It’s Wedding Season And The Vacant

Editor’s Note: Today’s story is written by Preston Yancey, friend, writer and author of If you like what you see, make sure you check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

It’s wedding season and the vacant, unchecked, Papyrus +1 box on the embossed invitation stares at me patronizingly. I avoid the awkward silence between us, between the unchecked +1 and I, by internalizing a rant about people who use the font Papyrus for anything.

It might as well be Comic Sans or Wingdings.

Look, we’re getting married! The theme is late 90s tacky! There’s going to be a reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13!

I have lived an exciting life, but the bravest thing I perhaps have ever done was only eight months ago.

One Wednesday afternoon, I cut class and drove to the most popular movie theater in town, bought a ticket to see The Help, and for the first time in my life watched a movie in a theater by myself.

Remarkably, I didn’t die from embarrassment. I and the moms with kids in tow and the husband taking the day off survived the movie together, even though there was no one to my left or right.

This was my choice, all of this. Kate and I had a year and a half together, Serena and I off and on for a near year here, a month there. Then came the feeling from the Holy Spirit: wait. This year, wait. Don’t date. Wait.

And I waited. Sitting in the midst of watching The Help, alone, I waited.

We’re lying on my floor, looking up at the ceiling, my best friend and I, the day before my thesis defense.

I ugly cry for a good half hour, about being nervous and exhausted, about it being close to the end of the term and that everyone is being left behind. I ugly cry, really, because I’m alone.

I accuse him, not too subtly, of having a beautiful and wonderful girlfriend. Someone he gets to share with. Someone he gets to be with. He has someone to ugly cry with that he can also turn to for physical comfort. (Perhaps how I phrased that was slightly more direct, but you get the idea.)

“Yes.” He said simply and without looking I knew he was smiling soberly. “But you chose that, didn’t you? You said that you felt like this year, after everything with Serena, you needed to not date.”

Me and my words. They always come around and find me at the worst time. “Yes. I did say that.”

He’s right and I know it. I had heard, in the quiet place of self, that I was supposed to wait. And I had. I had waited; but, when the major life event rolled around, the felt absence of another to share it with, fully, as fully as could be shared before vows are given, was almost too much to stomach.

“You could be dating right now,” he pushed, not too subtly. Then he pushed it a bit more. Said a bit more. Made me get the point. Yes, I was single, though not by repugnancy. I chose, was still choosing.

“I know,” I confess, half-hearted, because what I don’t say that he knows I’m thinking, that he’s been getting at, is that I really only want to be dating for just that particular moment. I had yet to come to the place of peace to want it beyond that day, that afternoon, that floor, and that ugly cry.

She calls me to talk about her guest post.

We work it through, then we’re on to the usual topics: 30 Rock, sleeping pills, and brownies. Then I’m talking about this girl, this girl that I have fallen for, a feeling that had been building for the past year but suddenly, only now, has come to surface.

She asks me how I know, because she knows me too well. Because she knows that if I talk it through, if it’s wrong, I’ll see the cracks for what they are.

“I spent this week figuring out one thing: was I in love with the story of us, the unique story we could have, or was I falling for her?” I paused for a moment, nearly asleep, the late night and the sleeping pill and all the brownie batter. “And I realized it’s pretty simple. I’m falling for her because she’s the kind of girl who lives this sort of story.”

She says it sounds right,

I find watermelon in my refrigerator, rejoice, and we start talking about how she really needs to be watching HBO’s Girls.

The unchecked +1 box and I enter a détente.

I check single and smile a bit. I am tempted, as I am always tempted, to justify myself. Single, by choice. But what does that matter? Between the Holy Ghost and I, between what may or may not happen with this girl I am falling for, between the conversations on my floor about being single and wanting someone for just that moment, there is too much grace and growth and being to fit onto an invitation written in Papyrus.

I say a blessing for the couple, the couple and their Papyrus invitations and their reading from 1 Corinthians. All is grace, even typeface.

Single, I check, then look up the show times, take in an afternoon movie, blissfully, trustingly, for now, alone.

