Why Do Women Run Away From Solitude?

One of my favourite historical series is definitely Bridgerton. I love all the different seasons and most recently the one titled Queen Charlotte.

I think what I love most about Bridgerton, is the way it has a timely feminist reminder in each season. 

Some of them include the reminders that freedoms such as financial independence, staying single and even marrying for love and not out of force, are things that did not come easily for the present day women who have them.

The latest season of the Bridgerton franchise is Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. In it, I observed through the character of young Lady Danbury, what happens when women are raised to view their entire lives through the spectrum of men, marriage, children and relationships.

Although the young Lady Danbury detested her marriage to Lord Danbury, upon his death, she commented that she did not know what to do with herself and how to breathe on her own. 

It had to take a near remarriage for her to boldly accept that she never wanted to breathe someone else’s air but hers.

Now, that scene of Lady Danbury realising she wanted to be on her own, made me introspect on why young girls are scared of their own company, such that they get into negative relationships and even friendships because they want to fill the void with another person’s presence.

It also made me wonder at how difficult it may be for older women whose children have left home to adjust to their absence. This is especially if those women did not have personalities outside of caring for their children. 

What then happens is that these older women or widows who don’t know how to exist outside of children and family dynamics, may end up being the aunties who become nosy and unbearable with their endless matchmaking attempts.

Is this to say that desiring companionship as a woman is a bad thing? No it is not.

It however is to draw light on the fact that a lot of women and girls don’t know how to be alone. We are so used to our time and bodies being in service of either family, men or children that even though we crave “me time”, when that “me time” presents itself, we do not know what to do with it.

This may be a reason why female solo travellers often experience backlash online even from women who speak even if indirectly on how difficult motherhood is. 

The former are angry that these solo women travellers not only have the money to move about, but also have freedom of time to travel that is not bugged by a child’s or husband’s demands.

The side effect of running away from your own company as a woman or even from solitude, is that it makes you fall into the hands of men who can sniff desperation from a mile away. It makes you become a woman who continually gets her heart broken into pieces because you don’t know what to do when boredom hits you. It makes you into a woman who doesn’t know that boredom and even loneliness are parts of life that one must deal with occasionally. 

You become a woman who does not realise that boredom and loneliness can even happen when you are surrounded with people and can only be solved when you have activities and an inner peace with or without a partner.

Speaking with Glory, a writer, she explains that she finds solitude “very comforting”. 

In her words: “I find solitude very comforting. I remember being single in university and a friend then kept saying: ‘Oh you are too single for too long you have to date someone’. And she kept going on and on and you would think it was some kind of crime. I met this guy and we started getting to know each other and things were getting serious. 

Then I saw a side to him that was unraveling and I turned back without blinking. Infact I choose [solitude] than to be with a guy like that.  With my present partner it feels just right and not because I am looking for something to feel me up. 

There is a way society treats solitude. Its like saying its a disease something to be rid of. It’s like saying you are alone because you have not been ‘chosen’.”

Glory went on to say: “There’s this mini stadium I used to go to where student athletes train at.  There are quite a number of trees so I would come and just sit by a side with my thoughts and sometimes no thoughts at all just watching. One day this guy walks up to where I was sitted and asked if I was waiting for someone. I said NO. There was this loom of disbelief. 

He said why would I choose to sit alone. He said as a guy, he can’t sit alone, it’s weird. He then sits beside me and said he’s going to keep me company so I won’t be alone. I kept on telling him not to “worry” that I was fine and wanted to be by myself but he was hellbent on making sure “I was not alone”. That day further reinforced my view on how people view solitude as something to be rid of.”

For Oluomachi*, she explains that she’s slowly learning to embrace solitude especially in light of calling off an engagement and almost going back to her ex.

To quote her: “I broke off an engagement early this year because I knew in my heart that I couldn’t marry the guy, and if I did, the relationship might “damage” me. Anyway, after breaking up, I wanted to go back to dating almost immediately (big mistake). I had a couple of bad dates, and I think i started to miss my ex.

I went back to him, and started flirting. It was intermittent. I realized it wasn’t healthy and told him, and left him for good.”

She went on to add: “Anyway…in retrospect, I shouldn’t have gone back to dating immediately.

But I don’t sha believe in the whole taking off “one year” to heal. The breakup wasn’t devastating as people assumed, honestly (because, I don’t get why people were telling me to “pick up the pieces of my life and move on”). I took some time off, with my mom’s help(God bless her).

But I agree that the “withdrawal symptoms” from having someone to talk to, who you planned to share your lifetime with, and then, that abruptly changes, was intense; so I wanted to feel something, at least. I’m working on myself [and telling me] that it’s okay to enjoy solitude.

I’m currently talking to someone. Hoping it works out. But I’m promising myself to take things slow.

It’s not easy.”

When asked her view on solitude, Aliyah, a writer, explains that the reason women tend to struggle with solitude is because we have been raised to see romantic love as the highest form of love.

In her words: “I think the reason women get discombobulated without romantic relationships is because we’ve been bred to think it’s the highest form of love. Get a man and that’s the highest thing you could achieve. So it becomes a race to find a man and in the process, most people lose themselves because no one told them they were meant to discover themselves. 

To be honest, it’s false that romantic love is the greatest form of love. I can’t love any man the way I love my friends. It’s inexplicable but friends continue to save me and men can never do that for me. Even if they’re willing.

There’s so much to do with myself. So many parts I’m unearthing. And to say that a man will make me complete is an injustice to the woman I am.”

There are other reasons why women can also run away from solitude and one of such is the tendency to self harm. That has been the case of Ijeoma. She explains that: “We run away from solitude because of self harm. I mean, I did. Extreme loneliness. Seeing my exes cuffing. It made me do so. Well yeah, I’ve gotten to a negative relationship due to boredom just cause I want to feel like someone is there you get.

The only solution is to love yourself. That’s all.”

Through the responses of these women, one thing remains clear and it is that women tend to be afraid of solitude and even loneliness.

As someone who has learnt to embrace solitude, my one advice to young women dealing with loneliness, is to go out more, engage in activities such as reading books, online courses and learning new skills. It would also help to see loneliness as a normal human emotion like sadness; one that would always be a part of the human experience and this includes when surrounded by people.

But if you as a woman learn to apply the first two parts of the advice, you would not let loneliness make you get into negativity with men.

Rather, you would see each lonely emotion as an opportunity to cultivate a new sort of peace from your own company and solitude.

*Name changed to protect identity.

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