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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.

HaveringWavering · 04/12/2021 10:31

I also cannot stand shopping with other people. Having to agree what order to visit each shop, and what if you want to double back and look at something again. If I want an opinion I’ll buy it and show my husband, and take it back if his opinion makes me change my mind. Or I might quickly send a photo to a friend.
And who wants to have to comment on every picture you look at in a gallery? So annoying.

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HaveringWavering · 04/12/2021 10:33

However I freely admit that I am happy doing all these things alone because it is a choice, and at the end of the day I have a family to come home to.

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Iamnotamermaid · 04/12/2021 10:33

I too have a photo of my looking at a rock pool when I was around 7 and I still do this. Life's too short, if you want to go look in rock pools do it. I do things alone and with others, each has pros and cons. I find you see more alone and often meet more people. But both options are infinitely better than doing nothing and wishing you had done it.

Group holidays like Exodus, Explore accommodate solo travellers and are great fun. I have met married\non single people on these as solo travellers. If you are unsure about taking the plunge my top tip is ask, before you book the holiday, of the rough make up of the group. They can tell you roughly the age range, nationality, male\female ratio, group and solo travellers. Have fun!!

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SimpsonsXmasBoogie · 04/12/2021 10:33

I usually have DC in tow wherever I go. I would never think that a woman by herself was a weirdo (unless you were doing something particularly weird, of course!)

When I go out alone I absolutely relish the peace and quiet, and freedom to do as I please. My DC are very young so it rarely happens. It hadn't occurred to me that people might think it's odd that I'm alone. In my experience, someone sitting alone in a cafe is probably having a lovely, relaxing little moment.

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Restart10 · 04/12/2021 10:35

I think I get you op. There are so many things that I do now, that I wouldn't necessarily do if it weren't for my dc. I can promise you though, no one is looking at you as a weirdo. Just go out and live your life. Having dc is not the only purpose in life, although it seems as though life is so family centered.

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MonsteraDeliciosa · 04/12/2021 10:37

Sorry, haven’t RTFT, but I’m often a lone woman doing these things. I’m 50 (ish) and have had 5 DC, so have done the family thing; but now I’m out alone in the daytime while the younger DC are at school.
I live in a beautiful area with beaches, hills and forests and I’m there enjoying them every day. I just love rock pools!

I do have the excuse of a dog, I guess, but I think my biggest defence against feeling like a lone weirdo is that I just don’t give a shit. It’s one of the advantages of getting older, you tend not to care.
The other factor is the realisation that no one else gives a shit either: people are generally too wrapped up in their own situations and feelings to give anyone else they see out and about much thought.

Go out and enjoy what you want to enjoy, OP Smile

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Notbornwithit · 04/12/2021 10:42

I know what you mean but if I saw a lone woman in a cafe it wouldn’t make me uncomfortable I’d envy her the peace and freedom

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KimmyKimdoo · 04/12/2021 10:43

Im sat in a cafe alone right now waiting for my kids to finish their activity (I have to drop them off and leave so I’m at a cafe just over the road, not attached to their class if that makes sense). I come here every week at the same time for about an hour, it’s the one time I ever get an hour to myself to be honest and WOW do people stare at me. You are not imagining it. I feel really conspicuous as everyone is in a family group and I get lots of looks. I don’t think you’re unreasonable at all, OP. However - and this is so important - you really have to grow rhino skin and do this stuff anyway. Your life will pass you by whether people look or not, who really cares?? You deserve to enjoy yourself. Go and look at rock pools. Enjoy it and soak it all up. I admit I go to much more interesting places now we have kids because im always trying to spar their imagination, show them the world. Pre-kids, we weren’t half as innovative with our activities. Why should you miss you? Grab every opportunity and enjoy. Good luck OP!

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DuckbilledSplatterPuff · 04/12/2021 10:49

this is such an interesting thread, I've skimmed a bit but will go back and look at some of the ideas. I used to feel awkward when I was younger because I often got shouted comments and I hated it. of the "Cheer up love" or comments on my appearance variety. But that was another era.
OP. I do feel sad that as I get older there seem to be less opportunities to just head out and do things as people are busy or have other interests.
Your thread has inspired me to just go ahead and do what I want, regardless of other people's commitments or lack of interest in the event.

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MadeOfStarStuff · 04/12/2021 10:50

Just do the things you want to do OP! Life is too short to worry about whether complete strangers you’ll never see again will judge you for going somewhere on your own.

