Fear of Dinner Conversations

Many people will use dinner time conversations as a way to decompress from the day and enjoy reconnecting with family and friends. They don’t want to eat alone and the conversation has a way of bringing everyone back together. However, that isn’t true of all people. There are those that fear dinner conversation perhaps because they feel it will require more from them than they are willing or able to give. This fear is known as Deipnophobia. For those who fear dinner conversations they will often simply work to be left alone (by eating alone) at dinner time or any meal time. When that is not possible they can begin to express significant agitation due to the perceived expectation of dialogue.

What Causes Deipnophobia?

You need to know that with every phobia there are a multitude of potential reasons the phobia exists. We will mention a few here, but understand more may exist and will likely feature reasons that may not appear logical.

The fear might start in a home where children were told they should be seen, but not heard. If conversation was unwanted in their homes they may believe that conversation with others at the dinner table is counterproductive at best and downright frightening at worst.

It could also be that an individual tried dinner conversation in their past, but came away feeling as if their words weren’t important or that speaking at the dinner table only served to annoy the other individual.

There may even be instances in which a dinner conversation in the past worked to get that individual thinking that their words are less valuable than most. They may fear they will embarrass themselves or others and the uncomfortable feelings they may have because they believe conversation is expected may make them wish they didn’t have to participate in the meal at all.

Symptoms of Deipnophobia

If a deipnophobe can’t eat by themselves they may refuse to eat at all. Their fear may be so profound they simply can’t eat in the presence of others because they know conversation will take place and they don’t feel they will be able to contribute anything meaningful thus becoming a laughingstock and object of ridicule.

Other symptoms may also include…

  • Loss of appetite
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panic attack
  • Nausea
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Crying

This phobic personality may politely decline a dinner request. If there is insistence they may become more forceful in their decision to not attend. While this may baffle the individual requesting their presence it generally serves to have the invitation rescinded.

How to Overcome Deipnophobia

This fear will require the aid of a therapist who can help you grapple with why you fear social situations and why conversation around the dinner table may be impossible for you.

This is not simply a matter of trying to convince you to accept an invitation. It is a matter of helping you return to the source of your fear, confront it and learn to manage future encounters with that fear.

The fear of dinner conversations is also referred to as:

  • Dinner conversation fear
  • Deipnophobia
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