- 4 Reasons Why You Should Go to the Movies Alone
- No Negotiations Required
- Being Unplugged
- Dating Yourself
- Reward Yourself
- Forget Netflix. Going to the cinema alone is life’s greatest guilty pleasure
- Why You Should Try Going to the Movies Alone
- 6 Rules for Solo Movie-Going
- The Fix
4 Reasons Why You Should Go to the Movies Alone
For many of us, going to the movies is a highly enjoyable social activity. Whether we’re taking the kids to see the latest Disney flick, having a date night with our significant other, or spending quality time with friends, there is just something about sharing the experience of seeing a superb movie — or even one that’s so bad it’s good — on the big screen.
Movies have always been a significant part of my life. As a kid, I spent a big chunk of my summer holidays at my local movie theatre. To this day, I still get a childlike thrill when I first walk into a cinema.
Until my early 20s, going to a movie by myself was something that I just couldn’t fathom. Movies were something best shared — or so I thought! Then one cold and snowy Sunday afternoon, I found myself alone having just moved to another city to start a new job. Feeling nervous about my first day of work and not yet feeling comfortable in my cute but somewhat dilapidated apartment, I was drawn to the movie theatre conveniently located down the road.
I can’t recall what movie I saw, but I vividly remember walking into the theatre alone for the first time. I approached a seat near the back of the auditorium feeling rather self-conscious. It pains me to say it now, but I used to be one of those people that judged those who went to the movies by themselves. So, I figured the whole theatre must have been staring at me — that, of course, was not the case.
As the lights dimmed and the ridiculously long commercials and previews came to an end, something unexpected happened. I became immersed in the movie in a way I had not experienced before. Often when I was at the movies with others, I was always aware of their presence. Being alone allowed me to live in the moment and to focus solely on my own emotions as I watched the story unfold on the screen in front of me.
While I still enjoy the experience of seeing a movie with others, I frequently opt to go see movies on my own. Going to the movies solo has become one of my favourite ways of having some “me time.”
If you are someone who craves a little alone time but not sure what to do or where to go, here are four reasons you should try going to the movies by yourself.
No Negotiations Required
Going to the movies with others often becomes a negotiation. One person prefers seeing a big Hollywood blockbuster, another wants to see a romantic comedy, and you’re all about indie films. So, you compromise and go with the blockbuster. You’ll just have to wait until the movie you had really wanted to watch is available to stream.
The best thing about going to the movies by yourself is there are no negotiations required. The decision rest completely with you and you don’t have to worry about appeasing anyone else. I typically use the opportunity to see films I know that no one in my social circle would really be interested in seeing.
Going to the movies solo also gives you the opportunity to watch films from genres you might not have had the chance to watch otherwise.
In a world where we’re virtually in constant contact with others, the movies present one of the few opportunities available to unplug from our lives. The cinema has become one of the few remaining places where you can completely disconnect from your life for two hours or so.
Going to the movies by yourself gives you the rare opportunity to disengage from the distractions of the modern world for a short period of time. In our age of mass communications, there is something liberating about being ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. No phone calls, no social media notifications, no emails, and no texts. For the duration of the movie, your most pressing task is to sit back, relax, munch on snacks, and enjoy the film.
Going to the movies is a classic date night activity. It’s a great way for you and your partner to get out and enjoy some quality time together. It’s also a fantastic way of taking yourself out on a date.
Having a solo date night might sound a bit odd but it is a wonderful method of reminding yourself that you’re important too. It allows you to prioritize yourself for a few hours and treat yourself to a fun activity. It also gives you a chance to take a moment to step away from all the obligations and expectations of your life and reconnect with yourself.
The best part about taking yourself out on a date is you’re always on time, you don’t have to worry about who’ll pay the bill, you don’t have to dress up, and the night is over when you say it’s time to be over.
While my passion for movies hasn’t died out, financial and time constraints mean that I can’t go to the movies as frequently as I wish. Because of this, I allow myself to go to the movies as a kind of reward for getting through a highly stressful day, week, or even month.
There is a lot to be said for incentive. When we have something to look forward to, it makes getting through challenges a bit easier.
Maybe you know you’re going to have a stressful week at work, or perhaps you’ve got that final exam to study for. Treating yourself to a movie as a small reward gives you a little something to look forward to, and provides a much needed break.
