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Is Going Out Alone A Big Deal for You?


As usual, my morning coffee and news breakfast watching the Charlie Rose Morning News, produced some food for thought.

Guest, University of Maryland Professor Rebecca Ratner, talked about what we do and don’t do, and how we feel about going out alone, to dinner, a bar, a party, to museums, or movies.

Ratner, who co-authored this study in The Journal of Consumer Research, looks at the anxiety of soloing. She says people may dread being judged by strangers, picturing how it looks when they show up alone at a restaurant, or go solo to a big function. But she also suggested that those people who go solo sometimes, often enjoy their time out just as much as they would with a friend.

Most people can relate to this in one form or another

If you fly solo in general, then you may have already devised ways to scoot around this issue, and defined places you go solo, and others you do not. Exercise at the gym, or showing up for a class in the park, and shopping locally seem just fine. But heading out for a solo lunch, to see a movie, or to visit a museum may not be so comfortable.

Or, if your significant other, spouse or roommate is out of town, do you do a lot of takeout, arrange to meet friends, or just go out on your own anyway?

Sometimes if we are busy and in an up mood, we may not think a thing of it. Our attitude leads the way and it seems fine. Other times, if we have run into a string of difficult situations or trying people, going out alone may not be the thing we really want to do right then.

Ratner’s point that our attitude that assumes everyone is watching may be overblown. In our culture, most of us are so busy and less rigid about situations in general, that being solo is not really as much of a focus.

Test the Waters

If you are hesitating about the whole issue, you can start changing the situation by stretching your parameters. Try a situation that seems to hold so much dread, and give yourself some ways out. When you arrive at the restaurant, and it looks overwhelming, switch to a second less challenging spot and spend an hour at a museum, or other favorite local spot. If that works, try the solo lunch again later. Gradually as you let yourself go out there, it may not seem so scary, and you can actually relax and look around a little.

Down the road, keep testing the waters, but don’t turn it into a must do. If it works it could broaden your world in some surprising new way. But if It does not, nobody said you had to do it.

Instead consider exercise groups, local classes, and community volunteer projects that can also get you out the door and keep you involved. Save the other solo for later, whenever it feels right for you.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Wagner Cezar

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