Spanish Proverb: Más vale solo que mal acompañado

Text: Más vale solo que mal acompañado

Translation: It is better to be alone than in bad company

Context: My informant – a 20-year-old international student from Oaxaca, Mexico – explained to me that this is a common phrase spoken in Mexico. The phrase is in Spanish, so I asked her if this was a common phrase used in various Spanish speaking countries, to which she replied in the negative; she has only heard people in Mexico state the proverb. In response to my question regarding where she first heard this phrase, she couldn’t remember, but she did hear it a lot from her mother while growing up. She interpreted it as a means of comfort from those she heard it from; instead of feeling sad in her solitude, she should rejoice in being in her own presence rather than in the presence of bad company. Additionally, she also remembered hearing the phrase in an episode of Como Dice el Dicho, a telenovela that creates stories revolving around common sayings in Mexico. The episode is called “Más vale solo andar, que mal casar,” translating to “It’s better to walk alone than to marry badly.”

Analysis: Given that my informant had heard the phrase in Como Dice el Dicho but it was uttered in a different manner, I was curious to see if the meaning behind it might differ from how she interpreted it. The episode’s title in English is “It’s better to walk alone than to marry badly,” and the description of the episode is that a young woman finds her boyfriend in bed with another, yet she ultimately ends up marrying him. However, as time goes on, their relationship becomes more complicated, leading her to understand the proverb the episode revolves around at the end of the program: it is better to be alone than in bad company (ViX). My informant had said that this phrase was more general, being spoken to provide comfort to anyone who might be uncomfortable in their solitude as it can be a better alternative to being with bad company. However, the episode from Como Dice el Dicho leads me to believe that the phrase might be more commonly used when it comes to romantic relationships, especially as a way to console someone when their partner is unfaithful or toxic.

In the Hispanic and Latino communities, there has been a phenomenon revolving around La Toxica/El Toxico, translating to “the toxic one” and used to refer to partners in relationships who are unhealthy for the other person (“La Toxica” And How We View Relationships). However, the phrase is more commonly associated with women, attributing their role in the relationship as the toxic one. In Como Dice el Dicho, the roles are reversed, with a man emulating the trope of “El Toxico” and a woman navigating her way out of the toxic relationship. The show challenges the stereotypical gender dynamics in relationships through this reversal and creates a space for viewers to evaluate their perceptions of gendered behavior. Because of this, I feel that the phrase “más vale solo que mal acompañado” is a way for Mexican women to feel independent in their lives and understand that instead of being tied to a partner who doesn’t treat her right, she is better off alone. The trope of “La Toxica” is disproportionately applied to women than it is to men, so I see “más vale solo que mal acompañado” as a way for women to acknowledge their agency in relationships. 


Banda, Monserrat. “‘La Toxica’ And How We View Relationships,” Compass Center, 

“Más vale solo andar, que mal casar,” ViX,