Before I met my current boyfriend, I used to love going out to eat alone. I took pride in it. It was both empowering and relaxing, knowing that I didn't need a friend or a partner to sit at a table with. I could dine solo, order exactly what I wanted, and savor a good meal while sipping on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Though there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, many women in relationships relinquish their grasp on alone time when they get into serious relationships. Becoming girlfriends, wives, and mothers can take up so much of our attention that we forget to be the people we were before we had those roles. But being a good partner (and mom) means taking care of ourselves, and one of the best ways to do that is by connecting with ourselves as individuals. My favorite way to do that is to reserve a table for one.
A lot of women are used to having conversations over dinner, so they don't know what to do with themselves when they're out for dinner alone. Here's my advice:
Bring a Book: When you don't know what to do with yourself, having a book on hand is a great way to avoid feeling awkward. Bring that book you've always wanted to read but haven't had the time to.
Order Something Delicious: When you're conversing with someone over dinner, it's usually the conversation that takes center stage, rather than your senses. Eating alone is the perfect opportunity to eat mindfully. Eat slowly, close your eyes, and savor every bite. If you want to get really serious, bring a notepad and write down your thoughts on the meal.
Have a Drink: Another thing to add to your notepad? Wine-tasting notes. Having one or two drinks is a great way to feel more comfortable dining out alone. And — bonus — it may spur your creativity as you read or write.
Chat With Your Waiter: Making small talk with someone you don't know is a lost art. Ask your waiter or waitress what dishes they recommend, address them by their name, and ask about their day (if they're not too busy).
Don't Sit at the Bar: Unless you're really in the mood to socialize, don't sit at the bar. A real table makes it clear that you're here to enjoy a meal on your own.
Going out to eat alone is increasingly celebrated, but many of us (especially women) often feel embarrassed doing it for the first time. I promise: Once you get used to it, you will feel like a badass. It can be hard to feel like a badass when you're covered in baby poop or picking up your significant other's laundry. It's the little things — like doing something alone, for yourself — that help you reconnect with yourself.