You see one of your friends at a party. As you’re chatting with them, you notice that their face looks more stern than usual.

They seem unusually serious. Perhaps even distant.

For the love of God, do not ask them, “What’s wrong?”

In my opinion, there isn’t a situation where asking “what’s wrong” helps. If someone has social anxiety, you’ve just told them, “you’re sticking out and look weird.” It’s throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire.

You might as well whisper in their ear, “you look like an asshole right now.”

This very thing happens to me anytime I decide to stay completely sober at an event. Of course, I’m not quite as silly and carefree as I am with a little alcohol, but I’m perfectly fine and enjoying myself. That is until someone blasts me with a “What’s wrong? You look upset?”

Regrettably, I’ve made a similar mistake as a host. If someone seems unusually tense, I’ll spend too much time talking to them, assuming that conversation will help their nerves.

If someone has social anxiety, I’m making the situation much worse. Sometimes, people do need to be left alone.

So I ask you. Has anyone ever asked you what’s wrong? What do you do when you see a friend who seems a little more serious than usual at an event?