Though dining is primarily viewed as a social, interactive experience between two or more people, we’ve all witnessed, on one occasion or another, patrons dining solo. The usual assumption may be that they’re lonely, prompting responses of either sympathy or judgment.
But why exactly does solo dining get such a bad rap? Maybe it’s American society’s anti-loneliness that convinces us to believe that if we’re alone that we’re somehow lacking, unhappy even.
Dining alone, however, is not a sign of loneliness or a lacking social life. It can actually be quite enjoyable...even liberating. Everyone who sits alone isn’t being stood up on a date. Not only are you able to dine on your own terms, but you also get a chance to engage in subtle pleasures like people watching, or, if dining at a bar, opening yourself up to meeting new friends (or a new boo).
Eating solo (let’s exclude fast food restaurants for the purpose of this argument) can actually be fun. Rather than feeling ashamed, it’s important to look at dining alone as something that completely normal. Part of self-love is learning how enjoy being alone; to sit in your own thoughts, even while grubbing down in a restaurant full of strangers.
Not to mention, you don’t have to just eat and have a few drinks when dining alone. Don’t be afraid to pull out a book or magazine to read, or even whip out your laptop to get some work done, because the best part of dining with yourself is that you get to call the shots and make your own rules to what is an enjoyable dining experience.
Even some international restaurateurs see the value in reserving a table for one. As pointed out by The Guardian in a 2013 article, pop-up restaurant Eenmaal in Amsterdam, only seats individual patrons debunking the perception that dining alone is uncomfortable or weird.
That’s not to say dining alone won’t feel awkward at first. Take a leap of faith and take a stab at it. The goal should be to be able enjoy your own company. You never know, you just may discover that dining solo isn’t such a bad thing. Don’t knock it before you try it.
(Photo: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Corbis)