Forget Netflix. Going to the cinema alone is life’s greatest guilty pleasure
Go to the cinema by yourself, you cowards.
I am here to tell you something that runs counter to decades of cultural programming. I am here to make your brain hurt. I am here to create a cognitive dissonance so dense your brain will short-circuit and implode beneath the sheer weight of how wrong you’ve been all these years.
I’m talking about going to the movies. During the day.
Just try it. It will change your life for the better.
Right now you might think differently. You might think, as I once did, that going to the cinema by yourself is an activity for elderly gentlemen in flat caps and body warmers. Retired ladies of leisure armed with precisely made triangle sandwiches and warm flasks of peppermint tea. But you’re wrong. You’ve never been more wrong.
In 2019, going to the cinema by yourself in the cold light of day is the purest of magical pursuits. If you’re not already doing it, you’re denying yourself one of life’s secret pleasures.
For years you may have believed that the cinema day trip is the sole realm of the “weirdo,” a hidey-hole for society’s misbegotten tribe of undesirables. That approaching the box office, head bowed, and saying “just one ticket, please,” is a modern-day “walk of shame.”
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I understand this. In my midteens especially I felt it. Back in the mid-’90s when I started going to the cinema by myself, I was a spotty-faced, troubled kid who bore the weight of this mentality. I absolutely felt the pull of the solo cinema day trip, but also the shame. Not quite secure in my own (bad) skin, I’d awkwardly buy the ticket, sit in the back row, avoid eye contact and cower in the dark, skittishly scanning the cinema to see if I was the only loser who’d come to watch The Phantom Menace on his lonesome.
It felt weird. The world made it feel weird. My friends gave me grief. Even my parents thought it was strange. But despite how awkward it made me feel, it was always one of those “something wrong shouldn’t feel so good” situations.
Later in life, I became more confident about it. After high school I traveled a lot overseas, alone. I worked in New York as a waiter, in Japan as a teacher. I would often go to the cinema to kill time waiting for buses or flights, or as an escape from bad service jobs taken to make ends meet.
I quickly found out the solo cinema day trip was the absolute best, and it was my job to preach the gospel.
Why? Loads of reasons, really.
The cinema day trip feels like skipping school. Going to the cinema at night, with a date or a rowdy horde of friends, is business as usual. It’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s practically a job in and of itself. Going to the cinema during the day feels like a much-needed vacation from the harsh realities of real life. Like calling in sick from work, a tiny pointless rebellion. A sly indulgence. Day drinking without the evening hangover.
When I was a teenager I went to the cinema to hide, essentially. From exams, pressure, the zit on my forehead. As a 37-year-old man it’s more like a release valve. From mortgages, Trump, global warming, trolls on Twitter, my noisy overbearing children.
It’s a beautiful thing. The movie finishes. You emerge bleary-eyed. It should be nighttime, but no. Broad daylight. Because you forgot you went into the cinema at 1 p.m., not 9 p.m. What a joyous discovery. It’s 3:30 p.m. and the rest of the day is yours to own and you’ve already seen Aquaman or Green Book or whatever degenerative garbage you’ve spent the last two hours vegging out to.
It’s like waking up early and going to the gym. Without the exercise. Win the morning, win the day. You are an inspired human being, and you stride purposefully toward the sun. Time to go home and write that novel, finish that script, buy an easel and take up oil painting. You know what? I will apply to medical school.
Movies seen during the day feel different. Nowadays, default daytime consumption of media is the binge, accompanied by the “second screen” and perennial veneer of brain-twisting anxiety. A mind-numbing, multitasking hellscape that has you mainlining Netflix while live-tweeting your third rewatch of Mad Men in a pair of loosely fitted jogging pants, eating an oversized bowl of Lucky Charms.
That’s not living.
Get on your glad rags. Emerge from your pit and head to the cinema, lay down 10 bucks, turn off your mobile phone, divorce yourself from all connections to the real world and disappear from the trappings of your oppressive digital life for a couple of hours.
It’s magical. It’s endlessly freeing. And we all should do it more often.
Why You Should Try Going to the Movies Alone
Treating youself to a solo movie “date” might feel a little weird at first, but if a celeb can do it, why couldn’t you? Yep, TMZ reported that Justin Bieber showed up by himself at a movie theater Monday (well, he still had his bodyguards), ordered nachos, and had a lovely evening just hanging out alone. It sounds like a pretty good night, and it made us wonder: How important is it to hang out by yourself sometimes? (Also, scope these tips for a healthy date night in.)
