Setting Limits: The Two Party Rule

A few weekends ago I found myself in the position of having invitations to two events in as many days, a somewhat unusual occurrence in my social life. I had been looking forward to these two outings all week, knowing that I might have a chance to catch up with some close friends on both occasions. However, the weekend turned out differently than I’d hoped.

It started out on Friday night, when Joe and I decided to see the latest David Lynch film, Inland Empire, even though we knew it would be a puzzling, odd, and possibly disturbing experience (which it turned out to be). What we didn’t expect was that the folks just in front of us in the shoebox-sized theater would decide to talk, laugh, and move about for the entire length of the movie (a mind-numbing three hours, by the way). My tolerance for movie theater shenanigans is pitiably low at the best of times, but when I’m trying to figure out why the rabbit-headed people are delivering the same lines again and again, while a woman inexplicably screams in the background, I can be especially sensitive to this kind of behavior. That didn’t set a good tone for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday brought the first social outing, an evening of food and conversation with friends. It was a situation I’d normally feel comfortable in, but for some reason I felt tired and out of sorts. There was lovely company and excellent food, but that didn’t prevent me from feeling overly self-conscious, tongue-tied and awkward. I knew I was starting to reach my limit of social interaction.

On Sunday morning I was still excited about the next outing, a mid-afternoon book launch reception, but by early afternoon, about the time I had planned to leave, I was already feeling grumpy and stressed. The thought of being in a large group of people, many of whom I had been eagerly anticipating seeing, was too much for me. Although I was disappointed not to go, I knew I would be miserable the entire time. So instead I took a long nap and went for a walk in the sunshine. That proved to be the right decision.

So the next time I am invited to two parties in one weekend, I’ll have to be sure to rest up more thoroughly in order to make it through both, or decide to forgo one or the other. In this case, two parties was one too many.

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2 Responses to “Setting Limits: The Two Party Rule”

  1. More Tea said:

    Great post. As another introvert, I too have learned the two-party rule the hard way! It’s a tough balance between wanting to see people we love and taking the time we need for our own happiness sometimes, but attending only one sizable social event per weekend goes a long way to inner harmony.

  2. kgj said:

    I realize just how far down the introvert spectrum I am when I read More Tea saying that “only one sizable social event per weekend” is consistent with “inner harmony”. Me, I think “Yikes! One sizable social event every weekend?” One per month would still be too much for me.