Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Will you go to dinners and parties without your spouse?

Asked by JLeslie (47487 points ) December 7th, 2012

Where I live now people are a little odd about this in my opinion. For instance, last Christmas my husband was very sick on the night of our car club’s annual Christmas party. I still went. A few people made a comment about how great it was I came out even without him. I have known these people for a few years at this point. Not to mention I am the social chairperson and coordinate all events.

At a recent club dinner a gentleman who usually comes with his wife, when I asked where she was, he told me she had another obligation, and usually would not come without her, but she encouraged him to come alone.

What’s the big deal? Do you go places without your spouse? I especially am interested in these sorts of group social type gatherings, but also do you go to the theatre, travel, eat out by yourself?

Do you find it odd to see people out without their spouse? Is it uncomfortable to you to have an odd number in a group like a 3rd or 5th wheel? Or, to be the odd one out?

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28 Answers

Symbeline's avatar

Huh, what’s the big deal indeed. I don’t know. If I did have a spouse, I would go to places and do things on my own, as my spouse would very be allowed to do himself, too. You can’t always be together and always do everything together. Time apart is healthy.

But this does remind me of how like, everyone in Qu├ębec seems to see an invisible law; you have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s like, when you break up, your job is to get another partner. It’s like, almost the same mentality that one gets when it’s time to change tires. Nobody says it, it’s like some unspoken rule, but I sure notice it.

Shippy's avatar

Perhaps they ask out of politeness? To assure that your partner is not missing. Or ill. I think partners should go out alone more often. It just seems healthier somehow.

janbb's avatar

We did.

gailcalled's avatar

I did. Why would I have felt odd?

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy The asking is not the problem. I am referring to comments along the lines of, “it’s great that you came anyway.” Or, even “I usually don’t go if my spouse can’t.”

The last get tigether I had at my house was about 12 people. Singles and couple in the mix. One couple that was supposed to show, when the wife arrved she was alone. She said, “I hope it is ok, I thought if I told you Joe coudn’t make it you might tell me not to come either.” My reaction to that statement is how very very odd. I don’t mean I said to her how odd, I am just stating here what I thought to myself. I reassured her we were thrilled she came.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie Yes it is odd. Maybe society expects couples to glued at the hips.

Harold's avatar

I went to a 31 year reunion of my graduating high school class last Saturday night without my wife, as she had a friend staying with her at home. Normally I would not, though. I see little enough of her while we are working, so I don’t like going out without her. Nothing wrong with it, I just prefer to have her with me.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy It never happened to me in other places I have lived, just here in the Memphis area. A woman I know who is single said this is the ony city she feels so odd about being single. Not that she feels obligated to have a date, but rather that she is treated in a way that demonstrates people are not accustomed to it. When she said it I thought about it, and I can understand why she feels that way considering some of the things that have been said to me.

deni's avatar

I imagine it’s different when you’ve been married to someone for 20 years than when you’ve been dating someone for 6 months. I go most places without my boyfriend, but I do feel that if we are still together in ten years, I understand why people would find it unusual to see one of us without the other especially if we are usually appearing places together. But, either way, I don’t see it as a big deal.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie That is an interesting question in itself. How different places expect this and others not. I would always want my SO to feel they can do anything they want, on their own. And I’d like to think that would be acceptable to the town we live in. Not that I care about the towns people but it just makes life easier somehow.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy My impression for the most part, but I don’t know if it is correct, is that they themselves don’t feel comfortable going out without their spouse. But, I could be wrong.

With the car club in particular, the connection is among the members, and then they bring along their spouses (usually not both people are into the cars to the same intensity). So, for instance it is not very uncommon for the car people to show even without their spouse, but for their spouse to show up without the car club member they find unusual. I hope that isn’t too confusing. After years we all know everyone, it shouldn’t be odd, the spouse is a member by association so to speak.

deni's avatar

@JLeslie My last relationship, which was the guy I moved across country for I’m sure you remember, I was very dependent on him, mostly regarding social situations. All my friends for the first while that I lived here, were his friends. I lost my “identity” and then years later right before we broke up I realized that I never said the word “I” anymore. When we finally did break up, I almost got anxious before going out and hanging out with my friends by myself. Luckily I got over it pretty quickly, realized it was ridiculous and I’m more fun on my own than I am with someone constantly at my side influencing how I act. But, yes, I think you’re right. I think after a while people are afraid to go places alone. They don’t have someone to turn to when everyone else is talking about something they aren’t involved with, or they’re afraid they won’t know anyone, etc…

rojo's avatar

I am going alone tonight.

My wife wants to stay home to “rest” and “start to decorate the house for Christmas” (I think those two things are mutually exclusive but don’t want to make waves) so I will go and have a good time with old friends.

burntbonez's avatar

There’s a social pressure that builds up from history. You are seen with the same person for years. Now, suddenly, you are not together. People notice. They wonder. Is she sick? Or is there a problem in the relationship?

I think a lot of people would rather not go than feel the unspoken questions in the air.

Sunny2's avatar

Indeed I do. The first time he said he would go (to a wedding of a friend of mine) and then refused at the last minute, I was furious. I told him that I don’t mind going alone and if he didn’t want to go he should just say so in the first place. That’s worked fine ever since. I like big parties more than he does. I also occasionally have dinner or lunch with a friend. No big deal. I think it’s partly a matter of age. You’re more self-conscious of being by yourself when you’re under forty. Although, that may well have changed since women began to feel entitled. That’s a good thing.

