After years of being single, I’ve gotten comfortable spending time alone. I live alone. I travel alone. I go to movies alone, which I did even when I was dating someone.
But there is one solo activity I wonder about. Is it OK to dine alone?
The first time I ate in a restaurant by myself was on a work trip. I felt like tragic violin music accompanied my walk to the world’s loneliest table. I brought my notebook and scribbled furiously, which might have made me look important, but also distracted me from a lovely meal. I’d made the classic mistake of spending more mental energy worrying what strangers thought of my life than actually living my own.
I’m older now, and I no longer fear judgment when I dine by myself, which I do on occasion. But I don’t think single people need to fear judgment. There are so many of us. Between divorces and a shift toward later and fewer marriages, nearly 50 percent of Americans are single now -- more than any time in history.
Many of my friends are unhitched. I asked a handful if they dine alone, and the result was split. Some say they prefer eating at home, or they’re too busy with kids. One told me she loved it, and she sometimes thinks of herself as a mysterious, exotic presence -- someone to be envied, not pitied.
The point is that you can do either. There’s great flexibility in being alone and no shame. The cool thing about being single is: You have no one to please but yourself.