Eating Alone Definitely Has Its Downsides
You know that old cliche “walking-into-the-cafeteria-naked” nightmare from High School? Eating alone in a restaurant, post-breakup, is much worse. Like, when they dumped the bucket on Carrie at the prom worse.
It feels like everyone is staring, wondering why you’re eating alone. Is she waiting for someone? Oh, that poor girl must have gotten stood up. Maybe she’ll break down or yell at her dinner date when he finally shows. Maybe she doesn’t have any friends or is on a work trip. It certainly can feel like you’re under a spotlight.
The crazy thing about our thoughts and feelings is that they’re not always correct. (That’s often the case, in fact. Our minds are thought machines that constantly produce more until we die, and many of them are flat-out wrong.) While it is true that some people in that restaurant might have a fleeting thought about you, most of them are more focused on their food, their date, or their own neurotic thoughts to give you a second notice.
Here’s something else your self-conscious brain may not have thought of: some of those people may actually be admiring you for eating alone or even be jealous. Oprah once said that you know you’ve made it as a confident woman when you can eat alone. If Oprah endorses it, you know there’s some wisdom there!
Let’s get to the upsides, shall we?
Eating Alone Also Has Some Pretty Big Upsides
Dining by yourself doesn’t have to suck. Your heart can be just as happy as your belly. It’s all about savoring the experience. Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way.
All the Food
Okay, I’m not saying order the whole menu, (although no one here will judge you if you do!) but you order whatever you want – and enjoy every single bite. None of that awkward “are-you-going-to-eat-the-last-bite-or-should-I?”. Get the wine you want. Order when you’re ready. Have dessert. No waiting. No hurrying either, for that matter. You get to eat food, people: FOOD!
All the People
Speaking of people, the other benefit of eating alone is the free, real-life reality TV. Look at the table to your right. How did those two end up together? Is it an affair? Maybe it’s long lost siblings meeting up for the first time in their lives. You can try and figure out what’s really going on, or let your imagination run wild making up stores about everyone there. It could be the start of your next great novel!
All the Me-Time
It can feel like a drag to keep up the conversation sometimes. The opposite can also happen. Personally, I talk way too much and end up getting to my food long after everyone else has finished (#entertainingfriendproblems). If you’re a mom, you’ve likely had more than one dream of eating a meal you didn’t have to make, sitting down the entire time, and not having to clean up. (Kids, take note.) Extra points if it’s not at home where I’m incredibly distracted by the dirty socks under the table, shoes in the middle of the hallway, and expired milk in the fridge. So sit down. Order something amazing. Enjoy Every. Single. Bite. Take your time, think about the flavors and textures. Don’t share with anyone!
All the Opportunities
If you’re up for a little conversation, you can have that too when you eat alone – and it can often be better than if you’d brought someone with you. People are amazing. Their stories are interesting, heartbreaking, inspiring. Say hello to a stranger. Eat your meal at the bar where people are super sociable. Help someone at a nearby table. Go on Trivia night and join a team. Hanging out on your own can actually make you more approachable. Opportunities are everywhere. Meet people, make friends. Don’t forget about the waiters and bartenders, they are fun & friendly too. You can learn a lot from them.
All the Self-Sufficiency
Going out to eat unaccompanied might be uncommon, but it is not bad. It’s not weird. It’s proof that you are comfortable in your own skin. Independent and brave, intelligent and experienced. Nurturing your longest-running relationship, your relationship with yourself. You’re taking care of yourself by experiencing life instead of letting yourself miss out. You don’t need anyone else to have a good time.