Can Men Really Be Alone?

A couple nights ago, I had finished speaking on a panel about Black Men and their presumed “Wishlist.” After the panel discussion ended people in attendance were encouraged to mingle with one another for networking or potential future dates. As me and one of the other panelists worked the room to thank people for coming out and answer any follow-up questions, we came across a young man who opted out of the networking part because he said, “I’m taking time to focus on myself.” It’s a surprising answer and position to be in because many times women are under the impression that men cannot be alone. However, men do spend periods of time alone and they are fully capable of doing so without necessarily having a warm woman to tide them over.

A few years ago, I had just broken up — or had a situation fizzle — and I embarked on a very unhealthy few months of life. I had experienced so much drama that I began to project some of that frustration onto other women because of my inner pain. I went out too much, I drank too much, I lied too much (and didn’t care when I got caught in those lies), and overall I made a lot of bad decisions. At some point when I realized exactly how unhealthy my behavior was becoming I decided to take 90 days for myself. I wouldn’t talk to any women, I wouldn’t date any women, and most importantly I didn’t sleep with any women. It was a very personal time for me, I stayed to myself and kept myself out of temptation’s way. Prior to the 90 days ending, I decided that I would extend it to 120 days, and then 180 days, and eventually it ended around 210 days, but I had succeeded in emotional rehabilitation.

I think that the presumption that men can’t be alone for any period of time is not one that has no basis or reasoning. I know several men and women who are incapable of being alone because they aren’t really big fans of themselves. Yes, that’s the real reason. It’s not about being lonely and taking lesser options, it’s about being with yourself. I knew that the anger that I was projecting was coming from a place of hurt or frustration with myself. I started writing more, I went to the gym frequently, I picked up new hobbies and I began to rebuild and repair myself, not many men are willing to do that.

Read the rest, here.

 

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  • mara

    I think a lot more men should take time alone. There would be a lot less of the "hurt people-hurt people" phenomenon. I commend the man who decided not to attend the mixer. Women are told all the time to "take time to work on themselves" but men should be told the same thing. It's a valuable thing to do for both sexes.

    • Smilez_920

      +1. I think ppl should take some time from the “dating scene” especially when they’ve been hurt, to work on themselves. I also value this man's honesty and self awareness. I think sometimes we know that we are not in the right space to really deal with “others” but we ignore that feeling and continue to date or keep ourselves on the market. When that happens 99% of the time we end up getting hurt or hurting someone.

      Alone time gives us time to reflect ,focus on ourselves and rejuvenate.

  • Lettie

    That's really good that you took the time you needed for your self. I think a very interesting point you brought up was the fact that some people do not know how to be alone. Even within the confines of a relationship self-reliance is important, and enjoying your own company is always extremely important.

  • James

    I can’t speak for most men. For me I have been alone a lot in the last several years. Why? Finances. Up and down. And lets be for real as a man when your money is all over the place dating is probably a dumb thing to do. We as adults way past graduating college the mushy bull$hit about what love is gonna conquer rings hollow when you need to be loaned money to pay rent.

    Also as a artist by rule there is lots of down time. There’s a movie out called “Middle of Nowhere” I’m sure the writer/director spend a lot of alone time to write the screenplay. How else can one create great works of art if they can’t fix the problems in the script that not fixed makes the story mediocre? And whose buying a movie ticket on the strength the story is “ok”?

    Again I have to say people are thinking linerally in a digital world. Theses days one can change their lives subtly and yeild dramatic changes. Those changes may not be accepted by our current friends and family. Therefor we cut them off or severely limit their access to us. Which means you are alone.

    Midlife career changes are now part of life. But many are stuck in the work till retirement at one job mind set we stumble when somene tells us they are embarking on a change. It disrupts our routine. Cousin so and so, my man from 215, your man they always do xyz at this time of year. Well if they Re to get themselves together these days that creates a ripple effect and to continue to reach the goal many like myself have chosen to be alone. Besides I can’t date left and right and I really need to invest in my film company.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

      Fair point, but there’s plenty of people who continue to work jobs instead of diving head into their dream career and it becomes a dream deferred.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    I think men and women need to take more time to be alone. We all tend to deal with people we shouldn’t because it’s better than Nothing. FWB is a glorified way of saying this person isn’t worthy of a relationship but I gotta get something, or still messing with exes who u know reconciliation is off the table and of course flat out settling. Perhaps hypocritical since I’ve been single for a while, I don’t remember the last time I was flat out alone.

