Solo Dining: Try It, You’ll Like It

When I went for fro-yo the other day, I parked next to a woman who was eating her yogurt while sitting in her car. That wouldn’t normally be noteworthy, but it happened to be about 110° with the heat index at the time and she was parked in the sun. I couldn’t help but wonder why she wouldn’t sit inside or even outside on the patio, where there was at least a breeze. (Of course, if she’d sat at the outside table, then I wouldn’t have had anywhere to sit except inside where the a/c was set on frostbite.)

She was still sitting there, dabbing her forehead with her napkin in between bites, when I came outside to enjoy my fro-yo and the gift of the cool-ish breeze at the perfectly vacant outdoor table. Since I’d left my book at home (hate when that happens) and there was no one else around with whom I could strike up a conversation, I didn’t have anything to do except ponder why in the heck this poor woman was sitting in the broiling sun eating melted fro-yo.*

Could she…
(a) simply (and inexplicably) enjoy suffocating heat and humidity?
(b) be waiting for an important call and her cell phone is plugged into her car charger?
(c) have returned to the car to grab her book and gotten stuck to the leather seat?
(d) have stumbled/fallen and broken her leg/ankle/knee, dragged herself back to the car, and was headed to the ER right after she finished her fro-yo?
(e) be uncomfortable dining/snacking alone?

While I suppose (a) is a possibility, my money is on (e) – didn’t want to sit at a table by herself. Many people, women especially, have a thing about dining alone in restaurants. I’m thinking that could carry over to fro-yo shops.

Since I eat 80-90% of my meals alone, I clearly have no issue with sitting in a restaurant by myself. Quite a few of my friends do, however, and despite my nagging coaching will opt for drive-thru, convenience store, room service or vending machine if put in a situation where they have to eat out and they’re alone. Even after I wrote an entire blog post about this very subject with helpful tips and everything, I haven’t managed to convert even one of them!**

While I appreciate that we’re all different and most of us have one or more things that make us uncomfortable, dining out alone seems to be one that would be possible to overcome. For me, it’s a great opportunity to read a bit, or people-watch, or strike up conversations with new-to-me people. Or sometimes, I just let my mind wander over whatever topics it wants (like why someone would choose to sit in an Easy-Bake Oven to eat her yogurt) while I savor my meal or snack. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with one of my favorite people–ME!

Do you avoid dining out alone? Do you have any tips to help those who might want to overcome their discomfort with doing so? I offered my tips in Table for One, but there’s a 99-100% chance I missed something.

*Oh, I know, I could have thought about a hundred other topics, but human behavior (mine included) intrigues me.

**Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as brilliant as I remember.

20 thoughts on “Solo Dining: Try It, You’ll Like It

  1. Yep, something I avoid. Actually, can’t even think of the last time I did it. I’d probably have something to read open in front of me. I had some fro-yo myself not long ago and took it home to eat.

  2. I’m a solo diner at times. I don’t really have a problem with it. If possible, I’ll sit at the bar and eat – more chances of interaction that way. Otherwise, I prefer to have something to read. Now I can’t say that I’m comfortable enough always to linger after the meal with no one to talk to.

    I will go to the movies or have a meal by myself. It can be a pretty fun experience!

  3. Dining alone – no. Movies alone – yes.

    Of course I could probably get used to diningn alone. I was really uncomfortable the first time I went to the movies by myself. But now I kind of like it. I get to see what I want to see when I want to see it.

    Eating alone. I dunno. Maybe if I were at goal weight. I think I would worry what people would think of the fat girl eating alone.

