Never Eat Alone?

Matt’s thought for the weekend…

I just had brunch on my own in the West Village. It was lovely. I rushed past the crowd in the overflowing ‘sceney’ restaurant I happened to be walking past at that hungry moment, and was ushered to a single seat at the corner of the bar. No one hour wait. Thank God.

I scribbled down a few notes about what I wanted to do today (including figuring out a last minute Halloween outfit so that I’m not completely under dressed going out tonight), ate a delicious meal, and came back to my apartment.

Whenever I dine by myself I hear the title of a book I see on the shelves from time to time called ‘Never Eat Alone’. I confess I’ve never read the book, but I hear the title echoing in my mind as a kind of unhappy mentor tapping their foot in disapproval.


Though I agree that going out to meals with people is crucial for networking, strengthening bonds with those we already know, and sparking ideas for our careers and businesses, I also believe part of the reason we don’t have people to do this with is precisely because we never eat alone. In other words, we confine ourselves to our homes in our loneliness, fearing we will be that person at the restaurant or bar who showed up on their own, and isn’t waiting for someone to join them after all. We all fear being pitied.

Actually the truth about eating alone is somewhat more exciting. We solitary diners are not waiting for someone, we are waiting for anyone. We know that anything can happen. Our trade is that we have to venture out alone, into the unknown. Sometimes nothing will happen, as in the case of my meal today. But the worst-case scenario is that I sit there alone, with my most treasured team-mate, with time to be present and simply think and people watch. Not such a risky trade after all. Best case, I engage in interesting conversation with someone I didn’t even know existed 30 minutes ago.

There are times in life when we should take the risk to call someone up and invite them to dinner. There are other times when the most rewarding experience you can have is to take yourself. It won’t by any means close off your ability to have the excitement of meeting people while you are there, because in the process you’ll have taken the most sociable step one can take anyway – the step outside your front door.

I therefore propose an amendment to the title of this post…

Never be afraid to eat alone.

Matt x

9 Texts No Man Can Resist

35 Responses to Never Eat Alone?

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  1. Alizaren says:

    Today I tried it. I happened to be out of town at lunch time so I took myself out for lunch to the restaurant next to the gluten-free bakery I came for. I was all by myself and there was a small line up so I waited. When I got to the head of the line to my surprise the person in charge asked me if this group of people behind me came first. There were only tables for four. I politely said no that I was first. She pointed to a table and said that I could have that one over there. Unfortunately I’m also on a special diet which also makes eating in restaurant difficult. To make a long story short, the wait was long, I felt bad when other people that were behind me got served first, all the waitress said was how busy it was. I felt like nuisance with my special diet and taking a table for four when there were groups waiting. I don’t think think I’ll do it again.

  2. Sasha says:

    Well last weekend when I took the step outside my front door I didn’t feel “alone”. But I felt adventurous because of it. Like I could be anywhere. Create anything. And anything could happen!

  3. Emily says:

    I’ve often traveled alone and with that comes eating out and a plethora of tales. Now I’m inspired to take myself to a movie alone :)

  4. Nathalie says:

    I love this new concept, Matt! Thanks for sharing it. Just today actually I had a moment, when I felt the unhappy mentor tapping his foot, like you described and instead of eating alone (which I craved and wanted to do at that moment to get my “to do lists back on track) I joined other people and enganged in a meaningless conversation… When I actually, I should have spent my time with my most treasure team-mate!

  5. L says:

    It’s really interesting how one’s perception changes when in a different environment and culture. I just moved to London for my studies and it’s SO different here-I’ve noticed that restaurants and cafes cater to solitary diners. My home country doesn’t have this kind of set up, so it definitely made me feel more self-conscious whenever I was out by myself. I never experienced eating a meal in a crowded restaurant alone until I arrived in London. It feels SO liberating, I go everywhere by myself! Life doesn’t wait for you, you can’t put your plans on hold just because you can’t find anyone to accompany you. Nothing would ever get done :D

  6. Link says:

    I learn to feel comfortable by doing things alone. I just love it. When I went to movie, I could actually take 3 seat and make myself comfortable like I was sitting on the couch at home (can’t do that with a company). I love eating alone or going to coffee shop alone just to spend sometime isolating myself from the world that is happening around me. It’s not lonely, it’s just embracing solitude. I help me become stronger and more independent, not emotionally reliable on people

  7. Maria says:

    I always admired a friend of mine who is comfortable with doing things alone when there is no company. She used to travel alone, went to the theater alone, went dining alone, attended parties alone and always made interesting experiences and met new people. In doing so,she valued her interests and stayed independent.

