Have you ever jumped into the car after seeing a few friends and thought to yourself; "that... was not my best work".
Maybe you started telling a story only to be reminded that you’d already told it. Or you made a joke that didn’t quite land. Or you talked too much and didn’t even congratulate Sarah on her engagement even though that was the whole reason for the dinner. You might even go far enough to imagine that the rest of the group are on their way home texting about what an awful friend you are and "Did you notice she DIDN'T even CONGRATULATE me on my ENGAGEMENT."
The good news is, psychologists have a term for what you're experiencing and it's the 'Liking Gap'. And according to the experts, your friends probably aren't bitching about you via text message right now.
In fact, according to the 'Liking Gap' theory, they're much more likely to be ruminating on all the stupid and inappropriate stuff they said, and how they absolutely should not have had that third glass of wine.
Better yet, it turns out that we tend to underestimate how much people like us after a social interaction (thank... f**k).
As a 2018 study explains it, the Liking Gap exists in part because we don’t get to leave a social interaction and ask "so how did I do?" And if you did do that it would be... weird. It's difficult if not impossible to get real time feedback on how likeable we are, so we’re left in the hell that is our negative and hypercritical mind, which tells us we’re a cringey mess.
With new people, we’re also aware that there’s a lot we don’t know about them, from their values to their sense of humour. This means we’re taking a gamble with whatever we say, and the uncertainty of how they might interpret what we said makes us deeply uncomfortable.