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How to Get Someone to Leave Without Looking Like a Dick

You can serve them coffee... or you can do the unthinkable and tell them the truth

As we near that time of year where you feel socially obligated to invite some friends and family over to your house, for no other reason than the fact that it’s your turn to host the thing, it’s time to address the issue of lingerers. I am of course talking about those people who lack the ability to spot obvious social cues, overstaying their welcome every single time you force yourself to allow them into your home.

Understandably, your immediate gut reaction might be to SWAT yourself just to have these people forcibly removed from your home. Now, I obviously urge you not do this, but only because it takes time for the cops to show up, and if you’re like me, you probably wanted those people out five minutes ago.

So what can you do instead? Let’s examine the options.

Suggest a different location

According to WikiHow, if you’re a) insane and actually want to continue to spend time with the person, but just don’t want them in your house, or b) you want to continue your hang sesh, but not at the risk of waking up your kids, suggest moving said hang sesh to another location. Alternatively, if you just want them to move to a new location, hype up a nearby bar and hopefully your guests will take the hint and agree to move the party there.

Convince them they’re ready to leave

Another tip brought to you by WikiHow: Mr. Miyagi their brains and pretend they’re the ones who are ready to leave. “When you’re ready to call it a night, say something like, ‘Wow, I’ve kept you here half the night! Why don’t I clean up while you all head home for some rest?’ or ‘Gosh, you’ve been held hostage here for hours! I’m sure you must be exhausted and ready to go home.’ They’re unlikely to argue with you or insist they stay longer, so you’ll have your home to yourself again in no time,” reports WikiHow. As dubious as most of that site’s advice is, I have to admit that this is a work of passive-aggressive genius.

Be honest

If you’re like Samantha Poe, a self-proclaimed married, introverted asexual who’s terrified of hurting people she cares for, there’s this other more polite method to kicking the person out, as per her advice on Quora. “Be sweet and honest. Are you tired? Or even just tired of them? ‘Well I hate to kick you out, but I am exhausted! Can we do this again soon?’ Or maybe you have things you need to get done. Tell them! ‘Well I had so much fun with you, but I have got so much I need to get done! Can we do this again soon?’ Again, make your way to the door, and then open it.”

If this sounds like improbably unrealistic advice from an extraterrestrial, you’re not alone.

Use your body language

In his article for Lifehacker on the same subject, Thorin Klosowski spoke to marriage and family therapist Roger Gil, who suggested that the easiest way to get rid of someone is to show them it’s time to leave with a little body language.

“Doing things like packing up your papers or looking at your phone and commenting on how you told ‘person X’ that you would be calling them ‘at around this time’ are pretty overt ways of telling someone, ‘I need this conversation to end now.’ Averting your gaze also breaks the conversation and causes most people to back away. For especially persistent people (e.g., pushy guys at the bar who don’t get the hint) a trip to the bathroom is often a subtle-yet-effective ‘get away from me’ cue. Just be wary of the fact that some people may react negatively to this if they’ve had a drink or two,” Gil explained to Klosowski.

Turn on the lights and serve coffee

Here’s the thing: Having dealt with these laggard scoundrels firsthand, I know that sometimes, like wine stains on a white shirt, no matter how hard you scrub, you just can’t get them out. That’s why I employed an expert’s opinion on how to get someone out of your house without looking like an asshole.

World-renowned etiquette expert Diane Gottsman tells me that her number one tip is to brighten the room. “When you turn on the lights and start to blow out the candles and draw the shades, you’re sending a signal that the party is about to come to a close,” she explains.

If all else fails, Gottsman suggests you start serving coffee. “Let your guests know the liquor part of the evening has come to a close,” she says. “Say something pleasant and in an upbeat tone of voice: ‘May I offer you some coffee before sending you out in the cold?’”

Ruthless. Thank you.