Updated: Nov 16, 2019
The how-to guide to embracing eating out by yourself with enjoyment and gifts to take home
No - I am not talking about grabbing a sandwich or some sushi for lunch. Most of us can do that easily.
I am talking about the experience of going out to a restaurant for a nice meal, getting dressed up with anticipation of romance with your partner or great conversation with a friend, and savouring courses of delicious food.
In short, the enjoyment of food and converation with people you love and care for. Planning the date and time and dressing up is not a must, but can often add to the experience…at least for me it does.
But what happens when your partnership has ended?
How do you tackle eating out at a restaurant without a partner?
Do you stay home and cook or pick up take-out?
Do you go out on dates with people you don’t really care for?
For some, this may not be a problem at all, but for me after a 19-year marriage at 57-years-old…it was a huge dilemma. My love for food and trying out new restaurants never went away, but my hesitation to go out alone stood in the way. The thought of that experience being gone now that I was without a partner was devastating.
When I think back, I was the one who had introduced the idea of going out on a date once a week way back before our relationship deteriorated. So what to do?
“Make a plan,” as my dad would say. “And do it!”
Research and make a list of 10 restaurants you want to try out
Make a reservation for two
Dress up, bring a book or tablet (to fall back on…just in case! Akward eye contact and boredom can be a deterrent.)
Order a glass of wine and enough food for two - an appetizer, two entrees, some bread, etc.)
Inform the server that the other person won’t be joining, but that you will stay and taste it all… “because I adore food!”
Now, be prepared for various reactions from your server and stay away from giving into “poor me” or awkward explanations. Embrace the moment! You already knew you’d be eating alone, so there’s no need to dwell in self-pity. And if the server expresses remorse—just say: “lucky me!”
Be friendly and have a sense of humour, observe your surroundings. It’s amazing what gets unnoticed when we’re consumed in a conversation with others. Much can be learned and appreciated when we become our own best friend, but remain open and inviting to others. Enjoy your food, taste and savour, make notes to add into your chart of experiences at home later. Pretend your part time job is to be a food taster or writer.
You will watch the couples that hardly talk to each other and eat in silence.
You will observe the people having verbal disagreements or in passionate conversation.
You will envy the couples who smile affectionately and hold hands.
There will be moments of relief that you have weathered the storm and have your freedom back.
There will be moments when the tears are rising to the surface as you feel so alone.
But remember, this is your journey—a journey to a new beginning, the details not written yet. It is a journey to self-love and respect.
And then there are the surprises, a stranger may ask to join your table. It has happened to me twice followed by very interesting conversations. It’s not easy to find these like-minded people…but they do exist! And be open to welcoming them, or politely declining if you’re not ready.
Ahhh…and there will be gifts to take home, nicely packed up for tomorrow’s dinner.
So make a list and explore!