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Lone woman - weirdo?
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Fireatseaparks · 04/12/2021 02:44

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?

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

mugoftea456 · 04/12/2021 07:53

As someone with kids who goes to places like rock pools, I would take no notice of your being there on your own!

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HaveringWavering · 04/12/2021 07:55

One thought- ou’re only in your thirties so your parents might not be very old yet- if they are still around and healthy, why not go to beaches and national parks with them now and again, like you did when you were small?

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Tillymintpolo · 04/12/2021 07:56

Get yourself a dog and get out to those places

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Blackwidow47 · 04/12/2021 07:58

As my username suggests I am unfortunately now alone. However I really enjoy discovering new destinations and experiences.
Please go and enjoy yourself in all aspects of life without being concerned at how others may perceive it.
For context I have recently returned from 11 weeks of travelling solo through Europe, crossing through a total of 6 countries. This ranged from cities to forests, I’ve been down caves (tour ones not some random opening in the ground!). Museums, art galleries and concerts. Hiked through national parks and ran through piles of crunchy autumn leaves with a smile bigger than your average toddler. I sit in cafes and restaurants alone and enjoy it all.
No ones looking at me, in fact I’m really quite invisible. The few times I did meet people that wanted to chat from curiosity whilst sitting on a boat or in a very long queue (covid made that part of the trip!) I found that once they confirmed your status they promptly started chatting alll about themselves at a manic rate as if they had to speak to anyone else other than their travel partner 😜
Go and get yourself out there, I hike regularly at home too and have a system with friends that I text them if I’m planning on doing a walk and roughly how long in time and distance, we share find my friends and if my location doesn’t move then they can contact me or alert help. I’m sensible and ensure I have the correct gear and supplies. The more you do the more you learn and gain greater confidence. You will meet the most amazing people on your adventures who will share tips and their experiences which will enhance yours.
Start off slow and local and gradually build up. Have the best time and enjoy. 😁

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sandgrown · 04/12/2021 07:59

I have recently split from a partner who refused to do anything so I would go alone but felt very guilty. Now I am rid of him I can do what I like and I Iove it . No intention of getting another partner .

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Practicebeingpatient · 04/12/2021 08:00

I'm married with grown up kids. I love to travel (when it was allowed) but DH is a homebody. I've been all over the world on my own and looked in rock pools, walked under waterfalls, whale watched, been to cinemas and theatres, visited temples, trekked through jungles (with a guide of course), drunk cocktails in rooftop bars etc, always on my own. I've never felt awkward or out of place or that people were judging me.

Bite the bullet and try it OP. It might feel awkward the first few times but it will get easier.

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EishetChayil · 04/12/2021 08:02

This was ultimately why I decided to have children in my lane 30s, after prevaricating throughout my 20s and 30s.

I've been the outsider all my life. The socially awkward loner. Having my daughter had given me the instant "in" to society that I've always dreamed of. An instant connection with other women, which I've never had.

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IcedWinterPenguin · 04/12/2021 08:05

@Yellowscreen

Solo travel solo brunch datingmyself etc are all over social media nowadays. Go anywhere you want on your own and take selfies too if that’s your thing . I have kids but go lots of places on my own, enjoying the freedom. No one bats an eyelid

Love that diagram!

OP, I used to travel alone alot and loved it No-one else to cater to. can do what I want. I love eating alone in restauarants and I really love going tio the cinema on my own.

Go and enjoy everything life has to offer you. Thanks
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Emilygoesa · 04/12/2021 08:08

I think it is not unusual to feel self conscious as a woman out doing an activity on your own. It does come down to misogyny. I think it is a newish phenomenon for women, doing what we want, when we want. I don't think my grannies went off on solo adventures. I know you mean ordinary day trips not artic voyages. The more women who go out to enjoy themselves alone, the more normal it will become. You may not wish to be a trailblazer, but possibly you are one. Focus on the intrinsic joy you get from looking at a rock pool, these small experiences chained together will create a wonderful life. Society has become more, look at what l bought orientated, whether its a designer dog, a flash SUV, even children as props. There are awful blokes out posturing on a Sunday with their flock. I can see why you feel out of place. Who are the good role models for older women? Miss Marple? She was fictional. Mary Beard? A young man posted on Twitter to her 'I bet your vagina is disgusting'. To a Cambridge scholar? What does a woman have to do to be respected? Do things that make you happy, research tidal charts etc beforehand so you feel confident. Knowledge is power.

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Vursayles · 04/12/2021 08:10

@EishetChayil that’s really interesting. I can absolutely see how that would be the case. Children offer an instant mutual connection and conversation starter. I’m a little strange and not from here originally, the fact that the kids were born here does give that sense of “fitting in” a little more and eases conversations with strangers (folk round here never stop talking).