Turns out, hanging out by yourself can be “a special time where you can turn inward, self-reflect, and prioritize self-care,” says Samantha Burns, licensed mental health counselor and author of Love Successfully: 10 Secrets You Need to Know Right Now. The time you spend alone either going to the movies, grabbing a meal at a favorite restaurant (eating alone shouldn’t feel scary!), or even cooking yourself dinner with a great bottle of wine is important because it can bring you clarity about everything from relationships to your career. “Often you’re racing about on autopilot from work to social gatherings to dates with your partner (if you have one), and you don’t have a chance to tune in and process how you’re feeling,” says Burns. Actually giving yourself time to think about things-what’s going right or wrong in your life right now-can give you exactly the kind of insight you need.
Even more importantly, “these solo adventures can remind you of who you are, the things you like most, and reawaken your sense of independence and confidence,” she says. (Want to take a real adventure by yourself? Check out the best fitness retreats for women traveling solo.) Most people probably don’t have time to make a weekly standing date with themselves, but Burns says that when you’re going through a major life transition (maybe you’re going through something akin to Biebs finding out that his ex Selena Gomez has potentially moved on to the Weeknd), it’s a good idea to carve out time in your schedule to have fun alone. Career transitions, like losing or changing your job, are also a period when you can benefit from some solo time to reflect, remember why you’re awesome, and think about what new goals you might want to set. (Here, find more on setting big goals for yourself.)
If you don’t feel comfortable spending time alone in public at places where people are usually social (the bar, or a busy restaurant), Burns doesn’t want you to just avoid those places. Rather, she recommends asking yourself why you feel that way. “Challenge your negative or self-defeating thoughts by asking yourself why you care so much if a stranger judges you for sitting alone,” she says. Remember that what strangers think has zero impact on your life. If all else fails, bring a book along to distract yourself when you’re feeling awkward. “It’s your time to relax and meet your own needs, which should make you feel proud and confident, not insecure and lonely.” So go ahead and do something that makes you feel happy-no friends or partner required.
6 Rules for Solo Movie-Going
I’m an only child, which means I grew up doing a lot of things by myself: dressing up my cats, rocking out to Amy Grant in my bedroom, playing The Game of Life. Though I no longer force my cat to wear the tiny clothing designed for my American Girl doll, I am still most comfortable in my own company.
In keeping with my affinity for aloneness, I happen to feel unabashedly unashamed of going to the movies alone, but I recognize that others are more self-conscious about it. Given my apparently unique level of comfort with this loner activity, I’ve put together a brief instruction guide to help ease all you would-be solo cinema-goers into a life of unaccompanied movie-watching.
- Arrive early but not too early. Do not be late. The more inconspicuous you are, the less awkward you’ll feel. Nothing screams “HI, I’M HERE BY MYSELF!” like being the first person sitting in the theater. Similarly, shuffling past half a dozen seated, popcorn-eating folks to get to the only open seat in the theater is a surefire way to call attention to yourself (and also to annoy every single person seated in your row).
- Keep your weird noises to yourself. I have one friend (please take a moment to consider whether I’m talking about you) who reacts to every little thing in a movie with variations on the sound “huh.” Sometimes it’s a laughing “huh!” and other times it’s a sad-sounding “huhhh.” Such constant noise-making, however inadvertent, serves as a terrible distraction to fellow movie-goers. If you cannot refrain from huh-ing/grunting/sighing/chuckling/talking, solo movie-going is not for you. In fact, no sort of movie-going is for you. Invest in Netflix and watch your movies in the comfort of your own living room, where you’re free to make whatever sounds you like without disturbing the peace.
- Stay away from animal movies, unless they are animated. The first time I saw a movie by myself, I was a junior in college, depressed & bored. I chose an admittedly cheesy/weepy/ridiculous movie, the dog-themed drama Because of Winn-Dixie co-starring an adorable mutt and a not-great-at-acting Dave Matthews, which amused my friends to no end. More than a decade later, they still tease me about it, because there is just something terribly sad about seeing an animal movie by yourself. I do not have an explanation for this. Just trust me.
