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On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone

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At some point over the course of the average American woman’s life, she will find herself alone, whether she is divorced, widowed, single, or in a loveless, isolating relationship. And when that time comes, it is likely that she will be at a loss as to how to handle it. As a society, we have an unspoken but omnipresent belief that a woman alone is an outcast, inherently fl At some point over the course of the average American woman’s life, she will find herself alone, whether she is divorced, widowed, single, or in a loveless, isolating relationship. And when that time comes, it is likely that she will be at a loss as to how to handle it. As a society, we have an unspoken but omnipresent belief that a woman alone is an outcast, inherently flawed in some way. In this invigorating, supportive book, psychotherapist Florence Falk aims to take the fear, doubt, confusion, and helplessness out of being a woman alone. Falk invites all women to find their own paths toward an authentic selfhood, to discover the pleasures and riches of solitude, and to reconnect with others through a newfound sense of self-confidence. Like so many women before her, Florence Falk found herself divorced, alone, and unsure of herself. Soon she realized that by embracing her solitude for what it was—a potentially enriching and life-altering experience—she could turn what once would have felt like “loneliness” into a far more positive and empowered “aloneness.” Falk notes that each of us has two opposing drives: one causes us to yearn to make close connections with others, and the other pulls us back into ourselves, into the need for selfhood and certainty that can only be shaped through solitude. In order to be whole, she says, we must heed both of those impulses. But in our modern culture, the former is stressed while the latter is neglected, even vilified. On My Own boldly shifts that paradigm. With inspiring, intimate stories of women from all backgrounds, Falk illuminates the essential role that being alone plays in women’s lives. Whether she is in a stable relationship or on her own, every woman must learn to be by herself; for if she can be fully free, unfettered by society’s stigmas about being alone, life and all its possibilities will open up for her. And as Falk demonstrates, once a woman has discovered the richness of solitude, she is not likely to give it up so easily. From the Hardcover edition.


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At some point over the course of the average American woman’s life, she will find herself alone, whether she is divorced, widowed, single, or in a loveless, isolating relationship. And when that time comes, it is likely that she will be at a loss as to how to handle it. As a society, we have an unspoken but omnipresent belief that a woman alone is an outcast, inherently fl At some point over the course of the average American woman’s life, she will find herself alone, whether she is divorced, widowed, single, or in a loveless, isolating relationship. And when that time comes, it is likely that she will be at a loss as to how to handle it. As a society, we have an unspoken but omnipresent belief that a woman alone is an outcast, inherently flawed in some way. In this invigorating, supportive book, psychotherapist Florence Falk aims to take the fear, doubt, confusion, and helplessness out of being a woman alone. Falk invites all women to find their own paths toward an authentic selfhood, to discover the pleasures and riches of solitude, and to reconnect with others through a newfound sense of self-confidence. Like so many women before her, Florence Falk found herself divorced, alone, and unsure of herself. Soon she realized that by embracing her solitude for what it was—a potentially enriching and life-altering experience—she could turn what once would have felt like “loneliness” into a far more positive and empowered “aloneness.” Falk notes that each of us has two opposing drives: one causes us to yearn to make close connections with others, and the other pulls us back into ourselves, into the need for selfhood and certainty that can only be shaped through solitude. In order to be whole, she says, we must heed both of those impulses. But in our modern culture, the former is stressed while the latter is neglected, even vilified. On My Own boldly shifts that paradigm. With inspiring, intimate stories of women from all backgrounds, Falk illuminates the essential role that being alone plays in women’s lives. Whether she is in a stable relationship or on her own, every woman must learn to be by herself; for if she can be fully free, unfettered by society’s stigmas about being alone, life and all its possibilities will open up for her. And as Falk demonstrates, once a woman has discovered the richness of solitude, she is not likely to give it up so easily. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone

  1. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I think the title is a little misleading. The book is really about what it means to be a woman in her own right as separate as possible from societal pressures that force so many women to suppress their real life passions. It's written by a therapist based on her experiences helping women discover their true selves, so it's very anecdotal. It's about embracing oneself as whole person with a unique identity that is not directly tied to one's role. I think the title is a little misleading. The book is really about what it means to be a woman in her own right as separate as possible from societal pressures that force so many women to suppress their real life passions. It's written by a therapist based on her experiences helping women discover their true selves, so it's very anecdotal. It's about embracing oneself as whole person with a unique identity that is not directly tied to one's role.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    I felt a little gyped when I started this book to find out that the author was raising childen after her divorce. That to me is very different than being completely alone, as children are company/companionship of a sort - though I understand it's not the same as having a partner. She makes a good point about the cultural emphasis we have on "packaging" ourselves up to be appealing to men (or women) with the point being to be part of a couple. The other good point that she makes is that we don't I felt a little gyped when I started this book to find out that the author was raising childen after her divorce. That to me is very different than being completely alone, as children are company/companionship of a sort - though I understand it's not the same as having a partner. She makes a good point about the cultural emphasis we have on "packaging" ourselves up to be appealing to men (or women) with the point being to be part of a couple. The other good point that she makes is that we don't know what the future will hold. We don't know what will happen next week, so how can we be fatalistic about the rest of our lives. So, yes, the "always" and "nevers" that often come up in our thoughts for the future probably can be stricken. She is a bit repetitive... and I didn't find any strategies for how to learn to be alone successfully. If anything the book was a bit depressing for it's reminders that older women have fewer choices regarding a mate (older men want younger women and often get them), and that you might just end up alone. Which, while true, wasn't exactly what I had hoped to get out of the book. Overall, while not a bad read it's not something I'd recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Upon first glance, this book posits itself as an encouraging resource for women working to live a fruitful life alone. Unfortunately, I found it to be quite the opposite and actually, very depressing. I think the intention is good but the execution is lacking/way off the mark. What I had hoped the book would say: " Here's the hardships women face and here are some practical tools and ideas for overcoming those. Plus, real examples of women successfully living alone and loving it." What the book Upon first glance, this book posits itself as an encouraging resource for women working to live a fruitful life alone. Unfortunately, I found it to be quite the opposite and actually, very depressing. I think the intention is good but the execution is lacking/way off the mark. What I had hoped the book would say: " Here's the hardships women face and here are some practical tools and ideas for overcoming those. Plus, real examples of women successfully living alone and loving it." What the book actually says: " Women's lives are really freaking hard and here's 47 reasons why, how we're socialized to hate ourselves and, in case you're needing real stories of these hardships, here's some about sexual assault and women being degraded throughout their lives". It honestly made me less hopeful about my ability to be a happy, successful woman living alone. Sorta hated it. Pick up " Girl, Wash your Face" instead.

  4. 5 out of 5

    LeeAnne

    While this book talked about some good points, the overall tone of the book was very slow. I forced my way through the end of it. Focuses very much on heteronormative, monogamous relationships. At the end of the book, the author mentions something about homosexual relationships between women. I only wish that some of these accounts were shared throughout the book. Overall, the book is self perpetuating--almost a sob story within itself, sharing the idea that women need to have solitude, but plan While this book talked about some good points, the overall tone of the book was very slow. I forced my way through the end of it. Focuses very much on heteronormative, monogamous relationships. At the end of the book, the author mentions something about homosexual relationships between women. I only wish that some of these accounts were shared throughout the book. Overall, the book is self perpetuating--almost a sob story within itself, sharing the idea that women need to have solitude, but planting the idea that the only way to find that solitude is through some kind of break from the kinds of relationships that put you in a negative predicament. That being said, I did learn some insights into the development of social perceptions, especially through adolecesne. Looking into my own past helped me identify my present behaviors.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marie Bee

    This book offers an unflinchingly positive look at what it means to be an independent woman in the modern world. It helped me to answer questions that have been with me for a long time, such as: why is being a Woman Alone such a frightening concept? Why do women (in particular) resist the idea of being alone? What aspects of a young person's development affect how she adapts to or is inclined toward being an independent person? It is not a flawless book by any means, but is very thought-provokin This book offers an unflinchingly positive look at what it means to be an independent woman in the modern world. It helped me to answer questions that have been with me for a long time, such as: why is being a Woman Alone such a frightening concept? Why do women (in particular) resist the idea of being alone? What aspects of a young person's development affect how she adapts to or is inclined toward being an independent person? It is not a flawless book by any means, but is very thought-provoking and validating for those of us who are still trying to figure out exactly what we want in life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Peplinski