Question: Have you ever been to a wedding, or a movie, without a +1? Will you share your story with us? 

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  • Addie Zierman

    Great post, Preston. Loved the piece about going to the movie alone, about the hard work of learning to be comfortable with aloneness. Truth.

    • Preston

      Thank you, friend!

  • Priscilla

    Sigh. I relate. So. Well. And yes, I have been to both without a guy. It didn’t bother me until last year. Last year I was in a relationship I thought would last 50 yrs, but only lasted a month. Broke my heart into pieces. We split up before the busiest wedding year I’ve ever had. 5 weddings in one summer. One being his sister’s…..where he was in the wedding standing with the men on the groom’s side, I was supposed to be his date-had been planned on being his date when his sister planned her wedding, and where he brought his new gf only weeks after we’d broken up. It was my choice to go, and sometimes I think it wasn’t a bad choice.

    But yeah, I’ve never been a person who needed a date for a wedding or movie, I’ve always had family. But last year was abit tough. I’m slowly getting back to my real self where having a date doesn’t matter to me, having 0 weddings to go to this year helps tremendously.

    • Preston

      I’m an only child. (I know, it shows.) My Mother has a neurological illness that makes it hard to sit through movies. So, for me, it’s been nigh over two decades of lonely movies from time to time. I admit, some days, I feel like I’ve paid my dues as it were and enough is enough.

  • John

    I regularly go to movies by myself. It’s more fun with friends, but I’m a fairly solitary person, so it’s not a big deal to me. Actually, I kind of have a hard time understanding why it’s such a big deal for some.

    I’m single as well, though that’s probably as much by circumstance as it is choice. There are days where the wedding invites are a bitter reminder of that singleness, and there are days when they are cause for rejoicing that at least someone out there has found that kind of happiness. I’ve found that it’s easier to just be happy for someone else.

    • Preston

      I think part of if it comes with the territory of the Christian South. in which relationships are as interchangeable and expected as underwear. We’re asked pretty directly if and why we are single, so even taking in a movie alone, no matter how comfortable you are with yourself, results in a followup on your marriage prospects.

  • sara choe

    oh goodness! i’ve only been to one wedding where i brought a +1; been to two concerts by myself, and at least one movie by myself.

    i wonder, since i prefer that the man be the one to pursue and initiate, for me this season of singleness is more about contentment than choice. i’ve been on online dating sites on and off the past couple years (currently, and, more likely than not, permanently off) and been on blind dates — first dates that turned out to be only dates, which is completely fine.

    i figure, if i’m not dating, then i’m waiting; and as i wait, i am open either way. i hadn’t felt the need to intentionally abstain from dating given my “date” history.

    i’d like to think i’m single by providence, and the choice to rest content in his providence is easier to make on some days than others.

    at a more practical level, being the extrovert (very much so) that i am, being surrounded by intentional community has been crucial in keeping me rather content with not being in a romantic relationship. my sense of contentment crests and falls, due to a combination of varying hormone levels and moments that i feel would be enhanced by enjoying them with a tactile person, but overall has been steadied by brothers & sisters who manifest his nearness to me. in being a part of this household, i’ve seen what i’m looking forward to about marriage and what i’m enjoying about being sans +1.

    thanks for this, preston.

    • Preston

      Thanks Sara. The struggle for me is that, like you, I’m fairly extroverted and sociable, but that leaves me feeling the lurch of wanting that one other person, that person I can share with the step beyond I can even my closest and best of friends.

  • Lucie

    Preston, I can certainly relate, and you have my sympathy. As a lifelong single of almost 52, I’ve been to both weddings and movies alone, plus vacationed alone and done weekend getaways alone, which included a fair amount of dining alone – and obviously the movie theater is an easier choice, since you’re in the dark (grin). I’ve even bought a car alone, especially challenging for a single woman. I’ve gone to museums and entertainment exhibits alone. I draw the line, however, at theme parks, at least to date.

    One advantage to my age is that the wedding invitations pretty much dried up years ago, as everyone I knew or was related to, and to whom I was close enough to attend a function, is past marrying/childbearing age. But while attending a wedding solo wasn’t so bad, it was the reception that I dreaded. I actually refused to go to a couple of those over the years.

