Being alone and being lonely are two different things. While I don’t prefer the latter, I embrace the former. I do a lot of things by myself, in fact. Go to the movies, sit on the beach, pop into a happy hour, enjoy bikes rides, even go on vacation. I also treat myself to lunches and dinners out where I can sit in solitude and think, work, or catch up on odds and ends on my to-do list. For those reasons and six more, here’s why eating alone at a restaurant is the best meal you’ll ever have.
1. You can order what you want without any guilt
When I’m trying to stick to a strict diet, I like to have a food buddy who supports my endeavors when I go out to eat. But, sometimes, I want to dive face first into a massive pasta dish with a bottle of wine, a basket of bread, and finish off with dessert. And do you know what I don’t need while I’m doing that? Judgment. I judge myself hard enough, you know, and I don’t need some hoity-toity fit so-and-so chastising me for licking the bowl in public. So what if I make vaguely oink-like noises while I do it. Does that embarrass you? Good; table for one, please.
2. You don’t have to engage in idle chit-chat
I don’t know if you do this, but I put my friends into certain categories. Like, I have specific friends with whom I enjoy going to the movies or inviting over for game nights or going away with for the weekend. I rarely, however, invite anyone to eat out or accept invitations for a meal out, especially if I’m without my boyfriend. The reason? I don’t want to feel trapped in a situation where I feel like I have to talk. I find small talk annoying, and to have to keep it up for an hour or more gives me anxiety. Text me If you want to catch up. I’ll be at one restaurant eating alone, and you’ll be at another, and we can establish a lovely back-and-forth banter without having to ever look at each other’s faces, which is precisely how I like it.
3. You don’t have to worry about picking up someone else’s tab
I’m the higher earner in my relationship, so I often pick up the tab for meals out — which I don’t mind most of the time, but sometimes it gets old (though he does pay half when he can and takes me out from time to time). I do the same for friends and family out of guilt or kindness or reparation, like if somebody put me up in their house for a night or two while traveling. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to go out by myself and know exactly how much I’ll be spending. Even more so when I’m taking advantage of a deal, like Chili’s recent “3 for $10” promotion. This is not a paid endorsement but an endorsement nonetheless because where else can you get a drink, salad, and substantial meal for a Hamilton? If you’re reading this, Chili’s, I will be your spokesperson.
4. ‘Me’ time is absolutely necessary
I do eat alone at restaurants spur of the moment, but most of the time it’s a conscious, advance decision, and I plan for it. I like to gather and take my unread magazines with me. Then I sit at the bar for hours, eating, drinking, and thumbing through the pages of the pile, and it’s truly my happy place. Totally relaxing; try it sometime.
5. You’ll get faster service at the bar
When I’m eating out with four or more, it’s usually best to get a table, but I prefer to sit at the bar on most other occasions. My boyfriend and I strictly sit at the bar whenever we dine out, except for special romantic occasions (we like to get mushy on anniversaries and holidays — sex is better afterward ☺).
I opt for the bar because I know I’ll get prompt service because I stare the bartenders down until they submit to my if-you-don’t-pay-attention-to-me-I’m-not-tipping gaze. That’s not true, of course — I’m a generous tipper, I think — but they don’t need to know that when I’m parched for another margie.
6. Nobody will eat off your plate
If you’ve ever seen that Friends episode where “Joey doesn’t share food” — well, that’s me. When my ex-husband and I would go out to dinner, he’d order something small like an appetizer and a salad because he was watching his weight or he didn’t want to feel like he was overeating, but then he’d grab at my fries until I barely had any left. All the time. Eventually, I started encouraging him to order a more substantial meal so he’d stop taking my food. I’m not anti-sharing, but I am pro-cleaning my plate. I want to eat what I ordered, thank you, and I’d love it if you ordered your own junk so we can get fat together. Isn’t that what love is all about?
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox.