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How to navigate a party alone

Date

Natalie Reilly

Take an awkward start to a fab finish with these tips for solo socialising.

Roam alone ... push through the awkward phase to enjoy a party on your own.

Roam alone ... push through the awkward phase to enjoy a party on your own.

From Sunday Life

So you've been invited to a soirée and your usual back-up - spouse, friend or co-worker - either can't make it or isn't invited. It's tempting to cancel at the last minute, or submerge your social anxiety in booze. But there is the risk with the latter that you'll end up doing something you'll regret, and while vomiting in the host's bathtub, for example, is easily cleaned up, the social stain left behind may be a tad more difficult to live with - especially if that's where they kept the beer.

If you're not terribly close to the host and it's not a sit-down affair, you can arrive late; that way, the party will already be in full swing. Don't begin at the food table as this is the habitat of socially anxious people and you'll be setting yourself up for an awkward evening.

If your host is gracious, they will introduce you to someone, but if not, grab a drink and locate the nearest nest of people. Introduce yourself and ask everyone how they know the host. A friend of a friend once told me this and it's helped enormously: accept that the first two minutes will be awkward. You're all strangers or acquaintances, so why wouldn't it be? Just push through until you're chatting away.

If there's no chemistry, excuse yourself by saying you need a refill, go to the bathroom, tell your reflection it looks amazing and get back out there. If you strike out again, you can always wander back to the food area where some poor, awkward introvert will be only too happy for you to strike up a conversation.

17 comments

  • Good one!!! I have to do this all the time. Not giving a s*** helps.

    Commenter
    MSP
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 05, 2011, 1:42PM
    • "where some poor, awkward introvert will be only too happy for you to strike up a conversation."

      Nice, thanks very much.

      Commenter
      a poor, awkward introvert
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      December 05, 2011, 2:04PM
      • Going late is the best thing you can do, in my experience. Most people need a few drinks in them before they can muster the nerve to talk to a *gasp* stranger. Downside is that you might misjudge it and turn up so late they're all pissed and not saying anything worth listening to.

        "You're all strangers or acquaintance"

        Nope, most parties are full of people who know each other and will spend the first couple of hours, at least, only talking to them and giving the cold shoulder to anybody else (see above about arriving late). What you have to do is circulate around until you find the one or two extroverts who are delighted to meet someone new. They'll introduce you to their group, and after you've spoken to them for a while you can move on. Having been given the stamp of approval, as it were, the other groups will now be more likely to let you join in.

        Commenter
        photondancer
        Date and time
        December 05, 2011, 2:45PM
        • Crap advice!

          Head straight for the free booze...

          If you don't know anyone there, then any fatal social faux pas won't matter one jot or tittle anyway.

          Bottoms up! %*}

          Commenter
          Conrad
          Date and time
          December 05, 2011, 2:59PM
          • @Captain Flash
            "...because I work in finance..."

            I've actually been at parties where horizontal fiscal equalisation was quite the hot topic. Those weren't quite the terms in use, though...

            Commenter
            Mike F
            Location
            Cheltenham, NSW
            Date and time
            December 05, 2011, 4:16PM
            • Wow, groundbreaking advice! Let's see, that was "don't cancel, don't get drunk, hope the host will do their job, and if they don't, go around and talk to people!". This is a whole new paradigm!

              For me, changing the mindset helped a lot.

              Whereas I used to think "This party is full of people who know each other and aren't interested in anything I have to say", now I channel "This party is full of people who have poorer social skills and narrower life experience than I (usually true). I will be helping them out by having a chat rather than leaving them stuck in the corner by themselves or having their ear chewed off by the office/family/community bore/boor. They'll be better off for knowing me."

              Although there are a few settings and functions where the attenders really are incredibly cliquey and exclude anyone they don't know (in which case I leave thinking "well I tried, I'm better than the people who were too p!ssweak to turn up"), in most cases, I end up enjoying myself and meeting a few interesting people. The more people I meet, the more I realise most other people really are completely socially inept and can benefit from my help in such a setting. Okay, maybe that perspective is skewed because I work in finance... ;op

              Commenter
              Captain Flash
              Location
              Cruisin' for a bruisin'...
              Date and time
              December 05, 2011, 4:33PM
              • I nominate this for the worst article in The Age this year - short, bereft of any real pointers and insulting to introverts or people who stand next to food. Oh, and if 'going up to a group of people, introducing yourself and asking how they know the host' is a real conversation killer - and kinda rude, don't you think?

                Commenter
                Moya
                Location
                Brisbane
                Date and time
                December 05, 2011, 11:33PM
                • Crap! Sounds paranoid, try the opposite its not in any dictionary, i call it PRONOID. Works well all and every time. Good luck.

                  Commenter
                  spencer
                  Location
                  melbourne
                  Date and time
                  December 06, 2011, 6:20AM
                  • Yeah groundbreaking stuff...No, the people around the food table are the one's who are bored off their tits with all the bores in the room after having found this out the hard way and find the food more interesting and so eat rather than hug the wall or skulk in a corner swilling back the booze looking on.

                    Commenter
                    Gemma
                    Location
                    Sydney
                    Date and time
                    December 06, 2011, 7:32AM
                    • There is little I hate more in life than standing around, glass (or beer bottle) in hand, talking to people whom I don't care about, about stuff I could care less about.
                      I am not timid in any way, I can strike up a conversation with anyone if I choose to but these events are sooooo boring. Sure occassionally you meet someone interesting, but that is rare.
                      It was different when I was single, at least there was a purpose and you could flirt etc, but nowdays what's the point?
                      I know I will come across as a sourpuss, but honestly I am not, I enjoy a good party and I have many close friends ... I'm just being honest.
                      I'd rather spend the time with close friends. If I wanted to talk to these other people they'd be my friends to begin with - and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. I have no doubt most of them have little interest in me either.
                      What would really have been helpful in this article would have been a list of excuses to get out of going in the first place.
                      -Sydney man.

                      Commenter
                      Sydney man
                      Location
                      Sydney
                      Date and time
                      December 06, 2011, 8:28AM

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