Eating out by yourself

kathy813September 24, 2006

I feel really self-conscious when eating out. Anyone else have that problem? How do you solve it?

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Good Morning, Kathy. I, too, will be interested in what people have to say. In over five years I only recall going inside to Burger King and having lunch by myself. I just won't do it because it makes me uncomfortable. Some have told me to read a book or a newspaper. That will work, I guess, but it seems to be a cumbersome process. I'd just as soon ask for take-out. That way I can eat at home and watch TV. Good luck. I'll be watching other's comments. Regards, Gene

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 12:29PM
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Good Sunday everyone. I was one in therapy and my psychiatrist made me go out to dinner alone as part of my ego-boosting process. I actually made it through! I find it doesn't bother me at all now.

I often take something to read with me, make conversation with the staff, etc.

It's not easy but you do get used to it.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 12:39PM
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I LOVE eating out by myself!

A dear friend who has been by himself for a few decades now says that he hates to go out to dinner by himself because everyone stares at him. He thinks they stare at him because he's alone. I have assured him that it is only in his imagination. No one cares.

Think back to the last time you were in a restraunt. Do you remember who was eating alone or who was 'with' someone?
Well, maybe if it was a really hot guy (or gal).
Otherwise you probably don't remember anyone in the restaurant except the family with the screaming kids,

I like to take a magazine and pretend I am reading it. I'm actually people watching, or daydreaming, or just enjoying the moment. I like to take my time with my meal, sit were there is a good view, and I DO NOT like to be disturbed by waitstaff or other diners who want to chat. I usually put a coat or bag in the chair nearest me to discourage people from sitting down uninvited.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 9:28PM
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Kathy, for several years during my working life I had a job in which I had to travel a good bit. I got used to eating alone, yet never really learned to enjoy it. I never eat out now unless it's for lunch when I go into Charleston or to Columbia on an all day trip. About once a month one of my neighbors and I will go into a nearby town to do grocery shopping and have lunch somewhere.

If yours is a case of "have to", relax and enjoy it. After all, no one is really noticing so no need to feel self concious. The only people who get noticed in restaurants are the really ill-mannered, loud type, or people who have screaming kids along. So if you feel like someone is watching remind yourself it's because you are an attractive young lady!!!! Perhaps some young man will say: "Pardon me, but do you mind if I join you?"

I'm afraid I'm not much help.

Happy dining.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 9:29PM
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Thanks for all your thoughtful answers. I guess I am being self-consicous. When you don't have anyone else to give your attention to when eating out I end up people watching or staring at my plate. Got a to go box today for lunch so I have two meals for the price of one. I can be frugal and not feel uncomfortable.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 2:44PM
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I have eaten out alone in restaurants a LOT. It didn't bother me as much when I was younger, but since about the age of 41 to 43, and since, (I am 47 now) I have been increasingly self conscious much more than in the past. I agree with the poster who gets take out, I can bring it home and eat in privacy. I feel stared at sometimes as well, not everywhere, but sometimes.

There is one breakfast restaurant that I sometimes go to, which opens at 7 am on the weekends. I get there right when they open, and try to take a table where I can have my back to the major part of the restaurant. This way, I can look out the window and not even see the others in the restaurant. If I sit at the counter, that seems to some men, a lone woman at the counter, to be an invitation to be hit on. Other than the men at the counter on the weekends, it is ALL families and couples, and yes, I feel self conscious quite a few times.

There used to be a health food restaurant near where I live, that was VERY "lone diner friendly", a whole section of two seater booths, room for only one on each side, a section of tiny booths like this, of about 12 of these small booths. any time you could go in this restaurant, and see this section full of men and women, each eating alone. This restaurant closed about 5 years ago and I miss it terribly. Then there was the Japanese restaurant which had very private lattice separating each table, so I could go in and eat, with the lattice preventing prying eyes from the next table. And THAT restaurant closed too, recently.

It is a challenge to eat out alone sometimes, but you have to look around for a "lone diner friendly" restaurant. It helps to go early before the Lunch or dinner rush too.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 5:07AM
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I know many people are bothered by this.
I am generally not this way unless I am doing fine dining, solo. But sort of numb to it now. I think it's more of a worry about getting poor service from having a smaller tab. I know that's ludacris. I just don't pay attention to what else is going on around me.

One thing you can do at a lot of restaurants is go sit at the bar. If you do that, on rare occasions there will be a another single person there too. And you can usually talk to the bartender. You also get in and out faster too.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 9:37PM
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I eat out by myself all the time.