I do a lot with my best friend (to the point that some people assume we’re a couple) but also do a lot on my own if it’s not her thing or she can’t make it or I just fancy alone time doing something nice.

I frequently go to the theatre or the cinema alone, and if you want to ease yourself in those are great ways to start because you’re sitting in a dark room not talking anyway! And especially if a show is full, you’ll have people either side of you so won’t stand out as being alone to anyone else.

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thetemptationofchocolate · 04/12/2021 10:53

There are some advantages to doing things on your own, as well as the negative side of it.
You can please yourself, so if you want to spend hours looking in a rock pool, you can, without the person you are with going on about doing something else.
It can feel uncomfortable being the only solitary, I do get that, but if it's any consolation I have found as I have got older that this bothers me less than it did.

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GetTheFlockOutOfHere · 04/12/2021 10:58

YANBU to feel like this, and I am so sorry you do Flowers

BUT, most people won't notice - or care.

It's terrible that as a society, we are always expected to be 'coupled up.'

Some single people are happy as pigs in mud, and some single people are lonely and unhappy. Some married people are happy as pigs in mud, and some married people are lonely and unhappy.

We do need to get away from this 'everyone must be with someone' mindset. When I was in my mid teens (1980s,) I constantly got people asking 'are you courting yet?' I was still a virgin at 18 and had never had a boyfriend, and didn't 'date' anyone til I was 19.

My parents neighbours, my work colleagues, and even my own extended family members questioned it, and wondered what was 'wrong' with me, just because I wasn't engaged and pregnant at 18 like them and their friends. Hmm

Crack on @Fireatseaparks and enjoy your life on your own.

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TractorAndHeadphones · 04/12/2021 11:00

It's probably you feeling like you miss our rather than the other way around. I've been out loads when single and nobody cared at all.

However there are certain practical disadvantages. If you're travelling and have lots of stuff etc you have to bring it all with you everywhere you go.
At gigs there's often a long time between doors opening and the act starting ; you can't really do anything but chat. I'll never go to gigs alone again

Why not joing a Meetup group - there's always people up for any activity?

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IamGusFring · 04/12/2021 11:04

I would say that these feelings are in your head . Honestly no one is looking at you ! I suddenly became single in my late 50s and did exactly what I wanted - travelled abroad alone , out on my own all the time etc . I did however feel that way too especially on eg Bank Holidays - I felt that everyone was part of something except me . There were times that it made my "aloneness" feel even worse . I have a friend who won't go out because of her lack of confidence to do so but she does go on group holidays . I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go on a group holiday hence my solo travel . Yes, there are some safety limitations - one that springs to mind is a forest walk that I felt was unsafe to do on my own . I joined Meet Up and started doing walks with groups . I have now remarried and I am definitely more happy being part of a couple . That's just me though .

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Strawing · 04/12/2021 11:06

@KimmyKimdoo

Im sat in a cafe alone right now waiting for my kids to finish their activity (I have to drop them off and leave so I’m at a cafe just over the road, not attached to their class if that makes sense). I come here every week at the same time for about an hour, it’s the one time I ever get an hour to myself to be honest and WOW do people stare at me. You are not imagining it. I feel really conspicuous as everyone is in a family group and I get lots of looks. I don’t think you’re unreasonable at all, OP. However - and this is so important - you really have to grow rhino skin and do this stuff anyway. Your life will pass you by whether people look or not, who really cares?? You deserve to enjoy yourself. Go and look at rock pools. Enjoy it and soak it all up. I admit I go to much more interesting places now we have kids because im always trying to spar their imagination, show them the world. Pre-kids, we weren’t half as innovative with our activities. Why should you miss you? Grab every opportunity and enjoy. Good luck OP!

I assume it depends on the demographic of individual places, but I remember, when I lived in north London and had just had a baby whose constant presence (and large amounts of accompanying kit) I was really struggling with, staring longingly at women of all ages who were in cafés or parks by themselves. To be alone in a pool of your own silence having a coffee and reading a book looked like the most exotic and desirable thing in the world to me. I still very much like reading solo in cafés, and I often go to the cinema, theatre or beach by myself by preference. I also go on holiday alone.
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me4real · 04/12/2021 11:06

I'm often alone- love exploring or chilling out that way.

@Fireatseaparks In particular, a national park is designed for walking etc in, a lot of people go there by themselves.

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OnwardsAndSideways1 · 04/12/2021 11:09

I have had a family but have often been alone, and now am a widow, so am alone again!

