Should you eat alone?

By Sheena Koh

It is commonly said that eating is the national past time in Singapore. But besides being an utterly delicious and satisfying hobby, mealtimes are also important pieces of our social fabric. Communal eating is important to us, as many of our cultural traditions and festivals would attest: Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and other celebrations often feature meals that emphasise the importance of eating together as a family. When good times are around, food is never far behind. Chances are, that memorable first date, birthday party or wild Friday night involved food and drink of some sort.

Little wonder, then, that going solo while dining can often evoke looks of pity from wait staff and even fellow diners. But here’s something they don’t know: eating alone can be totally awesome. Don’t knock it till you try it, people!

1. There is nothing shameful about eating alone

If you’re a teenager or a fledgling twenty-something, you’ve probably at some point of your young life felt a need to acquire social currency i.e. popularity or the appearance of such. Eating alone is probably the worst thing you can do – it basically screams ‘social pariah’. But the truth is, no one cares. You may get a few curious glances, but to be honest, the people at the next table are more interested in choosing the right filter for the picture of their #organic pan-seared scallops than in your attempts to inconspicuously devour your plate of hot wings.

I know, I know. It can be hard to believe that they didn’t notice the wings.

2. Eating alone is therapeutic

So now that you’ve gotten over that major hang up of eating alone, you can start appreciating that eating alone can actually be really therapeutic. No matter how much of an extrovert you are, there will definitely be days when you need some time to yourself. Maybe you just had a 4-hour long meeting and need to get away from people, or maybe you’re just sick of pretending to be a people person. When you eat alone, you get to tune out all the other voices and demands that usually occupy your consciousness, and spend some time with just your thoughts.

3. You learn to be more attentive to your needs

In this sense, eating alone is also a form of self-care. When you eat alone, you’re forced to give undivided attention to your needs. For example, you get greater control over your food choices: Hungry? Have lunch. Still full? Well, eat later! Or maybe you want to check out that hot new café, but all your friends are busy? Go right ahead. Running on your own schedule can be a stress-free and relaxing way to spend your time.

4. It can give you a confidence boost

Furthermore, being a solo diner helps you learn to enjoy the pleasure of your own company. It doesn’t mean that you’re lonely – rather, it means that you’ve got a new friend! Believe me, it’s less pathetic than it sounds. Learning how to be comfortable alone means that you’re a step closer to getting over the need for validation from other people, which is great. Because let’s face it – your friends and family can’t be around all the time.

*cue existential angst*

On the bright side, nothing boosts your confidence like going to a restaurant, asking for a table for one and realising that contrary to expectations, you don’t magically get “LOSER” tattooed on your forehead like some warped scarlet letter.

But we admit: it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

6. It can be uncomfortable

While being alone and feeling lonely can be mutually exclusive states of being, they are more commonly observed together. If you’ve just started eating out alone, feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness may plague you and prevent you from enjoying your meal or even your own company.

This is something not even ice cream can fix.

7. It’s just not as exciting

Sometimes, good food tastes better with good company. When you’re eating alone, it’s hard to enthuse about the delicious, just-the-right-amount-of-creamy bowl of laksa that you just ate. And no, posting a Tweet or a picture on Instagram doesn’t count.

Had laksa, now I’m lak-sad because I have no one to share it with.

Also, when you eat alone, it’s usually the case that you won’t be able to try as many dishes than if you were to go with a friend or a larger party. Even if you could, you might end up feeling like there’s something missing…such as a friend to get excited with. And here we go again! Sometimes, this vicious (albeit delicious) cycle can be hard to bear.

So that’s it – while eating alone can prove to be enjoyable and enlightening, and is definitely not as daunting as it appears to be, there are a number of downsides to it as well. Do you eat alone? Would you?

Dining solo can be great. But eating with good company brings with it a whole new set of fun experiences. If you’re looking for your next dining buddy, why not check out SUP the app?

About the writer:

Sheena is a second year literature major. She loves to read, and enjoys drinking spearmint tea with honey.