How I learned to love going to the movies by myself

The first time I ever went to see a movie all by myself was, I’m pretty sure, the film adaptation of the fantasy novel Eragon back in 2006 during my first year of college. I don’t really remember what I thought of the film (though its current Rotten Tomatoes score of 16% leads me to believe it wasn’t great). 

What stands out to me more was the experience of watching a movie alone. No friends sitting next to me to geek out about trailers, or no one to discuss the movie with afterwards. It was a weird feeling at the time, which is interesting because now most instances when I go to the theater, I’m by myself. 

Maybe it differs based on region, but where I’m at, I feel like the majority of the people who walk into my local theater are with at least one other person, if not a group. I used to feel self-conscious going to the theater all alone, like people were staring at me or whispering, So sad – does this woman not have any friends she could bring with her?

But that’s the beauty of hitting your 30s; I’ve gotten more comfortable with who I am, and less concerned with what strangers think. I’m proud to be a geek. And a big part of my geeky identity is my love for film. I love going to the theater, and no real or perceived stigma against going to the movies alone should stop me from experiencing my favorite storytelling medium. 

I find that going to the theater with someone else and going by yourself are completely different experiences. I enjoy both for different reasons. 

If you go by yourself, you don’t have to coordinate around anyone’s schedules but your own. If you decide on a whim that you want to go see a movie at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, you can do that! In the past, I’ve planned group movie outings that felt like they had the same complexity level as staging a covert CIA operation (I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean). 

When you watch a movie alone at the theater, it’s just you and the story unfolding before you on the big screen. You don’t have that awkward chance of you loving the movie and your friend hating it (or vice versa). You can spend the credits and the car drive or walk back home quietly mulling over your thoughts and deciding what you thought about the film. 

And just because you are by yourself at the theater doesn’t mean you’re having a solitary experience. Going to a Marvel movie is basically like a big family gathering of geeks. You’re with other people but still have some privacy. If I need to get out of my own headspace but don’t feel like interacting socially, a solo trip to the movies is the perfect remedy.

It is fun to share big movie moments with a friend or family member. I’ll never forget going to The Force Awakens or The Avengers opening night with a crew of friends, and those are special memories I’ll treasure forever. But I’ve had special and profound moments at the theater all by myself, too: I’ll never forget how Blade Runner 2049 absolutely blew me away, and I was thankful for the chance to just sit in the darkened theater and contemplate what I’d seen. 

I guess what the basic point of this post is, I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t go to the movies if they’re by themselves. Heck, take yourself out for a nice dinner beforehand too, because there’s nothing wrong with going to a restaurant solo, either. I’ve even gone on a solo vacation before! 

Getting to the point where I was comfortable going to the movies by myself was a symbol of how I came to accept myself, quirks and all, and how I learned to be comfortable in my own skin. In fact, I’ve already scheduled my next solo movie outing, for Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. Who knows if the movie will be good or not, but that’s part of the thrill.

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