- Pick movies with generic plots. This goes back to the animal rule: If a movie is too heavy, you will wish you had someone to break down to. If a movie is too complicated, you will wish you had someone to clarify questions with. If a movie is too freaking awesome, you will wish you had someone to high five. Therefore, I suggest relatively emotion-free films, such as superhero flicks, rom-coms, and action movies. They’re almost guaranteed not to require the input of a fellow movie-goer – or any brain cell usage whatsoever.
- If you’re planning to show-hop, dress like a chameleon. Depending on the set-up of your local theater, it may be easy to pay for one show and slip into another afterward (even though you shouldn’t do that because it’s illegal, OK?!?!). Still, if you plan to do this, you should also plan for the worst-case scenario, which is that theater employees may recognize you. To prevent this, wear layers. This way, you’ll be wearing a totally different outfit from one show to the next. “No, no, my identical twin saw Divergent alone right before me, I swear!”
- Above all, be confident. Remember: Seeing a movie alone in a theater is no different than watching a movie alone in your home, except that it’s against the law for you not to wear pants & it’s more likely that you’ll end up scarfing corndog nuggets & Sour Patch Kids. The truth shall set you free & encourage you to see movies alone: No one cares who you’re there with or that you’re there at all. So hold your head high as you slink into the movies unseen & unjudged. Enjoy the popcorn & lemme know how the movie is.
Featured image via Shuttershock
- By Kate Bigam
Why are we so scared of watching a film alone? (Picture: Getty)
We can shop alone, go to the gym, and – obviously – do all the regular daily stuff like going to work alone.
But for some reason, there are particular things people just find too weird to do solo. Like going to a bar when they’re craving a cocktail. Or going out for a meal. Or, the big one, going to the cinema.
I’ll admit it. I used to be way too freaked out to go to the cinema alone. Not because I don’t like my own company (I’m a massive loner, TBH).
The reason for my fear was pretty simple: I didn’t want anyone seeing me on my own, assuming I was a loser with no friends, and descending into mass whispers and finger pointing.
Then, one day, someone cancelled on plans to go and see a film. I’d already bought tickets. I really wanted to go.
So I did.
Okay, it’s a bit scary. (Picture: Getty)
I was bright red, tense, and panicky. I was embarrassed. Not just of being alone, but of the fact that I was feeling THIS nervous about something so simple.
It wasn’t the actual movie-watching bit I was scared of, but the part where I’d have to queue up to get in, or walk through the seats, publicly showing everyone ‘I AM ALONE, JUDGE ME.’
But, as you’re probably expecting, it was totally fine. No one looked. No one judged. I even got into a nice conversation with a middle-aged lady. It was great.
Suddenly, the whole world is open and free. I can see whatever movie I want, whenever I want. I could go to see a play. Life is great.
When I told people this story, the reactions split into two camps. The first group (my brother, my parents, and older people at work) were totally underwhelmed, and didn’t get why I was so nervous about it in the first place.
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But the other people I told – especially women in their twenties – were impressed. They called me ‘brave’, repeating my fears of how ‘weird’ it is to sit in a dark room with no friends around you.
One friend, Zara, 23, says she’d like to go to the cinema alone, but feels like ‘people think you’ve been stood up or you’re crazy.’
‘Plus the whole point of going to the cinema is so you can talk about the film after.’
‘I would because it’s the worst when people don’t want to see a film you want to,’ she admits, but says the whole thing just feels too weird.
Victoria, 26, agrees: ‘I think it’s just the idea that people will look at me and think that I have no friends to spend a Friday or Saturday night with.
‘Which is really silly because a) why should I care what they think? And b) watching a film is essentially a solitary activity anyway!’
So it’s not just me. The majority of my female friends find the idea of going to the cinema on their own absolutely terrifying. But why? I spoke to Rebecca Hamilton, the co-author of ‘Inhibited from Bowling Alone’, a paper on the topic of riding solo, to find out.
Because it’s not great for everyone to think you have no friends. (Picture: Getty)
She explained that the reason we find some activities scary to do alone, and not others, is that we see practical activities – like grocery shopping, or picking up dry cleaning – as entirely normal to do alone. But when it comes to ‘hedonic’ fun activities, we think it’s weird to do them without our friends.
She told metro.co.uk: ‘We find that the strongest driver of reluctance to do activities alone is concern that others will think one doesn’t have many friends.
‘People are fine doing hedonic activities alone when they are in private (e.g., watching a movie alone at home on TV) and doing utilitarian activities alone either in public or in private.
