Eating alone in a restaurant can be an intimidating prospect for many — but increasingly less so, according to data from the online reservation service OpenTable: Between 2013 and 2015, single reservations increased by 62%.
Everyone has to eat and everyone is always with themselves, so ... choosing yourself as a dinner companion is the most efficient thing you could do. Aside from efficiency, however, there are a few more benefits to dining with yourself. In case you're not convinced of mealtime solitude, read on.
1. You will eat at your own pace.
A 2012 study called Mimicry of Food Intake: The Dynamic Interplay Between Eating Companions revealed we synchronize our eating with the people we're around.
"Numerous studies have shown that people adjust their intake directly to that of their eating companions; they eat more when others eat more," the study explained.
Therefore, there is a chance you'll actually end up eating smaller portions when alone. You'll eat at the speed and the amount that feels right to you.
2. You'll get some time to yourself.
Being alone is important. It's the only time we get to decompress and process our lives on our own terms. It can offer us a chance to sit back and reflect in a way that engaging with other people does not.
"Constantly being 'on' doesn't give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself," psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in Psychology Today. "Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus and think more clearly. It's an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time."
Eating alone provides just the right circumstance for this.
3. It'll be a heightened sensory experience.
When you're with others, the biggest distraction is, well, the people you're with. But dining alone can provide a heightened sensory experience, allowing you to focus more keenly on your surroundings: the sounds, sights, smells and feeling of the environment.
And engaging the senses really does matter: Pleasing them can actually improve the quality of an experience. Diageo discovered that optimizing the "multi-sensory environment" can increase how much people enjoy whisky by as much as 20%, the Guardian reports.
Assuming you pick the right place with nice ambiance, being able to properly soak in every dimension of your surroundings could actually improve your overall dining experience.
4. You might make new friends.
When you go out with old friends, you're often not on the lookout for new friends — you're meeting to catch up, bond and have some laughs. But you may surprise yourself when you're dining alone. There are no expectations when you're with yourself, no one to impress, no one to put on airs for and you may actually open yourself up to meeting and talking to new people.
The worst that could happen if you choose to strike up conversation with a stranger couldn't possibly be that bad ... unless they're voting for
the wrong another presidential candidate.
5. The company's guaranteed to be great.