Why Alone Time Makes You Seem Less Desperate

How To Seem Less DesperateHave you ever spotted a solo diner at a restaurant?

Maybe you were out with some friends or on a date. Just a few tables over someone sat alone. You watched them for a while, stealing discreet glances when you could.

What’s their story?, you wondered. Why are they here ALONE?!

Once you see that table for one, it’s kind of mesmerizing. You might feel bad for them. We often assume someone eating alone doesn’t have the option of company.

But I’ll let you in on a secret.

Those lone diners? They’re probably enjoying life more than those of us afraid of venturing out without constant companionship.[i] They might even have healthier relationships than you!

Why? Because the fear of doing things alone creates desperation. And desperation is bad for your relationships (both romantic and platonic).

People can sense desperation. It introduces “obligation” to the dynamics of your relationship. Obligation to be there for you since you are needy.

It makes you needy whenever you want to venture out and do something fun. You’re desperate for company. Don’t be like that. Independence is healthy in small doses.

It sounds unsettling or depressing to think about doing some things alone. Especially things we think of as social activities, like eating out or going to the movies. But if you always turn down solo activities, you’ll miss out on a lot.

You can’t always count on company for life’s little adventures.

What’s more, as one article put it, “research suggests we’re terrible at guessing how much we’ll enjoy things on our own, and it holds us back.”[ii] People consistently underestimate how much fun they can have by themselves.

I’m not a big fan of missing out on worthwhile experiences, and you probably aren’t, either. So here’s how to go it alone from time to time and get the most out of life.

Whether you’re single or dating, it’s GOOD to branch out sometimes. Your social connections should never be a crutch that keeps you from independence.

That’s doubly true when you’re dating.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to guard your “me time” no matter your relationship status.

When you’re single…

If you’re single and there’s something you want to do, DO IT.

Go to a museum. Check out that restaurant none of your friends care to try. See a movie all by yourself.

Don’t sit around waiting for Mr. Right to come along and offer to join you. And don’t shelf every option your friends aren’t interested in.

Once you’re out there, you’ll meet new people (maybe even a guy), or you’ll have a great time all by yourself. Solo activities seem intimidating, but they typically end up being quite enjoyable.

When you’re dating…

When you’re in a relationship, the default setting is to do everything together. Makes sense, right? You love spending time with him.

How To Seem Less DesperateBut you should still make it a point to carve out some alone time, too.

The occasional solo adventure will keep you feeling independent, which is a very good thing. Plus, time together always means a little more after time apart.

Even if you don’t have a specific activity in mind, plan an afternoon to just be alone. Run some fun errands. Grab a book and head to the park. Take a nice, long, slow walk.

The people who get the most out of each and every day are the people who are just as comfortable on their own as they are with someone else. Being one of those people is totally worth it.

Cultivate an appreciation for “you time” by indulging in it on occasion. It’ll make you a happier person, and it will have a positive impact on your relationships.

[i] Ratner, Rebecca K., and Rebecca W. Hamilton. “Inhibited from Bowling Alone.” J Consum Res Journal of Consumer Research (2015): n. pag. Web.

[ii] Allan, Patrick. “The Power of Going It Alone.” Lifehacker. Gawker Media, 16 May 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.

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10 thoughts on “Why Alone Time Makes You Seem Less Desperate

  1. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    You’re SO right James. I have had to force myself to do things on my own. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I am more comfortable with it. Of course, it is much nicer doing theatre, cinema, eating out, etc.WITH someone special, but in the absence of someone, it is silly to sit at home alone, miserable. And I find if I do do theatre, gigs, etc. alone, there is usually someone willing to chat to me just before or during the interval. Be the first to open the conversation – if they don’t want the contact they will move off, but I find they are usually quite happy to have a little natter – especially if you find someone else on their own. Now I belong to a folk club and have started singing there, as well as that spilling over to open-mike nights at the pub. Then I arranged two large garden parties at my house where everyone gets up and sings, and I made “comfort food”. They love it. I am planning another one in the New Year, when the weather is still miserable, and we can all gather round the log fire and have a sing-song. If I had not gone along on my own to the folk club, all that would never have happened. We just need a little courage – “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”! There is lots happening out there, if we look!! Thanks, James, for your insight, once again. Lorna (LaLa)

  2. PT said:

    I make it a point to eat alone in a nice restaurant occasionally. It makes me feel empowered. I don’t have to call anyone if I want to eat. Silly but it makes me feel like I can do anything. The joke is on all of those looks I get. I know they couldn’t do what I can.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Good for you PT. You have obviously found the answer, as I did in my comment below. We women CAN empower ourselves if we just give it a go – then it becomes so much easier. My catch phrase for myself is “GIRL POWER” – and it works!! “GIRL POWER” to you. Luv, Lorna x

      • James Bauer said:

        Lorna, you are so sweet and kind. I’m always glad to see your comments on the blog. Thanks for sharing your sunshine.


