How do you handle this awkward social situation?

I figure this has happened to pretty much all of us at one time or another. This is something, when it happens to me, makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

The hypothetical:

You’re with a group of people. Some you’re more familiar with than others. The conversation is flowing, it’s great and everybody is more or less taking even parts of it. Then for whatever reasons, most of the group departs. Now it’s just you and one other person. One of whom you are less familiar with. So, now the conversation goes from great to painful awkward silence in no time flat.

Don’t you hate that? Got any remedies for it? Your thoughts?

I just keep talking, and let the conversation continue. If it turns out the person is a total bore, or doesn’t like me, I say something like “I’m gonna get another drink,” then bow out.

I slip a roofie in my own drink and hope for the best.

Ask questions. In many cases, it’s possible to draw the other person into conversation. If they remain monosyllabic in their responses, it may be a lost cause.

I’ve found this is one answer to this thread, about how to make friends as an adult.

You do what you can to keep the conversation going. Sometimes you talk about the people who just left. You try to figure out why you have friends in common. Hopefully one of the two or three of you is a talker.

I actually have some really close friends that I met this way. Sometimes the timing was the other way around - we were the early ones. We knew we had mutual friends, but weren’t really friends ourselves…yet.


Talk about the people who just left!

Gossip is good for you!

Yep. It’s a mistake to view a conversation as a puzzle where there can be pieces missing.

Questions are your friend when conversations lag. Well, that and alcohol.

If you mean everyone else goes home, then I usually take that as my cue to head home as well.

Why did you stay when everyone else left? Or was it too sudden and unexpected?

I’m not understanding why you didn’t just leave at the same time. “Hey, we’re taking off”; “Yeah, think I will too.”

Questionable Content has this exact problem, and its solution: Here

OR, you could be unwittingly coupled up by your mutual friends. naturally, you try to stick your tongue down her throat.

Ask a few questions, like “So, how’s the job?” and “How about the music in this dive?” and see if you find anything to talk about based on that. The quesions should be based on whatever you happen to know about the person. If it’s nothing, then there are even more quesions you can ask.

But if the person is not talkative, if the responses to your questions are “closed” where they don’t leave any opening for continuing the conversation, there’s nothing wrong with just sitting there in silence. What, are you the host of the show or something? Just sit there as if you were by yourself, it’s not your job to entertain some schlep you hardly even know.

The scenario is little different from a first date.

You ask the other persons questions about themselves. You do not start talking about yourself, well maybe a little.

Where are you from? Oh wow, I always have wanted to go there. Were you born there? What do you like to do in your spare time? I’ve always wanted to try that. How is your family? Do you have any…hate any…eat any, kids? Me too or neither.

Doesn’t it suck that they just left us here like this? Maybe we should just ditch them too? Can I get you something to drink? Would you like to get a room? Would you like to call the police?

Eventually they are going to start talking or get up and leave, or possibly slap you. You just get the talking started if you can.

Do not put straws up your nose or attempt to belch the national anthem. Save those for the second meeting.

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed that. I suppose the content itself wasn’t that funny, but I am a sucker for top hats and monocles.

Two ways:

  1. In any group I am in, I’m the comedian, so they’re lucky to be with me and bask in the glowing shower of my humor. As a performer, it’s no problem for me to carry a one-sided conversation.

  2. As adults, we have an unspoken agreement about a “usual” ending time for these. On most days, it’s 9pm. One person will say, “Oh, time to put the kids to bed, let’s get the check.” That’s the signal for everybody to make their goodbyes. On weekends, this might go as long as 11pm, but this is rare and usually only when the group includes single people or those without kids.

Yeah, everybody seems to be going the bar route with this thread. I was thinking in situations like: “You’re at work in the lunchroom, you and the stranger still have to finish your meal.” or “Your at a house party, everybody suddenly broke away from the group, you and stranger are left there standing alone.” Situations like that.

“So … when did you find Jesus?”

…or everyone’s lively in the break room, then half the crew goes off and leaves you with the new person? I myself have sometimes used the Questionable Content approach by ridiculously asking, “So who the hell are you anyway?” Laughs are generally good to break the ice.

Have you heard the Good News?