Let’s free ourselves from this meaningless, uncomfortable, good time–dampening kabuki. People are thrilled that you showed up, but no one really cares that you’re leaving. Granted, it might be aggressive to ghost a gathering of fewer than 10. And ghosting a group of two or three is not so much ghosting as ditching. But if the party includes more than 15 or 20 attendees, there’s a decent chance none will notice that you’re gone, at least not right away. (It may be too late for them to cancel that pickleback shot they ordered for you, but, hey, that’s on them.) If there’s a guest of honor, as at a birthday party, I promise you that person is long ago air-kissed out. Just ghost.

Still think it’s an etiquette breach? Simply replace your awkward goodbye with a heartfelt email sent the following morning. This note can double as a formal thank you to the host—a rare gesture these days, and one that actually does have value. (You can even include the link to that English Beat video you couldn’t stop raving about last night.) Got a safety concern, and want to alert people that you’re stepping out alone into the dangerous night? Send a text after you’re out the door.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might try out some ghosting variations. I have a friend who favors the “Northern Irish goodbye.” You announce your intention to ghost long in advance, as a warning, so there will be no collateral damage.