When divorcee Dominique Browning published an article called  “Alone again, naturally“, in the New York Times, she was talking about why men may find it so much harder to live alone than women do following a relationship break up

n her piece, she wrote about the time she took a tumble on a slippery wooden deck. 

It took her a good three or so minutes to regain her composure, but she noted that while her inner control centre was urging her to move and get up, her negative inner voice was ‘whimpering and scolding’. It was saying, “This is what happens when you live alone.”

However, despite the slip, she then goes on to say that most women, once released from marriage, seem to feel it would be madness to go back to a setup that ‘involves not only housekeeping in all its manifold time-sucking beauty but also husband-keeping.’

 
 

Do Men Find It Harder To Live Alone?

Living Alone | 2oth October 2020 by Michelle Newbold

When divorcee Dominique Browning published an article called  “Alone again, naturally“, in the New York Times, she was talking about why men may find it so much harder to live alone than women do following a relationship break up.

Do men find it harder to live alone

In her piece, she wrote about the time she took a tumble on a slippery wooden deck. 

It took her a good three or so minutes to regain her composure, but she noted that while her inner control centre was urging her to move and get up, her negative inner voice was ‘whimpering and scolding’. It was saying, “This is what happens when you live alone.”

However, despite the slip, she then goes on to say that most women, once released from marriage, seem to feel it would be madness to go back to a setup that ‘involves not only housekeeping in all its manifold time-sucking beauty but also husband-keeping.’

She highlighted some examples, such as how her single female neighbours relish their freedom and independence, and how they love to eat at odd hours – just because they felt like it. 

What she explained well was the fact that most women feel safe while nesting at home and are quite happy to be alone, whereas men are more hard-wired to be on alert for potential dangers at all times. 

Men don’t care less about the perks of being alone. Being alone to them feels dangerous and unnatural. Have you noticed how common it seems for men to quite quickly remarry after suffering a divorce or becoming a widower?

I can look to many of my family members, and it is remarkable how many of my aunts and female cousins remained single after a relationship break up or losing a partner compared to my uncles and male cousins who married again within a couple of years. 

Why do some men hate to be alone?

Judging by the evidence around me, some men do not have such a big problem with remarrying or cohabiting with a new partner. In fact, it seems as if most men prefer not to live alone for any longer than a few short months.

Most of the single women I know really love their lives and would struggle to give up their freedom. Speaking as someone who cherishes my independence, I love doing whatever I want to do when I want to do it.

But surely, why men dislike remaining alone has to go deeper than an old-fashioned reliance on having a partner to do the shopping, cooking, cleaning and child-rearing? 

Despite what some long-time married women think, men are entirely capable of taking care of themselves.

Living alone without being alone

While Browning’s article did stir up some resentment from commenters over her generalising about ‘binary gender norms’, according to sociological research, Browning wasn’t entirely off the mark. 

Generally speaking, women tend to be better suited to living alone than men, especially once they get older. But it has nothing to do with women being more self-sufficient. It may be down to the fact that women tend to build stronger social networks than men do.

Having a strong network of friends that offer friendship and support enables women to live alone without being completely alone. Men, on the other hand, are not so naturally prone to reach out and make friends so can be left at risk of retreating into social isolation. 

A societal shift towards solo living

According to Eric Klinenberg, an NYU sociologist, there is a major societal shift going on at the moment. He says that in 1950, 4 million American adults lived alone, which accounted for 9 per cent of households. Today, that number is 31 million, a whopping 28 per cent of all households.

In Klinesberg’s book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, he outlines that sixty years ago, the average single person was ‘a migrant male labourer’ that was in a transitional phase.   

Nowadays though the mix is far broader. You have young urbanites moving from shared accommodation to choosing to live alone, plus the rising numbers of divorcees seeing a more significant number of middle-aged people living alone, and of course, older people surviving their spouses.

The best of both worlds

There is no doubt that all the conveniences of modern living have made it much easier for people to live alone. These days you can combine a very active social life with the opportunity to retreat to your safe-space to be alone whenever you want. 

We have so much at our disposal from cafe-lined streets on our doorstep to the constant contact offered through our smartphones with social media, text, chat, email and Skype. 