    While I don’t think you mentioned it specifically, the main reason people dread this sort of thing is because they feel conspicuous, and time will hopefully teach them what it has me – that nobody is really that interested in you! Seriously. How often do you really look around a movie theater, a restaurant, etc., and pity that poor soul sitting all alone (probably with a book)? My guess is, not often or not at all. People are too busy with their own conversations and their own thoughts, in general, to worry that much about others…and it helps to remember this when you find yourself, for whatever reason, on a solo outing.

    That said, I hope you will not experience many such outings…even though at times being solo can be a definite advantage.

    • Preston

      Ha, in the South, such observation is more common than you’d think.

      • Lucie

        Oh, dear…I’ve lived in the South nearly all my life. Well, some say that Florida doesn’t really qualify as “the South”….At any rate, I wasn’t aware of it, and I didn’t know any of those people anyway! ;-)

        • Preston

          Nah, Florida’s a whole ‘nother South altogether. (As is Texas, where I live.)

  • Shannon

    I know that I don’t “know” you, yet when I read this the one thougth that kept comig to me was “I’m proud of him!”
    And I am.
    Like you, I chose singleness for a very long time. I wasn’t weird about it, I was comfy. I rested in having MY FIRST LOVE be my only love.
    Yet, in a society where weirdness is NOT always a relative term, CHOOSING to listen to the Holy Spirit regarding relationships is rare.

    So dear one, IM PROUD OF YOU!

    • Preston

      Thank you!

  • tandemingtroll

    I just want to encourage you in waiting for God to tell you when to start. He had me stay single for three years to undo all the damage I had done to myself when not following Him. He wanted me to be content with just Him. At the end of the three years, as I felt Him allowing me to consider dating, He introduced me to my future husband. And He had prepared me for him. So many good things aside from the future husband came out of it.

    • Preston

      I’ve wondered if this season has been about repair. I’m still not totally sure, but I have wondered.

  • bethany

    “All is grace, even typeface.” The writer in me got a little thrill out of your words, Preston. You are such a great writer! And the sister in me is so thrilled by you, a brother in Christ, who bares his heart so well, so honestly, that he can admit to ugly-crying and being freaked out by going to a wedding or movie alone. Thank you for sharing your story with us. This was beautiful. :)

    • Preston

      Aw, thanks friend! I’m glad you liked that line, and thank you for the encouragement!

  • Kellen Freeman

    I can relate in some ways. I haven’t done these things for lack of being single, but more because of the situation. For awhile my then girlfriend and I were three hours a part at different schools. Because of that, I went to the zoo, restaurants, grocery store, and the mall by myself. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do those things with anyone, but rather that the person I wanted to do them with wasn’t around. It is lonely, but you learn to find the joy in being alone with your thoughts and taking in the world in your own time and your own way. At least that’s how I did it.

    • Preston

      “but you learn to find the joy in being alone with your thoughts”

      My struggle, as a writer, has been that I always live in that world. My world is constructed of my own thoughts. I seek out others to get outside of myself, because I’m pretty internally chatty. And that gets hard, when you feel it all well-up and you don’t have anyone to pour it out into.

  • Stephanie Spencer

    Thank you for sharing this post, Preston. I am, as usual, inspired by your courageous vulnerability.

    I made a commitment to not date anyone for a year when I was in college. Then I developed feelings for someone, only a few months in. One of the most difficult parts of the commitment for me was hearing the Holy Spirit’s discernment about when/if/how to break it.

    Your desire to follow God in all you do, and to find your satisfaction in Him alone, is really admirable.

    • Preston

      Thank you.

    • Preston

      Cheers, thank you.