    I’ve often been questioned about my need for solitude and this book helped me own it! For those that know me well, finding alone time is a rarity but I truly am a better person when I carve out and give myself the gift of solitude. I only gravitated to parts of this book but would still recommend it for all to understand the need to devote energy to oneself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ginni

    I think that it would be benificial for all women, whether they are in a relationship or not, to read this book. The essence of this book is letting women know that it is not only okay, but essential to have time alone. Alone means many, many things. For some it means living alone. For others it may mean ensuring that there is time for solitude built into their lives. There are many great insights in this book. It is very well written. I skipped over about half the vignettes. I preferred to get I think that it would be benificial for all women, whether they are in a relationship or not, to read this book. The essence of this book is letting women know that it is not only okay, but essential to have time alone. Alone means many, many things. For some it means living alone. For others it may mean ensuring that there is time for solitude built into their lives. There are many great insights in this book. It is very well written. I skipped over about half the vignettes. I preferred to get to the point. However the vignettes in the last chapters really helped me understand the concepts. I marked so many pages! Here's a favorite quote from the book: "...seasoned by solitude, we're ready to welcome others to our table, having more of ourselves to offer and share." A great goal for me!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke

    I did enjoy this book very much. It mirrors a lot of the feelings I had when thinking a lot about being alone, not "with somebody". It confirmed my belief that being alone is not something to be ashamed of, or something that marks you as somehow lacking. But instead it's a time to explore who you really are, a time to enjoy and ultimately it's an enriching experience. However, I also felt this book was repetitive, and if you're really grappling with adjusting to aloneness, it does not offer any I did enjoy this book very much. It mirrors a lot of the feelings I had when thinking a lot about being alone, not "with somebody". It confirmed my belief that being alone is not something to be ashamed of, or something that marks you as somehow lacking. But instead it's a time to explore who you really are, a time to enjoy and ultimately it's an enriching experience. However, I also felt this book was repetitive, and if you're really grappling with adjusting to aloneness, it does not offer any hands-on solutions, but only the comfort that you're not the only one feeling like this and that being alone is alright!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    This book covered a topic not often considered in the plethora of self-help manuals flooding the book markets: how to successfully live as a woman without a mate. While I was intrigued by this premise, I found the author to be somewhat redundant in the presentation of her ideas, with more anecdotal references than original thoughts. Yet and still, I it did lead me to new considerations about the solitary woman's place in American society. This book covered a topic not often considered in the plethora of self-help manuals flooding the book markets: how to successfully live as a woman without a mate. While I was intrigued by this premise, I found the author to be somewhat redundant in the presentation of her ideas, with more anecdotal references than original thoughts. Yet and still, I it did lead me to new considerations about the solitary woman's place in American society.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yessi Young

    It's not about me I bought this book for my own sake - to take the information in here and apply it to myself. But I got more out of it than that. Falk's compassion for all women rubbed off on me and reading the book became a way to connect with the women in the stories she presented. This book has made me excited about my alone time. I think I'll go on vacation for a month to get a taste of real solitude! It's not about me I bought this book for my own sake - to take the information in here and apply it to myself. But I got more out of it than that. Falk's compassion for all women rubbed off on me and reading the book became a way to connect with the women in the stories she presented. This book has made me excited about my alone time. I think I'll go on vacation for a month to get a taste of real solitude!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jung

    I loved the stories of women clients, her insights and wisdom. Not so much a self-help book as an empowering reminder of the difference between being "alone" and "lonely" and that society still defines a woman's status according to her relationships. I loved the stories of women clients, her insights and wisdom. Not so much a self-help book as an empowering reminder of the difference between being "alone" and "lonely" and that society still defines a woman's status according to her relationships.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A really helpful guide to discerning "aloneness" A really helpful guide to discerning "aloneness"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Just not feeling this book. Sort of lost the point somewhere in Part II, where it just seemed to be never-ending stories of women's terrible childhoods. Just not feeling this book. Sort of lost the point somewhere in Part II, where it just seemed to be never-ending stories of women's terrible childhoods.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara Underwood