      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Thanks, James, for that confidence boost, and thank YOU for spreading your sunshine, too. I am sure so many, many people benefit from your very insightful articles. From what I read, it seems that the world of romance is very different from when I was young, more than 50 years ago (where did they go?), when men were gentlemen, women were ladies, we were expected to be married by 21 and 23, no-one lived together before marriage (or had sex), and babies out of wedlock and divorce were almost unheard of, but your advice from a man’s point of view is very educational, encouraging and comforting. Thank you. Lorna

      • Mich said:

        You’re so inspiring!! I’m so into reading more and learning the right way to get your man to stick around and WANT to Marrie you!! I’m trying!:)) My guy is my Hero!!

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        James, I wonder if you will pick this question up?
        Can you tell me your thoughts on the horrible expression “co-dependent “. I have been romantically involved for four and a half years with a man who drinks to excess . (I didn’t know he had a problem when we first got together). He gets himself “blotto” to cover up his pain and guilt about the past, and his lonliness. I am now 68 and he is 64. I fell head over heels in love with him when he first kissed me (we had known each other for 5 years socially before this – although I fancied him the first time I set eyes on him). He fell head over heels in love with me, too – I do know that. However, because of the drink problem, his work commitments, and the long distance, we didn’t see much of each other. When we did meet up (and I stayed over) we would end up falling out after a few days, I would come home, then one or other would make contact and get back together again. (It was usually because of him withdrawing from the drink and cigarettes, and me trying my hardest to get him to give it up – but he never drank or smoked when I was there – hence the problem). Because I adore him and worry about him killing himself with the drink, I cannot let him go. He seems to be getting worse – and it is breaking my heart. Now I read that this is called “being co-dependent”. I would hate to think that I had this problem. When we are apart, I lead a full life – hobbies, part-time work, volunteering, family and other friends, holidays. But I think about him constantly – friends say I am obsessed. Surely loving someone this much and having their best interests at heart cannot be wrong? But I am confused by this horrible label I seem to have acquired, when I read articles about coping with an alcoholic. I thought love was the most important thing in the world, but am now told that I love TOO much. Surely, you cannot love too much? I try not to smother him. He leads his own life when I am not there, I don’t ring or text him all the time, but I do try to support him and encourage him, every way I know how, to give the drink up. He is now not talking to me (he is very moody, huffy, proud and stubborn), and I am waiting for him to contact me. What do you think? I would appreciate your views on this, PLEASE – for my sanity!! Lorna (LaLa) – Yes, it HAS driven me LaLa!! They say that it will, eventally.

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        PS – would you believe it, I have recently contacted a man on internet dating who is a “recovering alcoholic” – but he was honest enough to tell me first off. He just wants to be friends, and that is fine with me. I picked him out – I seem to be fated to be followed around all my life by alcoholics – three of my bosses over the years, my best girlfriend, another girlfriend, her brother, a guy in my choir, and several others. Maybe someone out there knows that I have a lot of knowledge now, and perhaps I can help this guy through his pain. I will try not to become “co-dependent” with him. Keep my distance. Once bitten, twice shy, but maybe I can help. Lorna

      • James Bauer said:


        About 15 years ago I finally became fed up with the confusion I felt every time someone used that term, co-dependent. So I went to the library and picked up five books on the topic. They all seemed to have a different definition for the term. So I went to an expert in substance abuse, and asked him what the term actually means. Here’s what he told me.

        It’s basically an old term that was originally used one way but gradually morphed into many other meanings because so many people started using it to mean slightly different things. The original meaning was this. A person who is not personally dependent on alcohol, but the negative effects of alcohol dependency can be seen in their life because of their close connection with someone who is dependent on alcohol.

