Lone woman - weirdo?

(313 Posts)
Fireatseaparks Sat 04-Dec-21 02:44:21

I'm a single woman without children (undecided but leaning heavily towards not having them as I've never felt 'the urge' or met anyone I could see myself having them with - of course that's assuming I have the choice at all, which I don't know having never tried).

(Before anyone asks, I'm one of the many thousands of Mumsnet users who aren't mums but who use the site for the non-parenting topics!)

My problem is this: I never noticed this when I was younger, but since my late twenties/early thirties, I've started to feel out of place going to cafes, wandering around markets etc. on my own, particularly at weekends when everyone seems to be part of a family.

I do have friends, but they are busy with their own families so things have to be pre-arranged, plus I do enjoy having plenty of time by myself.

Anyway, I was looking through some old family photos, and saw pictures of young me with my parents in some really beautiful places - places that I wouldn't even think to go now.

There was one of me looking into a rock pool somewhere when I was about seven. I'd love to go and look in rock pools now, but I can't shake the feeling that a lone woman A) would look weird peering into rock pools by herself and B) I'd be scared of slipping or getting caught by the tide or something without anyone around to help.

There was another one of me standing on a big rock I'd climbed in a national park somewhere. As above, I'd love to go and do that but same as above, I'd feel completely out of place.

This feeling of being separate from society seems to be growing as I get older. There have been times when I've been sat at a table in a cafe at the weekend and I'm the ONLY one by myself in there. I feel like some sort of deviant, like I'm encroaching on other people's family space. I only go to cafes during the week now, when it's somehow more 'acceptable' and expected for people to be on their own.

I know this is my own problem and people probably don't really look at me and think 'is she alone, what a weirdo, why is she here' and even if they DID I shouldn't let it bother me. In other aspects of my life I'm confident and not overly bothered by opinions, but in this area, I can't seem to shake it.

I don't know, I just sometimes feel like I'm a hanger-on on the outskirts of society. I know i need to get a grip and I appreciate if much rather be in this position than in an unhappy relationship or with children I can't cope with and I do count my blessings.

I'm just wondering if anyone else understands this feeling really?

OP’s posts: |
Mediumred Sat 04-Dec-21 02:55:37

Please go and look in the rock pool and stand on the big stone, you deserve to have your space and freedom just as much as any family and don’t feel constrained by society’s expectations (which I don’t think society does want you to hide away but we can sometimes feel like that).

OffRoadFozzyBear Sat 04-Dec-21 03:17:57

I sympathise OP. I do have a partner but spend an enormous amount of time on my own. It’s true that a busy place can feel extremely lonely.

I go to a variety of cafes on my own during the day. I actually like sitting with a coffee and a book for a while. I rarely go to the same place twice in a week, so it’s not obvious that I’m alone day in day out.

Pre-Covid, I would also go to restaurants alone too. Nowhere fancy, but some relaxed fast casual type places, usually in a shopping area. I avoided Fridays and Saturdays as they were super busy, but any other night was fine.

I have a few hobbies, including outdoor sports like hiking, paddle boarding and snowboarding, all of which I do mostly alone. If I go to the gym I find that incredibly lonely, so tend to go at quiet times. But doing other things alone is fine.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel extremely lonely a lot of the time. I have no local friends or family. But I do feel less lonely when I have specific things to do.

DeadoftheMoon Sat 04-Dec-21 03:20:59

Around twenty years ago I decided that I couldn't wait any longer for other people to share my interests, and I'd better go it alone. I wasn't going to stay at home for the sake of looking conventional. Thereafter, I did what the fuck I liked. Sometimes people notice, mostly they don't. There will be others alone, too. Do the things you want to do.

Catflapkitkat Sat 04-Dec-21 03:32:59

For me it was my early to mid 30s. Long term friends paired off and began having children. Weekends were a bit lonely. But I understood that time is precious and two busy in love people want to spend time together/visiting families etc.