Klinenberg argues that with the convergence of mass urbanisation, communications technology, and people developing more liberal attitudes, it is entirely possible to live alone while at the same time sustain many thriving relationships of all kinds. 

Yet it seems that in general, men still find it harder to live alone than women do. But why?

Is it down to men’s primal hard-wiring?

Many notable evolutionary biologists such as Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley theorised that men still retained their primitive hard-wired desire to protect themselves and their family from danger. 

Although we are not under constant threat of attack from wolves, bears and big cats in our modern times, you could say that a man is constantly on guard against danger because he evolved to protect and fight. That’s his primary job.

Man, as the hunter and defender

Going back a few thousand years, a man didn’t nest and nurture. He hunted for food and battled with predators. Being alone can feel unsafe for a man on a primitive level. Back then, you needed the support of your family and tribe to have your back in battle. 

If men were truly designed to be alone, they wouldn’t have had anyone looking after them when they fell sick. They wouldn’t have been able to sleep while someone else took his watch looking out for danger. There would have been no one to look for him if he ever got lost.

For ancient man, the world was dangerous enough without the added pressure of being alone.

Evolution takes hundreds of thousands of years to happen. Evolutionary biologists believe that the men of today are still biologically and physically hard-wired in the same way as our ancient ancestors. So this could be the reason why men still favour company today, just so that they know that someone has got their back. 

Fish, bicycles and water

You have heard the saying that ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’, right? Well, Browning also said in her piece that ‘a man needs marriage like a fish needs water.’

I believe that if not marriage, men like to at least to co-habit with someone soon after a breakup.

Going back again to the article written by Browning’s article, she mentioned that single women don’t mind eating breakfast at 11 am if we feel like it. We also don’t worry about cooking unless we want to. But most of all we love not being judged for liking these things.

She also said that single men could not care less about any of the above lifestyle choices. Men might be okay about living alone, but they don’t cherish these things in the same way as we women do. 

Man caves and she-sheds

Men do often seek a bit of solitude too. However, they have the unique ability to be able to go to their ‘man-cave’ and be alone even while sitting right next to their partner on the sofa.

Men seem to have a unique ability to switch off and tune out when they wish in a way that women seem to struggle with. 

Women tend to need to escape physically and get some separation to achieve some alone time. We cannot escape to our ‘she-shed’ and be alone unless it is a real-world she-shed, like going to a day-spa or going for a long walk – alone

We, women, are far too aware of our partner’s needs and feeling to be able to truly escape. We need to get away from people physically to feel truly alone. 

Conclusion

While men can usually satisfy their need to be alone by escaping into their own head-space or getting away to do the things they love for a short while, they may feel safer on a primal level when they are doing these things as part of a couple.

This could go some way to explain why men may find it harder to live their lives alone following the break up of a relationship. 

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18 thoughts on “Do Men Find It Harder To Live Alone?”

  1. I find it extremely hard to enjoy my own company which sad …. I long for a man to hold me and take care and protect me. Women don’t necessarily enjoy freedom like you say …. we by nature like to nest and take care of our families. Women are designed to receive love and be cherished ….. men are driven by their need to give and be appreciated for what they can give. I don’t agree with how easy it is for a Woman to go it alone …. especially when she has his kids……throw kids into the mix and then our priorities change … we don’t have time to partner …. whereas they do! It’s nothing go do with us enjoying freedom …. but everything to do with lack of opportunity….. and smaller pool of fish to choose from.

  2. I think it depends on the individual.
    I am a man, been single for the last 10 years, and enjoy my lifestyle to the fullest.

  3. I am a 70 year old Vietnam Veteran; retired military. I have a new home; a new Toyota 4 runner; and a great 90 lb Alaskan Husky. We take trips to the Rocky Mountains; and also fish along the Yukon River. I live alone; and prefer it that way. There are many women out here; lonely; and for me to service them when i have time. I go to their place; as i dont want them at my place; as everything is in order. I spend my 6 thousand dollar a month pension on myself and my dog. I do my own cooking; or eat out. Life is good.