I totally hear you, it's hard especially at this time of year, everyone seems coupled up, everyone is a bit busy and there's lots of families/kids everywhere.

One solution, in addition to having your old friends with their families, is to make new ones or hang out where other solo people hang out- so MeetUp is a great venue for that, in your area they will have all kinds of single groups, not necessarily for dating (some are) but also for hiking, cinema, creativity, social events and so on.

Going with other people who also want to reach out and aren't in a settled family unit (or are happy to go out anyway) really helps.

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thereisonlyoneofme · 04/12/2021 11:09

I have always spent a lot of time on my own. I was an only child, and when married my OH worked shifts so we were like ships that passed in the night. I got myself a horse (I know its not practical for others) and most people at the yard I was at went up on their own so I never felt out of place. I also have a dog so dont feel odd walking around on my own.
Most other people are too bound up in their own lives to worry about others.

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samesign · 04/12/2021 11:09

Stop worrying how people perceive you, it's fine to be alone, not they'd know if you're alone for 5 minutes, all day or all year.

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GetTheFlockOutOfHere · 04/12/2021 11:10

Also, it's weird. When I am on my own eating a maccies or a Morrisons breakfast, or shopping alone in the big indoor shopping centre, or having a swift half in the pub in town on my own, I think nothing of it. I don't even think for a SECOND that people are looking and thinking 'ooh she's on her own, how odd!' Because I am married and have been with someone for over a quarter century, so even though I am alone, I know I am not single.

When I went to places alone as a single person, like you @Fireatseaparks I felt self conscious, like everyone knew I was single, and pitied me, and pointed and laughed when my back was turned. Daft of course, coz no-one cared. I do feel for you as I know what it's like, but do try not to worry. No-one is bothered. Smile

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Seeingadistance · 04/12/2021 11:12

@DeadoftheMoon

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.

Pretty much this.

I was 30 when my first marriage broke down, and instead of Christmas and New Year on my own, I went to Australia on my own for 6 weeks. It was the making of me.

Now in my 50s, with a second marriage and divorce behind me, I regularly holiday on my own, go walking on my own, eat out on my own.

I really don’t think many people notice, or care, and if they do, well, so what!? I’m not going to hide away at home.

Live your life, OP! Be bold and independent!
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Tupla · 04/12/2021 11:13

I have only skim read the thread, but I just wanted to add that although families seem to be the norm, actually the period of people's lives where they are bringing up children is usually a smaller part of their life, say twenty years out of eighty. The time spent being part of a couple, for some lucky people might be sixty years out of eighty, but I think that considering the time before meeting someone, separation, divorce, widowhood, etc., that the average is actually a lot lower than that (ONS says about 60% of people are living as a couple).

Just saying all that to show that being a single woman without accompanying children is very much the norm! I know it doesn't feel like it!

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Monty27 · 04/12/2021 11:13

OP I get the impression that your life is more something that never happened and neither did you pursue. It doesn't mean it's empty.
I've been wondering how old you are.
Never say never and fulfill yourself with the freedom you have. Many many people travel the world alone.
Are you happy? Is there something missing?
Having a partner a child or a dog is no accessory. And if it's not done for the right reasons it can be disastrous. Such acquisitions are not the answer to feeling complete necessarily.

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TheYearOfSmallThings · 04/12/2021 11:17

I come here every week at the same time for about an hour, it’s the one time I ever get an hour to myself to be honest and WOW do people stare at me. You are not imagining it.

Do they really stare though?

Because it is not unusual for someone to be in a cafe on their own. I would guess that either people aren't staring at all, or you are sitting there looking flustered and self conscious. Or there aren't enough tables and people are wondering if they can steal a chair.

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HaveringWavering · 04/12/2021 11:25

I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go on a group holiday hence my solo travel . Yes, there are some safety limitations - one that springs to mind is a forest walk that I felt was unsafe to do on my own . I joined Meet Up and started doing walks with groups .

@IamGusFring that’s interesting. What is it about group holidays that repels you so much, if you are happy to do Meet Up type days out? I found the opposite when I was single. I liked a group holiday with the likes of Exodus because you had a week to get to know the group and work out over lunches, dinners etc who was your kind of person, but there were no forced group activities or ice breaking games or anything so it was essentially having as much or as little company as you wanted.
On the other hand I did a few Meet up type things (there was a club called SPICE, don’t know if that still exists) and it was the worst of both worlds as you were spending a day with strangers and essentially making small talk, which would get in the way of the activity, then a whole new group on the next one so it was like groundhog day. Horses for courses I guess.

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