  • HopefulLeigh

    Oh, Preston! Your words have sparked such a response in me. I’ve never gone to a movie by myself. Movies and concerts, for me, are best experienced with others. But I’ve gone to weddings by myself and sometimes this has been perfectly fine and others were glaringly awkward. In fact, another wedding is coming up and I’ve been debating whether to go by myself or beg a guy friend to be my date, just as a buffer. I understand the urge to justify or explain singleness. I’m single not by choice but by circumstance. And yet, I don’t view my singleness as a curse or my cross to bear. God is using me right now, in this way. He’s allowed me to work through some of my junk in this season and given me amazing opportunities I would have missed out on if I’d married straight out of college as planned. Most of the time, I’m utterly content. Until things like this happen and I find myself processing through it all over again. Grace to both of us during this time of waiting.

    • Preston

      “Most of the time, I’m utterly content. Until things like this happen and I find myself processing through it all over again.”

      This, this, this. Right there with you, friend.

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  • Lu

    Thanks for the post.
    First off, I don’t think its weird at all to do anything by yourself. I’ve been in 7 weddings, not having a date for either of them, and almost every wedding I go to, including the 2 coming up in the next two weeks will be me going alone. Why, you may ask? Well, why not? Yes, I could ask a few guy friends to come with me, and they will probably all say yes. But is there anything there more than a friendship? Not really…So my theory is I would rather go alone, meet up with friends at a wedding, and possibly meet someone there. I’m sure I won’t be the only single person there.
    And plus, once you’re married, you’re married. You’re only single once (hypothetically).

  • jana

    My friend Tina, who writes over at, wrote Xanga post (am I giving away my age?) ages ago that inspired me to go to dinner and a movie by myself, without a book.

    I went to a sushi restaurant, and it was hard not to get my phone out, or a book. I think I did get my journal out. I ate sushi and drank tea and had to stay there for an hour until my movie started. I walked into the movie theater, and forgot that I had bought a 3D ticket. Have you ever sat in the theater alone with 3D glasses on? that’s a real challenge!

    I have done this a couple times a year ever since…and I love it.

    • Preston

      I’ve always managed food by myself, but with a laptop or iPad in front of me. I have yet to full-on confront the vacant chair across me at the table. I wonder, too, if I have to. Is it necessary for me, as who I am, to do so? I’m still not sure.

  • Danielle

    I admire your choice. I’m single in the midst of 8 weddings, 4 bridesmaid dresses, and moving back home to complete my masters. I’m definitely still having trouble accepting it. Thank you for your post–I think there is strength given when I realize I’m not the only one, which I can see so well in these comments and your words.

    “there is too much grace and growth and being to fit onto an invitation written in Papyrus”—so true. I’m reading 1 Corinthians 13 in my best friends wedding next weekend.

    • Preston

      If I ever have to read 1 Corinthians 13 at a wedding … oh, love needs to be patient. Fortunately, I think I’m friends with people who would know better, or who would know I would pull a Lauren Winner and substitute: “Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, Jesus never fails …”

  • Olivia

    I am still young, but with my fair share of relationships that ‘didn’t work out’ as they say. I have done more things alone than I can count, or even worse… with dating friends or siblings. Today is one of those days… an evening picnic. Single. Ugh. I’ll keep my head up knowing I am not alone, there are lots of us. And the fact there are lots of us singles, some by choice and others not, sparks a question… what are we willing to do about it?

    • Claire

      I’m through with doing. I’ve been waiting long enough and watched enough relationships happen to decide that if I’m still single, there’s a very good reason for it, and the kind of Mr. Right I’m looking for is not going to be on an online dating site or waiting for me to come across him through church-hopping. Mainly because I hate using dating sites and church-hopping to meet men. So for my part I am not “doing” anything more about it.

      • Preston

        “I hate using dating sites and church-hopping to meet men”

        I also hate the idea of ever, ever, ever choosing a church based on your dating prospects. I’m not sure that fits well, at all, into the narrative of Scripture. It’s a bit alarming, actually. While you certainly can end up dating someone who attends your church, in my mind, that factor has to be way way way far down on the list.

