Pick a spot with the right atmosphere for you
If you’re nervous about dining alone, then start with lunch in an informal café, bar or chain restaurant. These will usually offer a relaxed atmosphere that’s more comfortable for first-time solo diners. If needs be, keep walking until you find the ideal spot for you. One of the joys of eating alone is that you’re free to pick somewhere that suits your needs without having to please anyone else, so make the most of it by finding the perfect spot.
Take something to do
Many people can become easily bored when dining alone, while others are happy to simply soak up the atmosphere and watch those around them. Come prepared with a book, magazine, notepad, laptop or smart phone in case you find yourself getting bored or feeling awkward. Dining alone can be a wonderful opportunity to catch up on correspondence or get stuck into a good book, so make the most of your time.
If you prefer to people-watch or chat to those around you, cafés and restaurants can be the perfect place, but make sure to be sensitive and not stare or eavesdrop on those having a private conversation. Likewise, not everyone around you may want to talk, so try to gauge whether the person next to you is up for a chat or would rather be left alone.
No-one’s looking at you
A common worry is that other people will make judgements about why you’re dining solo. However, most people at a café or restaurant are there to enjoy themselves, grab some food and soak up the atmosphere – it’s highly unlikely you’ll be attracting any attention from them if you’re quietly spending time alone. If you feel you’re being looked at, just smile politely and return to your book or magazine and don’t let other people spoil your relaxing time.
Be friendly with the restaurant staff
Making a good impression with the restaurant staff not only means you can enjoy a chat and not feel so alone, but many people also find this can improve your service too. If there’s the opportunity to sit and eat at the bar then that can offer a more sociable environment for chatting with the staff and other diners.
If you’re nervous, eat earlier
Dinner in particular can cause concerns for lone diners picturing packed restaurants with noisy groups or families . If you’re new to dining alone, or a nervous solo diner, consider eating your meal earlier in the evening so you can enjoy a quieter experience. Breakfast and lunch usually offer a more relaxed atmosphere, but don’t be put off dining in the evening.
Just go for it
Don’t let your fears or insecurities hold you back when dining alone – for many people it’s their favourite way to eat out, giving you an opportunity to focus on the food, your surroundings and yourself without any distractions. If you find it’s something you’re nervous about then just go for it - if you never try you’ll never know!
Tips from Purple Parking
For more advice, pick up the latest copy of Yours