Even those in a relationship will occasionally find themselves dining alone. The comfort level for dining alone will vary from one individual to another and from one dining situation to another. What is it that makes dining alone uncomfortable in the first place? Since you cannot change what others may think about you dining alone, how can you change your own attitudes and thus your personal comfort level?
The difficulty with dining alone gracefully increases as you move toward higher end restaurants. I don’t think most people think twice about someone eating alone at McDonald’s or any fast food joint. Even family restaurants like Denny’s and Coco’s, etc., are more comfortable for the single diner, whether sitting at the counter or in a booth.
As you move up the economic scale, a single person tends to stand out more. The possibility of being the only one dining alone decreases as the restaurant gets fancier. Still, it is possible to dine gracefully when alone in any restaurant.
Perceptions and Projections
The discomfort of dining alone has little to do with what other people are thinking or saying. It has everything to do with what you think they’re thinking and saying. In other words, the discomfort of dining alone comes mainly from your perceptions of the situation and your projections onto other patrons.
It doesn’t really matter what other patrons are thinking or saying about you. Most of the patrons who are there with others are not paying any attention to you at all. If you imagine that others think you stick out, that your dining alone is inappropriate, or you must be a loser who can’t get a dinner or lunch partner, you can create great discomfort for yourself.
The fact is, you have no idea what other people are thinking or saying about you, if anything. You can make yourself miserable by perceiving negative thoughts about you. You can project that negativity yourself by exhibiting your discomfort in blatant or subtle ways.
The secret to dining alone gracefully is in your own feelings about the situation. To put it very simply, if you are comfortable dining alone, those around you will be less likely to look upon you as a loser or a serial killer. It is also helpful to casually interact with those around you, if it’s appropriate. Flirt with someone’s baby or smile at your neighbors.
If you can feel comfortable dining alone, you will be comfortable dining alone.
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