        Basically, it was a term that evolved in the substance abuse treatment community to explain why it was sometimes necessary to offer counseling and emotional support to the spouses and children of an alcoholic, rather than to just the alcoholic person.

        In some situations, people loved the alcoholic person. In other situations, a woman might detest a husband or partner who was alcoholic, yet stay with him despite serious negative effects on her life. People began to use the term codependent to refer to those people who suffered negative experiences despite not being addicted themselves.

        It’s not meant to be a derogatory term. It’s more like an excuse to give to an insurance company to explain why you’re doing counseling with someone who is not a substance abuser.

        There is one other slight variation in the meaning of this term. Some people use it to describe the unfortunate situation in which a person inadvertently helps a substance abuser to remain addicted by shielding the person from negative consequences of substance abuse that otherwise would have pushed them to their breaking point and perhaps lead to recovery. For example, a mother who repeatedly takes in her homeless son every few months after he is fired from work because of showing up intoxicated. She stops him from ever having the emotional pain of sleeping in the gutters and making the decision right then and there to leave alcohol behind forever. Most people don’t mean the term in this way, though some people do.

        Now to your other question. Is it wrong to love someone because they have a substance abuse pattern? No. They say two wrongs don’t make a right. In the same way, loving a person is still right even if your loving a person who’s not perfect.


      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        James you are SO kind to reply at such length to my query regarding co-dependency. I am glad to hear that you got fed up and confused with this terminology, too. Everything I read about addiction seems to regard most people who are involved in some way with an addict as being “co-dependent”. As though they, themselves, NEED to have the addict in their life, for some obscure reason. I find it very, very distressing, confusing and highly insulting. I feel as though we, the people loving an addict, are not being credited with any intelligence. My own interpretation now, which I think is probably correct, is that it is most likely someone who stays with an alcoholic EVEN THOUGH they are being treated so badly that their own personality, self-worth and self-confidence is gradually being eroded by the manipulation of the addict. Almost as though they are addicted to the addict and obsessed by them and cannot do without them, and have no clear boundaries and no life of their own. Having said that – IT IS VERY HARD to walk away from someone you love dearly, whilst knowing that they are probably going to slowly kill themselves. If you knew they loved someone else more than you and were going to be happy with them, you could bear that and set them free – but knowing they love their addiction more than you or their family, in spite of it possibly killing them, that is SO HARD to take. Especially when you can clearly see the solution, and are prepared to do whatever it takes to help them, but they will not listen to reason, and acuse you of nagging and being controlling. It is heart-breaking. And also very draining emotionally and physically. It must be a nightmare if children are involved. Thank you for your opinion that loving someone who is not perfect is still right. I have read articles written by addicts that aclaim that without the love and support of their family they would not have survived. One such famous one is the Scottish comedien Billy Connolly, whose wife was a tower of strength for him. He is clearly a very intelligent man, who I admire greatly. He was brave enough to tell the world that his addiction stemed from his sexual abuse by his father as a child. It seems that most (if not all) addicts have some root cause reason, as I understand it, so surely love is the one thing they need above all else. Understanding coming a close second. People have told me to hang in and just be there for my man, and I am trying to do that, in spite of him constantly pushing me away. Even though we are “estranged” at the moment, I have now told him that when he is ready to stop drinking alcohol, I will do whatever it takes to help him, he only has to ask – but I am not sure he will ever do that. Unfortunately, he has a female neighbour who “enables” him by getting blind drunk with him, lending him money when he is broke, cooking meals for him and from day one has tried her best to turn him against me by being spiteful about me and telling him to finish with me, because our relationship is “not healthy” and I am “bad for him” (because she wants to keep him in her life all to herself and wants no competition). She has blocked my mobile phone to him several times and has tried to block my landline calls and emails to him – when they are sitting together getting drunk. I would think that she is actually co-dependent, now that I come to think about it. Sadly, she is his ONLY social friend and he cannot see what she is doing (men can NEVER see how manipulative, devious and spiteful women can be!!!). He does no want to give her up, as he enjoys sitting with her getting drunk – whereas I am the villain who will take away his precious bottle. Thankyou, once again, James, and I hope this article has been of some use to some of your other readers. I am trying to keep strong and keep busy with lots of interests and my lovely garden, which keeps me sane. Lorna

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