought--oh yeah, maybe women have been selling themselves short all these years. Maybe the feminist movement really effected major and minor changes. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong about how you feel, Tom. I just worry that you might end up, as so many women have, finishing your life alone or in a relationship that doesn't work but is better than nothing.

Rian said...

This was definitely an interesting post, Tom. I've never been alone, was the youngest in my family, went to college with a friend, married immediately after college, and have been happily married for almost 49 years. And as much as I do love my "alone" time, I don't relish ever having to live alone.

I did travel on my own for a week one summer to a Audubon workshop in Maine... and it turned out to be a wonderful adventure. But that was the one and only time. My DH, although a very sociable person, doesn't really get together with male friends... except for an occasional lunch with the guys he used to work with. He does however keep in close touch with his brothers. We do some things together, and have lots of family time with kids and grandkids, but for the most part, go our own way. It works well.

Morgan said...

The thing about life... Your lady may end up heading for the exit before you do, putting you in a single stance one more time.

I can say that if my husband passes on first, that I'll be out that evening looking for a replacement. I adore my husband, and I love our marriage which only reinforces the idea that I will be looking for that again. :) I have no desire to be alone.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

This is such a fascinating post, Tom. I think our comfort with aloneness in influenced by so many things. I have been married for 40 years but prefer to do many things alone. Bob and I have very few friends in common, enjoying friends separately. I usually travel alone and prefer it as Bob does not enjoy travel very much. We spent most of our days at separate pursuits, though enjoy time together and understand each other well. We met and married in our thirties and I had lived alone for some years before that, though had an active social life. I came from a chaotic family who lived in very small quarters, so living alone and being alone felt wonderful! I have a close friend who recently divorced after 43 years of marriage. He is living alone for the first time in his life and is ecstatic. He says he has never had his own place -- even in utero as he is an identical twin. He seems to have a great comfort level with his newfound aloneness. So I think there are normal, healthy people like you who feel best when with a significant other and others, also normal and healthy, who treasure a certain amount of solitude.

Anonymous said...

My hubs of 42 years likes to go to the track for greyhound races, I do not, I prefer now some alone time, but I speak to everyone and I am friendly to a point..Being the middle child in a family my mom died young and my dad took to the bottle did a number on me, I rarely see if at all any blood siblings, my hubs the oldest of a huge brood with a father missing in action and an alcoholic his mom kept having lots of kids but he never stood around to actually raise any of them..We were there when he passed away and paid for his Mother's funeral arrangements, being the oldest child he was like the bank of America until we married and I put the hammer down on that..We enjoy our time alone, only one child, never married and sweet as sugar we do things with her when she can steal time from her busy work, she is kind, loving and generous to her even though we had to not give her what she thought she needed! She loves to be alone and dines alone and travels all over the world alone and vacations alone, we doubt she will ever marry, she just won't settle for some lame brained helpless idiot no matter who he is, she adores her daddy and she ever met anyone like him, she would gladly settle to a marriage but she still would be the bread winner she is just made that way and the fellar would be the happier and she would adopt a set of sibling baby dolls she speaks of it often, she has the education and means, we don't care if she ever marries if she adopts we will be over the moon happy, one has to live a life one is happy about..You really should try to get over your fear of being alone if something happens to your curren wife what will you do?????????????? One never lives forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Olga Hebert said...

Very interesting thoughts here. I was never on my own until my husband died three years ago. I miss him but I never feel lonely. I was always kind of independent minded and my female friends rallied around me. It is about having a support system.

Jono said...

We do a lot of things separately and some together. I have a number of single friends who all seem pretty comfortable being single. I am comfortable with them. That said, it is nice to come home to someone and share the day's activities.

Mona McGinnis said...

This post speaks to the individuality of people, some in need of more companionship and others less. I am celebrating my 25th anniversary of being single and most of them, happily. In my lifetime, it has been easier for me to find company than it was to find solitude when I was in a relationship. I have LEARNED to navigate the social scene on my own; I will get a table for one at a nice restaurant. I can honestly say that I don't look at any of my couple-friends and say, "I wish I had that." More often than not, I'm glad not to have to put up with some of the things they do.

Barbara - said...

I cannot comment on this the way I would like when I am on the road using my phone....maybe fodder for a short post. Meanwhile, first to Jane's comment. Statistics show that men have much more difficulty in the his area. I suspect that's because even when both couples work, the wife is more likely to keep the social calendar, call and do the inviting and so on.

Secondly I would suggest that if you are not at this time you learn to be comfy alone, where you are. Can you amuse yourself for a couple days at home, if you get my drift?

And third, slowly create situations where you can be alone, but still have contact with others. I take my Kindle to restaurants and position myself where I can see out the window. Also consider joining a group that does occasional social things. Heck, my water aerobic d group go out to lunch once a month without spouses.

You don't sound like it worries you. Which is good. But it sounds like B may dometimes want to be a solo social animal even more after retirement from what you have said. Will you be able to do okay with that, or will you be a "where were you all day" kind of guy. Or somewhere in between.

As long as it we works for both of you, that's all that matters. In my experience the only problem arises if you would really love to learn to folk dance and feel you are missing out.

Oh, and an amical divorce where you go out together on occasion on no way means you should have stayed married imho.unless the get togethers include muchbmore.

Please excuse any and all typos

Barbara - said...

I cannot comment on this the way I would like when I am on the road using my phone....maybe fodder for a short post. Meanwhile, first to Jane's comment. Statistics show that men have much more difficulty in the his area. I suspect that's because even when both couples work, the wife is more likely to keep the social calendar, call and do the inviting and so on.

Secondly I would suggest that if you are not at this time you learn to be comfy alone, where you are. Can you amuse yourself for a couple days at home, if you get my drift?

And third, slowly create situations where you can be alone, but still have contact with others. I take my Kindle to restaurants and position myself where I can see out the window. Also consider joining a group that does occasional social things. Heck, my water aerobic d group go out to lunch once a month without spouses.

You don't sound like it worries you. Which is good. But it sounds like B may dometimes want to be a solo social animal even more after retirement from what you have said. Will you be able to do okay with that, or will you be a "where were you all day" kind of guy. Or somewhere in between.

As long as it we works for both of you, that's all that matters. In my experience the only problem arises if you would really love to learn to folk dance and feel you are missing out.

Oh, and an amical divorce where you go out together on occasion on no way means you should have stayed married imho.unless the get togethers include muchbmore.

Please excuse any and all typos

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