How to Pull off the Perfect Midwestern Goodbye: 9 Simple Steps

by John Amato

You know that situation when you’re about to leave a social gathering—perhaps a party or a dinner—but don't know how to not make it awkward? So you spend an hour dodging the inevitable as you try to say your farewells? That's the premise of the famed Midwestern goodbye.

It starts with an indication that you’re about to leave, usually smacking your knees, standing up, stretching, then the words, “Welp, I/we should probably get going.”

The Midwestern goodbye ritual then ensues and can go on for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. 

One thing’s for sure, though: no Midwesterner can say goodbye without the long conversations, usually drawn-out small talk to put off getting out of the door. 

Today we explore the intricacies of the Midwestern goodbye by looking at the:

  • Different stages of the Midwestern goodbye
  • Nuances of each step and how they lead to the next
  • Role of the goodbye ritual in Midwestern culture

In the end, you’ll understand why this intricate farewell is so integral to The Heartlands culture and be able to pull off the perfect Midwestern goodbye.

showcase Midwestern culture through apparel

Step 1 - The Stand and “Welp”

The beginning of every Midwestern goodbye starts with the stand and “Welp.” This indicates your intention to leave, thereby starting the Midwestern goodbye dance. 

Note, however, that you won’t be getting out of there anytime soon. 

The “Welp” merely serves as a gentle signal to everyone present that you must begin the process of leaving.

Step 2 - Everybody Gets a Hug

Next come the hugs, and everybody gets one, from the grandparents down to the youngest babies. Even the pets get a goodbye hug!

By far, this is one of the lengthiest steps of the Midwestern goodbye because Midwestern hugs carry the ongoing conversations and often include swaying and back-patting. 

Related: Tell Me You're From the Midwest Without Telling Me You're From the Midwest

Step 3 - The Walk to the Door

After everyone has received their goodbye squeeze, the walk to the door begins. But this is not a speed walk towards the door. The pace to the door is usually dictated and steered by the ongoing conversation. 

Every Midwesterner knows that no matter how close the door is, getting there will take no less than 20 minutes. 

On your way there, you’ll talk about everything from how good the food was, to making plans for when you’ll meet next. 

Step 4 - The Doorway Chat

Getting to the door takes a hot minute, but stepping through, you’ll find that's an entirely different undertaking, thanks to the doorway chat. 

Here the conversation has no specific topic but is always punctuated with a lot of belly laughs. The chat can take anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes. 

Expert Tip: If you need to, go to the bathroom before you try to leave. If not, you might have to start the goodbye process all over again. 

Step 5 - “We Really Should Be Going”

This statement indicates the end of the doorway chat and the beginning of the descent to the car, and is often triggered by a child bursting into an impatient cry.

But this does not mean that you proceed immediately to your car—at least not yet. It signals the start of another critical step in the dance. 

Step 6 - The Second Round of Hugs

About forty-five minutes since you started your exit, now probably with the sun quickly setting, the second round of hugs can begin. 

This time, there is less talking but decidedly more back-patting and side-swaying. By this time, the goal is solely to get out the door, and you have your eye set on the prize—the door handle.

See Also: You Know You're From the Midwest When...

Step 7 - Foot Through the Door

You’re almost there, the doorknob in hand, but there’s yet another round of conversation to go still. 

You cannot leave until someone bids you farewell in a way that sets off a fresh bout of belly laughs or a loved one starts quoting movies. 

At this point, at least an hour will have passed, and you’ll have moved about 10 feet. 

Step 8 - The Slow Open Door Conversation

You’re now making your way down the driveway, but it's not over yet. There’s yet another conversation about whatever may arise, perhaps some minor thing that had slipped someone's mind. 

By now, it’s probably been at least long enough to digest the large Midwestern meal you just had and are thinking about a snack. 

Depending on the season, an onslaught of mosquito bites or frostbite will soon end this step after a final round of quick hugs as you dive into your car. 

Step 9 - The Front Porch Wave

Now that you’ve FINALLY made it out of the house and into your car, you can expect the famous Midwestern hospitality window wave as you pull away. This is often accompanied by a call to “watch out for deer” or something similar.

With a quick “will do,” you're now free to pull away and head home. All the while, your loved ones will stand on the porch waving until your car disappears down the road. 

Expert Tip: The only correct response to grandma’s flickering-porch-light wave is a series of honks to let her and everyone present know that you care about them and the traditions of the Midwestern Goodbye.

Showcase Midwestern Culture Through Apparel

All things considered—and although it takes a while—at Jupmode, we consider the Midwestern goodbye our favorite way to bid loved ones farewell. 

As Midwesterners, this goodbye ritual is a way to let our loved ones know we care about them. It’s also a way to show that we’re not in any rush to leave their company; to reassure them that we enjoyed ourselves and to end your meet-up on a high.

This is what inspired us to create the Midwestern Goodbye Shirt.

midwest goodbye shirt

The shirt is a nod to the long and elaborate farewell and the perfect gift for a spouse or loved one who’s new to the culture. 

But our appreciation for the Midwest does not end with this awesome shirt. We have an extensive collection of Midwestern-inspired apparel and gifts to show your appreciation for The Heartland. 

The collection highlights and celebrates Midwestern culture, its intrigues, natural beauty, and—most importantly—its people. 

For instance, here are a few of our favorite Midwest-inspired items and what a customer had to say about our apparel.

“Ope!” shirt from Jupmode

Ope! Shirt

Buy Now

“Midwesterner” embroidered sweatshirt from Jupmode

Midwesterner Mint Embroidered Sweatshirt

Buy Now

“Here for the Euchre” shirt from Jupmode

Here for the Euchre Shirt

Buy Now

“Cool selection of high-quality apparel items and collectibles … especially retro and historic themes. Staff are super friendly and helpful.”
- Tobias C. | Verified Buyer

Related: 5 Authentic Crew Neck Sweatshirts for the True Midwesterner

Celebrate the Midwest in Style With Jupmode

At Jupmode, we’re all about highlighting and celebrating the unique beauty of the American Midwest. If you’ve had the privilege of visiting or living in the Midwest, you know there’s no place like it. 

We show our Midwestern love and pride through unique designs that showcase The Heartland's beauty, history, and culture. We feature these designs on different apparel, including:

Whatever you need, we’ve got something for you. Better still, we can make custom apparel to suit your specific needs.

"I always find something I love at Jupmode … I frequent their retail store, especially for gifts. My husband, sons, and I represent Toledo with Jupmode's awesome gear. Awesome designs and great materials."
- Michelle P. | Verified Buyer

Midwesterner, tourist, or fan, visit our online store today and discover The American Heartland’s charm through our apparel and gift items. Alternatively, if you find yourself in Toledo, Ohio, drop by one of our retail stores, where we’d be happy to help. 

To learn more about Jupmode, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, and for more tips and interesting facts about the Midwest, visit the Jupmode Blog.

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  • Comment Author: Carla

    Completely accurate description of a Midwest goodbye! Totally agree. That’s why Irish goodbyes are so popular. Haha!

  • Comment Author: Rita Davis

    This article does not portray ANYONE I know who is living in the Midwest. I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life from a small
    college town in Central Illinois to Chicago to Omaha. The premise of this article is based upon stereotypes envisioned by the author. The author’s short-sighted, prejudicial view is insulting.

  • Comment Author: Barbi

    I’ve been doing the Midwestern goodbye along time and didn’t even know it lol. It’s been a family tradition that we all have just adapted to.

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