Why ghosting a party is the right thing to do
In support of the 'French Exit' — and why we can stop calling it that
This article was originally published April 13, 2017.
Much is made of party etiquette — what to bring, what to wear, what to say — it's enough to knock the shrimp cocktail off your paper plate. But there is a storied and much-maligned maneuver that should not only be accepted, but practiced at every gathering you go to; leaving a party without saying goodbye.
It's most commonly known as the French Exit, which the Oxford English Dictionary believes was coined by the English in the 18th Century, with some military connotations attached. Of course, the French refer to it as "filer à l'anglaise" ("to leave English style"), so we can confirm that neither the English or French enjoyed saying goodbye to each other. Another slang term is the Irish Goodbye, which stereotypically meant being too drunk to actually say goodbye. Yeah… There's no need to offend anyone actually — let's just call it ghosting!
If you've never heard of it, it's an unusual concept to get your head around; isn't not saying goodbye incredibly rude? You'd think so, but if we break it down, it may be considered the most considerate and mutually beneficial thing you can do.
No one likes a goodbye. People love hellos. It always "I'm so happy you came," not "I'm so glad you're leaving." A goodbye is a tonal shift, an indication that, in some part, the party is ending. Furthermore, it doesn't exactly make for polite conversation. Ever interrupt a group conversation just to state that you're leaving? You can almost hear the brakes screeching. So, for the sake of maintaining the party's momentum, abstain from announcing your absence.
They don't work
For the person leaving, it's a self-imposed moment of vulnerability to a slew of annoying interactions. You better have a litany of excuses at the ready to evade all the hurdles that are going to be thrown your way. "Why are you leaving? You can't leave!" "You're leaving? Have one more shot with me!" You'll have to follow up your goodbye attempt by outlining your usual bedtime and the rest of your weekend schedule before instilling the fact that you're adding nothing to this party for anyone to even comprehend your desired exit. The truth is that you're leaving the party because you want to leave the party, so skip the excuse marathon and just leave.
They take forever
Let's take the previous point out of the equation; an excuse-free goodbye session at even a small gathering is going to run you at least 30 minutes. You, shuffling around with your coat in hand, privately pulling people aside to tell them you're leaving. The handshakes, the hugs, that horrible small talk in the doorway while you're putting your shoes on — if you wanted to be out of there by 11:30, you should have started making the rounds by at least 10:45. In actuality, saying goodbye doesn't even mean you want to leave anymore, it just means you want to loiter around the room saying "alright, okay...I'm gonna go."
This is the biggest reason we're all not ghosting isn't it? We think people care about our absence! Once that door closes behind you, you envision the entire party in a panic, frantically searching in closets and under couches to see where you've gone. But if you could peek through the window 10 minutes later, you'd discover that the party is the same, if not better than when you left. Please take this in the best, most freeing way possible, no one will miss you.
Ok, fine, but how?
So you want to become a ghost? There's a few important rules to remember:
- This only works at a gathering with minimum 7-10 people. You can't just ghost a four person brunch.
- Know where your belongings are at all times; your phone, your keys and how to easily access your jacket. Extra points for keeping your shoes on.
- No peeking or sneaking. You're leaving a party, not committing a crime.
- Not as discreet as you'd like? As a last resort, just tell people you're going to the bathroom.
- If you'd like to thank the host (and you should), a next-day text or email will not only suffice, it'll seem much more thoughtful and personal.
- Lastly; stick with it. Once you and those around you become accustomed to the new custom, we'll all live in a magical world full of considerate, timely and low maintenance ghosts.