  • Bree

    Doc J I commend you as well and really enjoyed this post. I've always taken a break from relationships after every long-term relationship I've had and chose to be completely single, Not looking. Like you, I took that time to do some self reflection and learn from the situation so that any mistakes that were made, and bad things that happened didn't repeat themselves. I wanted time to make sure I didn't take any unwarranted baggage and negativity into the next relationship. I also took that time to work on myself and become a better person. I've always known exactly what I wanted and didn't want with regards to dating and relationships. My standards have always been pretty set. However, I wanted to make sure I wanted those things for the right reasons. I also wanted to make sure I could fully give all the things I expected of the man in my life.

  • Bree

    Another positive thing about taking some time for yourself post relationships is it builds up your strength so your less tolerable of bs. Once your cool living your life completely single and not dating and you realize don't need anyone with you to add to your life and give it meaning then your much less likely to "settle" for less than what you really want and need. You put up with a lot less unnecessary bs once you realize "you can do bad all by yourself."

  • The CPT

    I recall that on every post regarding men not marrying or getting into relationships is that someone in the comments section will always point out being "old and lonely" or "dying alone." That fear doesn't register with me because it is not, I say again, is not the only way the story will end.

    I'm an introvert although most people don't see that because when I'm among a crowd, I'm friendly, approachable and can hold a conversation. The flip side to this is that I spend most of my time alone and don't pro-actively seek having someone sitting up under me. Sounds strange for a lot of women but I'll have to agree with the OP that "they aren't fans of themselves." I know men like this too. Enjoying the company of yourself is something that I had to learn to do as I was a latch key kid and pretty autonomous by the time I was 15 and then stints in the military to strange places with no acquaintances around…I had to become comfortable with myself. Now I enjoy that alone time. I can watch a movie without having to rewind or explain, I can watch sports without gripes from non-sports watching women, I can go out to eat or just look around without thinking "for two" and I'm completely fine with that.

  • KitKatCuty84

    I only have experience with the men who don't want a relationship/commitment, but would still like the company of a warm woman, but I assume men who seek true introspection through solitude exist.

  • Peter Parkert

    Good post Dr. J. I can relate to doing a mental cleansing myself. At certain times in your life, you need this as a man. It only makes you a better man and gives you the ability to appreciate the joys and frustration that life brings.

  • Peter Parker

    Definitely a good post Dr. J. I can relate to doing a mental cleansing myself. At certain times in your life, you need this as a man. It only makes you a better man and gives you the ability to appreciate the joys and frustruction that life brings.

    • Peter Parker

      P.S. Shout to my WSSU RAMS! Potentially the first HBCU to win the Div. 2 Championship in football!

      • Bree

        ahhhh….SU. Nothing like dem Damn Rams! GO RAMS!

  • Anthony Logab

    yes we can be alone but we need to have some type of vice that can sustain us outside of drugs, sex and alcohol. whether you exercise daily, meditate, read/write intensively, have conversations with different types of people … something. and it has to be in preparation for not being alone.

  • cbrantley15

    As a living proof, I have been alone for two and half years… It’s been the best two years of my life… I didn’t think it would be cool, but it’s been really cool just rolling along and hanging loose… No strings, no stings… I think every man should experience what I call the total “Single life”…

  • MaggK

    "I know several men and women who are incapable of being alone because they aren’t really big fans of themselves."

    Amen to that!!! If you don't love yourself, you can't love other people.
    We all need that time to get to know ourselves better… And to accept our flaws!!!

    (For people who don't know how to be alone: try to go to an "exotic" destination (u know a place where having signal for your cellphone is hard) ALONE… You'll come back… Let's say… different!!!)