  4. Absolutely, since there are many of us single men out there that just never met the right good woman to be with. Women are a lot different today from the old days, and meeting a good woman for the men back then was very easy with no trouble. Women today for example have really changed in a very big way unfortunately, since nowadays they’re very high maintenance, very independent, and don’t really care to have a man in their life, very selfish, greedy, spoiled, picky, narcissists, stuck up, and very money hungry today more than ever. So these are very excellent reasons why so many of us single good men can’t meet a good woman anymore these days, especially when we will try to start a conversation with a woman that we would really love too meet. They’re usually very nasty to us for no reason at all when we will just say good morning or hello to them, and there are times we will get Cursed at by them as well which just doesn’t make any sense at all why most single women that are really like this now unfortunately. That is why our family members were very lucky and blessed when they met one another back in the old days. Sure they did, since most women were the very complete opposite of today and real ladies as well. What in the world happened to these women today that are so very pathetic now? And now that Feminism is everywhere which makes it much worse for many of us men looking for love today.

  5. There’s a lot of hate and shade women throw at men, this and men that. Hun we can do just fine without women and you’ll see it. Record numbers of men will not marry for clear disdain with wonder woman type females who aren’t really superheroes. In a generation of feminism and female empowerment women may conceive birth to the idea that they may be better at whatever it is now, first it was wage, equal rights it’ll keep going …some GREAT and very valid cases that should be fought for like human rights all day everyday, but independent living ? Grow up , men are naturally more independent than women Just a reminder without one seed from a man you couldn’t complete a natural biological need for your existence. Let’s grow up and treat each other like human beings and not who’s better. Who built your cities, built your cars, fought your wars ? Right just because you write articles about your feelings doesn’t mean women are the stronger species. I will say women to speak out more. Much like your article 🙂

  6. A single mother’s perceptive of men should be questioned as well. Like why is she a single mother ? Maybe her negative attitude towards men caused a rift in her relationship. Either way this article has clear bias. Men are naturally stronger than women. Women are codependent and needy by nature.

  7. This article mentions men’s need to be hunters and defenders based on evolutionary theories (which I support). On the other hand, it doesn’t mention what women need based on the same theories.

    Basically, singlehood is the slow path to extinction. Fertility rates are crashes all over the world and they are declining the fastest in countries where more and more women choose to be single. This creates an interesting dynamic where single women are independent; however, the country itself relies on the patriarchy (from other countries) to stabilize its population.

    For example, Finland is viewed as the happiest country in the world with it’s population of less than six million. By 2030, it’s population will start to decline. What’s the point of being the happiest place to live and, in a couple of hundred years, it won’t exists? It’s fertility rate is well below the replacement value at 1.4.

    Lastly, what’s the point of finally achieving gender equally if there is nobody left to enjoy it?

  8. So many salty men in the comments!
    Men constantly talk crap about marriage & relationships.
    Also men are twice more likely to ‘Remarry’ after divorce or the death of a spouse.(Just ask google ‘which gender is more likely to remarry ‘)
    In the ancient times,The powerful kings took multiple Queens.Heck they even needed their personal harems.
    Neither did The queens needed multiple husbands nor did they need any harem.
    There’s an old saying:
    ‘When men have money,they need more women.
    When have money,they don’t need any man’
    It’s the harsh truth.
    Now that modern women have their own careers,houses,cars,Money ,they will rather be alone than stay in a bad relationship.

  9. A lot of us single guys would had never been alone, if only we can meet the right good woman which is very impossible nowadays. Most women are just so very horrible and very awful to meet altogether, now that they have no manners and personality at all either when it comes to us guys. Feminism is much worse than Cancer today as well.

  10. Im quite happy living alone. I don’t see the need to be around someone 24/7.
    I’m educated and content with my independence. I feel as if this article is not completely well researched. Where are the sources for this article? If this is opinion then perhaps more research is required.

