Table for One

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About Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin, M.A., has worked in the mental health and addictions field for over sixteen years. He lives in Minnesota with his beautiful wife and two-year old daughter and has been in recovery for 17 years. He wrote A Man’s Way Through the Twelve Steps (Hazelden) and co-authored Helping Men Recover. Do you want to read more of Dan’s writing and learn more about his work? You can go to:


  1. Your socially awkward self sounds very much like me. I dread dining alone, and I won’t see a movie by myself. Because my group of friends is quite limited, I generally just sit at home rather than go out alone.

  2. I’m the opposite, I suppose. I love and relish my privacy. I have never once experienced the emotion of “loneliness,” and I doubt I ever will. When I dine out, I usually do it alone… and I’ve never felt the slightest anxiety or depression about it, much less wondered what others might be thinking of me.

    Oh, and I usually bring a book. I love reading through a meal and being alone with my thoughts.

    • PursuitAce says:

      Right with you copy….I’ve no idea what loneliness is…7 billion people on the planet?…I wouldn’t mind a week alone on the whole thing with just me and my thoughts.

    • Copyleft must be a long lost relative of mine.
      This is the second time the words have resonated with me with such exact similarity.
      I go to lunch, to the movies, and to various public venues alone and have no issue.
      i have gotten the stares but usually I just smile and wave.
      But I can see how many people do struggle with being solo.

  3. My women friends and I were discussing this very topic the other day. None of them had dined alone except for me, while on a business trip, with a book in my hand. I admire the way you’re handling it, and hope I’ll be able to do that too, someday. We women concluded that it might be nice to have a table set aside for people dining alone who wanted company (just someone to exchange views with, not as a way to pick someone up). I don’t suppose it will ever happen, though. And again, that’s not the solitude you’re referring to. Back to practicing the mindful eating, then…

    • HeatherN says:

      “We women concluded that it might be nice to have a table set aside for people dining alone who wanted company.”

      If you can find a Basque restaurant or a tapas bar, that can sort of end up with people who are dining alone ending up all dining together. But yeah…it’s kind of strange how automatically separated people are when we dine, particularly considering how social eating is. It’s social…but we only do it with people we know. There’s a research project in that somewhere, I’m sure of it. :)

  4. This is a great topic. I’ve experienced dining alone as liberating, but have not done it too often. Gabi – as for Mindful Eating, there was a great piece in the New York Times recently that discussed this (

    And there’s also a great book called Mindful Eating by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays which I just started and am enjoying. Thanks Dan for getting this topic out there!

  5. Brad Kelstrom says:

    This was great and I completely relate. I’ve always hesitated to do things by myself because I felt insecure and that others would judge me. I’ve always felt very sad when I’ve seen people at the movie or out to eat alone. One thing I have to do so I don’t feel overwhelmingly sad for others (and not feel insecure about myself) is to remind myself that I don’t know the whole story. The person alone at dinner may be on a business trip, but has a loving family and close friends. I pushed myself to go out to dinner alone while traveling for dinner and it was very awkard for me. I am getting to the point where I am okay at the movie, but I relate to being dependent on the phone. I love the line about having “restorative time” versus just wanting to isolate. This gave me a new perspective on doing things on my own, it’s really about self-care and getting to know myself better.

  6. These are great comments. We all have our challenges – for some men this resonates for other men it is something else. What is great for those men who do identify is there is a place to connect around and maybe even feel less alone. That is what is great about GMP

  7. This is an excellent article that should speak to the newly separated. I am one of those people that can enjoy my own company. I guess because I have lived for the last twenty-five years having no regrets and few other reasons for guilt I have often dined and movied alone. In fact, I prefer to see movies alone. But that’s because I study the skill of the movie makers. But also I refuse to not enjoy myself just because I am alone at the moment. Because of my tastes being different from a lot of friends I will wonder through museums alone. This is because I have greater appreciation for art than a lot of people I know.

  8. I believe everyone should dine alone on occasion, for the very fact that it allows you personal insight and introspection that is not easily available when dining with a partner or group. As Dan discovered, it’s amazing the ideas which we project on to other people, which may or may not be true but is a reflection of our own anxieties and fears at that moment.

  9. Valter Viglietti says:

    Thank you Dan, a fine piece.

    I’ve met several people who “can’t stand their own company” and, in the long run, being around them is no fun. And it’s hard for them to acknowledge that the issue is inside them, not outside.

    Personally I like being with myself. I enjoy my own company a lot. :)
    I’d rather be alone than with someone not interesting enough.


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