      • Olivia

        Claire, I agree profoundly with what you said about not church-hopping or using online dating sites to “find” (what does being FOUND mean, anyways?) a husband. I would disagree, however, about not “doing” something. Let me clarify. “Doing something” does not always have to be an outward action that others see. It can be inside, such as keeping your heart until the right time, if that time comes. Outwardly, it can be using your hours to serve G-d, instead of sitting and dreaming. It can be serving, writing, blogging, being an example. It is all about having the right HEART ATTITUDE. When I asked the question “what are we willing to do about it?” I was not inferring we all go spouse-hunting or anything of the sort, but rather that we still DO in the midst of our single years. We write books. We create art. We build relationships. We LIVE. Indeed, we refuse to NOT DO. Our lives are meant to be useful, we should never waste our years!
        I apologize for the confusion. I didn’t mean to come across as someone who was an advocate for husband-hunting. :)

  • Cole Matson

    I announced to a roomful of members of Catholic religious orders today that I am planning on making vows of poverty, chastity (i.e., perpetual celibacy), and obedience. That was a supportive audience. However, having grown up as a Protestant in the South, I understand the culture of seeing adults, especially young adults, as either “married” or “not-yet-married” (i.e., “not yet successful in the market”). There is no provision for life-long chosen singleness, except for people who finally admit they were “unsuccessful” in the marketplace.

    I usually go to movies by myself. I’ve always gone to weddings by myself. I’ve never really felt the need to “have a girlfriend” to do things with. But I admit there are times when I deeply desire the intimacy of having a person with whom I can share anything, especially when I see the relationships that my parents and my married friends have.

    The fact, I think, that all single people need to face, whether or not they’re “yet-to-be-married”, is that we are all lonely. We all experience an uncomfortable solitude. Even if we share ourselves completely with another human being, we can never completely know the depths of one another. Only God knows our depths as deeply as they run. Can we be alone with God? Until we can, it will be difficult for us to be alone with ourselves, or with others.

    • Preston

      Cole Matson, why are you so cool and why do I get to be so blessed to live with you soon?

      Can we be alone with God?

      You’ll understand when I say it depends on the moment, not even the day.

      And most joyous congratulations and celebration to your intent for vows! Which Order?!

      • Cole Matson

        I could say that first sentence back to you, brother.:-)

        I already answered your last question via e-mail and Twitter, but in case anyone else here wants to know the answer, it’s going to be private vows at first, though I’m looking at forming an institute for artists, which might be partnered with the Jesuits, Dominicans or Benedictines. (About to send you more info via e-mail.)

  • Sara

    This post resonates strongly with me right now. I have been to a movie alone, without a +1, and it can be liberating. I went to the theater to see Across the Universe by myself, even though I was in a relationship that the time, because that boyfriend promised he’d go with me but was off at college; he said he’d come home to visit that weekend and we’d see the movie, but he stayed at school in another state and saw it with friends. I saw it myself, because sometimes it’s easier to just rely on yourself then always waiting around for others to make plans. Thank you for writing this- it’s excellently done.

    • Preston

      Thank you for your words.

  • kks

    For me, going to the movies alone (something I have come to love doing and find so liberating) took some time to get comfortable with; now, I greatly anticipate going alone, largely b/c it’s usually an impromptu decision and b/c I like obscure movies that most people aren’t rushing to see. However, I do find in the aftermath of movies that are thought-provoking, I want to process and discuss it with a thoughtful companion (was one of my favorite activities with my ex). Having attended probably 40 – 50 weddings (I’m 34), I think I’ve only had a date to 3 of them. Sometimes it does make me acutely aware of my single status, but surprisingly has become less painful the older I get as I not only am more comfortable in my own skin and who God has raised me up to be, but also b/c the older I get, the people getting maried are also older and so I feel a kinship knowing they’ve also waited a long time for the blessing of marriage, and I rejoice with them. I thank God for bringing me into a (mostly) secure place in my singleness (I still experience times of overwhelming sadness over not having a life partner who knows my heart intimately) — it has been a LONG and bumpy road here and He’s been gracious with me the whole way even in times of pain and my horrendous decisions.
    I think a huge part of it for me has been coming to enjoy my own company – a tremendous and irrevocable gift only God could provide.

