The Perfect Plus One
With the spring season around the corner, you may find yourself at a wedding, formal dinner, or some kind of party in the next couple of months. If you have never been a plus-one before, the idea might seem daunting.
Whether you are attending an event with a friend or tagging alongside your significant other, being a plus-one can be fun. You’re able to dress up, meet new people, and see into your friend or partner’s life. You may even bond or make a worthy connection with someone that you didn’t expect to meet.
Here are some tips for being a plus-one to ease your nerves and help you make the best impression.
Check Out the Dress Code
If you’re hanging out at another person’s place for game night, it’s safe to assume that you won’t need to break out the black-tie outfit for a night in. Wearing what you’re comfortable with is always a safe bet for a casual evening.
If the event you are attending requires formal wear, you should check in with the attendee (friend or significant other) about the dress code. If they aren’t sure or are unable to ask, calling the event venue can provide some insight. If you need a second opinion on an outfit, checking in with a friend or a quick Google search will tell you what you need to know. When in doubt, you can never go wrong with a little black dress and light makeup as they are often the perfect ensembles for any event. Remember — it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed!
Don’t Hang Onto Your Date
Yes, you’re at a place where you know nobody, and everyone is talking about something that you can’t pitch in on. You may have the urge to talk only to the person you came with, but your date is not your babysitter for the event. Don’t ignore other people in favor of talking to the one person you know. Mingle politely with the other attendees, offer to help the host, and engage with the conversation, even if you may not have anything to contribute at first. Be sure to introduce yourself with eye contact and a smile.
After a while, you may feel like a robot who has been programmed to smile and politely nod. Don’t be intimidated by the current topic if you know nothing about it! There are plenty of other ways to make conversation:
- Compliment the host on a dish and ask where the recipe came from.
- Ask what people have been binge-watching.
- Mention how happy you are to finally meet so-and-so.
People like to talk about themselves, so be sure to engage with them on their interests (“When did you start playing basketball? Are you a big fan?”) or break off into a new topic (“I’ve never been to the Field Museum! What was your favorite thing you saw there?”)
Don’t Be Inappropriate.
This advice seems fairly obvious, but no matter how funny you think it is that your significant other hooked up with her elementary school friend last weekend, her boss does not need to hear that. There are some topics-intimacy, illness, various dramas-that do not need to be dinner party conversations. Similarly, don’t ask people about things you might have been told in confidence. (“I heard from David that there might be layoffs for your company. Who do you think will get fired?”) Or about private aspects of the other person’s life (“Esme said you haven’t dated since your breakup. When did that happen?”). If someone wants to tell you something, they will.
In the same vein, if someone is making you uncomfortable with a conversation topic, you can either address them (“I’d prefer not to talk about that, thank you for understanding”) or excuse yourself to the restroom and join another group on your return.
Dead-Ends Aren’t Your Fault
If you’ve been trying to talk to the other attendees and they flat-out ignore you each time you do, don’t get discouraged. It may be awkward for some people to have conversations that don’t revolve around a certain subject, or they may not have proper etiquette. Either way, their behavior is not a reflection of you. It may feel uncomfortable, but distract yourself in other ways: talk to other guests, explore the rest of the venue, or focus on enjoying the meal. If you feel their behavior may be deliberate, you can choose to bring it up with your date but save that for a private time and not in front of the other guests.
This advice is tried and true, so believe me when I say that you, as you are, is just enough. You may not be wearing the clothes you usually do, and you might be slightly out of your comfort zone, but your character doesn’t change. Continue to be kind, respectful, and engaging with the people you meet. There is a reason that you were chosen to be the plus one!