How Can I Be More Social At Parties With Strangers?

man at party

You aren’t a social butterfly, but you want to make the most of your latest party invite.

The Dilemma

Dear Jack,

I’m a nineteen-year-old guy living in a college town. In high school I was never invited to parties and stuff, but now that I’m at university I sometimes get dragged to house parties with my roommates. Usually, I wind up just standing in the corner the whole time.

I don’t know how to talk to people and join in their conversations, especially not girls. If I have a couple of drinks, I loosen up a bit, but wind up making an ass of myself by the end of the night. I feel like I should just stay at the dorms, but deep down inside I really want to have a good time and meet new people.

Can you teach me some house party tricks or stuff that I can do to fit in?

– Awkward Abe

The Solution

Hi there Abe,

I’m glad you reached out with your problem.

Oh, the college house party – a rite of passage for young students that at times can seem like social nirvana but at times it can also feel like a drunken chore. I’ve been to countless college parties, Abe. And believe it or not, even I have been that guy stuck in the corner before.

It can happen to anybody, especially if you don’t know anybody at the party. So, there’s no need to feel awkward about it. And you certainly don’t need to waste your weekend by staying in the dorm.

You asked me to teach you some house party tricks, but honestly, that type of stuff isn’t what you need. You just need some social pointers that are specific to this type of environment. The music is loud. People are getting wasted. The cops are showing up at any minute. It’s not your typical people mixer, for sure. But it can be a lot of fun.

Work the Room

From what you wrote, it seems like you’re attending these parties with people you already know…. roommates, friends, etc. That’s a great way to break the ice at a house party.

Stick with the people you came with for a while. Walk around with them. Get a lay of the land so to speak by doing a walk around. Take the pulse of the party. Try to find out where the restroom is. Pinpoint where the best spot for people watching might be. Mark all the jackasses and the hotties.

This is a great way for people at the party to see you, as well. You might catch someone’s eye. Who knows, maybe somebody will approach you right away just because they saw you passing by. So, at first, it’s not good to just stand in one place.

Related: How To Get To Know Good Frat Guys

After a quick walk around, grab a drink if you want. Make yourself comfortable and try to relax. You’ve got to be careful with the drinking though, my man. It’s a double-edged sword.

Just a little bit and it loosens up your tongue and builds courage. But drink too much and you wind up waking up with a ton of regrets or not waking up at all.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 6 teenagers binge drinks and 7.4% of males have an alcohol use disorder. When you factor in alcohol poisoning and drunk driving, alcohol is the third leading cause of lifestyle-related deaths in America.

Sorry to get all serious on you for a second, but you should know that drinking isn’t the answer to your problems. It will most likely cause more problems for you.

You asked for some tips though, so here is a gentleman’s guide to drinking at house parties:

Never drink more than 5 alcoholic beverages in a two-hour timeframe.

Bring a bottle of water with you and try to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.

Never play drinking games. They’re only fun for people who watch.

If you’re planning to drink, don’t even think about driving.

Don’t wind-up being this guy:

Now, let’s talk about talking.

Making conversation is an artform, Abe. Yet, it doesn’t have to be difficult, especially since there are no hard and fast rules attached to how you should speak and make conversation.

So, if you find yourself alone at a house party and you want to join a conversation, try to remember this technique.

It goes like this – Exclamation. Question mark. Question mark. Exclamation.

The most difficult parts of conversation are the beginning and the end. If you can remember this little trick, then you’ll have both. When you go up to a group of people who are already engaged in a conversation, listen to what they are saying.

At the end of someone’s statement, you drop an exclamation like “Wow, that’s crazy!” or “I can’t believe that!” This announces your presence in an assertive manner. Everyone will turn to you at this point.

Now, follow that up with a question. “Why did she do that?” or “What happened next?”. If you get into a jam with this, just try to repeat their last statement in the form of a question. “So, you’re telling me you got kicked out of the club for no reason at all?”

Now, you’ve broken into the circle, Abe. You can sit back and listen to the conversation for a while and bask in the glory of being a part of it. Every now and then, you can add something relevant to the conversation or simply rework the formula.

When you sense that things are getting a bit lame. Then, back your way out of the group by applying the reverse of that formula. Ask a question to someone in the group and then make an exclamation after their answer. This puts a hard pause on the conversation and allows you to step away if you want after that. Nod your head or put up your hand and you can step away without any repercussion.

This works in groups of guys, groups of girls, or even mixed groups. If you simply apply this formula at your next house party, you’ll be able to bounce around from group to group without seeming weird or needing to drink excessively to feel like you fit in. You can even go back and forth between the groups because you’ve made yourself known.

Being Smart About Your Smart Phone

I think this next tip will give you a big boost also. It involves your smart phone. When you’re at a house party and you’re standing by yourself, the temptation will arise to just whip out your smart phone and put your head down.

You should avoid this temptation at all costs. It projects a closed, standoffish posture that might lead other people to believe that you don’t want to interact with them. You’re sending the signal that you’re either bored or you don’t like anybody at this party. Isn’t that the opposite of your intentions though?

Try to keep your smart phone in your pocket unless you’re pulling it out to get someone’s number.

Summing it Up

I hope this helps answer your questions, Abe. You can be an ace at house parties if you project the right energy. When you first get there, stick with your friends and walk around. Do a quick little survey of the scene. Then, make yourself comfortable.

Don’t worry if your friends drift off in different directions. If you apply the formula that I taught you, then you can comfortably join just about any conversation you want. Just avoid drinking too much and you’ll enjoy the night more. If anything, you’ll at least remember more of it.

Good luck, my man.

Need some help navigating the social scene? Email Jack at: [email protected]

About Jack Eagle 21 Articles
Jack is a wise but mysterious figure whose exact whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he's really, really good at relationship challenges. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a stick at, and he’s here to help men from all walks of life step up their game.