Author Topic: joining a group conversation at a party  (Read 273 times)

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tabitha

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joining a group conversation at a party
« on: Today at 01:06:43 AM »

I often go to events with my boyfriend where we are surrounded by people in his industry.  I have very little knowledge of industry related topics.
He is very popular at these events and is usually talking to 2 to 4 people at once.

Before being with him I would never attend events like this and have had difficulty socializing in the past, but when I go, I make sure to go around the room and say hi to all the people I have become familiar with.  We'll talk about their work, and my boyfriends work, I'll ask about their family and it usually ends there.  I've been to about a dozen of these events and no one ever asks what I do for a living or what I'm interested in, and I don't mind that, I just find it hard to continue a conversation that is either all about the person I'm talking about or all about my boyfriend who is not standing with me at the time.

I really do make an effort to socialize but the conversations are always short lived.  I don't know a lot about the industry, and frankly, besides what my boyfriend is working on, and he works by himself in his studio, even when collaborating with other studios (this is me telling you I'm not ignoring co-workers) I'm not so interested that I want to research stuff just to talk at these gatherings.  So when I'm done doing my rounds I really want to go back to where my boyfriend is so that I'm at least with someone, instead of just standing around or sitting off to the side playing with my phone. 

It is a male dominated industry and there are very few women there.  Actually, I've never seen a woman at these events that work in the industry and there is someone's wife I know but has small children so she is rarely attends.

Anyway, when I approach my boyfriend while he is in conversations with 2 or 3 other people, I don't speak because I don't want to interrupt.  First, I can't join the conversation because I don't really know what they are talking about and also, before I just throw in a question to try to find out.. I would feel more comfortable if my boyfriend just turned to me and said "Hi, we were just talking about this"
I feel very uncomfortable about interrupting, and I think it he should just greet me and then I can participate.

But then a co-worker complained about her husband doing this at a party, just walking up to her while she is talking to someone and just standing there.  She said he is pathetic for doing that and she was very annoyed.

I have just walked away once I noticed my boyfriend won't take the step to include me, when I explained to him later that I felt uncomfortable interrupting, he told me that that is what I have to do.

So my questions are these, is it rude to interrupt a conversation this way at a social gathering?  I should point out this is only when he's talking to people I don't already know.
Also, is it rude to approach and wait for someone to greet you?

How do you handle this type of situation?

greencat

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #1 on: Today at 01:35:39 AM »
It sounds like you are going to industry networking events and expecting the rules of a social gathering to apply.  It sounds like very few significant others attend these events, and for good reason - they're a work function, not a purely social one.

I would be surprised by the presence of someone at a conference or professional networking event who had no knowledge of the industry, and I'd politely exit a purely social conversation with them in order to be able to talk to someone in the industry, as that would further my goals in attending the event.

I would suggest a talk with your boyfriend about why he is dragging you out to events where he should be attending by himself as an industry professional instead of with you as a social unit.  If he is bringing you to the events to introduce you to his industry friends, perhaps you can socialize with them outside of the industry-focused events.

tabitha

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #2 on: Today at 02:07:43 AM »
I see why you would think that they are networking events, but it's more that my boyfriend mostly socializes with people in his industry.  Actually that is inaccurate.  What he does is concept art so he works with tv, film, games, and also does commissions and he produces his own work.
What these other people do is comic book art, which is very different, and fan art.  So it's a bunch of artists, that get together and the idea is that it's a social event not a networking event because it's always the same people with the exception of about %15 of the crowd that differs depending on who's throwing it and where it is.  So if one comic book artist is throwing it, I won't  know most of the people there but it's all people he already knows. 
If it's another artist I might know 70% of people there because they are all people he knows. 
And the sad reason there are not too many women...they just don't often have partners! 
And, I've asked him because I often don't want to go...he likes to have me there.  I really just want to know about approaching a group at a party.  This type of thing would happen even at one of my brothers parties we go to occasionally. 

tabitha

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #3 on: Today at 02:08:46 AM »
To be more straight forward, these events are held by guys he went to art school with.

Arila

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #4 on: Today at 02:50:27 AM »
But then a co-worker complained about her husband doing this at a party, just walking up to her while she is talking to someone and just standing there. She said he is pathetic for doing that and she was very annoyed.

Well for starters, I wouldn't be listening to a single thing this woman has to say about relationships. That's not a nice thing to say about your SO!

greencat

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #5 on: Today at 03:30:39 AM »
Hmm.  Given that they're all artists of some kind, it should be easy for you to find common ground to have a conversation, even if you're not talking about technicalities.  Art is everywhere - movies, TV, architecture, painting, sculpture, digital media, theater, etc.  Maybe comic book art isn't your thing, but surely some art topic interests you?  It's hard to socialize in an existing group when you are not making any effort at all to fit into it. 

As far as breaking in to established conversational groups - stand there for long enough to figure out what they're talking about.  Make eye contact with people.  Then interject a single sentence comment and let the conversation continue for a moment.  Gradually talk more and more.  This will get easier and be less of a chore the more you do it.

I find your boyfriend not making an effort to include you in his conversations at gatherings he wants you to attend with him a bit rude, although I think it would be pretty awkward of him to have to interrupt the conversation to tell you what they're talking about every time.  I wouldn't insist that my significant other come to an event and then basically ignore them the entire night.  That speaks to a lack of social skills on his part.

m2kbug

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #6 on: Today at 05:36:17 AM »
This seems like one of those situations where I would want to opt out of going or take two cars so I can say hello and then be on my way when I'm starting to feel like a useless lump.  Feeling like I have to be attached to my boyfriend and ignored is not my idea of a good time.  A lot of times I can interject my own experiences and the conversation will flow from there, but if there is no reciprocation, obviously you just end up standing there.  It might be useful to have a talk with your BF about how you are feeling hopelessly left out and see if he can help open up some conversation doors or at least include you a little better.

I also don't like it when I have to "babysit" my significant other.  I would hope that after getting to know people, he could hold his own, but I wouldn't say it's pathetic to want to stick to me, at least until he gets to know people.  If you can never get into the conversation, you will end up sticking close to the one person you know.  I agree that to drag you along and ignore you completely and not include you with some conversations is pretty rude.  If he knows these people well, I would think that he can bring up some common topics.  "This is Bob.  He loves bungee jumping too."  Now you have something in common to open up some conversation or he can talk about you and some of your interests/work, etc. 

I was thinking about one of my sister's in-laws.  She wasn't much of a talker and very difficult to talk to, so it was just a matter of looking at her and asking a question once in awhile.  She seemed happy enough to just listen.  It was just a little effort to keep her included in the conversation even though she really didn't have a whole lot to say.  I think your BF could make a little effort with you in this way.

Is there a reason for you to be at these events?  This is probably the reason none of the other wives/significant others attend.  If it's really important to him that you be there, he needs to take some steps to make sure you feel included.  If it's nothing but shop-talk and you can't find other topics to connect with these people, I see no reason for you to be there.
« Last Edit: Today at 05:57:09 AM by m2kbug »

YummyMummy66

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Re: joining a group conversation at a party
« Reply #7 on: Today at 05:58:19 AM »
Why does your boyfriend want you there if he is socializing with his peers?

I might go once in a while, but if for the most part, others did not bring their better halves and it was more of an event for my boyfriend and his artsy friends, I would not be going all the time.

Like another person stated, this does not seem to be a social event per se, but an event where they all get together and discuss their common interests.

Boyfriend can learn to go on his own.