I like groups of two. Just myself and another person. I’m most comfortable in these kinds of settings, especially with a person who doesn’t need conversation at all times. I don’t mind larger groups when I know everyone in the group, especially if we all know each other well. Each group number has its own benefits and negatives. Usually with larger groups in which I know everyone fairly well, I can find a balance. I either let everyone else talk and listen or talk to whoever’s nearest me.
But the worst group setting is three. Three is a horrible number. Again, it’s not so bad if all three know each other. But one person I know and a friend of that person I know absolutely nothing about in some kind of sustained social interaction? Horror of horrors! Abort! Abort! This is not ok!
What is so horrifying about this kind of setting? There’s nothing you can talk about. You want to be polite and include the third person in conversation, but you don’t have any understanding of that person’s likes or interests, so it’s better to not say anything. And then maybe you’ve known the other person you’re with for a long time, so you have a lot of things you could say to that person, or those things will naturally come up in conversation, but you can’t say any of that because there are all kinds of back stories that need to be explained and that all takes too much time and this person’s new and you may/may not ever talk to him/her again, so why bother?
And while you’re there in a dither about not knowing what you can say that could possibly include all three of you in an engaging way, the remaining two have struck up an amicable and pleasant-sounding conversation that you have no part of at all because you were too silent at the beginning, and while they’re not actively trying to ignore you, they think you’re not interested in contributing so don’t give enough lee-way for you to join in on the conversation once you figure out what they’re talking about. So you can either interrupt (rude) or be effectively ignored until the conversation changes. And then you can only hope you’ve thought of something the three of you can talk about by then, otherwise it’ll all happen again.
And after it’s all over (sweet relief!) you look back and realize that all anyone talked about was the weather and animals (because puppies are a universal language). So it wound up being a waste of social energy.
And throughout all this, the other person is thinking you’re a very unfriendly, quiet sort of person—all because you didn’t have enough energy in your reserves dedicated to social interaction with people you don’t know in order to shove your friendship down someone’s throat.
Long story short, I need at least a day’s notice before I’m going to spend time with people I don’t know.