    • Allison says:

      That’s me! Movies alone, it’s like I feel (sorta) freer to react to to what I’m watching and to just totally relax :-). Last Christmas I made a point of just wandering the city by myself, found a new cozy cafe in the process. Planning to wander again this Christmas. There’s something really cool about being able to just chill with yourself :-).

  8. Maria says:

    beautiful “never be afraid to eat alone”! it depends on the environment how much joy it brings or how much confidence one needs to enjoy it. In a big city it’s no problem but around people that you know but don’t appreciate it becomes tricky.

  9. Alexis says:

    Love this post! I have to agree wholeheartedly with this. Eating alone really isn’t a big deal. I find that eating alone at times, or travelling alone, actually invites more opportunity to connect with strangers. I think people are more likely to approach you when you aren’t in a group. I’ve made some wonderful, random connections when travelling or eating alone at a café. I think the key if you are feeling a little insecure about this at first is to bringing a little something to engage yourself with for those times when you may feel a little awkward, something like a good book to read as crutch. But I’d really advise to take a moment and look around and be open. I see far too many people being too engrossed on their smart phones whenever they feel uncomfortable or bored when alone in public – this sends out a ‘don’t talk to me vibe’. It’s ok to eat alone, it’s ok to feel awkward and it’s ok to not constantly feel like having to be ‘busy’ when out alone. I think feeling comfortable with this comes with practice, but it is very liberating to get to that place where you can just be in the world and not feel like you need other people or gadgets as a crutch.

  10. Lynne says:

    I venture out on my own quite often. I used to have to force myself in the early days, but now I quite like it. I people watch, interact with the staff in the establishment I’m visiting. I find it quite liberating but I also enjoy the quite times of solitude I have at home. Best of both worlds – thanks for your continuous advice; I am finding it most enlightening :D x

  11. Maz says:

    Perfect timing. I was considering attending an event as I’m interested in the subject. There is a dinner included, as well. However, I won’t have anyone to go with so I’ll be dining alone. In my mind I can hear myself making excuses not to go. Truth is, it’s the ‘dinner’ part which is putting me off, as I think I should be with someone. Time to take that brave step. :)

  12. anon says:

    Matt, I would not eat a meal alone in a cafe in my home town (population circa 14,000) because I definately don’t want to look like a loner or worse still look like someone with no friends! Everyone knows everyone in my home town so I would feel uncomfortable eating alone in a cafe where I live. If I have a meal out in my home town it would always be with other people. However if I go to my nearest city on my own to do some shopping, then I wouldn’t mind eating alone in a cafe because I know no-one will know me. I think it’s different in New York as it’s a really big city where no-one would know you. I think it’s more acceptable aswell for men to sit at a bar having a drink on their own.

    • Alexis says:

      True enough. New York is different and it’s very common to see people dining on their own without any fuss and easier to blend in. I come from a mid-sized town as well, and what has worked for me is to frequent certain favourite places where I’ve developed a little friendly banter with the staff. It feels less intimating. Also, the whole bringing a book or some work to do at a café can be helpful at first. A little something to divert your attention now and then, but something that is very easy to look up from and engage with others from time to time when dining alone.

      • anon says:

        Yes Alexis, well said. I didn’t say in my first comment that I work in a similar sized town to my home town, about 14km away. Sometimes I HAVE eaten out alone in the town where I work, but I had a different mindset about it because I just wanted to get away from the work canteen for a change & I purposely chose a quiet pub & sat in a quiet corner & brought a magazine or was browsing the internet on my phone. Having said that, I still wouldn’t go out for lunch on my own on my day off in my home town for the reasons I stated in my first comment.

  13. Karen says:

    wow, I can’t enjoy more reading this article. I am a big believer that eating alone really isn’t a big deal. We, as a human being, are too terrified of been judged. By the time we walk into a restaurant alone and see other groups of people are eating together, chatting, laughing etc, something immediately come to our mind: What people are going to think of me? They must think that why this person come to eat by her/himself. Does she/ he even have friends? If she/ he doesn’t even have anyone to go to a restaurant with, there must be something wrong with this person… ( to be continued…) But the truth is, no one gives a crap of us, and what we do is none of their businesses.

