Party Of One: What Makes People Who Eat Alone Stronger

by Lauren Martin

Eating alone gets a bad rap. I think it was Hollywood who stigmatized it, along with going to movies alone and weddings without a plus one. The people depicted in these so called "sad" scenes are to be pitied and shown as cautionary tales.

They are the sad, the lonely and the unaccompanied. They are the ones who can't get a date and must face these social outings like outcasts. They are the ones you don't want to end up like, the ones with nothing left to lose.

If you tell people you went to dinner alone, you may as well be telling them you’re single by choice. But why? Why would you want to do that? Don’t you get lonely? Aren’t you worried about what people think?

And for all those diners brave enough to face the dining experience with nothing but a book, the answer is always the same: For the same reason I’m not dating some assh*le, I enjoy my own company too much to ruin it.

Christopher McCandless said, “Happiness is only real when shared,” but he never said anything about food. Food makes us happy, but it doesn’t need to be enjoyed in the presence of others to be appreciated wholly and completely.

Eating is an individual experience. It's something we've created as a social experience, but the act itself is very much individual. It's something we do alone, even if it's in front of others.

So why does it seem that the people eating alone are the odd balls? Aren't they the only ones who have the courage and sense of self to do it how it was intended?

Because it takes strong and self-assured people to eat alone. They aren't socially perverse, but socially enlightened. They have graduated past the social norms so many of us are attached to, like blankets and Netflix before bed, and have reached enlightenment.

It's not that they can't get the company of others, but rather, they don't need the company of others. They are confident enough to go to dinner alone, to partake in a "social activity" alone and to be around others, completely alone.

They can enjoy their food without staring at someone else across the table. They are stronger; they are bolder; they are happier.

You’re comfortable with yourself as company

Someone who can eat alone is someone who can be alone. Though we've been raised under the notion that dining is a social experience, only to be complete when across from another.

Many of us will resort to eating in bad company rather than no company. Yet, someone who is eating alone throws all our bad dinner dates, awkward group dinners and uninterested invitations in our face.

They have achieved a feat many will never reach. They’ve learned to be comfortable in their own company. They’ve gained the sense of self awareness and enlightenment that only comes with learning to bask in a plate of food across from absolutely no one.

You relish in silences

There's peace in a single reservation. For the first time all day, you're forced to be around people and not say a word. No small talk that intoxicates the air with its emptiness.

No idle chit chat, no listening to stories you've heard before, no trying to make conversation to fill the pauses. Your silences are your own, with no one to ruin them or make them uncomfortable. Silence isn't just golden, it's delicious.

You appreciate the actual food

Going out to eat alone is about enjoying the silence, but more importantly, the food. There are no distractions, complications or insecurities about having food in your teeth to remove you from the experience of a great meal.

You're not worried about where your elbows are or if you're chewing with your mouth closed.

You're there completely for the food, not the company of someone else. The food is the star, and you are its loyal and devoted fan who doesn't want to be distracted by idle chit-chat. Every flavor will be tasted, dissected and enjoyed.

Sometimes a book is better company than any person

A good book doesn't tell you what you don't want to hear. It doesn't go on and on and it doesn't distract you from what you're trying to get out of it. A good book is like your best friend.

It's there when you need it and willing to sit by when you need to be alone. It's the best dinner date and the only person worth spending money on.

You don’t feel like you have to entertain anyone

When it’s not your best friend who can share the silence with you, the next best thing is to just enjoy the meal by your lonesome. Because no company is better than forced entertainment.

Silence is better than talking when it's not saying anything. Nothing ruins a good meal than trying to fill it with empty words.

You can watch the world go by

In ironic fashion, being alone makes you more aware of everyone else. When you’re by yourself you’re more in tune with the world around you and your small place in it.

When you’re with a group or a friend, you get wrapped up in your conversations, your drama and your coinciding lives. You don’t have the time or the energy to let the world exist around you while you just observe its simple beauty.