Do people judge you if you eat alone in the dining hall (at college) every day?

What would you think if you observed someone doing this

My son did this, at least the first semester – sat alone and listened to podcasts.

Either no one judged him or if they did, he didn’t notice or care.

I’m not sure how one would know whether one is being judged or not.

Probably that you are either really introverted or are really busy and don’t have overlapping schedules with your friends. College isn’t high school. You don’t just take a lunch break at a set time every day with the same people you go to class with. Some people study at lunch, most just want to get in and out and check that chore off their list and few extroverts view it as just another social opportunity.

You can’t really care about what the latter group thinks because they probably don’t notice you in the first place. I am a working professional with lots of visibility. I am also very introverted and lunch is one of the few times during the day when I can avoid people. I almost always decline lunch invitations unless I have to go. I much prefer to take a short drive through the countryside, get a sandwich and eat it in my car parked somewhere quiet while reading a magazine or listening to satellite radio. I get really pissed off when I get invited to a special lunch that deprives me of that time.

Then again, I am one of those people that greatly prefers travelling by myself and even going to restaurants alone even when I have people begging me to go with them. It is a strength, not a weakness unless you are a troubled extrovert without social skills.

Yes, someone has noticed. And that someone is likely judging you.

But it’s probably not as many people as you think. Most people aren’t too busy engrossed in their own bubbles to notice things like that.

And the people who are judging you? They have a right to think what they want But you don’t have to care.

Someone somewhere probably thinks it’s sad when I dine in restaurants alone–which is pretty much all the time. But in my opinion, it would be much sadder for me not to have fun just because I’m a loner. Dining out is fun.

Probably the only person who notices is the checkout person in the lunchroom and hey, their life achievement so far is checkout person at the college lunchroom so take that with a grain of salt :slight_smile:

Awww. :frowning: I’d sit with you dude.

I wouldn’t care one way or the other. Not college, but at work I ate my lunch alone nearly every day. That hour was the only one I had to be by myself during the day and I took advantage of it.

How would we know what others might be thinking?

Yes, because I had no less than three different people over the course of a year come over and sit at my table and initiate conversation by saying very close equivalents of “You’re always alone, are you sad? I thought I would give you some company.” None of them ended up being anything more than barely acquaintance-friends anyway. They never paid attention to the fact that I was reading a book, that I was quite happy eating alone, and I wasn’t seeking their company. My schedule was usually off compared to my friends’ and I never put any stock in needing to eat with other people the way the majority of college people seemed to, so eating alone was common for me.

Anyway, people judge. No reason to care, because anyone who judges you over it wouldn’t make good friends anyway due to a personality mismatch. You’re not losing anything by it.

I knew some people who would use meal time to read/study and would either eat alone or with someone else who was reading/studying. I myself almost always ate lunch alone due to a combination of 1) my friends having different class schedules and 2) me wanting to get out of there quickly so I could get back to my apartment for nap time. I would assume anyone else eating alone had similar reasons.

Now, if there was a guy or girl who conspicuously sat in the same booth, every meal, every day and ate alone we might notice, but we’d probably chalk it up to “I guess that girl likes eating alone.” They would, however, have been referred to as “that girl who eats alone all the time.”

I often didn’t have enough time in college to make it to the cafeteria for my own meals much less keep track of the lunch habits of people I didn’t know.

I’m a college senior who pretty much always eats alone, unless of one of these situations comes to pass:

I. It’s crowded and I’m forced to sit with some random people at a table with a few open seats,

II. I happen to see a friend who is either alone or with people who would appear to welcome me.

III. I actually have an arranged meeting, which is rare but not unheard-of.

As for “judging”, I really doubt anyone pays much attention to my mealtime habits. But I suppose I might just be oblivious.

It’s kind of the norm on my campus. Not necessarily in the dorm dining hall(s); I can’t say because I’ve never lived in the dorms. Everywhere else, though, it’s pretty standard. In the students’ union building (which has a food court) and the mall (ditto), there are seating areas that seat at least 4 people per table. If I arrive with my food and all of the tables are “occupied”, even with only one person each at a majority of the tables, my first thought is, “Ah, shit, there’s nowhere to sit.”. Sure, you can claim an empty seat near a stranger, but a “Mind if I sit here?” is expected, and you are expected to not strike up a conversation. Maybe that’s Canada for you; we may be polite, but that doesn’t mean we’re friendly.

Regardless, if someone makes fun of you for always eating alone, just make fun of them having such a high school mentality.

If you go on in later life and commit a heinous crime (any kind) your college classmates will be interviewed and they will say you were always kind of a loner.

Kiss of death, man. I would advise bribing people to sit with you. I did it by giving away my dessert.

I went to a huge Big Ten school many moons ago. I doubt I would have noticed someone eating alone regularly. I know I did–I went to whatever cafeteria was closest to my next class, or the one that had the food court with the awesome curry and the frozen Cokes when I had time. Sometimes I’d dine with my roommate or another friend, but usually on the weekend.

I may or may not have sat near someone who looked interesting a time or two, in the hopes of striking up a conversation. :wink:

In high school, I simply didn’t eat lunch if I had nobody to eat it with, because I was worried about being judged.

In college, I didn’t give a crap and sometimes I ate alone and sometimes with friends.

Not to be unduly serious, but in my school, the dining hall cashiers are all recent immigrants working their butts off so that they can send their kids to college. They are far too nice and too busy to notice or care who sits alone.

OP–who cares if anyone judges you? If your concern is making friends in college, you could ask for ideas for how to go about doing that.

It’s almost like they’re real people or something, innit? Mine are sweet little old ladies who are some of the happiest people I know. I wouldn’t dream of looking down on them for their hard work.
People eat lunch in the cafeteria alone all the time. Most people seem just too busy with college stuff to try to meet up with somebody, and are not concerned with much besides eating and studying. The students who seem like they’re lonely and wish they had a person to sit with? My sweet little old lady cashiers will sit and eat their lunches with them and make polite conversation. So yes, I suppose they do notice sometimes, but that appears to be a good thing.

Depends what you mean by ‘judge’. I might notice ‘that guy is always sitting there by himself. I guess he’s a bit of a loner.’ Then you wouldn’t be in my thoughts any more, because, you know, lunch.

I don’t think they would outright judge you, but they would get used to seeing you alone, which is self reinforcing making it harder to break this pattern. Your ‘world’ becomes separate from their ‘world’ with no real connection between the two, just overlapping spacetime. You become sort of there but not and start to blend into the background for most people, sort of like a homeless person on the streets of NYC during the rush hour, there but not relevant to their world. But some people will notice you, and like the homeless person analogy, will offer to help which may or may not be welcome.