Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Table for one

I have zero problem with being single and I've highlighted on here many things I enjoy doing as a single woman, like shoe fashion shows and eating breakfast for dinner (multiple days in a row if necessary). I don't mind going shopping and to movies by myself, running errands and traveling on my own too. Those things are no sweat. 

But there is one thing I cannot bring myself to do as a single woman: go out to eat solo.

I love going out with friends for dinner and drinks and I often get carry-out orders on the weekend, but for some reason cannot go out to eat by myself. Even if I take a book or magazine, I would rather eat at home or get a carry-out order rather than eat on my own in public.

I think I feel this way because one summer while working at Chili's in Minnesota, the waiters were always particularly mean to women who would come in and eat alone, looking quite content. The waiters would point and laugh and when I would defend them (as many single women do for one another), the waiters would say that it's "pathetic" and just exhibits that the woman is alone and always will be. These guys at the time were in their early 20s so they had no idea what they were talking about, but the thought of waiters pointing and laughing at me behind my back definitely freaked me out.

The few times I've gone out to eat alone, I end up eating my meal twice as fast because there's no one to engage with and really, a magazine isn't going to slow me down. The faster I eat, the earlier the meal is over with and I can go home. It's bad, which is probably why I'm calling around on weekends to see if anyone else wants to go to dinner or I grab an order to take home for myself.

I'm still a strong and independent woman who can take care of herself and be on her own, but that is that one thing I hate to do alone.

Does anyone else have things they don't like to do on their own? Even if you're single or not?

53 comments:

Jenn said...

I never enjoyed going out to eat alone. A quick bite at McDonalds or Subway was fine, but at a sit-down restaurant...I just feel like I'm getting weird stares.

I often catch myself looking at lone eaters, wondering why they're here alone. I don't want people doing that to me! It's weird. I know.

I can go to movies by myself though. Maybe because it's dark? Who knows!

distractedspunk said...

It depends on the sort of restaurant. I'd go to a Nordstrom Cafe by myself, but not necessarily the Cheesecake Factory or something. If I'm craving something really decadent and yummy, I'll just order out from it. I don't mind eating alone - sometimes I prefer it - I get to savor my meal and read. It's bonus. But I can understand that it sometimes feels strange to be out somewhere more "fancy"-ish.

Mandy said...

I am going doing just about everything on my own too, except eating out at a resturant. I was just thinking about this morning actually. I need to conquer this and get over it. We should pick a day when all of us single gals can go eat out alone but together...lol. I am determined to do this.

A Super Girl said...

I can't do it, either. When I lived in DC, I went out for Mexican at a restaurant literally across the street from my house. I was a semi-regular, it was a nice night on the patio, and it was just across the street and I thought I'd be fine. It was really awkward and I haven't done it since aside from a lunch hour or fast food.

I also can't travel alone for pleasure...so I commend you for that!

Legally Brunette said...

I never liked eating alone until I graduated from law school and took a job where I had to travel solo very frequently. The job came with a generous expense account so I quickly got used to bringing a book with me while I ate alone. In the beginning, I would stack a file folder, notebook and my cell phone on the table so it was clear that I was having a "working dinner." Once you get over the discomfort factor, it can be relaxing...I even learned to focus on and enjoy my food more.

LJ said...

I don't blame you, I freak out eating alone to, though I know a couple peeps that do it all the time.

One thing I don't think I have done alone is go to a movie!

Gretchen said...

I love seeing movies by myself, but I have to sit without people on either side of me. I guess that's kind of quirky.

Vanessa said...

Certain restaurants I don't mind going by myself, but others I just get take out and come home. Sometimes it sepends on what time of day it is too, anywhere near pajama time and I 'd rather eat at home no matter what the restaurant!

thegoodnamesaretaken said...

I also hate eating out alone but I've gotten a bit more comfortable with it. Last weekend though, I was at the mall and had dinner at Noodles and felt very awkward as everyone else was with someone and it was Friday night. I felt like everyone was staring at the girl with no friends.

I actually prefer going to certain things by myself, especially if it's something that I'm really excited about. I hate going to a museum or a movie with someone who isn't as enthusiastic as I am.

erin said...

I'm with you on this. I've found eating alone at fast food places okay, because it's fast and there's no one waiting on you. But any place nicer than that? No way!
Also, the movies. I hear of people who love going to the movies alone, but I can't bring myself to do it. If I wanted to watch a movie alone, I'd watch it at home.
Shopping alone, though, I've found that I actually like. It's more efficient and I don't feel like I'm boring someone if I want to try everything on a couple of times.
I like the idea of traveling alone, but I doubt I could ever do it. I think I would just end up feeling very alone and sad - not a fun vacation!

pbandrazz said...

