A Good Hang Lasts No More than 90 Minutes
You heard me.
Why yes, dear friend that I have not seen IRL since the pandemic started, I'd love nothing more than to spend some quality time with you (from a safe distance, of course!). But once our time together reaches the 90-minute mark — no matter who you are, where we are, or how much fun we're having — it's time for us to part ways.
It's not you, it's me.
After many trials and errors, the 90 Minute Mark Theory came to me when I realized this specific amount of time is just enough to do basically anything you'd want with a friend.
A yoga class? Sure — there's even time to get tea together afterward. A meal? Of course! Let's order dessert while we're at it. Mani-pedis, hitting balls at a driving range, shopping — the list of to-dos goes on, take your pick. Ninety minutes is enough time to justify traveling to another area in the city, and if you're getting together for alcoholic beverages, it's the perfect cut-off before things get sloppy. It's also just enough time to leave you feeling fulfilled and wanting to see each other again in the future, amen. Everything in moderation, so the story goes.
Getting back to socializing in person after the year that was can be a lot. You may be questioning if you've still "got game" when it comes to the art of small talk, witty banter, or taking part in vulnerable conversations. You may be more anxious about interactions since you haven't used that muscle in ages, and god knows hanging out with certain people can be draining. Heck, even just the idea of getting together with another person can be exhausting. May I remind you about the Before Times, when we all used to "joke" (read: send memes) about how the best plans are cancelled plans? Or that someone beating you to cancelling plans is the greatest gift?
Apparently, I'm onto something here. Pyschotherapist Jake Ernst, MSW, RSW, who is the clinic director at Strait Up Health in Toronto, tells me our social lives haven't brought us the same type of pleasure we're used to getting or expecting from our relationships. "For some people, this causes them to limit the time they spend with friends or to explore new ways to set boundaries around what they need from their friendships," Ernst said. "In a way, the pandemic has facilitated a form of boundary setting that some of us haven't been used to implementing; using pandemic rules and personal comfort levels changes how we interact with our friends." He says the added layer of risk and uncertainty has allowed pre-pandemic introverts to get their needs met in a way that may not have been socially appropriate before (for example, setting firm limits on the time they spend with friends). "Many introverts are thriving right now because their energy levels are not dependent on being around others to get what they need," Ernst said.
If you're anything like me, you may have come to the realization in the past year that you've been wrong your whole life and are, in fact, an introvert (gasp!). I always knew I enjoyed being alone. Taking myself out for dates is a favorite pastime, and I can sit in my room for days at a time reading books, sipping tea, and writing endlessly. And yet my Gemini-knack for socializing had me once believe I was an extrovert.
Since I've had time to reflect on my habits, behaviors and friendships during this past year, I've learned that being around other people for more than a 90-minute-sitting leaves me feeling depleted and anxious. If I look back and reflect on ghosts of get-togethers past, I find that I'd go until the lights went off, but overstaying one's welcome and not being able to read the room is not a good look. I'm now mindful of other people's time, all while honoring my own needs and wants.
So how can you set up a hang within a 90-minute time-frame for yourself? Be clear with your friends about timing from the get-go, so they, too, can decide if it's worth their time to even meet up. For me, this looks like telling a friend that though I'd love to see them, I want to enjoy quality time together (which means not being on our phones and being present) and making it clear that the hour-and-a-half is firm. I'll send a text like: "I'm happy to meet you at the park for a distanced hang at 3:30 p.m., but I need to leave at no later than 5 p.m."
The best part about this? Once you part ways after said 90-minute hang, you can finally take your mask off — both figuratively and literally.