  4. I actually was challenged to do this in therapy about 20 years ago and I still can’t do it unless I have a crutch such as a book or magazine. It’s kind of strange for me because I have no problem speaking to a stranger to engage in conversation as long as food is not involved. I think it stills haunts me to bring attention to myself. I remember one time i was dining alone and I had ordered a burger and onion rings. My crutch was studying for a college exam and the chef yelled at me for salting my onion rings without tasting them first. I was devastated… the very thing I feared.. someone bringing attention to me and my food happened… I still don’t like it so much.
    Come visit my blog, I’ve issued a reader challenge to show my before pics…

  5. Niether i nor my wife are solo diners anymore, I guess my wife was for over 5 years, as i used to have very unrealistic timings (not always).. i am home since last two years and enjoying it

  6. Dining alone is pure luxury. I love it. No-one to please but myself. Peaceful too. I miss those times. Now that my husband is retired I have very few opportunities to escape on my own. Not that we don’t enjoy each others company but I do like time on my own as well. I guess if it was the only constant choice it wouldn’t be a luxury.
    One of the big advantages is I get to choose my favourite places and linger or not as the mood and time allow. I must admit I enjoy my own company and must find ways to indulge in aloneness regularly to prevent a different kind of claustrophobia. …. Is there a special name for feeling crowded?

    I wonder why some of us find it so hard to do things on our own. It seems to me that if I didn’t take the initiative whether it be in company or alone I would do very little. How boring would that be.

    I hope that poor soul enjoyed her fro-yo

    Hope you continue to enjoy your solo outings.

    Blessings MargieAnne

  7. Being the misfit I am I kind of love it.
    I pretend Im mysterious and an enigma even if all I really am is someone who could wrastle up another individual to join her for a meal.

  8. The last six years of my career, I traveled and lived away from home almost 100% of the time with an unlimited expense account. Believe me, I learned to LOVE eating alone. After the days I had, all I wanted was a good meal by myself. Sadly, it seems to me that over the past decade, all but the nicest restaurants have become noisy with uncontrolled children, not as clean, etc, so my enjoyment has waned, but I still never mind a chance to do something alone. And I’d ALWAYS opt to eat outside if at all possible. One of the great joys of life!!

    P.S. You didn’t mention traveling alone which is something else I LOVE to do!!

  9. I think it depends on the situation. I wouldn’t choose to go do it — like just decide I’m going to go out to dinner alone. But there are times when I LOVE LOVE LOVE to go to Panera alone with a book or the computer and just do my own thing. I almost don’t consider that dining, but I guess it is. If so, then yes, I suppose I’m willing to do it and love it.

  10. I used to be a closet eater so I would always take food home to eat in secret. I am past that now and I do enjoy eating alone, although my comfort level really depends on the type of restaurant. Fancy, expensive or in a foreign country kicks up my insecurities and leaves me uncomfortable.

  11. Like you Cammy, I don’t mind it at all. I take reading material to read but sometimes I just sit & people watch. It is nice to “just be” at times! No worries about anything or anyone else. :-)

  12. I like eating alone, but it is an acquired taste, and I admit that in my heavier days, I ate in the car – it was a hiding place. I would also toss the wrapper evidence (hate to admit that, too). I like making a date with myself.

  13. I don’t mind eating alone – these days, all you need is your smart phone and you’ve got plenty of company. But going to the movies alone – not so much!

  14. I love going to movies alone – I can get really engrossed without any interruptions and don’t have to wonder if the other person is enjoying it too. Eating alone – I hate it and think it goes back to when I was fat, I too was a closet eater and didn’t want anyone to know what/how much I was eating – like my body size wasn’t a clue!!! I was travelling a lot for work and never once ate on my own in a restaurant. Partly because I was uncomfortable but also because I usually didn’t like what was on offer. I would shop in a market and eat in my room, fresh fruit, veges, yogurt etc.

  15. Ooops I should have said I travelled for work SINCE I lost weight and my eating habits had changed so I wanted fresh, whole food. When I was obese I would have ordered in room service (junky food – fries, ice cream etc but only the delivery person would know what I was eating) and bought chocolate, sweets and chips at a supermarket and taken that to my room too.

  16. I’ve been doing it for years. I even go to “smart” restaurants on my own. With a book of course.

  17. I’m a solo diner from way back. Even at my heaviest. I always have a book or a magazine for company, although I don’t really get much reading done. Like you said, I eat all my meals alone anyway, why should I forego restaurant dining?

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