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Pixiedust1234 · 04/12/2021 08:10

Do what you want, life is too short so go and stare in that rock pool! If I see a lone woman my first thought is lucky her! There are many reasons you could be alone.

  1. Others have hurried ahead/lagging behind
  2. Could be waiting for them to turn up/ they have just left
  3. Waiting whilst others do something else eg in cafe while kids/partner are shopping or in cinema etc
  4. Could be sharing kids and its your weekend free while dad has them

    See? If I notice you I might briefly wonder which scenario you fit but in seconds my brain will be filled in with my stuff and if I do think of you any further then it will be because I will be wishing I could take my time to enjoy that coffee instead of forever having to fit myself around others. Enjoy your life!
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CovidPassQuestion · 04/12/2021 08:24

@Yellowscreen - that cartoon is fab!

@Fireatseaparks adults should always be interested in the world around them. If we were at rock pools and someone wasn't looking in them, I'd judge them! Wouldn't think twice about people looking at them solo.
Go and enjoy your life Thanks

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JammyDozen · 04/12/2021 08:25

I get you. I have a partner and friends, but I spend a lot of time on my own both because I like my own company and because I want to do things they don’t. I find there are activities that I have filed away mentally as acceptable for me on my own and those that aren’t:

Acceptable - going for a quick bite like a pizza somewhere informal not too late. Unacceptable - going anywhere even slightly formal or ‘nice’ or anywhere after about six or seven.

Acceptable - going on a group holiday or on a holiday where I’m doing sightseeing every day. Unacceptable - going somewhere like the Maldives.

Acceptable - going to the theatre (not too late). Unacceptable - going to a gig or anything evening, especially at the weekend.

Acceptable - having a soft drink. Unacceptable - an alcoholic drink unless with a meal, on a plane, etc. Years ago I ended up waiting ages for a friend in my favourite bar and enjoyed a cocktail on my own while reading - it was fantastic and I’d love to do it again, but even typing out this particular example makes me feel like a weirdo! I don’t even go to the bar at all any more since it fell out of favour with friends.

It is all about feeling like there is a flashing arrow pointing down at me under the word ODDBOD. It’s plainly ridiculous (I remember being massively impressed by a woman eating a meal on her own in a crowded restaurant on a Saturday night many years ago), but me feeling tragic and exposed means I just wouldn’t enjoy whatever activity it is so there’s no point in doing it. I had hoped I’d feel easier in myself as I got older. I do in many ways, but actually I’ve started to feel more self-conscious about being on my own in some situations. I found myself feeling like this while walking in the park the other day fgs! Women with no friend, child or dog attached are not common in the park.

The reality is that it is pretty unusual. Despite how constrained and awkward I clearly am from the examples I’ve given, in day to day life if I mention things I do do alone to other people like going on holiday I tend to find they react with a sort of wonderment Hmm. Sometimes a rather condescending wonderment. Hardly reassures you that it’s perfectly normal and unremarkable! Also, there are always posters on here who do these things but I just don’t see women doing this in real life.

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Notjustanymum · 04/12/2021 08:26

After 30 years of very happy marriage (still happy) and 2DC’s, I was given the opportunity to travel for work. Suddenly, I had time to myself for a few days each month. After each day’s work was done, I went to restaurants alone, read books, painted my nails, did beauty treatments in my hotel room, window-shopped, explored the diverse cities and found myself again. I am so grateful for that opportunity OP - you are living it all the time! You’re not weird - now be fearless!

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Shehasadiamondinthesky · 04/12/2021 08:31

I'm alone at 60. I dont like men and I. Not gay so cant manage a relationship. I had a baby on my own. Best thing I ever did but he's an adult now and has his own life.
I have friends I do these things with. Single unmarried older friends and my gay male friend. Everyone thinks we're a married couple as he passes as straight.
I do a lot of things on my own too, if I want to go to the sea I do that. I've been on singles holidays and I go to the cinema on my own. I'm off out today with my gay friend. Off to lunch then Xmas shopping.
The world is full of couples, and children but there are .any like us out there.
I've settled in to it and am much much happier as I've got older but in my 30s I felt like an alien.
I've been married and hated every minute of it. I'm better alone.
We don't have to follow the crowd. We can be happy as we are.

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itsgoodtobehome · 04/12/2021 08:35

I am married with a family, but I love doing stuff on my own. I don't think twice about going to a cafe or restaurant on my own. Maybe because I'm wearing wedding rings it feels like a signal to people that I'm not actually alone, but just choosing to do something by myself. Perhaps buy yourself some rings and wear them on your wedding finger. It might make you feel a bit less self concious?