I would busy myself seeing exhibitions, Saturday matinees - did a few great weekend day courses (cake decorating and sushi) I would have people over for dinner or arrange a brunch out somewhere. Childless couples will come to dinner or brunch in groups. You don't say what your friendship group is like, do you have siblings? Family? Do you arrange things? Or do you wait for things to happen?

Do people see you as a loner? No- because unless you have expressed a desire to be alone, people are busy getting on with their own lives. They are no necessarily contemplating yours.

Try not to overanalyze old photographs - someone captured the joy of a little girl doing what she loved. They didn't capture the start of 'weirdness'. That is all on your head. Nobody is looking at you in a cafe because you are odd or alone, especially the families - they will be trying to find a space, stop the kids grizzling or stocking their hands on coffee, bickering over who's turn it is to take the kids to the toilet.

Look up therockpoolproject.co.uk They run rock pool safaris. They take out groups. Do what you love. Join some rock pooling Facebook groups

Namechange357 Sat 04-Dec-21 03:51:28

For what it’s worth, I would love to be able to go to a cafe for a quiet coffee / lunch on my own at the weekend! I’m prob one of the frazzled mums with the unruly children, trying to keep them occupied while I down my coffee before it gets cold / spilled, and I’d be looking over in envy (if I even had the time to notice)!

Just continue to focus on what you want to do and try to live in the moment rather than overthinking things. Have you tried mindfulness? There are retreats you can go on for a weekend or longer to kick start changes. And maybe try more things at the weekend you couldn’t do easily with kids in tow - exhibitions / art classes / cooking classes / sewing classes / learn a language. You’re more likely to meet people with similar free time at the weekends to hang out with then occasionally.

Coyoacan Sat 04-Dec-21 03:54:35

I know you like being alone, but have you thought of joining a hiking group? That way you could safely stand on top of rocks and look into rock pools


Resisterance Sat 04-Dec-21 03:58:56

I have been thinking similarly recently myself. Whilst I do have a child, he is with his dad half the time and I'm single so I often spend time alone.

Many of my friends are in couples or families and or have moved away to live somewhere more affordable ( I live in a ridiculously expensive place in the south east) and I have noticed that often visiting places locally at the weekend, as you say, I am literally the only single person there.

I have changed what I do as certain places, especially ones where there are the picture perfect lifestyle Instagram type families just make me feel like an absolute failure! I'm actually really OK in my own company but it's more managing other people's judgement of me being a single woman in my late 40s.

I often go to the cinema on my own as that's something that doesn't seem to have a stigma, walks are OK too but it's the weekend cafes etc that feel challenging, like I don't have a right to be there. I find I just sometimes have to grit my teeth and tough it out as I know that I have as much right to be there as they do.

I have been on holiday in my own too and that seems to really freak some people out... like they can't cope with it and just find it all far too odd. It's a stigma to be alone and female. Like you're a spinster. I don't know if men have the same experience when single really. Far more acceptable for them.

tcjotm Sat 04-Dec-21 04:13:14

I’m a lone female. I used to love travelling alone (though I’ve never been one for going to cafes/restaurants or bars alone).

You wouldn’t look weird by yourself. A lone woman is very unthreatening so if anyone came upon that rock pool they’d likely say hello. For the safety aspect, I tend to stay around areas with other couples or families or even groups of young mixed singles. Most people are good hearted and would help you if you got into difficulty. Avoid places that are truly risky - ocean swimming for example when there’s no one around could get you into trouble you couldn’t get out of. But spraining your ankle on a popular walk -someone will come along.

But agree with trying out various groups to see if you can find others interested in similar activities. When I read threads on here, omg am I happy to be single. At least you don’t have to argue/negotiate with someone if you decide to do something!