    • Preston

      I think it’s the companionship factor that gets me. I have a whole lot of thought happening in my tiny brain at any given moment. Being unable to dump that out with someone who will understand, with someone who will ultimately commit to stay even when that dumping isn’t so pleasant, that’s what unnerves me these days.

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, this. A good friend invited me to her wedding and the invitation didn’t even allow me to include a guest. And I know that it’s because she knows I don’t have someone to bring. But it still felt funny, the assumption that I’m on my own. Because I always have been, by choice, so far. But weddings make it hard, either way the invitation comes.

    • Preston

      Ha! Here’s how I would have handled that, given two circumstances. As you described:

      - What the hell? You don’t think I could bring a date?

      If it had Included a +1:

      - The above post.

      … Yep.

  • Leeann

    Of all the weddings that I have been to as an adult, I have only had a +1 for two of them. The first time, I took the guy I was dating at the time and he was miserable the entire day. The second was a glorious adventure with my best friend. It was a good experience, but at the same time a very painful reminder that I am a failure when it comes to love.

    I have spent the vast majority of the last six or so years working through this unmet longing for someone to spend my life with. I want to find someone to bring as a date to weddings and parties. Even more, I want to find the kind of man that will spend time with me on ordinary days. I desire deeply to find the one man who will someday not just be a wedding date, but to set our wedding date.

    That is what I want, but God seems to have other plans for my life. There are days when trusting God is as easy as breathing. There are also days, like when I am going solo to yet another social event, where it absolutely sucks. Most days are somewhere in between the two extremes.

    I cannot tell you how much it makes my soul sing to read of others who are working through the exact same stuff as me. Thank you so much Preston for sharing this.

    • Preston

      Thank you. Trust, yes? That’s what He whispers into our valleys, whatever they are: trust.

  • Gillian

    I work at a movie theatre, so I watch movies alone frequently. I like it, actually. But going to weddings alone definitely stings a bit and it’s really easy to sit there at the reception, alone even with a group of friends, and feel sorry for my singleness.

    Objectively, I know this is a busy time in my life and it would be extremely difficult to maintain a relationship even if I met someone. But there are times when the desire for someone is overwhelming. It’s a prayer in progress for me.

    • Preston

      I love that you point out the objectivity part to all of this. I give a drive-by mention to HBO’s new show, Girls, above, which I think has in its short run already addressed this reality so perfectly. Some of the characters on the show desperately want relationships, but when they have them, they have no real idea what to do with them because all this other life is in the way.

      I keep forgetting that I’m leaving the country, getting a masters, coming back, making a book happen, and on and on. Lots of blessings, yes, but also a lot of time taken away from someone that I would hope to eventually treasure above all of that. Maybe it really isn’t time. Maybe the Wait is just as much about business as it is growing me.

      • Gillian

        I keep hearing about that show but haven’t watched it. I spent most of my years as an undergrad desperately wanting a relationship (possibly as a side effect of being at a small Southern Baptist college where you’re practically required to have a ring by graduation) but never even really had a first date. Now that I’m in grad school, I simply don’t have time! I also am not in a situation to meet many unmarried Christian men, so I have decided that all this combined is God telling me it’s not time yet. Again, objectively, I know this. But when I see the photo album from a FOURTH wedding this weekend pop up on Facebook, (mostly friends younger than myself) it is hard to keep this in perspective.

        Oh – I hope the book and the masters go well, and I love that you are replying to all the comments – many bloggers don’t :-)

        • Preston

          I should put a disclaimer in that the show is rated TV-MA for a reason, that I don’t endorse anything it stands for, but that said, it’s one of the best written shows on television right now.

          I attended Baylor, so a large Southern Baptist (-ish) college where ring by spring was in full force. I totally understand Facebook being a mine field of self-deprecation.