    I absolutely love this phrase : ” We solitary diners are not waiting for someone, we are waiting for anyone. We know that anything can happen. ” Many people find it too hard to believe and they already doubt it before they even try. I strongly believe that if we want our life to be different, we have do things that most people don’t normally do, like, eating out alone :) And it’s really not that hard as we sometimes think it is.

    It reminds me a phrase that Matt used to say, ” ordinary things done consistently produce extrodinary results.” It gives me lots of encouragement when I don’t feel like going anywhere and doing anything. Thanks Matt, you are the best friend, brother and hero of all of us, I can’t imagine how many lives you have changed!!

    Big hug XXX

  14. Sasha says:

    Thank you for this post!

    Dining alone, or taking yourself on any kind of solitary date, is seriously empowering. Regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, doing things and going places alone helps you feel independent and self-sufficient, might introduce you to new people, gives you time to people watch, and lets your mind wander.

    I also want to throw out there that Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, is definitely worth the read. Like Get the Guy, it’s about the importance of making and maintaining human relationships, and like GtG, has motivated me to step out of my comfort zone and just be a bit more social and talk to other humans (whether in a romantic way or not).

    Glad your brunch was great! :)

  15. Bronwyn says:

    Enjoyed reading this. The title could even be “Enjoy eating alone”. I used to feel really self-conscious sitting in a coffee shop/ restaurant eating on my own but as I’ve gotten older (& braver!)I’ve started to actually like doing this sometimes – especially at those times where you need some head space or time out. Plus, it’s a fun opportunity for people watching (and listening)provided its a busy place and you’re about subtle about it. What’s not to like about that :-)

  16. camille says:

    This is like a sign for me, last week my cousin and I talked about going out alone,. She recommends that I should try it, cause she’s been doing it..but before she even recommend it, I have been thinking of going out alone, the only thing that’s stopping me, is the thought of what am I going to do alone? What will the people think if they saw me alone? So just reading this is like telling me, “hey girl, go out! You will be fine.. you’ll learn a lot more of your self as the day pass by..” so with that note, I will schedule a day to myself. :)

  17. Carmen says:

    Hi there,
    First off I just discovered your website and I devored several posts and videos at once.

    This post came really ironicly in myblunch time at work, sitting by myself waiting for my meal and coffee.

    I have been practicing this forever and not only in the eating department.
    Dressing up and going out on my own and see what happens was a normal thing.

    Well the alone night outs were a bit cheating since I always frequented the places where I know some people working in there and it would he common to run into some familiar face, but even then is the feeling that I can fo whatever I want, I can meet old friends but not necessarily stay all night with them…I can have a conversation with an stranger without being rude to my friends, and I can always leave with the excuse someone is waiting for me if thing s are not going in a good direction.

    Eat alone…hell yeah.
    A moment to feed your body and mind, and show yourself to the world while wandering in your mind.
    Anyways everyone is always “busy” to even notice everyone around…if that makes anyone feel better to try this therapy . :)

  18. Kas says:

    Everyone will eat alone at some point or another, man but we all feel strange doing so. :-P Well, most of us anyway

  19. Husna says:

    Mat, can you write and think about things that implies to both poeple and muslims. Some of what you say, we’re bound to do that. So how can i apply your things. I love them but i can’t. Please think about it

  20. kristi♥ says:

    I love the idea that you finally see the other side of the world…it feels good that someone understands that solitude is not anti-socializing or picking up that loner costume…there are really people who feels better when they have more time alone than getting lost in the noisy crowd-well for myself, I enjoy watching movies alone :) I date myself by going to my favorite bookstore and read there or just have sometime to think in my room… I love to walk on the same place I’m passing on the same way everyday :) or eat on the same table and same chair in the pantry…what changes there is the people you meet and dine with or walk with everyday…
    every conversation starts somewhere :)and If I did not take those moments of self-enriching process, I could have not wrote a note here, or to find myself stumbled on your “dolphin video” and might still be stuck on the same rotting feeling of being lonely while faking “I am okay” with all those parties and acquaintances. for me,managing yourself to be alone and yet feel good about it is the most liberating feeling-that means, you’ve out-grown the desire to appease everyone’s prejudice of why you go solo :) you can’t be ready to be in a relationship if you haven’t enjoyed that moment for yourself…and yes, I would say…it’s okay to watch movies alone :)
    grow where you’re planted-being single is not a curse;) but is an opportunity to be productive.