Mamma43435 Sat 04-Dec-21 04:30:36

Don't feel bad about enjoying time on your own or feel you are encroaching on space. On the occasion that I get time to myself from my kids I treasure getting a coffee and cake on my own. When I'm with my family it can be fun but I'm usually so focused on kids I'm not looking around being critical of other people's choices.

garlictwist Sat 04-Dec-21 04:37:20

I have a partner that works away and not many friends so I go everywhere alone. Usually places like the beach, forests, fells. I have never felt out of place or even thought I might look weird. I don't think people care and wouldn't look at you funny.

TheBullfinch Sat 04-Dec-21 04:44:48

I know exactly what you mean.

I dont have children. Ive had several long term boyfriends - some Ive lived with - but essentially just enjoy being on my own.

I noticed the switch in my early 30s too.

My advice is to just get out there and be proud, you have every right to be in public spaces on your own. Nobody bats an eyelid at single men out on their own. If necessary, take a prop. E.g. on a hike, take a walking pole and a map. Visiting a stately home? Take a camera? Having coffee & cake in a cafe? Sunglasses and a book.

The fact is that more single/lone women NEED to do this so that it DOES become normal. We cant hide from life because we - or others - might feel uncomfortable.

Hopefully, pretty soon, there'll be lots of us out there just going about our daily lives.

Igmum Sat 04-Dec-21 04:48:31

Look in rock pools! Sit in cafes! Have fun, relax and be you. There are plenty of groups you can join but frankly I don't think people notice (tbh it would never occur to me to notice). Seriously don't deprive yourself of a nice time because of what you imagine other people think. Most of us are far too self absorbed to be thinking anything grin

Undertheoldlindentree Sat 04-Dec-21 05:05:23

Busy cafes are hard on your own sometimes. More than once I've nipped to the loo or gone to the counter for something and either the waiting staff or a couple/family have cleared my unfinished drink or food away to the side and sat themselves down.

If it's a self-serve place with a queue at the counter to start with, it's impossible to save a table until you've got your food as no spare person to sit and keep the space. So you've queued, got your lunch but nowhere to sit. I've tried leaving a book...or cardigan on the back of the chair but again they get moved!

vastgrandupgrade Sat 04-Dec-21 05:52:51

This is me really. I’ve spent large portions of my life single, and although I’m in a relationship now, I’m an introvert and still really value time alone.

I do all sorts of stuff alone and the benefits way outweigh those occasional feelings of being a bit separated, which I very much recognise. This might sound a bit weird but I had a bit of an epithany sitting on the grass near the aquarium in Darling Harbour Sydney. I was so happy being there (I’m British and live in the U.K.) and doing my own thing, and this little train came past with these families on it. It was for kids really and the adults were squashed on, looking really uncomfortable, waving and gurning at people as they went by. And i just thought, yeah, that just isn’t me. I’m way happier sitting here being me than I would be on that train, so if those people on that train think I’m weird or pity me, I really don’t care.

In reality, I’ve never really noticed people noticing me. The most negative thing that has ever happened is my cousin saying that her and her husband point out single women to each other with “ooh look at her on her own”, but she has a long history of being a dick to me. So these people do exist but are very much in the minority!

Practical stuff: weekdays are always better than weekends; theatre on your own is really good; business-traveller type hotels are much better than small hotels/b&bs because they are totally used to women on their own, and are usually cheap at weekends.

HarlanPepper Sat 04-Dec-21 05:58:12

I do sort of understand where you're coming from but I try to push against that feeling in myself because I don't want it to stop me from doing things I love.

I'm not single - I have a family, but I do spend a lot of leisure time on my own. I've gone to the cinema alone, eaten out alone, and I go hillwalking regularly on my own. I wouldn't think anything of having a coffee on my own! I find that really relaxing. But there are times I feel lonely. I have a pretty good idea of why things have worked out this way for me - a combination of circumstance (moving cities, having children) and my personality. And I'm not sure I'd want to change anything, but it's not all roses I guess, like most things in life - and that feeling of separateness, of outside-looking-in, is the downside.

lottiegarbanzo Sat 04-Dec-21 06:08:42

I do know what you mean but also think it's a case of 'feel the fear and do it anyway', in terms of the mental and many of the practical constraints.

