You ever go to a party with your wife and best friend and a few hours later discover they have left together, giggling and drunk, without saying goodbye? You ever go on a first date with someone and after she vomits in your lap on the taxi ride home neither of you contact each other again? You ever get so high at a high school reunion that you think, “I gotta get the fuck out of here. Fast,” and surreptitiously slip out the back door? These are all examples of the Irish Goodbye.
The Irish Goodbye, or Ghosting, or the French Exit, or the Dutch Leave, or the Filer a l’anglaise (just pick an ethnicity you don’t like and add “departure” after it) is when someone leaves a social gathering or a relationship without politely informing the people involved of their imminent departure.
The origin of the Irish Goodbye is believed, by some, to be The Potato Famine:
When the potato crops failed in Ireland during the years 1845-1852, the Micks left their homeland in droves. One morning a lad would say to his freckled chums, “Just goin on down to the pasture to check on the old croppity crops.” Two hours later: gone. In most cases, the Irish never spoke to their remaining neighbors or friends again. The departure was irrevocable and unspoken, hence the phrase.
The other, not so sad origin story is that Irish people just like to get obliterated drunk and secretly stumble away:
This cultural preference leads to zombie mode, slurred dedications of undying loyalty, wandering to a back ally for a quick nap, and the remaining friends wondering, “Where is Saucy Sean?”
Social critics ask: Is the Irish Goodbye acceptable? Is it rude? Some reply, “Woah woah woah.” Others reply, “Go go go.”
The Emily Post Institute, an organization dedicated to etiquette, believe it’s improper to not thank the hosts before leaving:
Others, like Seth Stevenson of Slate, say, “Let’s free ourselves from this meaningless, uncomfortable, good time, dampening kabuki.” (What is kabuki? A Classical Japanese dance drama.)
Tom Jones of the Huffington Post says that, concerning relationships, The Irish Goodbye, “… saves an awkward conversation, an even more awkward face-to-face meeting or a most awkward “Dear Person B” letter. Everyone’s a winner because no one has to hear or say, “it’s not you, it’s me,” “I’m just terribly busy right now” or “for some reason, I just want to punch your face in.”
Buzzfeed made a list of 14 reasons why The Irish Goodbye is the best exit strategy.
It seems today’s consensus is that the Irish Goodbye is socially acceptable. But some people still don’t like it. They want closure. They want a soft landing of slow separation, even if it’s fake and pointless, rather than a harsh severance. When someone disappears without warning, it subconsciously signals that life is always moving on, no matter how hard we try to stop it. We want a nice, wrapped-up ending. Because when we’re at a party and we’re looking for someone who has already left, when we’re searching for them to say goodbye and pretending that there are endings in life, we feel