MIA: If you do it right, your host won’t even notice.

Mia Freedman.


I am a ghoster from way back. I never knew this party practice had a name but now that I know it does, I’m tempted to get myself a GHOSTER t-shirt –  if it weren’t so completely contrary to the ethos of the act.

You see, Ghosters are the ones who like to slip, unannounced and unnoticed, from a social gathering.

“I’m just going to the bathroom” is the catch-cry of Ghosters everywhere. And you know what happens next.

As Seth Stevenson from Slate puts it:

Ghosting—aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other vaguely ethnophobic terms—refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. One moment you’re at the bar, or the house party, or the Sunday morning wedding brunch. The next moment you’re gone. In the manner of a ghost. “Where’d he go?” your friends might wonder. But—and this is key—they probably won’t even notice that you’ve left.

Why do we do it? Oh for so many reasons. The main one is this: nobody wants to know that you are leaving their party. To do so, you must interrupt them, announce that you are leaving and confirm that yes, you ARE leaving. Yes, you’re sure because [insert lame excuse here].  Then you must withstand their inevitable exhortations to stay longer. Next, endure inevitable accusations of being a piker, a pussy, a wuss, a wimp and a nana. Finally and excruciatingly, you must remain the focus of attention as you walk out the door.

It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. And it pleases nobody.

In fact, us Ghosters consider the whole public goodbye thing borderline rude. Why interrupt other people when they’re absorbed in conversations and having fun? It’s a downer to pull focus when you’re pulling the pin. Better to just silently slip away like smoke. Or a ghost.

There are some rules, as Stevenson points out:

Granted, it might be aggressive to ghost a gathering of fewer than 10. And ghosting a group of two or three is not so much ghosting as ditching. But if the party includes more than 15 or 20 attendees, there’s a decent chance none will notice that you’re gone, at least not right away. (It may be too late for them to cancel that pickleback shot they ordered for you, but, hey, that’s on them.) If there’s a guest of honor, as at a birthday party, I promise you that person is long ago air-kissed out. Just ghost.

With Christmas party season looming like a dark thundercloud (where did you get the idea I was anti-social, huh? HUH?), you will probably be going out more than usual so instead of the intrusive and buzz-killing public farewell, ghost it.

If you do it right, your host won’t even notice. Probably.

Have you ever ghosted? What’s your go-to move for leaving a party?