Is eating alone in a restaurant now a big taboo?

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Leon_Trotsky
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02 Dec 2019, 3:29 pm

Since I am quite a solitary person, I tend to eat in restaurants by myself instead of with friends, and obviously without girlfriend/wife. If I travel I do the same, just table for one.

However, I notice that here where I live people really seem to dislike people who eat alone in restaurants. When I eat alone I notice that a lot of people stare at me, especially couples composed of boyfriend/girlfriend or wife/husband. Some would give me "the eye" when they glare at me even.

I looked this topic up on the internet. Apparently some people here say that if they have to eat in a restaurant and they are by themselves, they ring a friend to accompany them, to avoid being ridiculed for eating alone in a restaurant.

Every time I go to a sit-down restaurant, the couples that are seated next to me stare constantly and try to look at me when they think that I do not notice them. Some stare at me then whisper to their partner something, and this process repeats.

A few months ago I ate dinner alone at a French restaurant here. I was seated in between two couples. All four people from both couples kept staring at me and then lowered their voices when talking to their partners. Then they stared again and again. I was close to asking them sarcastically, "May I help you?" or something similar.

Is this something new? I have never heard of how eating alone in a restaurant is considered odd. Is this a new-fashioned taboo thing?



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02 Dec 2019, 3:47 pm

Some people consider it pitiful when a man or a woman dines alone in a restaurant.

When I was young and single, I made it work to my advantage...

1. Request a table for two ("Oh, she said she'd meet me here!").

2. Order two drinks ("Whisky sour for me, and white wine for her ... she's just running a little late.").

3. Glance at your watch occasionally ("I wonder if she's alright ... ?").

4. Order two sets of appetizers ("I hope she likes stuffed mushrooms.").

5. Turn to look whenever someone walks in ("It's about ti ... oh, never mind ...").

6. After an hour, order a meal ("I'll split it with her.").

7. Finish your meal and ask for the check ("I'll see her in class on Monday.").

Sometimes the server would comp part of the cost. Sometimes the waitress would offer to walk out with me.

One guy worked this scam on Valentines day, complete with a phony engagement ring in a small box, which he showed to the server, who comped the entire meal plus drinks!


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Joe90
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02 Dec 2019, 4:37 pm

Where I come from it is not frowned upon to eat alone at a restaurant. I see it all the time. But it seems frowned upon to drink alone in a pub or bar, unless you are mates with the bartender and you stand at the bar chatting.

I have never eaten at a restaurant alone before, because I get this fear that the restaurant may suddenly become too full and people will sit at my table being so there would be spare seats, and the thought of eating with a load of strangers, particularly if it's a family with kids or a group of teenagers, gives me social anxiety.


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Leon_Trotsky
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02 Dec 2019, 4:53 pm

Over the past year or two, I have tried developing my peripheral vision skills. So right now I can see up to a 50 or 60 degree angle from the perpendiculars of my eyes. I usually look straight ahead, and if I see out of the corner of my eyes that someone is looking, I wait and see if they do this more than three times and/or for a prolonged period. In that manner I can see them without their noticing.

I usually turn my head to look at them directly if I have assessed from my peripheral vision that they were looking at me for a while.



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02 Dec 2019, 7:40 pm

If they have them near where you live how about eating at an establishment with counter seating?


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02 Dec 2019, 8:35 pm

For most of my life I was self conscious about eating in restaurants alone. I got more used to it when living away from home for work and had no choice. I rarely felt I was really being stared at, but that didn't stop the uncomfortable feelings.


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Irimias
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03 Dec 2019, 12:36 am

It's a taboo to be lonely generally. I can eat by myself without feeling too uncomfortable. If there are lots of people around it becomes worse as you stand out more. I wonder if people don't like seeing people alone because it reminds them of suffering. People don't want to be reminded of poverty (seeing beggars for instance) or the mentally ill, in a way it offends their perfect lives. If you are lonely one sense you're expected to keep it to yourself. Not put it on public display.



Leon_Trotsky
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03 Dec 2019, 12:59 am

Irimias wrote:
It's a taboo to be lonely generally. I can eat by myself without feeling too uncomfortable. If there are lots of people around it becomes worse as you stand out more. I wonder if people don't like seeing people alone because it reminds them of suffering. People don't want to be reminded of poverty (seeing beggars for instance) or the mentally ill, in a way it offends their perfect lives. If you are lonely one sense you're expected to keep it to yourself. Not put it on public display.


Are you serious, this is how people think now? So because I am eating alone surrounded by couples of boyfriend/girlfriend of husband/wife, I am not allowed to dine out?

My mother and father are much less accepting of these viewpoints, and usually will be very direct. They would not hesitate to tell someone, "F*ck off" or "How about you stop looking at me, you f*cking c*nt" or something similar if s/he stares at them or insults them for eating alone. Which they have done a few times in the past.



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03 Dec 2019, 1:03 am

It must be an American thing to judge people who are eating alone, because seriously in the UK nobody gives two hoots about it.

My boyfriend is a bus-driver and if he's driving a bus out of town he's got no choice but to eat alone at a restaurant.


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auntblabby
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03 Dec 2019, 1:28 am

this aspie tends to be oblivious to stares, as i concentrate on my food when eating, whenever i can really afford to eat out. i generally just avoid overpriced restaurants to avoid the whole tipping thing, just fast food where i eat it in the car. and those people so busy minding other people's business, have not an iota of common decency, whose parents never taught them manners or they were just crap students.



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03 Dec 2019, 1:47 am

Joe90 wrote:
It must be an American thing to judge people who are eating alone, because seriously in the UK nobody gives two hoots about it.

My boyfriend is a bus-driver and if he's driving a bus out of town he's got no choice but to eat alone at a restaurant.


Englebert is a singer from the UK. He doesn't agree.


More than one tear jerking pop song has used the line "a table for one" as a metaphor for loneliness.

If youre talking about a formal sit down restaurant with waiters...yes its weird to dine alone. Always has been. Not just "now".

Dinners, and fast food places, and "truck stops", are different. Either way, eating alone or not, is the norm because its fast food.

Some places are kinda borderline. The waitstaff at Ihop seemed to be a bit thrown when I tell them I am a party of one.



EzraS
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03 Dec 2019, 3:00 am

In a situation like that you could say to them, "it's okay I'm just on a business trip".

I see people eating solo at the restaurants I go to. But those are just a step above fast food places.

Who knows maybe they're jealous that you get to have alone time.



rowan_nichol
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03 Dec 2019, 3:04 am

Is Eating Alone In A Restaurant Now A Big Taboo?

No, it is actually one of my pleasures. Nice food, a chance to write stuff in my journal, I sometimes learn a lot from all the conversations going on around me.



jimmyjazzuk
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03 Dec 2019, 4:10 am

Its good for your well being to at least being in a same room as other people even if not on the same table so keep doing what youre doing. Why should you have to be at home alone.



auntblabby
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03 Dec 2019, 4:13 am

eating out is expensive and not really for most working class folk.