Oh yeah, this is tough.

My first REAL experience doing this was when I went to Portland alone last year on a whim. Since I was alone for the entire trip, I had to eat alone the entire trip. I got used to it, but it wasn't easy. I felt like people were constantly staring at me or wondering why I was by myself. I had sushi alone. I had lunch at a veggie restaurant alone. I sat at the bar at a very crowded, popular Portland restaurant and ate soup and salad alone. And then I took my dessert home and ate it in my hotel room with half a bottle of wine.

Sure, it gets easier when you do it more often, but I'd still prefer to dine with someone else ;)

Maxie said...

eating out alone doesn't really bother me. I won't do it without a book or at least a pad of paper, but otherwise I think it's kind of fun.

One time I went on a work trip and had to eat dinner alone and i got SO DRUNK. that was not fun.

Leah in Chicago said...

Delurking to say that I LOVE eating alone. Okay, perhaps love is an overstatement, but I enjoy it.

Try brunch at a diner. That's totally acceptable meal alone. Sit at the counter at a busy place, where you'll be lucky to get a seat ahead of all the twos and threesies.

Then take it a step further and try dinner or lunch at a bar. Sit at the bar with a chatty bartender.

And by chatty, I mean flirty.

Before too long, you'll be taking up a booth, stretching out your dinner and then walking home with an ice cream cone.

erm... something like that.

bianca said...

I'm totally with you. Did you ever see that episode of Sex & the City where Samantha goes out to eat in an Italian restaurant and the kid throws his food on her? I always admired her for being able to do that. I wish I could.

I've never been able to go see a movie alone. Which is silly. I really should make myself do it.

Alexa said...

i'm ok dining out alone. it doesn't really bug me. as long as im sitting at the bar.

if i'm at a table linen type restaurant i wouldn't be able to sit at a table by myself. but the bar? bring me another martini.

i've never seen a movie by myself, i don't know if i ever could.

Ginger said...

As long as I have a book or magazine, or something to occupy me, I'm ok eating alone (business trips trained me for that). It's not my favorite, but I don't hate it.
The movies alone though, I've never been brave enough to try. That seems silly when I think about it, but there you go.

RiverMist said...

I really realy like your blog!!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy your alone time, who gives a finger.

The Maiden Metallurgist said...

I enjoy taaking myself out for dinner or a drink, and I prefer to see movies alone. Good thing, because I talk too much if I have a friend at the movie with me.

PomJob said...

Eating alone doesn't bother me, I just pretend I'm in town for business. But I hate not having someone to do fun stuff with - bowling, mini golf, exploring new parts of town, etc.

Adorably Bitter said...

It has taken me time, but I've learned to accept eating out alone and actually enjoying it. I guess I can blame all the business travels and hotel breakfasts for it. Eating alone is a great time for people-watching, and also getting to know new people. Don't hide into the book!

RecoveringActor said...

I actually *hate* clothes shopping alone. It usually goes faster, but I'm a terrible gauge...and I usually buy things I never wear if I shop alone. I don't like eating out alone either. I'm doing a lot of that lately because my job isn't a 1/4 mile from home anymore.

Maris said...

I haven't mastered going to the movies alone. I'm a big talker during movies (it's annoying to watch a movie with me. I ask a lot of questions).

As far as going out to eat alone, I don't mind it, but I get bored easily. Even if I bring a magazine, it's hard to eat and read on the tiny table and it just feels awkward. I'd rather cook for myself or bring home takeout so that I can spread out on my kitchen table or coffee table or whatever and read, eat, TV whatever.

Also, in restaurants I'd rather be with at least one other person to debate what I want to order, and share an appetizer, that kind of thing.

Katie said...

Oh I hate walking or jogging in the park alone. Can do it anywhere but a park - streets, neighborhoods, but not the park. Every little sound totally spooks me!

Lady Glen said...

I love your blog! :)

I have never had a problem doing things alone, much to the confusion of my my friends:

"hey let's go see this movie."

"I saw it a couple of weeks ago."

"oh yeah?" *confusion* "with who?" *because obviously everyone I would go with is in the room...*

"oh, by myself."

"by YOURSELF???"

"you guys were playing MarioKart and kept ignoring me."

"but...by yourself? weren't you bored?"

which is a fair answer to some activities, but like, a movie? you sit in the dark and look at a screen. unless you're 14 and you're just there to make-out, it's a totally legitimate solitary activity.

it's a bit different with restaurants, I tend not to go to fancier restaurants by myself simply b/c reading a book there would make me feel awkward.

but usually my strategy is to NOT look like the girl who has no friends/date, but the girl who does have friends/date but has decided she's tired of them for the evening.

confidence is key. :)

ohhh recoveringactor: clothes shopping I MUST do alone. mostly b/c I take FOREVER and people want to kill me.

