Alone Time In The Man Cave

By , May 16, 2010 5:01 pm

I had no idea man caves were such a big deal.

With the pivot of a desk and a chair under our loft bed, I was able to turn storage space into a little office area. The transformation from storage to Dean’s Den, one of a few names Holly calls it, was unintentional. I just wanted a place to be alone so I could write.

When I Googled “man caves” I found a ton of websites devoted to the topic. There’s even a show on the DIY Network called “Man Caves” that I had no idea existed. The show could be called “Extreme Makeover: Dude Edition.”

That’s one reason why I’m not crazy about the “cave” part of the term man cave. The word doesn’t do justice to how huge and elaborate these space are. They’re tricked-out with all kinds of gadgets and amenities around certain themes like sports bars, wine cellars or recording studios. There are even basements turned into nightclubs, gun vaults and golf dens.

Check out some from the show “Man Caves:”

My area, though, is a workspace. I’m looking for a quiet place to work, not to play. When I read that one guy uses his man cave to watch television all day, I thought, “Nah, I’m not trying to make a man cave.” Which brings me to my second surprise in researching all this.

It seems that some guys use their space to get away from their wives and family instead of just being alone. Read this from a Buffalo News story about man caves:

“It’s a sense of territoriality,” said Donna Levin, Hilbert College psychology professor. “As men more became part of the home with child care and cooking chores, they needed to create this Neanderthal space: fun and playful, entertaining and relaxing. It sounds like a really smart idea, to have a place where you can’t be bothered.”

First: “Neanderthal”? That’s the second reason why I don’t like the term “man cave.” Why are we reduced to cave men when wanting our own space? Second: “You can’t be bothered”? I realize I’m still in the honeymoon phase of marriage, but if you’re spending thousands of dollars on an elaborate room to get away from your family so you “can’t be bothered,” you might have problems. I would think (hope!) these spaces are more about solitude than actually getting away from your family.

Being alone and getting away are two different things. I’m one of those people who needs “alone time.” It doesn’t have to be in the den. I could be running or watching TV. It doesn’t mean I want to be away from anyone. As I said, there’s a distinction between getting away from someone and being alone. It’s the difference between “I don’t want to be with you” and “I just want to be with me.”

Holly and I live in small but comfortable one bedroom apartment in city of 8 million people. So, if extra space can be made, even it’s only measured in low double-digit square footage, that’s fine by me.

Update: It’s been a while since this post went live, but it doesn’t mean I can’t show you Dean’s Den:

8 Responses to “Alone Time In The Man Cave”

  1. Stefanie Reichert says:

    Hi Dean,
    I like this article. I hope it will encourage many more men or even women to dare creating this space for themselves. Everybody should have some space where one can be creative – alone – and not feel guilty to temporarily separate from their families. Would love to see how you created your Dean’s Den. Post a picture!

  2. Beth says:

    “Man cave” = 590,000 google hits.
    “Woman cave” = 28,800 google hits.

  3. kevin says:

    somehow i don’t think it’s very flattering to use “woman” and “cave” in the same sentence …

  4. My father used to worry that my husband and I were no longer sleeping together because I had a bedroom workspace with, wait for it, a BED in it. Hey, I do some of my best brain storming lying down, and as a grad student, sometimes laying back on my study room bed was as much sleep as I got. I will always have my own quiet space.

    On social media sites I refer to my “writing cave” so that peeps feel compelled to give me space. It works! Is that 1959 set of fins (Mercury?) your man cave? It is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. Kevin says:

    I think it’s genetic, something inherent that gets passed down in the genes. For centuries, we went out in hunting parties with other men. We left the women and children at home, where it was safe. It’s why men and women like “girls’ nite out” or “man caves.” We’re hardwired to need time with our own gender. My own man cave is my computer area. I’m constantly moving things around, restringing cable, adding stuff. At night, when the house is asleep, I get time to answer email and surf for a bit before bed.

  6. Gina says:

    So funny that people call it man cave – and compare it to Neanderthals. Yes, Neanderthal men had private, enormous, locked off portions of their caves to get some peace of mind from the families, and enjoy some tv and beer after a long day at the office.

  7. It’s basically storage space with a desk, chair and light in it. I’d have to decorate it a bit before I take any pictures.

  8. A “writing cave.” Awesome! Those fins are in video from the “Man Caves” show. Lack of space won’t permit anything like that in Dean’s Den, but it would be great if I could customize the space.. amongst all the storage!

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