  21. Elizabeth Nguyen says:

    This is great. It takes guts to do so. I do this sometimes… Why not be able to enjoy a nice meal with yourself? I never view this as being alone… The whole Surrounding world is with you the entire time. cheers

  22. Gulnaz says:

    Nothing wrong with eating alone at all. I go to many places alone (theatre, lectures, movies, a nice stroll in the park) and have noticed actually there’s lots of people alone, too. It’s a great way of meeting people. I think most of the time we’re too worried what other people might think of us. Just take a book (get a little me time), or a laptop to do some work, or (as I’ve seen people do in restaurants) catch up on your Netflix while you wait for order. I’ve writing in my spare time so I eavesdrop on conversations and observe people’s mannerisms I can steal for my characters ;)

  23. Cassi says:

    This! Yes! As I sit currently eating out by myself scrolling the internet, see this. I clicked ready to be reprimanded. Thank you. More people need to hear this and be okay going out by themselves.

  24. Maggie says:

    When I lived in Florida every Sunday I would take my favorite book to a little local place on the water. I would sit there looking at the water, sipping a blue moon, eating shrimp and grits and reading. It became my meditation time to myself -and some of my fondest memories. I met some wonderful people some days and others had a great meal and time alone- a win win for me. You always get the strange looks from fellow patrons and the host/hostess, but I would rather think they are wondering how I became such an independent and mysterious woman!

  25. Aimee says:

    I used to not like eating alone but now I dont mind it, and enjoy my own company. I go to movies alone, go to Top Golf alone, paint and sip alone. I often meet new friends and other times just have fun. Last night I went to pizza but bought it at a place where buying your food is social. I talked to everyone and I am sure annoyed a few haha But thats whats fun to me, just meeting new people. Its less predictable and can be kinda exciting

  26. Gwendolyn says:

    Wonderful, Matthew. And I agree! Eating alone is also a form of self Love. Because you should be your best friend and feel secure in yourself. I often take myself out on “dates” where I dine alone and just appreciate the World around me. I also reflect on life and enjoy seeing the interactions that surround me. And yes, it also gives the great opportunity to meet or exchange with someone new. Sometimes, the World is always go-go-go that’s it’s just nice to stop, and dine alone. Great post!

  27. Maria says:

    I literally just had waffles and chicken by myself at west village (Uptown Dallas), while everyone is in a group drinking mimosa. Now having a quiet saturday drinking tea in a coffee shop. Sometimes you just need a “me time”.

  28. Tara says:

    Great post, Matthew. This sums up my year so far. I’ve spent my whole life waiting for someone to do stuff with who never turned up. This year I just decided to go for it alone.

    As well as eating alone, gone to meetup events alone, flown abroad alone and last night, went to a rock concert alone. If I hadn’t done any of these things I wouldn’t have had the guts to go to your seminar alone (where I met a fabulous new friend) and I most definitely would not have had the nerve to sign up for the retreat.

    While it’s not always comfortable, I’ve always felt better for doing it. It means I don’t have to miss out on things just because there’s no one around to do them with. It’s definitely a confidence booster and a step towards a fuller life.

    Time to chuck that book out :)

  29. Houriya says:

    Eating alone can be a very enjoyable experience when you feel ok and when you are less stressed about work, studies, ..
    But if you are very stressed and when you feel alone, it’s a little bit different ( at least for me) I usually don’t care what others think of me when i ‘m sitting alone at restaurant ordering meal or just eating alone at home, it’s just sometimes you need someone there to remind you that you need to eat, I lost a lot of weight because i had to eat alone for over than 6 months last year, I was so stressed with studies (senior year at an engineering school), very far away from home, friends moved to other cities.., it was horrible.

  30. Lauren says:

    Back in May (months before you proposed the “date yourself” idea im proud to say) I decided to drive almost two hours to Miami for the day. I always wanted to go and wanted to experience something new and out of the ordinary. Looking back to that day im glad I did that on my own. Im more comfortable with going out now and having fun with finding people along the way. Thank you for all you do, Matthew. Love reading and watching all the wisdom you project to us lucky souls :) Hope you have a fun Halloween.

  31. Sophie h says:

    I pretty much enjoy eating out on my own with a book since very long. Not once I was afraid being pitied. I feel rather cool,relaxed,concentrated on your food that way. And as you say ‘ you never know what’s going to happen next’ do you? ;)

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