Deutlich said...

those waiters that said that were asshats and shouldn't have been so judgmental.

how do they know that the women in question just happend to have a significant other that was a) at work, b) out of town, c) deceased, d) etc etc etc

Ugh! it bugs me to no end when people assume dumb shit

Dabby said...

I used to HATE going to the beach alone and I would just avoid it altogether if I couldn't find someone to go with me.

But I conquered that and discovered that it's actually kind of peaceful. But then? My car was broken into and now I'm back to being a wuss.

HBee said...

I don't think I'd like that either. I've commented on your blog before, but my life has drastically changed in the last few weeks. I'll continue to read your blog and try to gain some of the confidence you have.

ToughGirl101 said...

Honestly, going out to eat on my own in ar estaurant is difficult for me.. I mean, I'm sitting in the school cafeteria, typing away alone, and I'm eating, but that's different... but going to a sit down restaurant? I just feel like a loser :-(

rebekah said...

I'll go eat with you! Honestly, I'm so used to doing it by myself by now it doesn't really strike me as odd. The magazine helps, and I am such a nerd that I have no problem taking the laptop to non-fast-food but not-fancy places and cracking that open for awhile.

LBluca77 said...

I don't understand why people think if someone is dining alone that means they are alone in life. Married people I am sure have dined alone or even people in a relationship have dined alone. Or people on business trips have to dine alone sometimes.

Not that I personally have ever dined alone. I would get food to go and bring it home.

thatShortChick said...

i can't muster up the strength to eat alone in public. just cannot do it. and i always feel sorry for the individual i spot alone at a restaurant, to the point, where i have to refrain myself from asking that person to join me&my guest(s) at our table.

i thought i could never go to the movies alone but i did for the first time in april and it wasn't as bad as i thought it would be.

Anonymous Amy said...

I work at a college and there are many people who eat alone here so that isn't hard to do--when you are in the right environment. what I can't seem to do alone is walk into a party. I need a friend to walk in with every time!

Paula said...

i can't eat alone - hell i can't even WALK INTO A BAR ON MY OWN!!! The only time this was different was when i was down in london with work earlier in the year and it was a beautiful day and i wanted to sit on the terrace of the hotel bar and sunbathe and no one else would come, so i ended up going down there equipped with magazines and my Walkman to sip rose wine in the sunshine. but i felt so conspicuous sitting at a table myself that I was so relieved when one of my colleagues finally came out!

Wickedly Scarlett said...

Going to parties. I don't necessarily have to go with Colby, but I feel completely uncomfortable showing up at a party without at least one wingperson! I just always have this horror that no one there will talk to me and I'll end up standing in a corner by myself. Bringing a friend along drastically reduces the likelihood of that occurrence ;)

Megkathleen said...

I love eating out alone even now when I'm no longer single. But I won't go to those big chain restaurants like Chili's I always go to hole in the wall neighborhood joints.

The one thing I can't do alone is go to movies. I'm not sure why 'cause everyone's watching the movie, but I feel totally self-conscious.

elle michelle said...

I have never once eaten out alone and every time I see a woman doing it, I think, "God, I wish I were more like her." Seriously. I'm such a chicken-shit.

I've been SO tempted lately to stop by one of my favorite bars on the way home from work just for a quick glass of wine on the patio, but I can't bring myself to do it. Maybe it's for fear that I'll tear through a whole bottle and look like a lone alchie. Who knows.

Maybe someday I'll break out of my comfort zone...

Katelin said...

i'm with you on eating out alone. i'm not a huge fan and i've done it before, but i find myself eating super fast because there is no one to talk to. unless i have a book i'm reading then it's okay i guess. but everything else i'm cool to do by myself, i totally agree.

Nilsa S. said...

I say I'll do anything alone. But when it comes to action, I was never one to go grab a drink alone. I have friends who will do that before meeting others for dinner. Or when they're traveling. And that's just not my style. Because I always hated getting roped into conversation with the bartender or other singles at the bar.

cass. said...

i feel the same way! i just can't go out to eat by myself. i just can't.

did you ever see that episode of friends where everybody made fun of rachel b/c she never went to eat alone, and then when she did, some guy she was going to go out on a date canceled b/c he saw her eating alone at a restaurant? gah! totally one of my reasons for not doing it. lol

Cheryl said...

