How do I get rid of a creeper without being rude?

Dear Reader,

Perhaps you mean: How do I kindly dismiss a person who lingers after I am done with the conversation or the friend who overstays their welcome? In which case, keep reading.

There is no shame admitting that some people struggle with boundaries. It can be difficult to politely dismiss a reluctant lingerer when you are out at a party or at a social event. It might be that the person lingers long after you’ve stopped conversing at the bar. Sometimes people overstay their welcome and you do not know how to tell them to go home. Despite the predicament, you can get through it, even when things get awkward.

Photo by: William Wrobel

Photo by: William Wrobel

Remember, strangers usually know just as little about you as you know about them. If somebody is making you uncomfortable, it is your right to say it. As a general rule, if someone makes you feel bad, call them out on it. Sometimes the person simply did not realize that they were disturbing you. When it comes to meeting a new person setting boundaries is crucial, so be direct about what you want and expect.

Sometimes it is a more specific situation. When it comes to the bar lingerer, there are a few approaches for politely leaving the situation. You can start by saying something like “It was nice talking, I am going to go meet up with my friends now, goodbye.” If moments later you notice that the lingerer has followed you to your friends, it might be best to go to the bathroom or step outside for a moment. Exiting the area where you met might give your lingerer time to change their focus. If when you return to the bar area they will not leave you alone, do not fear being upfront about asking for your space. If you are too shy, explain to a friend that you are uncomfortable and would like them to walk you home. Whatever you do, be sure that when you leave you are not being followed. If you are and you feel threatened, you should call someone for help.

Other times people do not know when it is time to leave. Sometimes after all of your other guests have gone, there is that one who continues to hang out and watch you clean up.

Another case might be that your afternoon chat has turned into cooking dinner for your guest. It is okay to tell them that you have other obligations. Suggesting that you have to leave yourself is always a good hint to your guest that it is time to wrap up your visit. In the future, be clear when you make plans that your plans will end within a certain time frame. Setting up a specific time to hang out in advance can help to avoid the awkward lingering of a guest that never wants to part.

Sorry that there is no easy way to deal with lingerers or people who overstay their welcome. Life is full of awkward situations where nobody really knows how to act. Recently a friend told me to think of it like this — we are all just humans pretending to know what we are supposed to be doing. Realize that awkward moments happen and social situations are not scripted so scene changes can be rough. Try your best to maintain a kind tone but always assert yourself so that you aren’t being pushed around by other people’s desires. Soon enough, the awkward moment will pass and you will be grateful to have alone time.

Good luck,


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