  • Mar

    As a 58 year old married woman, I went to my first movie alone last year … The King’s Speech. A matinee. (I didn’t think my husband would enjoy it as much as I would, and I went on an impulse.) I ended up being really thankful I was sitting in the theater alone, taking it all in, having my own internal reactions and not wondering if my “partner” (or friend, if I had taken one) was enjoying it the same as I was. I gasped at points in the movie that hit home, and I cried by myself at the beauty of “I have a voice.” Then, I took one friend at a time for the next 3 times, and finally took my husband along to my 5th viewing :)

    • Preston

      Oh, amen. And I love The King’s Speech. But I know, too, what you mean about watching something just for you. There are a few shows and movies I watch and love that were I to show to others and they didn’t also love, I would feel deflated. I would, too, spend the whole time more worried about their reaction than my own. Actually, I do this all the time.

  • Niki

    “Question: Have you ever been to a wedding, or a movie, without a +1? Will you share your story with us?”

    Let’s see…

    Junior and senior prom
    Every wedding I’ve attended
    Every dance in junior high and high school
    Any movie I’ve seen when my roomies were busy (or, like now, non-existent) and no other friends were available–in fact, just this past Friday when I saw Brave (which was AWESOME, by the way)

    Well, I’ve been single all of my 28 years (I’ve only been asked out a few times, and almost always by someone completely inappropriate (age gap, complete stranger, MARRIED (this one happened last week… yeesh), someone who only saw my curvy shape and who propositioned me before even asking my name…). So for me, unless I wanted to spend every waking moment home alone watching my DVR or (when I lived with my parents) playing Scrabble with two seventy-somethings, I had to go alone. I usually had fun, though I always feel incredibly awkward until I am able to focus on the main event. In fact, these days, all but a small handful of my friends are married with small children, so even girls’ night in or out doesn’t really happen.

    For the first time, though, I’m completely okay with it. I’ve got a lot on my plate, being an adjunct English teacher and a graphic design student (as of this summer), as well as a homeowner and a dog’s “mom,” so I don’t feel like anything’s lacking. Well, at least not until I log into Facebook on a weekend and see photos of any number of friends’ weddings and/or engagement photos. Then I just cringe and have a bite of chocolate. It’ll do for now. ;)

    • Niki

      I should mention that there is one time I don’t go out without a +1: Valentine’s Day. I made that mistake in college when I took myself out on a date for Mexican food and ended up waiting nearly 30 minutes just for a drink because the wait-staff assumed I was waiting for my date. It was another 30 minutes before I got my food, and by then, I was ready to pass out from hunger.

      Lesson learned.

    • Preston

      Facebook really has made the +1 attack a whole new game.

  • Jaimie

    I’m amazed so many people haven’t been to the theater alone or waited for a long time to do so. It’s one of my favorite things to do. You aren’t alone in a movie theater. You’re all partaking together. And as far as company, it’s not like you talk to anyone anyway.

    I started seeing movies alone at 17.

  • Abigail Maurer

    I must admit, I’m motivated to go see a movie alone now :) Writing is a wonderful tool because it allows us to share life together with people we don’t know. Thanks for writing what you did.

  • kharking

    Before I was married, I went a lot of places alone and liked it (introversion helps a lot with this). I live in a city in which a person dining alone with a book or a laptop is not that rare though. There is something special about sharing an experience but I could also focus on getting the most out of it and enjoying the particular things about it that I enjoyed rather than having to be concerned about meeting anyone else’s needs or expectations.
    Then I had a season of hurting that my husband refused to go to weddings and other social events with me and having to decide to miss out on the occasion or miss out on sharing it with him and face his disapproval that I went anyway and left him at home. Sometimes I went despite the sadness and sometimes I didn’t and missed celebrations with other friends. Those were the worst -1 times.
    Now that I have little ones, time alone is so precious that I take advantage of every possible opportunity–even if it is just a trip to the grocery store alone.
    My sister is traveling the world right now. She has said many times that she wishes there was someone that she was sharing it with but that she isn’t going to let the lack of one prevent her from experiencing everything that she possibly can.

