man cave or cave man

What’s REALLY the Deal with a Man Cave?

I’ve never had a man cave. I’ve never even wanted a man cave, for that matter. To me, the term man cave seems silly and conjures up images of…well…a caveman.

Most people know what a man cave is. It’s a place in the house that’s, evidently, designed for the “man”. A place of solitude. A place to drink beers with the guys, throw some darts, watch the game, eat potato chips, razz one another, and waft farts in each others general direction whenever possible.

My man cave was a workshop, I guess. My wife rarely stepped foot in my workshop, other than to get something out of the deep freezer, which occupied a very small corner of the room.

After most of our home renovations were complete I converted my workshop into a home gym. I still had my tools in there, I just stored out of the way so the room could be put to better use for both of us – thus ceasing any potential man cave of any sort.

Some guys turn their garages into a man cave. I remember walking our dog around the neighbourhood and seeing guys with their garage doors up, TV on (yes, they had a TV in their garage), sitting on their couch (yes, they also had a couch in their garage), drinking a cold beer from the nearby fridge (yes, they even had what I again can only assume is a spare fridge in their garage). I never understood why (the whole garage-man cave thing, not the fridge, well, the 2nd fridge too I guess).

My garage was for my car, my lawnmower, my hoe — err — garden tools, a small workbench, paint cans, and other items that I didn’t want to magically disappear if I left them outside. There was no couch. No TV. No beer fridge. My garage was the Gilligan’s Island of garages minus Ginger and Mary Ann…and the Howels…the Skip – okay, metaphorically it was like Gilligan’s Island because I had little in it.

A garage as a man cave seems like you REALLY want to get away from something in the house…or someone!

Now, when a fella leaves the garage door wide open for all to see, this could be construed as a “signal” for other men (without their own man cave) that this “man cave” is open for business. Bars open boys! But of the numerous times I walked by, I never saw anyone but that one guy in there. In fact, that particular guy wasn’t exactly well liked in the neighbourhood, so I came to learn.

Maybe he was just saying; “hey everyone, look at my awesome man cave!” All I ever remember thinking was “wow, you really gotta hate your wife to move all your stuff into your garage just to get away from her!”. That’s probably not the case – at least I hope it isn’t. Maybe they prefer different temperatures. Or different TV shows. Or maybe he’s made the perfect ass-indentations on that couch but she doesn’t want to see that godawful thing in her newly decorated “rumpus room”. And he refuses to toss out something he put so many hours of hard-ass labour into. We may never know!

Now, I’m not really a “man’s man” to coin a phrase. I’m comparable to Paul Rudd’s character in the movie; I Love You Man. I have a few guys I keep in touch with, but I’m not exactly itching to hang out with the boys to play poker or watch “the big game” every week. A few beers after hockey and I’ll be on my way. See ya next week.

So perhaps I’m missing something about the man cave? Is a man cave a place to brag about your stuff? Hey, look at the size of my TV! Check out my sound system. Want a drink from my refrigerated keg serving micro-brewed, citrus-infused, Saskatchewan wheat beer IPA cooled to the perfect temperature then ruined by serving it in a frozen glass?

*I have no qualms with citrus flavored IPA’s whatsoever, it just sounds less manly for a man cave, so I caved and put it in there.

I’ve learned not to judge people as much as I used to, but I still can’t help but think how useless the man cave is – at least the term man cave. In all honesty, it sounds like some dark, derelict, decrepit dwelling that men go to to hang out with other men (and only men are allowed), where they do secret “man things”, whatever those may be.

Again, I’m not a “man’s man” so I can’t really relate to the man cave, both the ideology and the name. I suppose you could also call it a “sausage salon”, or the “man-ball room”, maybe the “nut shack”, or the “Peter parlor”, the “Dick den”, “Rod room”, “Wang-out Hangout”, or simply; “Johnsonville”.

Maybe we could just call it what it really is – an indoor tree house minus the tree! I guess the silver lining is that you don’t have to climb a rope ladder to get in, and you no longer have to worry about your mom finding your stash of Playboys…but you might not be so lucky with your wife!

SNL’s Phil Hartman – Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

So tell me, what is this man cave stuff all about? Is it a lack of space. Is it showing off your “stuff”. Is it so you can use a different term for your basement, rec-room, TV room, garage, or shed? Are you trying to get away from someone, possibly more than one person…maybe two, three, four or more, all of varying sizes and dependencies?

I ask because I just don’t know – “I’m just a caveman”!

Now go sell all your stuff and stop hibernating in your man cave!





13 thoughts on “What’s REALLY the Deal with a Man Cave?”

  1. It was interesting to read your perspective. I don’t think my father ever had a man cave except perhaps, as you say, a shop area. I can understand perhaps a man wanting one room that reflects his interests if the wife has free rein to decorate elsewhere. I can also understand a couple pursuing separate interests. Still, I hope, like you, that this trend isn’t just an excuse to get away from the wife or kids.

    1. Thanks Susan, I think the ‘man cave’ is a relatively new thing – maybe even a marketing shtick. After over 10 years of living in a split-level bungalow we realized that was more house than we truly needed. I guess we like to maximize existing space, and creating rooms for specific purposes just isn’t us.

