1) Those remaining at the party are now sitting around a dining room table cluttered with pizza crusts, beer cans and various empty plastic bottles. Where there used to be a constant din of conversation is now a somewhat troubling silence that’s occasionally cut by a small attempt at discourse. The host is brushing her teeth. It is likely that at least 75% of those sitting around the table are, in a somewhat panicked manner, attempting formulate a way in which they can get up and leave; all are strangely nervous at the prospect of simply getting up and saying “Well guys, I’m gonna go.” Take the initiative. It is time to go home.
2) You have unexpectedly consumed too much alcohol, way too early, and it’s left you both disoriented and curiously aware of your level of inebriation. You are thus somewhat embarrassed and ashamed. Looking around the room, you notice that everyone else seems to be much more sober to you, laughing and talking, and so you go to a corner and sit down by yourself, because, well, you can’t really talk to anyone without sounding like a total drunk ass. After awhile someone you don’t really know comes up to you and says, “Hey. Are you ok?” It is time to go home.
3) The alcohol has run out. Suddenly it feels as if the party is now completely without purpose; as if the meaning of the party was to continually consume alcohol until some end point had been reached. It’s time to go home.
4) Everyone’s having a great time. Everyone’s also way more inebriated than you. You’re drinking steadily, but you’re just not feeling it. You haven’t been feeling it like, all day. You don’t really know what’s going on. It’s like drinking makes you quieter and more introspective rather than louder and less inhibited. You think about your bed, your blankets, the Chinese takeout leftovers, and the bottle of wine you have at your apartment. It is time to go home.
5) Your conversation has moved into “superficially deep” territory. This can occur for a number of reasons, but almost always manifests itself in a similar way: a few people asserting their opinions about broad, complicated topics in an overconfident and often reductive manner. Examples of these topics include “capitalism,” “love,” “language,” and “lack of confidence vs. ‘getting out there and just doing it.’” By the force of the participants’ convictions, and often because these conversations happen towards the ends of parties or during parties that are already not fun, “superficially deep” conversations tend to dominate the party area. Listening to these conversations evokes feelings of embarrassment and frustration and often a sort of visceral, almost paralyzing boredom. The urge to tell people to stop talking about this stuff, please, is strong. If you join the “superficially deep” conversation, whether in an effort to redirect it into lighter territory or to simply argue with someone, feelings of shame afterwards will increase. As soon as the “superficially deep” conversation begins, it is time to go home.
6) At the end of the night, the girl you’ve wanted to sleep with for about a month unexpectedly begins to make out with some dude in the backyard. It is time to go home.
7) You see an ex from a number of years ago. Despite the fact that you are now on good terms — friendly terms, even — the relationship ended somewhat badly, and you recognize that most of this is your fault. In your inebriated state, you apologize, profusely, for your past behavior. In your mind this amounts to a sort of self-deprecating wisdom, an acknowledgement of past wrongs and a mature desire to right them. In actuality it is the manifestation of the desire to have everyone like you, despite the fact that you have, undoubtedly, fucked some people over in your life. Additionally, approaching an ex in a state normally reserved for hitting on people and then invoking your relationship comes off like, well, hitting on them. They will probably also not want to remember how you fucked them over. They will have overcome this and constructed an idea of who you are w/r/t you fucking them over, and used this to move on. You are not helping yourself. It is time to go home.
8) You have begun to leer at a person you would not normally be attracted to. This person is often dressed in an overtly sexually provocative manner, e.g. torn stockings or unbuttoned shirt. While parties are a great place to meet people and hook up, the “leering” is the problem here. When a person leers, they often adopt a blank face and a slightly slouching posture. Their attention/ sight line is very easy to follow. If you are the leering person, it means your genitals/ hormones have now gained control over your brain. This is obvious to most people and is not attractive. It is time to go home.
9) You keep falling asleep on the couch. There are still a lot of people around. Why are you still here? It is time to go home.
10) For reasons that aren’t apparent anymore, you decided it’d be a good idea to go to a party with your friend where both of you knew no one. You’re both usually good at this — large, foreign crowds have never presented that much of an issue — but tonight it’s not really working. In fact you two have been talking only to each other all night, somewhat awkwardly, and actively avoiding discussing things like “why aren’t we talking to anyone else” and “we should like, try to talk to someone else.” After some amount of time, unspoken feelings of shame and failure begin to intrude on your dynamic such that any possibility of confidently integrating yourself into the bigger picture is quickly becoming unreasonable. This is coupled with the social dynamics that come along with basically ignoring a group of people all night — they are now avoiding eye contact, and you can’t tell, but at this point you might be fielding some vaguely hostile cues from the people that seem way more at home here than you do. At this point it seems best to just face it — you’d rather be home. It is time to go home.
11) You succumbed to peer pressure and are now outside your comfort zone. Parties have an element of groupthink to them, and sometimes this means indulging in drugs or substances that you are not prepared to handle. This often manifests itself in crippling social paranoia (marijuana, cocaine, other uppers), nausea (unusual tobacco products like dip or, weirdly, cigars), or a complete vacation from normal coherence (hallucinogens, again cocaine). Succumbing and using drugs when you are not ready can often result in a feeling of worthlessness or having compromised yourself. It can also recall feelings of inadequacy or inexperience from your youth — “why can they handle it and not me?” This shatters confidence and the general ability to enjoy one’s self. It’s normal that this happens, but it is still time to go home.
12) At the end of the night, the you and the girl you’ve wanted to sleep with for about a month unexpectedly begin to make out in the backyard. It is time to go home with her.