Eating alone in public is a common fear. So common, in fact, there is actually a name for the fear of eating alone in public, Solomangarephobia.
Most people fear eating alone in public to some extent—perhaps feeling uncomfortable and judged by others, or avoiding the situation all together. Sure, sitting down for a quick lunch is fairly normal. But, most people would not sit down for a nice dinner or fly solo at a bar. The bar part is especially true if you want to be left alone during your meal! Am I right, ladies and gentlemen? How dare we go out expecting to enjoy an adult beverage with our meal, uninterrupted and unbothered by friendly strangers?
There are actually some sociological reasons that may explain why eating alone is so uncomfortable for the majority of people. For Americans, it is fairly common for us to eat our breakfast and lunch alone (due to our busy work schedules), but eating dinner alone is uncommon. Most people eat dinner with their families—magazines and blogs everywhere are shouting about the importance of sitting down together for dinner. Even single people often make dinner plans with friends.
But, you needn’t be worried about why you may be uncomfortable about eating alone. Who cares. You can do what you want, and rock eating alone.
Here are a few ways many diners deal with eating alone:
- Sit at the counter or bar.
This works great for those who are worried that the wait staff may see him or her as “a waste of space” taking up a big table. Also, this brings me to our next strategy…
- Strike up a conversation with the staff.
Face it, you’re eating alone. You have no one to talk to. Regale the restaurant staff with tales of your travels to the Peruvian Andes.
- Get out your phone, your tablet, or a book.
Pretend to be doing something. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating the world’s greasiest two-hands-required sandwich. Scroll through nothing on your phone and make it look like you’re doing something.
Ignore that advice though. The above options are totally lame. You’re capable of better. We know you have it in you.
- Make it an opportunity to people watch.
Don’t give people the chance to gawk at you. Stare them down first! Bring a notebook and record everything you see.
- Dine with a stuffed animal.
There is actually a restaurant in Japan that will provide a stuffed animal dining companion for you!
There you have it. Go forth and eat alone with swagger.