How to Silently Exit a Party

You’ve been invited to your friend Deb’s party, and after just an hour, you’ve decided you’ve had enough. The music is too loud to talk over, you don’t recognize many people in the crowd, and you have to get up with your kid at 6am. People are bumping into you. People are vomiting off balconies. Someone peed all over the toilet seat. Yep, it’s time to bail. “Bye everyone, I’ll see you soon! Thanks for having me!” And you leave.

Ha! If only it were so easy.

Leaving parties is a major challenge, no matter when you decide to go. You can safely expect at least one of these two outcomes when you decide to bid everyone adieu. 1) Everyone badgers you into staying. “What the hell, man?! It’s only 9:30! Come on, have a shot with me!” 2) The goodbyes with each individual get dragged out for so long that by the time you’re finally ready to go, the first person you said goodbye to remarks “You’re still here? I thought you were leaving!”

The easiest way to leave a party is to leave unannounced. Known as an “Irish goodbye” or a “silent exit”, the move is gaining popularity amongst today’s socially inept youth and young adults alike. The moment you realize you’re ready to leave a party, you simply leave. No goodbyes, no fair warning. Did you bring a dish to share? Ditch it; you’ll get the pan back later. Just leave.

The upside here is that you have successfully left the party when you wanted to. The huge downside to this move is when people realize that you’re gone, they’re going to start texting or calling you, and you may still have to talk your way out of it. Furthermore, when people realize that you’ve left the party without so much as saying goodbye, you’re sure to hurt some feelings. And again, a silent exit might mean you leaving some personal items behind. You need to weigh the options here: how badly do you need out of this party right now?

If you’re sure that a silent exit is the best move, then follow these simple tips for a clean escape.

  • Always have the silent exit plan in the back of your head before you ever get to the party to properly prepare. This means the silent exit has already begun before you’ve even arrived!
  • Gauge the crowd size. If it’s just you and Deb and you silently exit, it will take her literally one second or less to notice you’re leaving. Even if it’s a handful of people, the silent exit is not a good option. In fact, the bare minimum crowd size for such a stunt would probably need to be at least a dozen, and even that’s a real stretch. The bigger the crowd the more effective.
  • Gauge the level of noise and activity. A quiet party is no time for a silent goodbye. The wilder, the easier.
  • Leave your coat in the car. If you have to go to the bedroom to get your coat, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re leaving.
  • Don’t bring in anything you want back. That means pans, trays, containers, games, speakers, etc. The moment you go in for your punch bowl, the jig is up.
  • Park far away, whether that’s a street over or at the back of the lot. You don’t want people to see you driving away. Walking is better yet. But if you already did park up front, consider leaving your car and walking as means of deception.
  • Ensure the exits are clear. If not the front door, then the back door or even a first-floor window. You don’t want to have to ask someone to move so you can get out of the house. That only makes them aware that you’re leaving.
  • Ensure that you aren’t needed for anything or haven’t committed to anything later on, like organizing a game or helping with cleanup. If you’re at karaoke, make sure your name is taken out of the rotation! “Next up we have Liz singing some Travis Tritt! Liz, to the stage! … Liz? Liz? Where is she?” The same goes for a raffle, or any game where your name could be called.
  • Make sure you aren’t leaving an obvious open designated seat. For instance, if it were you and seven friends sitting around a table at a bar, it will be very noticeable when your chair is suddenly empty.
  • If you’re in a public setting like a bar, pay with cash all night. You don’t need to be seen closing your tab early.
  • To really sell the exit, leave something important behind like an extra jacket! “Well, Liz’s jacket is still here, she must be around here somewhere. No cause for alarm!”
  • Wait until everyone is distracted to leave. Whether that means there’s a rousing game of charades breaking out or pivotal moment during the football game, choose your moment wisely.
  • Build your silent exit into a game or activity of some sort. For instance, if you were playing some strange party version of hide-and-seek and it was your turn to hide, just use that opportunity to leave! “Jesus, Liz has the best hiding spot ever! It’s been hours!”
  • If you see a group heading out to go pick up more beer, pretend to tag along with them, but then dart for your car.
  • Halloween or costume parties are easier to exit, because it may not be immediately apparent that you’re missing since your face wasn’t fully visible.
  • If there’s no good moment to time your silent exit, just pretend to take a call and step outside to talk. Give it a few minutes of fake talking before disappearing into the night.
  • If you’re a known smoker (or even if you’re not), there’s no better excuse to step outside than to enjoy a Parliament or Kool cigarette. A cigar would even suffice. If it’s super cold out, your breath can be passed off as cigarette smoke.

Just having exited the party doesn’t mean the escape is complete. Keenly aware partygoers will eventually notice your sudden absence. Someone may choose to text you to find out where you’ve gone. At this point, you have to either ignore them, leaving them to fear the worst; or admit that you’re gone and not coming back, which makes you appear like a less-than-stellar friend.

Coming up with an excuse for why you had to silently exit once you’ve been outed is another challenge, but not impossible. Some conceivably forgivable reasons may include the following:

  • I tried to say goodbye! “I was waiting for an opening but you were busy talking with so many people. I didn’t want to interrupt!”
  • I drank too much. “I had too many shots. I went outside to vomit in a bush and then got puke all over my blouse and ascot. I’m walking down the sidewalk right now. Oh God where am I. Umm, the street sign says I’m on Broadway and 35th.”
  • There was an emergency. “Luke’s car broke down on the side of the interstate and I had to come give him a lift. By the time we were done it was too late to justify coming back.”
  • Lie. You did say goodbye. “I did say goodbye! I hugged you! You don’t remember?! I literally stood at the doorstep and yelled ‘goodbye everyone!’ Dang, I didn’t know you were that drunk.”
  • I couldn’t find you. “I was saying my goodbyes and I couldn’t find you! You must have been in the bathroom. I looked everywhere! Dang it, man.”
  • Partial truth. I didn’t want to be a downer. “Oh, everyone was having so much fun, I didn’t want to interrupt everyone to say goodbye. I thought it best just to leave.
  • I have personal gender-related matters. “I really had to go home and tend to my… well, I don’t want to gross you out. You know.”
  • If you’re really being badgered about leaving, lie and say you are still coming back. “No, I didn’t leave for good. I just had to run out for more beer. Of course I’m coming back!
  • I went home with someone. “Oh, yeah sorry about that. I totally am at this guy’s house right now. We hooked up at the party and things got pretty hot and heavy. You shan’t be seeing me again tonight.”
  • Be very truthful but nice. “I didn’t want to be badgered about leaving early so I just left when no one was looking. I feel bad but I hope you understand.”
  • Be very truthful and blunt. “I silent exited. You know me, I don’t like goodbyes. Get over it.”

Now that you know what silent exiting is, how it can be done, how it can be covered, go ahead and start RSVP’ing to parties so you can leave them!

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My Hot Take:
Personally, I would get offended if I was hosting a party and an invited guest specifically made a point to silent exit. If I just happened to miss them on their way out, that would be one thing, but if I knew they just bailed, I’d possibly hold a grudge. And I don’t think I’d do it to someone else, either. I like to make a show of my exits and shake everyone’s hands. But, that’s just me.

Need to leave a party early? Leave without saying goodbye to anyone and hope it takes a while for anyone to notice.


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