There are people I know who will jump out of perfectly good airplanes or ski double black diamond slopes in Utah who are afraid to dine out alone in a nice restaurant. Afraid!
In this enjoyable story on dining solo, the writer describes it this way:
When chilling out at home with a bowl of popcorn gets old, I opt for the solo dining experience – the next best thing to a bubble bath, except you’re doing it in public.
I've often thought about how psychological this whole solo dining thing is. Think about when you're going to meet someone at a high-end restaurant. You walk in, they're not there yet. Maybe you go to the bar and order a drink. Perfectly relaxed.
Now think about going into that restaurant alone without anyone to meet. The stress emerges. Perhaps you wonder what people think about you or if anyone is noticing your lack of an "other."
Same activity. Only the emotions have changed.
I concede that I prefer dining with company if I have a choice. But if I'm traveling solo in another city, I am NOT going to stay in my hotel room for dinner and I'm NOT going to pass up an opportunity to eat at an interesting restaurant.
I've long ago lost the "fear" of entering a restaurant to dine alone, and I often have nice surprises. Restaurant owners spotting me and sitting down to chat. Waiters being super kind or giving me something extra...just because.
These days, I mostly dine with picky-eater guy, which limits my choices a LOT, since we enjoy sharing what we've ordered. When dining solo, as the writer above explains - no compromises.
So the assignment for new solo travelers who are afraid to cross the restaurant's threshold is this: pretend you're meeting someone. Look around. Go to the bar. Get a drink, relax and wait for a bit.
When he or she doesn't turn up - and he or she won't because there isn't any he or she - stick around and order a delicious meal. Because really, this solo dining thing is mostly in your head.
I'm hoping, that soon enough, it will all be in your stomach - that meal that you deserve when you're out exploring the world on your own.
Photo: Ellen Perlman