    Comforting I’m read this book while going through my own struggles with being alone. This is a very comforting book, validates a lot of feelings I struggle with. It doesn’t sugarcoat it either, like the tired advice to just love yourself and once you do then your partner will appear. The only drawbacks I encountered were a huge focus on the feminine (as if reclaiming ones feminine side is a pre-requisite to being on your own) and there’s not much direction on specific steps to take to learn to be Comforting I’m read this book while going through my own struggles with being alone. This is a very comforting book, validates a lot of feelings I struggle with. It doesn’t sugarcoat it either, like the tired advice to just love yourself and once you do then your partner will appear. The only drawbacks I encountered were a huge focus on the feminine (as if reclaiming ones feminine side is a pre-requisite to being on your own) and there’s not much direction on specific steps to take to learn to be on your own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Lu

    like it but definitely felt like the author is making really broad claims based off of her own experiences and the subset of women she worked with as clients, which obviously skews toward the white and upper middle class end of the spectrum, and then occasionally posing but not answering questions about how similar issues affect poc, poor, or gender expansive people. definitely a little too gender essentialist and second wavey for me at times, despite the author's occasional gestures toward inte like it but definitely felt like the author is making really broad claims based off of her own experiences and the subset of women she worked with as clients, which obviously skews toward the white and upper middle class end of the spectrum, and then occasionally posing but not answering questions about how similar issues affect poc, poor, or gender expansive people. definitely a little too gender essentialist and second wavey for me at times, despite the author's occasional gestures toward intersectionality. but still found a lot to enjoy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tiara

    I know I will be reading this many times over the years as I found it that helpful in looking inside myself in terms of woman as whole person. I can't fully put into words yet how much I needed to discuss the ideas in this book within my own mind. I still feel like I am grappling with it all. This is a definite blessing of a book and I am thankful I found it. Highly recommend for any women to read especially women unsure of their true self as whole. I know I will be reading this many times over the years as I found it that helpful in looking inside myself in terms of woman as whole person. I can't fully put into words yet how much I needed to discuss the ideas in this book within my own mind. I still feel like I am grappling with it all. This is a definite blessing of a book and I am thankful I found it. Highly recommend for any women to read especially women unsure of their true self as whole.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katya Mclemore

    This book was a powerful book, and truly insipiring. Though I am not able to relate to the author and what she is writing about in some ways, but in others I am. This book opened my eyes to realize the struggles that a lot of women go through these days, and all alone. Yes, I would recommend this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shivi Bhalla

    A Bible for every woman. It enables a true woman inside every female to emerge and reach to her full potential.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Misleading title. How to get back to being how YOU are and how to thrive on being solitary in that space.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    DNF. I found it depressing rather than helpful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tami

    More than likely, at some point in our lives, we are all going to find ourselves alone. Relationships fall apart. Children leave home. Our spouse passes. It’s sad and rather scary when we enter a new phase of our life but what’s really awful is the terror we put ourselves though. It’s the new millennium. Women have secured the right to vote and work alongside men in most any job that suits their fancy. Yet, somehow we still see a woman without a man (and by association, children) in a negative l More than likely, at some point in our lives, we are all going to find ourselves alone. Relationships fall apart. Children leave home. Our spouse passes. It’s sad and rather scary when we enter a new phase of our life but what’s really awful is the terror we put ourselves though. It’s the new millennium. Women have secured the right to vote and work alongside men in most any job that suits their fancy. Yet, somehow we still see a woman without a man (and by association, children) in a negative light. No one even considers that this woman might not need (or want) a companion. That she might be complete by herself. That she might even be happy and fulfilled. Instead, the thought is that there must be something wrong with this woman if she can’t catch a man. Moreover, we are so terrified about such judgments that we will do almost anything to have a man, even if he’s the wrong man. On My Own relates stories of healing. Ordinary women who came to grips with being alone. People who learned to love themselves and enjoy their own company. The willingness to open to the possibilities that life has to offer.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Enjoyable read, a bit repetitive. A good overall book of how women need to and should become comfortable with themselves as women, rather then needing to be defined by a man, a family, etc. It's a bit off, as some of these stories are women with children, and as another reviewer put it, when one has kids, one still isn't totally alone. I could also turn it around though, and ask why there was no mention of women having a dog or cat or other animal, as animals make good companions as well, withou Enjoyable read, a bit repetitive. A good overall book of how women need to and should become comfortable with themselves as women, rather then needing to be defined by a man, a family, etc. It's a bit off, as some of these stories are women with children, and as another reviewer put it, when one has kids, one still isn't totally alone. I could also turn it around though, and ask why there was no mention of women having a dog or cat or other animal, as animals make good companions as well, without necessarily being overbearing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Tolley

