Originally Published: August 31, 2016 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I’m wondering whether you could settle a dispute between my friend “Laura” and me. She thinks it’s rude to “ghost” – leave parties without saying bye. I think it’s fine.
For example, last weekend, our mutual friend had a barbecue. This particular friend is a social butterfly, so there were probably close to 75 people there. I knew a dozen or so of the guests. I enjoyed catching up with them and meeting some new people, but after a couple of hours, my socializing meter was about up and I was ready to go home and get to bed.
I didn’t want to take the trouble to say bye to everyone I knew there, so I just said good night to the people in my immediate vicinity and then stepped out quietly. About an hour later, Laura texted asking where I’d gone. When I told her I was already at home, she got angry and said it was rude for me not to say goodbye.
I really have never thought of it as rude. I think of it as a timesaver for everyone. I hate awkwardly interrupting the flow of conversations to tell people I’m leaving, especially because then other people usually chime in, “Oh, I should get going, too,” and I feel as if I’ve killed the party. I just want to slip out quietly and let everyone else keep doing their thing.
What do you think, Annie? Is it bad manners to ghost? – Tiptoeing Toward the Exit
Dear Tiptoeing: People might better like your vanishing act if it came with a bang and a cloud of smoke. Almost all the people whom I’ve talked to about this maneuver say it drives them crazy. They’ll be out with friends and suddenly have a “Home Alone”-like moment in which they realize they’re one short.
Though I don’t condone the behavior, I get it; you don’t want to interrupt conversations or derail the party train. Plus, there’s a frozen pizza at home calling your name. (Admit it.)
I think a good rule of thumb is: Don’t ghost the host. You don’t have to make the rounds to say bye to everyone you know, but at the very least, seek out the host to say thanks for having you. Then you may spirit yourself away and into some pajamas.
Dear Annie: My stepson was married in a small backyard ceremony. His father and I were not invited and were not even aware of the wedding until after it was over. Now, a year and a half later, we are invited to a “wedding reception.” He lives in another state, and it is very difficult to travel (for health and money reasons). I don’t want to go, but my husband insists we go. I won’t know many people, but all his ex-wife’s family will be there, and they are not very nice.
What can I do? The parties will be in a place I cannot stand to be. Should I grit my teeth and suffer through the long car ride and the rest? If he goes without me, his ex will be all over him. (It’s happened before, right in front of me.) What to do? – Wary and Weary Traveler
Dear Wary: You may want to pick up a mouthguard, because yes, I think you have to grit your teeth through this one.
When you marry someone, you also marry his family. If it’s possible to overcome the health and financial issues (and it sounds as if it is, seeing as your husband is set on going), then go. It’s just one weekend. Your husband should appreciate the effort on your part for a long time.
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