Having panic attacks doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it makes you pretty badass.
‘It’s the combination of hedonic and public that makes activities uncomfortable to do alone. This is because in public, we feel like others are watching us and making inferences about our social connectedness.’
So, like my friends and I expressed, a fear that everyone will think we’re totally friendless.
But while I totally get why we’re scared, I’m here today to issue a PSA. PEOPLE. Let’s come together, and start going to the cinema alone. Because once more of us start doing it, it will seem and feel totally normal. And then more people will do it. It’s a cycle, get it?
Plus, says Rebecca, our fear means we’re missing out: ‘In our research, we find that although consumers fear doing fun, public activities alone, they may enjoy them just as much when alone than when with another person.
‘People are forgoing fun unnecessarily.’
We CAN go to the cinema solo. (Picture: Getty)
So how do we fight the fear? Just remember a few key things.
First off, stop thinking you’re the centre of attention. As harsh as it sounds, remind yourself that the general public really don’t care what you’re doing.
Rebecca says: ‘People don’t notice us nearly as much as we think they do. Although we fear that others are inferring we don’t have many friends when they see us going to a movie alone, other people probably aren’t even noticing.’
The first time you go, it’ll feel weird and awkward at the start. But trust me, once you settle into your seat and start getting into the movie, you’ll forget all the imaginary stares and actually enjoy yourself.
Then you’ll do it again. And again.
Says Rebecca: ‘It’s very freeing to realise that we all have the power to have fun on our own.’
We can do it. We CAN go to the cinema alone. Let’s tackle this, and then we can move on to making drinking alone normal, too. Because sometimes, we could really use a solo drink.
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It got me thinking: In today’s highly individualized zeitgeist why is the loner—the isolated movie watcher, in particular—synonymous with “pathetic” and “loser”? If, say, you were in a theater and saw someone flanked by empty chairs, would you feel pity? Condescension? Would you nudge your companion to join in teasing?
Okay, you might not go that far. But you might just think, “I would never watch a movie alone.”
Other enterprises are immune to the stigma. It’s well within social norms to work out at the gym alone. The same is true with buying groceries, shopping at the mall or even watching cinema’s cheaper, less-attractive sibling: television.
But not the movies.
I have yet to come across a satisfying answer as to why. The problem, I assume, lies in a self-consciousness ingrained by habit and ubiquitous reminders of “social standards.” It sucks being alone when you’re surrounded by a mass of people who all know each other. Ever gone to a party where you didn’t know anyone? Yeah, me neither. Because that would be terrible. You appear unpopular and feel like an outcast, like a nerd who just transferred to a new school, where even the nerds won’t talk to you.
The summer movie, in particular, is unruly for the loner because it attracts a certain audience. I know the crowd in, say, Transformers 3 will be different from the one when I saw The King’s Speech, whose theater was half-filled with middle-aged couples, grandparents and other single parties like me. In other words, the crowd was sedate and un-hip, the type that frequents estate sales and the Hoover Dam. But it was also a decidedly less-harrowing experience for a loner. Everyone acts the same at these wintertime Oscar-buzz movies: reserved, quiet, almost embarrassed to make noise.
The summer blockbuster crowd is rowdier. Screenings of The Hangover 2, Super 8, and Captain America are likely to be filled with a motley crew of action junkies, crying kids and rambunctious teenyboppers with nowhere else to legally enjoy the night. Mob mentality emboldens them. They text. They chat. They provide unsolicited commentary or, like when I saw Cyrus last summer, drunkenly sing along to the soundtrack and ask aloud, “Hey, is that the chick from My Cousin Vinny?” They’re more inclined to do this because it’s the summer, the movie they are watching is blaring with the sounds of explosions and sex, and they’re with a large, equally loud group. And it all serves to highlight that you, the loner, are alone.
The movie loner, therefore, must constantly defend from distractions and judgment, living with the suspicion that people are talking about”the guy over there who’s by himself.” So we fidget and play with our smartphones—anything to look busy and forget our self-consciousness.
The mocking even becomes physical sometimes, like when I watched Funny People and was suddenly bombarded by airborne hard candy from three snickering teens dressed like Ali G wannabes and sporting shit-eating grins. I have a feeling I wouldn’t have been bothered if I was with a large group. They wanted to pick on the loner.