    Surprisingly good, though the parts delving into childhood wounds that affect us as adult women was rough going. This is a mix of anecdote, pop psychology, and cultural observation about women living alone and how much of women's self-value and societal value is predicated on her being in relationship with a partner, typically a man. Basically, Falk suggests that there are strengths found within solitude that women (or anyone else) can never know if they're in a nested, long term marriage or civ Surprisingly good, though the parts delving into childhood wounds that affect us as adult women was rough going. This is a mix of anecdote, pop psychology, and cultural observation about women living alone and how much of women's self-value and societal value is predicated on her being in relationship with a partner, typically a man. Basically, Falk suggests that there are strengths found within solitude that women (or anyone else) can never know if they're in a nested, long term marriage or civil union. Her cure for feelings of doom about being alone was having a solid spiritual practice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Written by a psychotherapist, one who has not had the occupation throughout the entirety of her adult life. Interesting varied perspective gleaned from her own experience and stories from other women as told to her. An unpretentious and likable narration. Probably would appeal to most women. Sisterly and reassuring. Probably more appropriate to a more mature age group than myself, yet I found it to be a compelling read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mandi

    This book was helpful for me to see being alone as not lonely, but actually full filling of my own needs and self-discovery. It made me realize that it is healthy for my own spiritual development and expansion of creativity. Though it can be hard, it is necessary to embrace time alone instead of always relying on having a man that isn't right for me out of fear of being alone. This book was helpful for me to see being alone as not lonely, but actually full filling of my own needs and self-discovery. It made me realize that it is healthy for my own spiritual development and expansion of creativity. Though it can be hard, it is necessary to embrace time alone instead of always relying on having a man that isn't right for me out of fear of being alone.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I didn't finish this book. It read the first few chapters and the auther seemed to repeat herself, but with differant ways of saying the same thing. So I prettty much got what she had to say and moved on to another book. I didn't finish this book. It read the first few chapters and the auther seemed to repeat herself, but with differant ways of saying the same thing. So I prettty much got what she had to say and moved on to another book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This is an awesome read for any woman facing the worl alone and not in a relationship. It teaches how to be ok with this even though society teaches us different. For the single woman trying to wade through the "So when are you getting married? and So when are you going to have kids?" questions. This is an awesome read for any woman facing the worl alone and not in a relationship. It teaches how to be ok with this even though society teaches us different. For the single woman trying to wade through the "So when are you getting married? and So when are you going to have kids?" questions.

  28. 4 out of 5

    GikiGalore

    I'm setting this aside while I work on school assignments, but I'm definitely coming back to this - because it's an amazing perspective to consider ways that society tries to tell me that I'm wrong because I don't have a man in my life. In actual fact, I'm more right now than I've ever been before! I'm setting this aside while I work on school assignments, but I'm definitely coming back to this - because it's an amazing perspective to consider ways that society tries to tell me that I'm wrong because I don't have a man in my life. In actual fact, I'm more right now than I've ever been before!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Another often recommended book to my clients. If you are struggling with loneliness, or afraid of being a woman alone in the world, this book is a powerful read. Florence Falk will help you shift from fear and shame to empowerment, grace and joy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is a great read for all women. I am very happily married and I am on my own - as are we all. Jump into this book and you'll be captured with new insights and vigor for living your own unique life. This is a great read for all women. I am very happily married and I am on my own - as are we all. Jump into this book and you'll be captured with new insights and vigor for living your own unique life.

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