Several years ago, I came to the realization that most people are too self-absorbed to care about what a random stranger is doing. Sometimes I bring something to read, but I love people watching and would rather do that.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 4:08PM
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I eat out alone often. I am more comfortable doing so in casual noisy places than in upscale places. I always have some reading material if i am dining alone so I need places with decent light as opposed to romantic mood lighting. I can usually count on my teen daughter to join me if I want a fancy meal out.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 5:38PM
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I love eating out by myself.. I sit and watch the people, talk to the waitress, and watch the world go by..

I like doing things by myself.. I have even gone to the amusement parks by myself..

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 10:47AM
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I traveled extensively and had to eat out alone. I thought nothing of it since I was "really" doing my work or reading the paper at the table. I however, never sat at the bar alone. Now THAT makes me feel uncomfortable. I was so absorbed in my work that I never noticed people around me. When I didn't have work, I would just enjoy a coffee (morning) or glass of wine (evening) and relax.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 10:12PM
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Hey guys,
disregard my previous post. This forum is "single life" and I just realize that my situation is very different. I am very married. sorry for the post, but I will say that eating out alone can be okay and acceptable.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 9:49PM
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Hi dirtdiva,

That's OK - single married, divorced, widowed - everyone has his/her own feelings about eating out alone.

I lurk in the Married forum sometimes - just to see what is
working/not working these days.

You are welcome to join us any time.

Have a good day.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 4:21PM
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I eat out alone all the time, don't mind it at all. At first I did, because I was afraid everyone would think I was weird, I would get stared at, etc. But honestly, after doing it for years I haven't once got the impression that I was being stared at or whatever. I agree with Gerry and Magdaleesia, no one hardly even notices or gives a hoot. Of course I don't dine alone at fancy places, just diners, casual restaurants when I'm on the road or shopping, whatever. It's really not even all that unusual. People always say to me "How can you do that" but it's all in people's minds I think. They THINK it is awkward, but it's really not. Sometimes I get bad service when I'm alone or it is assumed that I'm with another party waiting for a seat, but so what, I've gotten bad service with groups too. If you think there's something wrong with eating alone and you act all self conscious and awkward then you might have problems. But I do it all the time, never give it a second thought and don't have problems. The only sad thing is, I hardly ever get to go out to nice places, more upscale places. That's something I miss about not dating. I see dining alone as grabbing a quick bite when I'm out and about and can't get home to eat, and dining in a nice restaurant as a social occasion. It is sad to me that I rarely get fun social dining opportunities. There was a restaurant a block from my house that had wonderful brunches with piano music accompaniment, and it was YEARS before I ever was able to enjoy going there for one of the brunches. I really wouldn't have enjoyed it going by myself.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 12:47PM
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Being single and not having room mates or family living with me anynore I have thought about this for a few months and wouldn't go out alone untill last week. I went to a local Irish pub my brother works at (but he was off that night) and had a nice dinner by myself. I told myself that I was there alone because I chose to be not because I had to be. I chatted with the waitress some, people watchedd and watched some of the game that was on the big TV by the bar while enjoying me beer and Bangers and Mash. Was a nice time and better than sitting at home. I didn't feel like anyone was stairing at me either.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 1:29PM
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I have always eaten alone in resturants, I usually take a book. I moved into a new development last year and met a single lady that had not eaten out since her husband died. Two years she sat at home by herself. When she went to lunch with me the first time, she said, "this is such a treat for me".

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 11:16PM
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Hello. I eat out by myself often. I always bring a book that I'm currently reading. I also prefer to eat at the counter if they have one....or in the bar section if they serve food there. I also people watch sometimes. That's entertaining in and of itself. I also prefer a table away from the main section.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 5:05PM
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I just finished reading the above posts. Some feel akward eating alone - some are at ease with it. The strange part is - Some say No Problem, Nobody Notices, YET others say they "people-watch"! I used to eat out alone often. It was uncomfy at first, but I got used to it. NOW, I'm all confused again! SHOULD I feel akward? Because some have stated they DO "PEOPLE-WATCH". Am I to assume the lone eater is watching me? (whether I'm alone or not?). I should conlude the OP is justified in feeling self-conscious, because now we know that people DO notice...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 12:12PM
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I think they just mean they are people watchers, I am. I go to ball games and watch the people. I find people interesting.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 11:26PM
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My "old(er)" sister used to take me to the local Mall once in awhile when I was still young in school. We never had any money to spend, so she would tell me we would go to "people watch". I thot it strange, but she made it very entertaining - she laughed and made jokes of anyone and everyone who passed by as we sat in the center of the mall. (She was rude)
When I was older, I would take my 4 yr old out every Sunday for breakfast - it was a treat for both of us. PEOPLE STARED everytime. (BTW, my 4 yr old was very well behaved - he had "table manners" - not one of those types who throws tantrums, etc, etc...) I just brushed it off -as I've always looked a lot younger than my age - so it probably looked like I musta got preg when I was 12! haha... Perhaps that's why years later I felt uncomfy eating alone. I got over it - for the most part.
However, about two years ago, I remember going into a family style resturant with "hubby", and everytime I looked up (like, from my plate! lol!)- to talk to hubby, there was a lady just across the isle (with another person)...
every single time, she was staring at me. Made me really uncomfortable. I almost wanted to say something to her - it was so irritating. But I held back. All I wanted to do was eat an early dinner with hubby, but that lady and her staring really irritated me -