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Gearedtoyou · 04/12/2021 08:35

The one I find difficult is going for a walk. A walk to the shops is OK. A real hike on walking country seems to be OK, it's not unusual to see single people out with their rucksack there , but in your local country park or woodland, with the dog walkers and families, it feels very strange to be walking alone (which I enjoy). I've even had people ask if I've lost my dog!

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Xtraincome · 04/12/2021 08:39

OP, i think you should go and enjoy the rock pools, the landscape, the coffee and cake. We are here for a good time, not a long time and as a married woman with 2 kids I do not think it's strange to see people on their own- male or female.

I know it's not the same thing but when my youngest starts school in September I am very excited to spend more time going out on my own. I did it loads before DH and kids and miss it dreadfully.

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HarlanPepper · 04/12/2021 08:41

@JammyDozen funny you should say that about gigs. I had much the same hangup about it, but have decided that this can't stand, and so booked my first solo gig ticket for next April. I'm excited but quite nervous! Fingers crossed that covid lets it happen.

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whataboutbob · 04/12/2021 08:42

I cannot claim to be in your shoes as I have a husband and teenage kids ( who’d rather pull their hair out than come out on an activity with their mum). I have interests my family doesn’t share. I go off hiking on my own over several days, several times a year and abroad. I’m usually the only lone woman on a trail, at the hostel, in cafes etc. I must admit that while I’m happy to have a meal on my own at lunch, I struggle to eat out in a restaurant at dinner. But I decided I wasn’t going to let other people’s gaze stop me doing what I want to do. I’ve learnt to make light conversation, break the ice eg in hostels etc and then just get on with my day. I actually think it would be harder as a single man as there could be a suspicion there, especially if you are hanging around areas frequented by families with young kids. Just go for it!

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TillyTopper · 04/12/2021 08:43

I have a DP of 25+ years but have spent months working in various countries so living independently/alone. I don't feel I'm out of place by myself at all - and honestly who are ppl to judge (I'm not actually they do either).

Honestly OP - you have one life - please live it! If it's walking in a national park, diving into rock pools eating in restaurants by yourself whatever - do it, enjoy it and plan the next thing.

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LucentBlade · 04/12/2021 08:43

Do anything you want alone.

The only caution for any person man or woman is any kind of remote hill walking or pursuit off the beaten track. That’s purely for safety reasons.

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ThinWomansBrain · 04/12/2021 08:44

If everyone doing things in couples/families/groups is having such a good time, why do you think that they'd even notice you?
I do most things by myself - walking/theatre/cinema/galleries/concerts restaurants & cafes as much as I do with friends.
About the only thing I don't do alone is fine dining restaurants - but more because that's something I enjoy as a shared experience, rather than concern that other people are lookin at or judging me.

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SoSoTiredToday · 04/12/2021 08:45

I do sometimes think, when I'm doing things with my kids, that I'm really lucky I have them as I get to do childish things I wouldn't b brave enough to do as a single person without children - things like going on the cbeebies rides at Alton towers (super fun!! But I'd not do on my own as I would feel people would look at me and think I'm weird!) going in the soft play (ok, soft play does do my head in at times!! But occasionally it can be fun zooming down the slide into the ball pit!), swimming with inflatables on holiday, going on the swings in a kids play park (and the slide! and the merry-go-round thing!), watching animated films and 'U' films at the cinema, going to the trampoline park, going to the petting zoo ... any yes - going in the rock pools and looking for crabs, shells etc... on holiday, building sandcastles! .. there's loads really...

(I'll also admit, I do sometimes dance with my kids briefly in the supermarket aisle if some upbeat music comes on!! I would NEVER do that on my own!!)

I think most adults secretly all enjoy this stuff, but there is a lot that society judges as unacceptable for adults (what on Earth would people think of me dancing in Tesco on my own!!?). I say, do what you like OP, you only live once! Enjoy it! But .... I totally get how you feel and I know I wouldn't do half the stuff I do if I didn't have my children as excuses Xmas Smile

I wish society was kinder and would judge less and just let people be happy and do what they like, as long as it harms noone else

(Cafes - I could very very happily go in a cafe on my own. In fact, I would love to!!! As other pp have said - if I saw you on your own in a cafe I'd just feel really envious and wish it was me sitting with a latte and a book, rather than mopping up spilt juice and downing my coffee at a hundred miles an hour!)

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Strawing · 04/12/2021 08:45

@EishetChayil

This was ultimately why I decided to have children in my lane 30s, after prevaricating throughout my 20s and 30s.

I've been the outsider all my life. The socially awkward loner. Having my daughter had given me the instant "in" to society that I've always dreamed of. An instant connection with other women, which I've never had.

Whereas having a baby aged 39 was a period of miserable isolation for me.
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