Last weekend the subject of comfort level with group size came up.
I thought it was interesting, given that it’s such a personal relationship with interpersonal dynamics. Rather than being some prescriptivist introvert v extrovert bullshit, people added depth as to why it was they felt so. I posed the question on Facebook today and it resulted in a wonderful thread. Everyone chimed in at length. Individuals found resonance and kinship with those who felt similarly. Some loved a 1:1 ratio because it was low stress/attention. Others enjoyed being able to passively listen and occasionally chime in with a group of 6-10. A few were just big party people. I gleaned insight into certain friends and how best to accommodate their needs/desires. Altogether an excellent experience/resource.
The one thing I didn’t do was comment with my own favourite dynamic. With reason. The thing is, when it comes to this game I’m a shameless cheater. I love all of them with different caveats.
- Aside from hanging out alone, one of my favourite hidden dynamics is listening to a group of friends riffing on a podcast. It’s a one way medium where I feel like I’m part of a bunch of in-jokes. It’s weird how inclusive it can seem. It’s why I tend to listen to conversational podcasts rather than storytelling or informative ones. It’s like being in good company while on my own.
- I love one to one hangouts. I love dates, heart to hearts with good friends or non-stop banter with buddies who’re on my wavelength. A good one to one session makes my heart feel full, which is a gift I then pay forward to everyone who crosses my path. Plus it very often involves eating, and anything gets better with food. Prove me wrong.
- With the caveat that there needs to be a strong emotional or comedic resonance, I adore spending time with a couple. Usually it’ll be a matter of a longtime friend finding a partner who suits them impeccably. In this scenario I can often interplay with each partner. If there are any sticking points I get to mediate (and it’s rare I’m on anyone’s side in particular). Best of all, it allows me to sit there and soak in the affection they have for one another. A++.
- “Double dates” are tons of fun. They don’t even need to be romantically based, but if there are interlinked relationships of any variety it’s neat to swim in those waters.
- Groups of 6-10 are awesome for dinner parties or low key hangs. It’s uncommon for conversation to not be readily flowing. I’m naturally attention seeking, which means I get validation whenever I tell a poignant story. It also means that sometimes I can sit back and chime in with an incisive pun or joke, then bask in the reception it gets. These are the kinds of groups where someone will tell a killer joke and you all get to slowly come down from the shared peals of laughter. Alternatively, someone might be incredibly emotionally vulnerable and warmed by the support channelled back to them.
- Gatherings of 10+ are usually when you’re getting into party terrain. If it’s among close friends, it’s wicked to end the night having had 6+ decent conversations with people I haven’t seen in ages. This is all kinds of gratifying. The types of evenings where I get to come home glowing, thinking about the wonderful people in my life.
- Once you get over 20, I’d consider that a bonafide free for all party. To be honest, this is also one of my favourite dynamics. ESPECIALLY when I get to meet new people. Interacting with strangers is a big upper for me. I get to tell road-tested anecdotes, create new connections and be generally spontaneous. I flit in and out like some MPDG, or just hang out in the kitchen. I’m a total ham and setting a circle alight with laughter is genuinely my favourite sensation bar none. A bunch of my favourite friends were people I met at parties and decided to escalate into one on one hangouts. This one (like all of them, to be honest) is totally my jam.
Was that a cop out? Maybe I just like people, okay? Get off my back, Jack.
Or hang out with me one on one so we can eat pork bone soup and humanise each other.