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Being alone and being lonely are two different things. While I don’t prefer the latter, I embrace the former. I do a lot of things by myself, in fact. Go to the movies, sit on the beach, pop into a happy hour, enjoy bikes rides, even go on vacation. I also like to treat myself to lunches and dinners out where I can sit in solitude and think, work, or catch up on odds and ends on my to-do list. For those reasons and six more, here’s why eating alone at a restaurant is the best meal you’ll ever have.

  1. You can order what you want without any guilt 

When I’m trying to stick to a strict diet, I like to have a food buddy who will support my endeavors when I go out to eat. But, sometimes, I just want to dive face first into a massive pasta dish with a bottle of wine, a basket of bread, and finish with dessert. And do you know what I don’t need while I’m doing that? Judgment. I judge myself hard enough, ya know, and I don’t need some hoity-toity fit so-and-so chastising me for licking the bowl in public. So what if I make vaguely oinky noises while I do it. Does that embarrass you? Good; table for one, please.

  1. You don’t have to engage in idle chit-chat 

I don’t know if you have this thing, but I sort of put my friends into certain categories. Like, I have specific friends with whom I enjoy going to the movies or inviting over for game nights or going away for the weekend with. I rarely, however, invite anyone to eat out with me or accept invitations for a meal out, especially if I’m without my boyfriend. The reason? I don’t want to feel trapped in a situation where I feel like I _have_ to talk. I find small talk annoying, and to have to keep it up for an hour or more gives me anxiety. If you want to catch up, just text me. I’ll be at one restaurant eating alone and you’ll be at another and we can establish a lovely back-and-forth banter without having to ever look at each other’s faces, which is exactly how I like it.

  1. You don’t have to worry about picking up someone else’s tab 

I’m the higher earner in my relationship, so I often pick up the tab for meals out – which I don’t mind doing most of the time, but sometimes it gets old, if I’m honest (though he does pay half when he can and takes me out from time to time). I do the same for friends and family out of guilt or kindness or reparation, like if somebody put me up in their house for a night or two while traveling. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to go out by myself and know exactly how much I’ll be spending. Even more so when I’m taking advantage of a deal, like Chili’s recent “3 for $10” promotion. This is not a paid endorsement but an endorsement nonetheless because where else can you get a drink, salad, and substantial meal for a Hamilton? If you’re reading this, Chili’s, I will be your spokesperson.

  1. ‘Me time is absolutely necessary 

I eat alone at restaurants spur of the moment, but most of the time it’s a conscious, advance decision, and I plan for it. I like to gather up all my unread magazines and take them with me. I sit at the bar for hours, eating, drinking, and thumbing through the pages of the pile, and it’s truly my happy place. Totally relaxing; try it sometime.

  1. You’ll get faster service at the bar 

When I’m eating out with four or more, it’s usually best to get a table, but I prefer to sit at the bar on most other occasions. My boyfriend and I strictly sit at the bar whenever we dine out, except for special romantic occasions (we like to get mushy on anniversaries and holidays – sex is better afterward ☺).

I opt for the bar because I know I’ll get prompt service because I can stare the bartenders down until they submit to my if-you-don’t-pay-attention-to-me-I’m-not-tipping gaze. That’s not true, of course – I’m a generous tipper, I think – but they don’t need to know that when my mouth is parched for another margie.

  1. Nobody will eat off your plate 

If you’ve ever seen that Friends episode where “Joey doesn’t share food” – that’s me. When my ex-husband and I would go out to dinner, he’d order something small like an appetizer and a salad because he was watching his weight or he didn’t want to feel like he was overeating, but then he’d grab from my fries until I barely had any left. All the time. Eventually I started encouraging him to order a more substantial meal because I didn’t want him taking my food. I’m not anti-sharing, but I am pro cleaning my plate. I want to eat what I ordered, thank you, and I’d love it if you ordered your own junk so we can get fat together. Isn’t that what love is all about?