  11. JW Why should individual women carry the continuous existence of the human race? When partnering with men does not bring them anything they can achieve for themselves alone? What do men provide other than their company qhen they are no longer needed for protection or money? Some women will still want children but many don’t now. Childbirth is a risk to health long term and short term. Women are degraded and hated by many men no matter our choices or efforts. Married men live longer than single men and single women live longer than married women. Older men married to young women live longer too. So really men just suck the life youth and vitality from their women. A lot of women are tired of it and do not really care about mens family legacy. I have a man but only because I am the bread winner of the relationship and he knows very well that if he is not entertaining me and providing me with more value to my life than he takes away then I will be happy to walk right out the door to live on my own. He is not competing with other men for my favor because I actually prefer to be alone much of the time. He is competing with me for my own company. A lot of women are coming to this realization.

  12. I agree with Killashandra. I am a man whose wife has left me after 33 years of marriage and three children and the reasons given are largely based on the fact that I am competing with my wife for her own company. There was no third party.
    Yes us men don’t like to be alone.
    As weak as it sounds, there are times in the absence of my wife when I feel worthless; just looking after myself is not enough. My wife would say that she looked after me more than I looked after her, which is true enough. The combination of her full-time teaching and her insistence of cooking a good meal for the whole family during workdays would have killed her before the age of 60. After our children left home there is no doubt that I became more of a burden.
    The presence of my wife in the house justified my existence but even though I am a teacher of Biology, without her I feel lost. I contact my children who have left home but there is a primeval need for her immediate presence or her presence in the near future.
    It’s like I have been hollowed out, have lost my core; I am now incomplete. Is this a relic of being a protective hunter, gatherer? I now feel the need to train harder when it comes to sport, I take more risks and am potentially more self-destructive.
    Lewis Capaldi expresses it very well in his song ‘Someone You Loved’
    I need somebody to heal,
    Somebody to know,
    Somebody to have,
    Somebody to hold …
    And as Capaldi says it is worse at the end of the day:
    Now the day bleeds,
    Into nightfall,
    And you’re not here,
    To get me through it all …

  13. Quite a lot here that I can’t seem to identify with in terms of being a solitary male. Whether it’s down to the fact that I’m homosexual and tend to have more feminine traits I don’t know. It could be down to moving away from home at a later age than most, 29. But as a single man I thoroughly enjoy living alone. Even my dogs don’t live with me, my apartment doesn’t have a fence and as a nurse I work 50 hours a week; they’re better suited to living with my parents and are company for them since my sister died. I love my apartment, and have it decorated exactly as I want. I enjoy my job and have a great social life, when I decide to socialise. I see Mum and Dad and my dogs every day that I’m off. I have a great life.

  14. Men don’t need a good woman. No behaviors are hardwired. All is mirrored from youth to re-capitulate in to adulthood, especially how you develop your character, beliefs, and treatment of others. Most everyone has a conscience and knows agreeableness is favored in both sexes.
    If men and women are choosing to be single, the trust bonds of relationships have been under-developed or have been broken too many times. What has changed are economics and the expectatiion of ourselves. Naturally people take the route of least resistance and compromise in a relationship takes sustained conscious long term effort to maintain, especially under extreme periods of stresss. Less and less people develop this skill and practice it in adulthood. And thus the speed at which people overlook this skill is being replaced with other versions of narcissism. Old adage, you can’t control others, but you can control yourself, it’s whether you choose to or not?

  15. Rick A Johnson

    I agree with Phillip above. Thinking I might pick up some insights as a long-time, solo-living man, having had many relationships, I find this article full of stereotypes, generalizations and flat out wrong mindedness. For instance, just me but, after breaking up with two girlfriends, the opposite happened. They got into a relationship quickly, and had many problems with it. I dealt with it. Years ago, my mother innocently said me she hoped I would find a wife to take care of me, “before I go”. I found that offensive. I thought a common stereotype was male independence.

  16. I live alone and I love it I’d rather live by myself than be in a loveless relationship or under the thumb I suppose every body is different it’s up to the individual.

  17. Many of us single men that never been married do find it kind of rough living alone since we would’ve loved to have been married with a wife and family that many of us still don’t have today, and many of us were never single by choice either.

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Michelle Newbold
Michelle is a freelance writer and single mum to a teenage home-educated son. Writing has always been a passion and allows her to strike a good work-life balance and harness emotional wellbeing as a single adult.

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