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Why Eating Out Alone Isn’t That Bad and You Should Try It

We fear being lonely. It’s a fact.

Get into a situation where it looks like we’re alone and we instantly reach for our phones to check our email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and so on) to avoid making eye contact with any judgmental strangers—or worse, to look like we’re alone. It’s a defense mechanism. And a pretty good one at that. But we’re here to encourage you to keep your phone in your pocket, avoid fake-checking Twitter five times, and embrace being alone.

While most of the time eating is considered a social activity with family, friends or significant others it can be a wonderful opportunity to focus on the pleasure of eating a wonderful meal. No distractions. No obligatory small talk. Just you, and a big plate of beautiful food.

Now, as with anything, there are a few tips we’d advise to be comfortable by yourself at a table in a nice restaurant.

1. If it’s your first time ever eating alone, consider eating at the bar or counter. It’s much easier to feel at ease with a one-sided table, and you’re typically not facing the rest of the restaurant.

2. If you get desperate for conversation, turn to your waiter or waitress. Ask them for a recommendation on the menu or what the chef recommends that evening.

3. Do some people watching. Restaurants attract a variety of people of ages and backgrounds—use this time as a way of studying your peers. It really is a fascinating process.

4. Bring reading material to engage with. While we don’t recommend hiding behind your book the entire time, it can be a nice escape while waiting for your food to arrive (and it looks less tacky than pulling out your phone).

Don’t be scared. At first, you will be hyper-aware of the fact that (it appears) everyone is eating with companions. But don’t let this deter you. The point of all of this it to literally spend time alone. Use it to reflect, don’t use it as a schedule planning party or a time to catch up on social media happenings.

And if that still doesn’t make you at ease, consider this: who really cares that you’re there alone? The hostess won’t. Your waiter won’t. And, honestly, the other guests won’t notice. You yourself will be the most aware of it. And if you don’t care, no one else will either. We promise.