I can't go "out" alone--like to a bar or event. It's hard for me to go to a party alone if it's a friend of a friend's--I either have to meet with someone on the way, or make sure they will be there before me. If it's my friend's party, no biggie. If I do go get food alone I must have a book or magazine and it's a rare occurrence.

The Modern Gal said...

It's funny that distractedspunk mentioned Cheesecake Factory. I generally don't have a problem eating out alone (I blame it on being an only child), but I did try it one time at Cheesecake Factory when I was traveling for business. I figured it was on the company dime, so I should take advantage of that. The waiter kept acting awkward with me and the couple at the table next to me kept striking up conversation with me. Both of those things made me feel uncomfortable, so I decided that Cheesecake Factory was above the line of places you can go when you're alone. (I try to set the bar as high as possible :-)

Other than that, I can't really think of things I wouldn't do by myself (again, blaming the only child thing). I guess I wouldn't go to a bar by myself because that's just asking for awkwardness.

Angela said...

I don't really like eating alone, but I'll do it at a casual place (and I'm talking REALLY casual) if I have to. One thing, though, that I can't bring myself to do is to see a movie by myslef. I'd feel really pathetic sitting there in a dark theater all alone.

L.C.T. said...

I can do coffee shops on my own. That's chilling with a book. Restaurant? Probably not.

Erin said...

I always feel awkward eating alone. I have to do it sometimes during the summer when I'm out seeing private clients, but it always makes me feels weird.

I do strangely enjoy going to the movies along, though.

Stephanie said...

People can be so mean! I've never eaten alone out, it just conjures up the awkwardness of lonely middle school lunches for me. Besides, in all honesty I'd rather eat take out (not necessarily fast food). But that's just because I'd rather get my grub on while in my home watching a DVD. :P

There is one thing I hate doing alone, but it will sound so odd---walking. If I have to walk in front of a large group of people alone, I feel all paranoid and I suddenly lose the use of my legs. Yes, I know that sounds really stupid, but you asked. :)

I think we all have our hang-ups.

(One more day until The Office, yippee! I bought a Pam notepad at Target today. I still have TONS from last year, but some woman was trying to pry her way in while I was looking at the $1 bin, so I mostly bought if for spite.)

Princess Pointful said...

I don't necessarily like eating alone, but I will do it-- after all, they don't know if I'm an incredibly important person in town for business! (okay, I may be wearing sweats)
I have only went once for a drink by myself, though. That was scary!!

theworld said...

Most everyone is never really "alone" there is almost always someone near, but we choose to be separate and not join in with those "strangers" in restaurants, theaters, bars, etc. even though by our "presents" we have already joined the micro community.

Dan Mega said...

Eat alone? Nah. Movie alone? Yeah.

Maki said...

I've done it a few time eating out alone... And..yes, it was a bit uncomfortable. I think during lunch time would be easier because many people work and it kind of makes sense. But going to a nice restaurant in the evening by myself, I don't think I could..

It is even hard to watch someone eatching alone for me, especially if he or she's elderly. I tend to worry too much about them; "oh why is she/he alone? is she/he okay?" and make me wanting to join and sit next to them.

I have no problem going to a cafe by myself though. I enjoy my time since I am surrounded by two little cute monsters and a big man.

Foxie said...

Oh oh oh oh oh me too me too me too me too. :) And I'm certainly not single, so it makes me feel worse sometimes... (I can't just go find a guy I sorta like just to have dinner with someone. I'm married, I shouldn't have to eat alone... Heh.)

The only place I've been able to pull it off is a sushi bar. Somehow it doesn't make me feel so awkward... But now I'm craving sushi. :(

Melissa said...

Found your blog and am enjoying it - I'm a 20something in the Windy City as well. :) I hear you on the eating alone factor, but I had to get over it when I worked in a job where I traveled alone for a few years, sometimes staying in hotels that didn't offer room service. I've learned that taking a magazine is better than a book because you really can't prop a book open while reading; that window seats are best so you can people-watch or enjoy the scenery; and that no matter what, someone somewhere will look at you and wonder why that poor young woman is dining alone (did she get stood up?). Ah, well. I've learned to do what I can to enjoy myself and not let it bother me too much!

lifeintheleftlane said...

I feel the same way! I've gone out to eat a few times by myself at work, and it sucks. I'd read a book and eat, but still feel weird sitting alone. And I would think people were talking about me for eating by myself.

SA said...

This is so late but I'm right there with you. I hate eating alone. I like to tell myself that I could care less what people think of me (and usually I do) but in that situation I'm so conscience of everyone around me. I would so rather take food home then eat at any restaurant alone.