There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave a Party

Strategies for leaving the party when it's time to go.

Posted Aug 13, 2010

A reader sent me a link to the "An Introvert's Guide to Spontaneous Departures"  by Kelly Parkinson. I love it, particularly her advice to "Look like you are having THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE as you say goodbye."

Never leave a party early looking tired. It's a common introvert mistake. You want everyone to secretly suspect you're going to another party, so they don't feel sorry for you.

I'm definitely adding that to my playbook of party strategies.

Having a party escape hatch is important for introverts. Knowing we can leave makes showing up a lot easier. But deciding ahead of time that you're going to leave is not the same thing as actually opening the door and leaving, which can be harder than it sounds.

When they see you trying to leave, people will want you to believe one of two things: either 1) you are going to miss THE BEST PARTY EVER or 2) your absence will cause the entire party to collapse.

Neither of these is true. In fact, once the door closes behind you, most people will forget you were even there. No offense. Just sayin'.

Pretending you have someplace to go is an excellent way to avoid pity or pressure. Yeah, yeah, it's all part of The (Extrovert) Man holding down the introvert. But what's most important here? Getting out of the party.

Sometimes you don't even have to say goodbye. My husband and I once very reluctantly went to a baby shower (does anybody really enjoy those?), but arrived at the party to find that mommy had gone into labor early, and she and daddy were at the hospital. Tom and I didn't know a soul in the room. So we started looking at the...art...hanging...on...the....walls...until we were by the front door and outta there. High-fiving occurred.

Like many longtime couples, we have escape codes. We went to a great Mardi Gras party a few years ago and stayed a long time--eating, drinking, laughing, watching a parade, wearing beads. But after a few hours (I took frequent breaks on the quiet apartment balcony), just as I was running out of steam, Tom sidled up to me and grumbled, "I'm sick of wearing these beads." I laughed (hard), and we left. We've used the phrase many times since.

Of course, if you go to a party with an extrovert, prying that person out early is difficult, and unfair. That's why you should bring your own wheels (or cab fare) whenever possible. You probably won't break your friend's heart by leaving on your own. By the time you leave, your extrovert friend will have found a new and shiny friend, wrote Kelly Parkinson.

So don't worry about it. Slip out the back, or put on a big smile and parade out, waving and air kissing. Just remember that if you allow yourself to leave parties when you're ready, you're more likely to enjoy them while you're there.

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My book, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released December 4, 2012, just in time for party/festive/family-togetherness season. You know you need it.

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Copyright 2010 Sophia Dembling