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 6:42AM
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All that being said -
I've on occasion caught myself somehow "captured" into a looking mode at someone else in a resturant. Just one of those things I can't explain. I don't do it on purpose - it's just one of those things that it seems we are "in sync" - everytime we both just happen to look up at the same time. Direction of the booths has something to do with it also.
I also recall a time when I was at a family type resturant - I was at the salad bar. Some older man (definately over 50 yrs old - probably more like in his 70's) was sitting alone in a booth just at the end of the salad bar. Everytime I glanced up, I saw him. I hated it. He also was eating salad. So, when I came around the corner of the salad bar, I said "Hi" to him, and asked if he "knows what this stuff is, and is it any good?" (pointing out a certain offering at the salad bar). He was happy to answer "NO, I didn't dare touch it!" I replied, "Thank you, I think I'll pass also!". It made me feel more at ease, and MAYBE made him feel more comfy - I don't know...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 7:08AM
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as 'jonesy' said - "I go to ball games and watch the people. I find people interesting."

That's a ball game, not a resturant.

My question to all the "people-watchers": WHAT exactly do you watch for? Do you just "watch"?, or, do you talk to them also? Do you try to psychoanalyse people? Do you "watch" to see if they are sloppy eaters? Do you watch to make jokes? What exactly is it?

I find people interesting also, but I don't go out and purposely "watch them". Actually, that sounds kinda creepy - almost like a "public peeping Tom" - lol!

I don't "people-watch", unless I see something that doesn't look quite right (like they may be up to "no-good".)

So, all you "people-watchers", please explain exactly what you watch FOR. Do you approach the people you watch and engage in conversation? Or, is it REALLY a form of "Public Peeping Tom"?

BTW - Next time I go ANYWHERE - whether alone or with someone, (and I give no reason to draw attention to myself), I just might start approaching people who I notice "WATCHING"! haha... the OP, YUP! Your concerns are officially warranted. HOWEVER, it doesn't only happen to people who are eating ALONE! People have fessed up - they DO watch! Now, the trick is to figure out how to deal with the situation so you don't feel akward while eating alone! (Maybe "boothe" or "seating" placement could help - you can always ASK the host/hostess for a seat way back in the corner facing the wall - they WILL accommodate you when possible.

Personally, I thought that "people watching" stuff was out the window once out of high school - or at the very least, after about the ages of 29 or so? And that was what bars or cocktail lounges are for - for older people. Guess I thought wrong.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:00AM
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What's the difference between people watching at a ball game or at a restaurant?

No, nobody's watching "for" anything.

"People watching"... There's a valentine's day commercial out right now for some jewelry store. Older couple having valentine's dinner happens to notice a younger couple having valentine's dinner and kind of ooohs and aaahs over how cute and sweet they are and are dutifully impressed when young man presents young woman with gift from (of course) said jewelry store. That is people watching. No, it is not stalking, or watching to see if someone's a sloppy eater or anything necessarily creepy or judgemental. It is simply noticing the people around you and perhaps being interested by them. Kinda like watching the birds in your backyard, or taking a drive to look at all the pretty leaves in fall, only with people.

So, possibly someone might notice you eating in a restaurant alone. They almost certainly won't care or remember you later. And even if they do... so what??? Seriously???

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Well said, quirk.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 6:26PM
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I was thinking about all of you and this post last night. I was to meet a girlfriend at the mall for a movie. She's notoriously late, and I was hungry. So I stopped into the local Johnny Rockets and sat at the counter to dine alone.

Just wanted you to know that you were all on my mind! I played a couple of songs with my two free nickles and chatted with the staff.

Have a great weekend,

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 1:22PM
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When did People Watching become some sort of problem?

It's a good way to learn "What Not To Wear" so to speak, or see how others put outfits together.

If you're not looking at others, you might miss that very attractive interracial couple who probably will think you're staring, when in reality, you're admiring them being together and wishing there were more of them around.

I like to see other people's shoes, too.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 5:22AM
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