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Feb 7, 2008 12:51 PM

does anyone else hate eating alone in public?

for as long as i can remember, i've always felt very uncomfortable eating alone in a public setting. it's better if i have something to read or if i can watch tv while eating, but if i don't have a distraction then i usually end up wolfing down my food so i can move on as soon as possible OR i choose not to eat at all and go hungry until i get home (it's usually the latter). i love the idea of sitting down at a bar or table and having a great meal with a few glasses of wine by myself, but i just know that i won't be able to relax if i were to try it. in school as a kid, lunch time was where everyone would break off in to their social circles. if you ate lunch alone it meant you didn't have any friends and you were probably considered the class loser. it's cruel, but that's how it went where i grew up. that's kind of how i feel when eating alone, though that's not at all how i perceive other people dining alone.

none of my friends nor my husband can relate with me. anyone else out there have single dinerphobia?

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  1. Since the recent change in my involvement status and my move, I end up dining alone quite a bit. While sometimes it would be nice to have a companion, I'm actually kind of used to it by this point. It was weird at first, but now I enjoy people watching and checking out the character of the restaurant.

    I do eat at the bar a lot because it's more comfortable and I'm not taking a table that could be used for a couple.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JonParker

      I also eat at the bar, and enjoy it.

      Here's a thread on the same topic from two months ago:
      "Dining Alone"

    2. I think I understand where you're coming from. I have eaten alone (never in a fine dining restaurant) but would rather the enjoy the company of others. My husband travels a lot for work and has to eat alone a lot more frequently than I do. He has less of a problem doing it when he's out on business but has more of a problem in his hometown -- probably for the reason that you are stating -- it's a variant of the class loser thing.

      A friend of mine has no problem (casual or fine dining) doing this. I think it's great that she's so self-assured that she doesn't give a damn.

      1. I can see where you're coming from but from someone who enjoys dining alone (actually looks forward to it when I get the chance), I can tell you that the best thing I did for myself to get over that self-conscious feeling is to remember that other people are much more interested in themselves and what's going on at their table to pay much attention to what is happening at mine. That pretty much applies to just about anything in life. So unless you're calling attention to yourself some other way (standing on your chair, lighting a napkin on fire, whatever), just being at a table by yourself won't register much with other people.

        Once I realized that, it became a lot less anxiety provoking to eat alone. One time I even went out on a Saturday night to a movie then dinner by myself since no one was around that night. I generally plan ahead and have a book or magazine to read so I have something to do. But it's not necessary - I've sat and just had the food to keep me busy.

        I also acknowledge it's probably much easier here in NYC where eating alone is barely cause for concern. I once went back to my suburban hometown in northern CT and ate by myself - and I got some annoying "oh poor thing, no friends" looks. But I know I have friends, and didn't worry about what these strangers thought - I just wanted to eat lunch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pellegrino31

          I know exactly how you feel. I was "the shy loser" in high school, sitting by myself. I always thought everyone was looking at me. I was VERY insecure.
          I'm still somewhat that way, although I am very lucky and live with my twin sister, who goes everywhere with me. Still, there are those rare times that I've eaten by myself, and those old feelings come back. Yes, it does help to have a book or TV.
          I also have tried to get a small booth along the wall or in the back of the place, so I'm not that obvious to everyone. Oh, I know that some people will probably say, "Don't be that way, you should make an effort to meet and get to know people", but I say, it ain't necessarily so, depending on your circumstances. I'm over 50 years old, and I'm not about to change now!!! LOL

        2. When I was young and single (in my early 20s), I travelled quite a bit & therefore dined alone a lot (mostly in nicer restaurants). I actually enjoyed it...and the attention or company I received (usu free glasses of wine).

          So while I hear other female friends disdain solo dining, I never quite understood their discomfort. However, my sister could commisserate w/you. She would rather eat fast food in her car than dine alone in a restaurant. Her thinking: solo (particularly female) diner = no company = sad & lonely. But that's her, not me.

          Now w/Mr OCAnn in tow, I enjoy his company...but wouldn't have any problems dining solo if the need arises.

          Go out and try's quite liberating!

          1. howdy rebs,
            room service, skipping a meal, whatever, is not an option for me. i get cabin fever in foreign cities and insist on eating out. bars are cool because barkeeps are pretty outgoing by nature. i've met lots of conversationalists over the years. bottom line? dining out can be pretty good theater. beats the hell out of sitting in your room.