  • Courtney

    Great post! I have been to what feels like too many weddings without a +1. Actually, I can only think of one wedding I have ever been to with a date. A movie alone I have never done, but I do enjoy going to a restaurant with a book alone every once in a while. The idea of God telling you to just wait really resonates with me. I have been getting that same message recently and tried to ignore it because, like you, sometimes I get a little lonely during the waiting process. Other days it’s very peaceful and easy to trust that whatever I am waiting for is worth it. Thank you for sharing. It is always encouraging to hear another’s story that sounds so very familiar.

  • Olivia Erickson

    First of all, great post! 

     Secondly, I seem to be one of the few people I know who does things alone all the time and sometimes, it gets a bit painful.
    Yes, when the restaurant I work for gets gluten free hamburger buns and I haven’t had a proper cheeseburger in 8 months, I’d love a boyfriend to call up and say, “hey, let’s go!” with.
     When I’m sitting in a theater alone watching the Hunger Games because I needed to see it the first chance I could and my friends were all seeing it later, I wish I had a guy to drag with.
     At camp when most of my friends are having long conversation under beautiful Minnesotan trees with their boyfriend/girlfriend/we’re-just-friends, it feels a bit odd having a conversation of questioning if it’s possible to serve others in a dating relationship with a close (girl) friend. 
     Most sixteen year old girls don’t go to restaurants, movies, road trips, and weddings alone. As a photographer and a free spirit, it surprises me that it isn’t the norm. I chuckled when my friend asked if I was bringing a date to her wedding thinking, “who the heck would I even ask?” This year I got used to doing things solo and I’m starting to really like it. I’m already planning a trip from MN to Texas all by my lonesome next summer. The thought excites me and so does the fact that’s I’m already embracing life with a +1, so if it happens someday, it wont be my crutch but an added blessing. 

  • Starleisha Gingrich

    “I spent this week figuring out one thing: was I in love with the story of us, the unique story we could have, or was I falling for her?” I paused for a moment, nearly asleep, the late night and the sleeping pill and all the brownie batter. “And I realized it’s pretty simple. I’m falling for her because she’s the kind of girl who lives this sort of story.” “ 

    Preston…wow. This describes my entire relationship with my best guy friend. The thought of loving the IDEA of how our story would end, and not necessarily falling for the person. Fortunately, and unfortunately, for me, it was the person first and then it became the story. And through all of my ugly crying, I couldn’t turn to him for fear of losing our friendship. Those were the times I wished I had someone, who wasn’t him, to hold me and just feel my pain. I look back on that time and realize that I should have been Alone with God, and not Alone with my hurting spirit. 

    Thank you for your words, and your honesty. As a sister in Christ it’s incredible to see someone around my age being this open and willing to share and be vulnerable with others. Blessings! 

  • Amanda

    Love this post! I am recently married but definitely agree with Cole Matson’s perspective that we are all lonely. I particularly enjoyed this: “Can we be alone with God? Until we can, it will be difficult for us to be alone with ourselves, or with others.”

    I think back on the many weddings I attended by myself and remember being asked by well-meaning individuals if I had met anyone at college yet, and not to worry, I still had __ years to find someone (based on years left of school…ahhh the MRS degree, as if that was my solitary goal of college). I think in some ways, though it was really trying and at times very lonely, I found myself becoming more confident in myself by going to events alone. I used to be very shy and quiet but it was in those times I found my strength.

    In high school, a boyfriend had promised to take me to see “The Notebook” when it was first out, but decided last minute he wanted to save his money for something else instead. I decided to see it anyway by myself…talk about feeling pathetic and lonely. I was surrounded by young couples snuggling and making out, as well as a group of older ladies who had ventured out to see it. I sat by myself, no one on either side of me, but came out of the movie theater feeling really secure in who I was and strong. I figured if I could see that movie by myself, I could do a lot of things without having someone by my side.

    Thanks for this post…I took some time to remain single after some difficult relationships as well. I think it’s an admirable, yet difficult challenge.

  • manuella

    Recently moved miles away from friends and family talking about serious time zone difference and
    i’ve learned to be very comfortable with doing things without a + 1.

  • Rebecca

    I went to a movie by myself for the first time this summer. I was extremely embarrassed myself and I felt like everyone was looking at me, but I survived and I think next time it might be just a little bit easier.