// Patrick Louis

Why Is It So Uncomfortable To Eat Alone At A Restaurant


You’re hungry on your way home and are thinking of passing by a restaurant, to sit down, relax, and eat, but there’s an uncertainty feeling emerging. Why is it so uncomfortable to eat alone in a restaurant?

At first glance it seems like an appropriate solution: You’re hungry, tired, and there’s someone there waiting to cook for you. What might be holding you back?

Is it price related, are you intuitively calculating if it’s worth it? It’ll be less costly to eat at home but time and effort are also valuable assets. Let’s discard this argument.
What about the perception of the moment? Eating out is associated with friendly conversations, sharing food, and bringing your group closer together. Food has an intimate evolutionary relationship — We cannot live without it. Food is shared with the people you cherish and care about, it’s a proof of compassion and a bond between individuals. Inviting friends to diner is a sign of your determination to keep them in your circle, the proof of how valuable they are to you. That’s certainly missing when eating alone. However, it’s also missing when you have a meal at home and you don’t feel the anguish.

The difference lays in the environment, in a restaurant you’re surrounded by eyes peaking at you. That may feel awkward in its own way for some but there’s more to add to this equation. There’s an evolutionary drive that makes us more violent, upset, and ferocious when we are hungry (more). The mere look of strangers or knowledge that they might look when we are hungry and eating make us feel vulnerable. And we don’t want to be vulnerable, we want to have a safe zone, otherwise we can’t enjoy food.

My little grain of salt to multifold the math is the restaurant surroundings and how you perceive it. What if you dislike smoking and excruciatingly no restaurant you know has non-smoker rooms? What if you’re just annoyed and irritated? What if you don’t want anyone to fuck with you? What if you actually don’t want to see anyone at the end of your day, you just want to be alone and breathe? That definitely has its key role here!

Those are all valid points that makes eating alone at the restaurant uncomfortable. Thus, if you feel the same way I do about this matter you may grab a “quick-bite” instead of sitting in a restaurant.
Or you may not feel the same way and that’s fine. I hope I did too so, I could appreciate the new experience. However, for the moment it’s not enjoyable, and you’ll have to sympathize with me.

If you’re ever forced to eat alone, for a reason or another, think about me, I’ll keep you company as a philosophical friend.

Cheers, and let’s have a beer together someday!


  • Pieter Brueghel the Elder / Public domain

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