Is it just me, or when you see people eating by themselves in public do you sometimes feel sorry for them being alone? Up until this year, I thought lone diners looked rather sad and as if they were missing a companion across the table. After living in a new city by myself for the past seven months, I have actually learned to feel the opposite and value time to myself, even if that means eating a meal in peace and quiet. I will no longer look sympathetically at people flying solo, but rather congratulate them for taking some alone time and courageously dining as a party of one. With experience hanging out independently at coffee shops and treating myself to indulgent brunch, I have gained some insight about the perks being at a table for one.
You can make up stories about the people around you. When I travel, I sometimes play the game in the airport where I make up a story in my head about where someone is going or who they are traveling with. This game gets really fun in restaurants or coffee shops because you can to spend some more quality time (subtly/accidentally) gathering observations about the people around you and crafting more imaginative stories. I sound so sketchy saying this, so please do not take this advice too seriously.
You are the only person you have to entertain. No forced first date conversations or crying babies to calm. No awkward morning after conversations or small talk with people you may not ever see again. Just you, your food and some precious peace and quiet.
You can order whatever you want. If you are the kind of person that orders something different based on the people who you are with, eating alone is going to be your saving grace. Order that bacon mac and cheese or triple chocolate French toast without feeling judged by your dining partner(s).
You can eat the whole thing. No sharing required at this table, just one fork and knife to dive wholly into the dish. Unlike when you have a dining partner requesting bites of your food, you may have enough leftover to take home for later.
You can take your time or eat-and-go. There is no right amount of time to take when you are dining by yourself. If you want to hang out, catch up on your latest read or scan Instagram for an hour, go for it! If you want to eat and then get on the move, there’s no proper etiquette stopping you.
You can relish in the awkward looks you
may will get. People around you may feel the same way I did before I started dining by myself. They may smile sympathetically at you or ask you twice, “Just one?” or “It’s just you?”. Smile politely back. If anyone in that conversation is going to feel awkward, it’s not going to be you.
Dining on your own may take some getting used to, but after a few meals you will begin to appreciate the quiet time and ability to totally indulge in a dish that satisfies your craving. Order yourself that mimosa or glass of wine and savor the time as a table for one. If you have any memorable stories, I would love to read them below in the comments!
Love food. Love self. Love life.