As someone who tags along on spousal business travel a lot, I dine in restaurants solo often. I used to hate it, but eating take-out in a hotel room while your spouse is working or dining with clients is worse. Of course, if you travel for work regularly, dining alone comes with the territory. Once you venture out and dine alone a few times, you realize that it’s not nearly as bad as you thought it would be. Here’s what I’ve learned from experience:
No one cares that you are dining alone
Do you instantly feel conspicuous as soon as you sit down in a restaurant at a table for one? It’s a common feeling for solo diners but think about it. Do you scan a restaurant when you’re out eating with someone to cast pity on a solo diner nearby? No, you do not. Remember that the next time you feel self-conscious eating a meal on your own. No one is looking at you.
You pay more attention to the food
Without the distraction that comes with a dining companion, you can focus on what you’re eating and how it tastes. Because you’re only paying for one, it’s also an opportunity to splurge on a nicer restaurant or to choose higher-priced dishes on the menu.
You’re more likely to chat with a local
I will often eat at the restaurant’s bar when I’m dining alone. It helps combat feelings of self-consciousness, but it has another benefit. The bartender usually spends a bit of extra time chatting because I’m alone and then before I know it someone else dining alone starts to chat. I’ve had great conversations with locals this way. Suddenly you’re not dining alone anymore!
It’s the perfect opportunity for people watching and eavesdropping
Eavesdropping is a guilty pleasure of mine when dining solo. Because everyone is preoccupied with their own meal and companions, they don’t realize that you are sitting within earshot. You can easily observe and often hear full discussions undetected. I’ve overheard heated political debates, awkward first-date conversations, and lively boys night out banter. It’s always interesting.
You will never enjoy it as much as dining with a friend
Eating is a social activity. I can’t make the argument that dining alone is just as enjoyable as dining with your spouse or a good friend. But, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and it’s certainly more enjoyable than ordering overpriced, sub-par room service or take-out pizza.