One of Audrey Hepburn’s most beloved quotations describes how she loved being introverted: “I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” Sounds lovely. But what if she’d said she like to drink a glass of wine alone?
Then the quote might not be remembered so fondly. Because most Westerners look down on people who drink alone. As Oxford Research fellows Rebecca Roache and Hannah Maslennote, people make the inference that “drinking alone is symptomatic of an underlying problem with the drinker; as such, we think drinking alone is worse because it raises concerns about the welfare of the drinker. The second [reason] involves a moral disapproval of drinking alone.”
“Although a man alone at a bar is not presumed to be looking for anything more than a drink, even now, a woman is often perceived as out for romantic company, possibly actual sex, possibly right there on the bar stool.”
The researchers go on to say that our culture bias for extroverts confounds the problem — drinking alone is interpreted as socially isolationist and thus threatening. For women, the act is especially viewed as Amy Schumer Trainwreck-esque. The Washington Post writer M. Carrie Allan reflects on women drinking alone, “Although a man alone at a bar is not presumed to be looking for anything more than a drink, even now, a woman is often perceived as out for romantic company, possibly actual sex, possibly right there on the bar stool.”
Chelsea Handler once quipped, “You know you’re a hot mess when the only person buying you drinks all night is yourself.” But according to Roache and Maslen, “There is no defensible reason why it should be.” Women and introverts, cheers to you.
The social media that push us to be more introverted may be making us unhappy. Harvard lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar explains:
Daphne Muller is a New York City-based writer who has written for Salon, Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, and reviewed books for ELLE and Publishers Weekly. Most recently, she completed a novel and screenplay. You can follow her on Instagram @daphonay and on Twitter @DaphneEMuller.