Dinner and a movie– alone!

Have you ever tried to tell someone that you had an engagement Friday night?

“What are you doing tomorrow night?”
“I’m going out for dinner and a movie.”
“Who’s going?”
By that, they mean who’s going with you?
Try saying “Me.””Myself.” “I.”

Look of incomprehension. Then understanding. Then pity. Then the inevitable desire to “reach out.”
“We’re going bowling. Come with us!”

Why is it so difficult to understand that it might be possible to enjoy one’s own company?
Why can’t a person go for a dinner and a movie by themselves?

  • If you tell people that it’s actually a planned outing, that you bought tickets in advance, they will refuse to believe you.
  • If you tell them that it’s actually your own company that you’d prefer (politely, of course), they’ll fail to understand until you run out of nice ways to explain yourself.
  • If you tell them that you’d rather have the evening to yourself, they’ll suspect that you have other motives which might be that (a) you’re trying to ace an exam on Monday or prepare for a presentation at work which you told them you were not too serious about or (b) you actually are going out with someone in which case they’ll hope to run into you at the movie theatre or the restaurant.

I wonder what it is that makes people assume that people who are sitting by themselves in restaurants, cafes, movie theatres, parks, even the library would really rather be with someone else.

People sitting by themselves have to carry any number of things to justify their existence by themselves:

  • cell phones pretending to text,
  • e-readers pretending to read,
  • laptops pretending to work,
  • or be compelled to wear a contemplative expression on their faces staring into space pretending to think.

Or, they have to sit with any number of people to feel comfortable in a public space: a group discussing last week’s football match when they don’t even know the basic rules of the game, an acquaintance who might have a habit of talking incessantly about the nuances of the relationship between their two cats and one dog, pretend to like a drink that their companion sitting with them orders at a bar or even talk to a motivational religious speaker who may approach them at a cafe (they frequently approach me).

Even words like “solitude,” or “solitary” which used to have positive connotations aren’t used much anymore. They have acquired somewhat of an elite status nowadays to be pushed aside by words like “loneliness,” “withdrawal,” “alone” etc. Even “alone-time,” a poor substitute for “solitary,” has a status of privilege, as something out of the norm, not for everyone.

You have to take out “me time” (or go meditate) if you want to be by yourself–the prefix “me” implying “time” by nature belongs to company, not you. Even the English language is now burdened with a stigma against people enjoying themselves by themselves.

Why can’t one go out for dinner and a movie by oneself and brag about it?

Why is it a paradox to want to be social by socializing with yourself?

48 thoughts on “Dinner and a movie– alone!”

  1. First, thank you for checking out my blog! Second, I am so glad that I checked out yours! I love this post. I do this all the time! I love my own company! I especially love going to the movie theater and randomly picking a movie to see (by myself).

    To be truthful, it always turns out to be a spiritual experience for me and I become very enriched! The movies always turn out to be awesome. I love reflecting and taking in the outside world as I look (FROM) within.

    To be honest with you, I think it’s odd that people are so terrified of spending time with themselves, separate from other people, (Not the other way around). But, we do indeed live in an upside down, backwards world, after all… What is deemed ‘odd’ and ‘suspicious’ by the masses really is quite the opposite. The enlightened ones know this!

    I’m following your blog. I look forward to hearing more thoughts from you. πŸ™‚


  2. Well, I’d be reluctant to use the word β€˜solitary,’ given a fairly common usageβ€”put before β€˜confinement.’

    Occasionally going to the theater by yourself is a social engagement; there are active, social people on the screen, in a story!Β  (Usually.)


  3. I once went to the opera by myself at the Met, standing room. After the first act an old socialite invited me to sit with her in her spare seat in the third row. For the first time I could see the faces of the opera singers. Good things happen when you are alone.


  4. I play games on my phone when I eat by myself at a restaurant. Ever see the movie “Moonstruck”? Olympia Dukakis goes to a restaurant by herself and looks so comfortable while she’s there. That has always stuck out in my mind. It takes a confident person to be okay being alone in public.


  5. I remember the first time I went to a movie alone. My brother had a football practice that I had to drive him to and I didn’t want to stay and watch. So I went alone (I’m such a movie buff) and it was freeing!


  6. I liked this, and can relate to it. As a self confessed misanthrope I’ve never had any problems with my own company, and often look on in bemusement as others try to cover their accidental solitude with “activity”. In a waiting room recently, I realised I was the only one just sitting. Everyone else was playing with their ‘phone.

    Thanks for the like on my blog just now. Much appreciated.




  7. So damn true. I often find myself making up friends or engagements when I’m really just planning on being alone. I look forward to the moments of solitude. What’s wrong with the others?


  8. So true. I watch a movie all by myself all the time and other people either don’t get it or they can’t imagine themselves doing the same thing and feel pity for me. Doesn’t bother me, it just makes me wonder why some people are so afraid to be alone in public.


  9. This is why I love places like libraries, gyms and stores. You can be in public and no one bothers you.
    Granted, I tend to start giggling to myself about things in my head, so maybe I just look insane.
    Still, I agree. People tend to be very pitying. Its hard to tell them ‘Yes, I’d rather spend the night on my own. Thanks all the same’


  10. Nice post. I especially like the bit about what people have to carry to justify their being alone. I am an expert “contemplative face” wearer, I like that it allows me to stare at people without them thinking I’m creepy, just philosophical or whimsical. I am neither.


  11. This is great! lol I’m the same way. Going to visit a friend in Austin on Thursday for a long weekend, however decided I wanted to visit Nashville as well. Therefore, flying out tomorrow morning to hit up Nashville for a couple of days. Don’t know anyone there, don’t care. I grabbed a hotel downtown and am planning to be a tourist and completely okay with that!

    In addition, I enjoy spending quality ‘me’ time often as well.


  12. I also get the same weird look when I tell them I went to the movie alone or dine alone but I really don’t care. πŸ™‚


  13. This is great, especially the points about feeling you have to be using some technology or staring into space. It felt strange the first few times I went out by myself for the reasons you have mentioned, I’m less bothered now though. Thank you for writing this !


  14. I like to shop alone, but I confess that I’ve only gone to two movies alone. One was in a sold-out theater in Philadelphia, where an usher loudly separated us into “singles” and “threes” to the left, twos to the right. Nothing like having my solitude proclaimed. The next time was many years later when I eagerly bought a ticket to the first showing of “Last of the Mohicans” starring Daniel Day Lewis. I was so caught up in that movie that I wouldn’t have known that anyone was with me, nor did I care if anyone saw me alone.

    I enjoy my solitude, but I usually spend it at home. Maybe i should be more daring and socialize with myself out in the world.


  15. So going solo demands a thick skin (or whatever mechanism you use). Being alone is only puzzling to those who can’t / don’t enjoy their own company. There may be lots of your friends and acquaintances who are perfectly OK about it, but don’t feel the need to say so …


  16. I go do things alone, but mostly it is because nobody wants to go or I have nobody to go with. That does not change my enjoyment level. I have gone bowling, out to bars (for karaoke), to the movies, and several other places by myself and had a great time.

    I do agree though, there is a stigma to going solo. It is looked down upon.


  17. It’s funny because with the increase in technology, we’ve turned into more of a solitary people. There’s a feeling of discomfort in being out alone because we’re supposed to be social creatures. I will occasionally go to movies alone because I think it’s good for me, but mostly I enjoy alone time inside the confines of my home. Nice article.


  18. I love this! I love my “me” time, but I’m very forward about how I like being alone. People now know and accept it, but just think “it’s my thing.” They still think it’s odd. Oh well! πŸ™‚


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