Most busy mums would love to have the chance to sit alone, quietly, with a coffee and read a book. You're literally living their dream. There may be looks of wistful envy.

I would recommend joining groups, especially for walking, exploring etc. Try each group or new activity three times before forming an opinion. (Sometimes you catch them on a bad or atypical day the first time). Try the adventure holiday companies, like Explore, Exodus, Travelbag, that run a lot of guided trips to interesting places, for groups made up of random collections of people (couples and singles). Again, each group it hit or miss but it provides a great way to get to exciting places safely.

Also, decide whether you really are ok on your own or if you'd rather be in a couple. You sound like a social person who is discovering that too much time alone wears you down. If you want to date, treat it as a project, a tactical numbers game and have a go, without throwing too much of yourself into it, exposing too much of your feelings. Keep it light, stay in control, pause when you want to.

Never lose the ability to do things by yourself. It's a superpower.

PAFMO Sat 04-Dec-21 06:12:20


Please go and look in the rock pool and stand on the big stone, you deserve to have your space and freedom just as much as any family and don’t feel constrained by society’s expectations (which I don’t think society does want you to hide away but we can sometimes feel like that).

I think society has changed somewhat, tbf. I often now see people travelling, and enjoying it, alone without people going "look at that saddo"
The idea of going away alone sounds like heaven to me!
Do it, and come and tell us how fabulous it was.

CurtainTroubles Sat 04-Dec-21 06:14:37

As a parent I would love the freedom to do the things that you describe on my own!

There’s nothing at all unusual or deviant about going to the beach or climbing a mountain on your own. Just do it.

Maskless Sat 04-Dec-21 06:23:16

So you chose your own path instead of running with the herd or just automatically doing what others do. You should be proud.

I'm still single and childless in my 60s. I go to places on my own all the time and it really does not bother me one bit. In fact when I see all those wimpering, irritating children, the poor, worn-out mums, I am glad to be untrammelled!

I think in time you will be so accustomed to being places on your own that you won't feel self conscious any more and in face relish the freedom of not having to take someone into account all the time or sit there bored whilst your husband rabbits on about football.

Toddlerteaplease Sat 04-Dec-21 06:24:15

I'm also single and child free. I don't let it stop me doing anything.

FortunesFave Sat 04-Dec-21 06:29:20

I have kids but I also felt that feeling of worrying about doing certain things like standing on a stone or looking in a rock pool....both alone or with my kids.

I'm late 40s now and recently thought shove what anyone thinks....and I won't slip or fall! Because I also had that irrational fear.

I do what I want now....you do it too OP. Women go off and travel the world alone...you can go where you want.

Lolalovesmarmite Sat 04-Dec-21 06:29:45

I have two young children. Right now, if I see someone in a cafe who is lucky enough to be enjoying a coffee on their own, with no interruptions, I find myself rather envious.

On a more serious note OP, I had children later in life, before that I used to love going places on my own. People don’t pay that much attention to others so they won’t notice or care if you’re on your own. It’s much more on your mind than theirs. You should do what makes you happy.

MultiStorey Sat 04-Dec-21 06:35:01

I’m tied on this- I don’t think Rock pool inspectors or boulder climbers look weird.
But recently I was away with work for several days and going to dinner alone felt brutal/sad by the end.

OmgIThinkILikeYou Sat 04-Dec-21 06:41:38

I'm not a lone woman bit I actively choose to be when I get the option! I love going to restaurants on my own with a good book! Op no one is thinking you are a weirdo but if you think that about yourself, embrace the strange and crack on.

I spent so much of my pre child years worrying about what other people (strangers) thought of me. So much time wasted than could have been better spent exploring places and doing things. Go look in some rock pools!

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