  2. A Man cave is for a certain type of personality. When I was a kid I liked my own space and would come out of that space when I felt ready. A full house would drive me mad. So what do I do I leave home and get a place of my own.Fantastic. Then I get married not too bad only one person to cope with. Then come the kids and suddenly your back to square one a house full of people.You do love them but they can drive you mad its all too much your back to time when your place is not your own your rules are ignored and you have no say.You are only there to pay the bills and do as your told and if you dont like it then get out.This is the Man cave. In the old days the so called man cave was his house but today that no longer applies. Everyone needs a place to back off.So I suppose we also need something called the Female Retreat where a women can go when the man is in the cave and the kids gave got the house. Give it Half and hour and the man will be at the Female Retreat ready for action, both rested and happy.

    1. David, interesting perspective! I wonder what the female retreat will be called…The Chick Chalet…The Hen Den…Lady Lounge…Lady Lair (that has flair)…Fem-Fort…Cat Cave???

    2. I am a woman, and I understand the need for your own space, to get away to. I am an introvert, I love a place to be alone, so I can recharge. I love my kids, and my family, but sometimes I just need to be alone. Hubby is at work all day, then comes home, a different environment. If he ran off to his man cave, I would definitely think he didn’t want to see us. I am a stay at home mother, so I am constantly seeing the same walls. Would love a place to get away to, while still being home for my family if needed. So when discussing “cave options.” I explained to him my thoughts, he agreed, we both need as space to recharge… he likes to recharge doing woodwork things, and I like to paint. So we have decided on a big creative shed, where he can do all his wood making things (which he loves) and I can have my paints… oh and an amazing coffee machine. We can still have our own space to recharge, and still be together, so I dont feel like hes avoiding me.

  3. Google ‘She Shed’ and you’ll find the female alternative.
    As mentioned above, it is about having your own space to think and unwind before joining back with the family. For my grandfather it was his woodwork shed, for my grandmother her garden. For me, I actually enjoy the kitchen, or a good book in bed. For Me B, he tinkers with his car mostly. We aren’t trying to avoid each other, but understand we have different interests and don’t need to spend every minute together, there just isn’t enough space for a cave and a shed 😉

  4. More often than not in my experience talking with 4 other guys the reason for a “Man cave” is the wife. No it’s not to get away from her. It’s because they are the ones who say sometging like Where would you put that movie poster? And the man says: Well we have some wall space in the liveing room i think it would look nice in. And she responds with something along the lines of it not going there. Now depending on the woman it may be followed up with its ugly, doesn’t go with the room, or some variation of why that poster could not possibly exist in that room. So where will it go? Maby the man likes to assemble model airplanes where will those go? Maby he likes sports and she doesn’t? Where will his framed and signed jersy go? In my experience the woman is the one who shoves all of his interests into a single room. Meanwhile hers are spread around the home. Takeing out all of the toxic bits of the man cave debate. My only question is why can’t he have his things out in the open? Even if she is not a big fan of It? There are quite a few things in my own home I am not a big fan of. But I let them be because it’s not just my home, it’s our home. I’m not a sports fan at all in the least. But if the lady came home face painted and jersy on and had a pennant she wanted on the wall, sure whatever makes her happy.

    The main question about a man cave you should ask is “Why don’t you incorporate it into the home?” 90% of the time it’s because the woman did not want it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks for commenting Joe. As someone who would like to have sex again, I’m not going to blame it on the “woman”. But I do hear what you’re saying 😉

    2. Funny you mention that Modern Joe. Because I tell hubby he cant put up his stupid beer o’clock sign. But that is not because I find it stupid (which I do), I just dont like to fill the house with things. Im a minimalist. I like very little. Hubby has a box of things he wants to put up in his work shed one day, and I hate carting the box around… just more things around. I feel the house is too cluttered as it is (and there is no clutter… we only have enough of what we need). Also, Im a stay at home mother/wife, and he is only home for 30% of waking hours (yes I calculated). And As I am the one cleaning, I should be able to decorate it as I like… why put a picture up if he isnt home to see it? Still… the less things in the house, the less stuff I need to clean, and more time I can spend with the kids and my husband.

  5. Our DNA is telling us to get on a Harley, pick up a hot 19-year-old hitchhiker and live like Lorenzo Lamas in [the ’90s crime drama] Renegade, But when you have a bunch of kids and a wife, you can’t do that. So the man cave was born out of necessity.

    “Indeed, a more scientific—and less Lamas-focused—2010 study at the University of Southern California of couples in their 30s and 40s found that men’s cortisol levels dropped significantly when they had more solo leisure time in their own homes. “It seems that, when it comes to stress recovery, guys benefit from withdrawing a bit more than women do,” says USC’s Dr. Darby Saxbe, who authored the study. “The man cave phenomenon definitely fits in with the results of our research.” (So quote that the next time your significant other gives you a hard time about watching football all day in the den.) “

    1. Hi Nico, thanks for commenting, and for that research! I guess my wife and I enjoy similar shows, and I don’t feel like spending money on another TV for another room (or furniture for that other room). That, and we really don’t watch a lot anymore except movies and a few shows.

      I’ll let others use that quote for football (or any other sport) in the den. I do watch the World Series and also the Super Bowl…more in hopes of another wardrobe malfunction than for the game itself 🙂

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