Why I Advocate for the Irish Goodbye

A patch of clovers in Houston's Magnolia Grove Neighborhood. September 26, 2014.

A patch of clovers in Houston's Magnolia Grove Neighborhood. September 26, 2014.

Though I’ve outed my introversion—and my tendency to fall pretty far onto the “extreme” side of the spectrum—I do like parties. Really. And gatherings in general.

But I don’t like staying very long.

My social-fuel tank hits “empty” after about forty-five minutes to an hour. Typically, by that time, I’ve talked a bit with the folks I know, met a few new people, and mingled a little. Moseying sounds good.

And as I make it a habit to find, greet, and thank my hosts shortly after arrival, I’ve interrupted them once already. I feel more than a little rude disrupting them again such a short time later.

So count me a fan of the Irish goodbye.

Though the term comes from the derisory notion that Irish people leave parties without saying goodbye for fear that their drunkenness will prompt hosts to confiscate their keys, the Irish goodbye more generally means leaving a gathering without formally saying farewell.

Sounds good to me.

In fact, I’d advocate the Irish goodbye in almost all cases, including for extraverts who’ve lingered at the party for hours. Unless the hosts count on you for something later in the event—such as a toast, which you should not dodge unless you aim for the height of jerkitude—or the gathering has only a handful of guests, making your sudden, unexplained departure noticeable and strange to all—rather a disruption in its own right—skipping out unnoticed may stand as the least rude exit option.

After all, your hosts have the hard job of ensuring that they’ve adequately fed and watered and loved their guests. They juggle food, drinks, multiple conversations, introductions, and scan the room regularly to ensure no one feels excluded. They corral their animals and kids elsewhere—or ensure they happily engage with attendees and cause the least possible amount of disruption.

Continuing to interrupt the party-givers—especially if, as in my case, I just said hello an hour before—can’t possibly help the flow of their evening. Besides: They know I attended and we even chatted a bit. And, as one should, I send thank-you notes immediately thereafter.

Given these factors, the Irish goodbye seems rather more gracious than the alternatives. Yet I might stand nearly alone in this position.

What do you think of the Irish goodbye?