Jeruba's avatar

I think it’s a cultural thing (culture in the broad sense): people of certain social groups, ages, and perhaps regions tend to view everyone as half of a presumed couple. And there used to be a certain stigma attached to being an unescorted woman, as if you were therefore a threat to all the other women; this may linger (with or without conscious awareness) in some settings but not in others.

But what holds true in some places doesn’t necessarily apply to all. I can think of groups where they’d be surprised if I attended without my husband just because they all know him and expect to see us together—and others where they’d be surprised to see us both show up because we so often appear singly.

In any case it’s probably not going to be a big deal to anyone but you. Just saying “Where’s Bill tonight?” or “Is Carol with you?” is polite social chatter and needn’t carry any weight at all.

I started doing things comfortably by myself when I was quite young, and it has never bothered me; I have never quite understood people who say “I can’t go because I don’t have anyone to go with.” Sure, it’s nice to have a companion—but what, you’re going to be the only person in the theatre, at the party, at the conference, in Europe? I have struck up lovely conversations with people I met in those circumstances while attending on my own.

In fact, when you’re wrapped up in conversation with your companion, you miss a lot of things you’d catch when you’re alone—because pairs tend to be inward-facing (focused on each other) and singles tend to be outward-facing, noticing the world. Or so it seems to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba As I said, it isn’t odd to me to be asked where my spouse is, or whether he is with me. It is odd to me when people are surprised I was willing to go to something without him.

I think you hit on something about your cultural examples. I went to a church event last night with a friend. It was dinner and a fashion type show andof course they squeezed in some Christian stuff. One of the things the fashion expert said was when that when we dress immodestly we treat our girlfriends badly because we are showing ourseves to their husbands and we harm their marriage. She included tight fitting clothing as being too revealing. To say the least that kind of surprised me. She got some applause on it. I tend to dress fairly conservately in most situations, but the idea that I have to worry about my friend’s husband struck me as burqa territory. And, actually you might remember me stating on other Q’s that many gyms in my area don’t allow members to show their midriff. I assume it all is part of the same thing.

geeky_mama's avatar

I will, and I do – but not if it’s an event that’s primarily “his” group of friends / his interest.
It goes the same way for him—there are certain friends of mine that he’s happy to see/hang out with when we’re together..but he’s less likely to go out with them without me b/c they’re really more “my” friends..
I wonder if it’s the same for everyone else..we have some friends that he brings into our marriage and some friends that I bring into the marriage.. and then our respective work friends..and so some friends just “belong” more to one or the other of us.
Also, we both encourage each other to spend one-on-one time with our friends..
He’ll go to lunch with buddies occasionally, I will make trips to visit for a weekend with two close girlfriends that live out-of-state.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I do it, but I prefer to go to events with my spouse.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, we are able and frequently do attend events alone. My mother in law finds it very odd that if one of us want to eat at a restaurant and the other doesn’t, he/she will go alone.

One year my husband wanted to go to Europe, mostly staying at hostels and walking. I would rather stay and spend the month with my (then) young grandsons. I stayed in a condo on the beach with them and he visited all the places he wanted to see. We were both very happy with the result.

augustlan's avatar

Sure, we both go out alone. I don’t enjoy going to restaurants or the movies by myself, though.

Unbroken's avatar

This question and details remind me of the TV show mad men.
I like going out alone of course I am single. I have to agree with @Symbeline and @Shippy.

Spending that much time together is unhealthy. Losing one’s independance is unhealthy. And in the grander scheme of things an even number at the table seems silly. The couples could probably use some space from each other and stand to be broken up as in pairings.

I will say I do refrain from going on double dates as a single. : P But generally we just rename the outting something else.
The only time it is bothersome is between couples in the honeymoon stage that have no restraint. Oh and I did find feel like a 3rd wheel in my roommates hot tub with my married but expressive friends.
One of those awkward things where they asked and I was just going to leave them to themselves, but they insisted…. (what to do, what to do)

Kardamom's avatar

@augustlan I have gone to the movies by myself on occasion. Most recently because I wanted to ogle Johnny Depp in the privacy of my own company when seeing Dark Shadows for the 2nd time. Hee Hee.

Also, I got to eat nachos drenched in cheese and jalapenos, something I would never do with my SO around : )

gailcalled's avatar

Around here I love going to concerts and live performances myself. Most people are friendly, chatty and nice to connect with. I often also will see people whom I know.

hearkat's avatar

We share many interests, but have some that differ, so we’ll go separately. An example of the most common occurrence is when a musical artist that he likes is playing in NYC, if I’m not into that artist, or if the performance is on a workday when I can’t get into the city, he’ll go alone. I don’t think the culture around our area makes a big deal of it, although I’m thinking that as people get older it may be more expected for them to be coupled.

Bellatrix's avatar

Sure. I agree with you @JLeslie, why shouldn’t you. We were in Sydney one weekend and I had the worst cold ever. I had to cancel some appointments and dinner invites but we were supposed to attend a party at one of my husband’s closest friends. I was sick as a dog – but he went. I few comments have been made about it – so I understand other people finding this odd – but to me, why should he miss a party and let them down because I’m sick!

filmfann's avatar

Almost never. I would rather be with her than a hundred others.
She is very uncomfortable in crowds, as I am, so we hardly ever go.

cazzie's avatar

My husband does it all the time.

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