One of the many problems I face on a regular basis is eating in front of people. As you've probably noticed from my posts this is a sort of constant problem, since I do eat and cook a lot and naturally, girl gotta eat.
I've come to realize, over talking this over a few times with Liono, that there are specific reasons why I may have this particular hangup. I used to generalize it by saying I need to be comfortable around people in order to be able to eat well in front of them, and this is usually just hampered by the fact that I eat incredibly slowly in comparison to the average person and I like to talk a lot, which also slows down my consumption. Also I have TMJ, which makes eating a process and sometimes I just get tired before I finish eating. All of these make my eating habits rather...different than the average person.
The more he and I have talked about it though, the more I'm starting to realize the root of the problem could perhaps go further, since it's only around certain people (or types of people) that I get particularly uncomfortable eating. So, it is my hope to delve further into this and perhaps explain myself more fully to you, dear readers.
I think there are two main factors to my discomfort: my level of comfort with the person I am eating with based on their level of attractiveness to me (how attractive I think they are, and therefore what activities I would prefer to be doing around them, rather than eating) and how easy the food is to eat. These are likely the main culprits.
Level of attractiveness
If I find someone particularly appealing in any sort of way, this makes me uncomfortable anyway. Really attractive people have never been my forte and being comfortable around them just isn't natural to me. Because of this one of the main things I definitely do not want to be doing around them is eating. Eating to me is a rather private and intimate thing (very basically human) and because of this, the more attractive someone is, the less I want to eat around them. Sounds silly and stupid when I put it out this way, but really, I think it makes perfect sense.
Naturally there are many people I find attractive who I've learned to be comfortable around. This takes time and a certain level of intimacy though and it doesn't come easily. It is achievable but there is experience behind all this.
Easy to eat
Food that is difficult to eat is just plain embarrassing. There will be lots of wiping with the napkin, potential for spillage onto my clothing...basically lots of possibilities for mistakes and or situations where I will feel generally ashamed of my habits. Though it is likely that none of this will be my fault I feel somehow inept around people if I don't know how to eat cleanly and efficiently. Perhaps this is why I feel that eating is such an intimate affair and should only be done around people I really enjoy and feel comfortable around.
One of the things that slightly negates this is only eating food that is simple to eat. Snacks, bite-sized things, things that are dry or otherwise easy to manipulate with utensils (be it knife and fork or chopsticks), are much easier to deal with, and I feel more comfortable. The possibility for mistakes is less, therefore less anxiety.
Putting the two together
I think it only makes sense then that when you put the two together, the formula for ultra comfort with me is to have someone I'm comfortable around (i.e. someone who I find nonthreatening in the attractive sense) with food that is easy to eat. Or it needs to be proportional. If I'm around someone who is very attractive who I'm not comfortable with, gotta be with easy food. Difficult food can only be eaten around people who I am comfortable around.
My OCD mind wants to make some sort of graph for this but I'll abstain. In my head I've already created it so I'll just let you do that on your own.
As Liono and I slowly achieve this level of comfort (I find him extremely attractive and I've now been put into eating situations with him twice already), I find chipping away slowly to get to the comfort level something that I'm willing to work on. It's helpful that he finds my fusspot ways adorable rather than awkward.
I'll likely be reporting more on these things as I learn more about myself. It's nice to figure yourself out through others.