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AWKWARD ISSUES: Is It Appropriate to “just pop in” on people?


K, so I’ve been thinking about it, and, you know what? I think “weird” is probably too strong a word for some of the disagreements Terry and I have about what’s acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. I mean, SOME of the things we both do are definitely weird, granted (Yes, Bob and Sheila, I’m looking at you guys here…), but, with others, it’s more a difference of opinion on what kind of thing is appropriate. So, questions of modern etiquette, I guess.

One of those debates Terry and I frequently end up having revolves around the issue of “just popping in” to visit people when you happen to be near their house. You know, like A COUPLE OF ANIMALS.

Terry, you see, is a popper-inner. Hands up anyone who’s even REMOTELY surprised by that? Like, the guy who once invited the Tesco delivery driver in for a house tour was never going to be the one reaching for his smelling salts and saying, “Seriously, dude, don’t make me tell you this again: YOU DON’T JUST “POP IN” ON PEOPLE!” was he?

No, that would be me, obviously.


You do not “pop in”. Or not unless you know the people really, really well, and are 100% sure that they welcome the popping, that is.

Me? I don’t really welcome the popping.  In fact, I would hereby like to institute a NO POPPING rule. Yes, I realise this makes me sound like a cold, hard bitch, who doesn’t have any friends (I do too have friends, though. Like, some of them are imaginary, obviously, but at least that means they don’t turn up on my doorstep without notice…), but I just… I just like to get a little bit of notice before people can rock up in my living-room. Mostly so I can clean it, let’s be honest here, but also so I can clean MYSELF, and make sure the surprise popper-inners don’t catch me with yesterday’s mascara still under my eyes, and my sweater on back to front. Probably with baby sick on it somewhere, too.

Obviously this would not be the end of the world. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to leave their calling card with my butler, or apply in writing for access to the inner sanctum or anything. If you do happen to pop in on me unexpectedly, I’m not going to take you off my Christmas card list (I don’t have a Christmas card list) or add you to my list of Mortal Enemies (I… did I mention I don’t have a Christmas card list?), or anything like that. No, I mean, at worst, I’ll just be a bit flustered, and that’s obviously not the worst thing in the world, is it?

(Er, having to say that, purely because when I write posts like this, I can guarantee someone will read it as if I AM, in fact, saying it’s the Very Worst Thing In the World Ever, so, just to re-iterate, this is just supposed to be a random talking point, not a Great Big Deal…)

coffee mugs on worktop

Terry, meanwhile, is, as I’ve said, a popper-inner, although he’d want me to caveat that by saying there are certain people even he will not pop in on, because he’s somehow divined that the popping would not be welcomed. For the most part, though, well, he was raised in a house that was always filled with people: most of whom didn’t actually live there. Seriously, one of Terry’s mum’s favourite things to do was to take a quick headcount and then triumphantly announce, “THERE ARE 17 OF US HERE, YOU KNOW!” so you can see what I’m up against here. In fact, when Terry and I first started dating, I actually spent a few weeks thinking he didn’t really like me, because any time I suggested doing something date-like, he’d be all, “Sounds great: we could invite….” and then name all of his friends and most of his family. I thought he was trying to avoid having to be alone with me: it turned out he just has a “the more, the merrier,” kind of attitude to life, and this extends to the act of “popping in”. Like, why WOULDN’T you pop in and see someone? What’s not to like about SEEING PEOPLE?

And, I mean, it’s hard to argue with that, isn’t it? Or, at least, it’s hard to argue with it without sounding like the kind of miserable, anti-social git that … well, that I totally AM, to be perfectly honest. Seriously, I’m writing this, and I’ve just reached a point where even I’M thinking, “OMG, Amber, it’s YOU! YOU’RE the weird one in this scenario! Everyone’s going to read this and hate you: ABORT! ABORT!”

Even so, I still don’t think I could bring myself to start “popping in”. Because, as nice as it sounds in theory to be the kind of laid-back, nothing-bothers-me, cool girl who just takes everything in her stride, there’s just no getting away from the fact that I’m ACTUALLY the kind of uptight asshole who shrieks, “NO! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU!” every time Terry suggests “popping in” on friends of ours who I happen to know share my views on this subject. (And he does it every single time we’re in their town, just to taunt me. Like, he knows perfectly well that I’m always going to say no, he just thinks it’s hilarious to keep bringing it up.) And also, I mean, this isn’t an episode of Friends, where we’re all in and out of each other’s apartments, with our swishy hair, and our suspiciously expensive clothes, even although we’re supposed to be poor, you know? Some of us don’t even HAVE swishy hair, FFS. SOME of us need a full face of makeup and seven cups of coffee in the morning, otherwise they spend the entire day being asked if they have the consumption, you know?

I am one of those people. And, because I’m one of those people, I am of the opinion that no, it’s NOT appropriate to “just pop in” on someone – unless, of course, you can be absolutely certain that they’re going to be OK with that.

Where do you stand  on this one? Are you on Team Amber or Team Terry?

What do you think?

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  • Laura Steel
    June 22, 2018

    This made me laugh so much! My mam is a big ‘popper-inner’ and when my grandparents were alive she used to complain that they never came round unless they were invited. Also, she and my dad are always ‘popping in’ on various friends. Me, I can’t imagine anything worse than having someone randomly turn up on my doorstep, and I can’t imagine going to see someone without texting them first to see if it’s okay!

  • Imogen
    June 22, 2018

    I am just like you! My other half Sergio does this all the time. His family are very big on invited everyone and the kitchen sink to what started off as going for a coffee but he says this is typical for them (Spanish family) and that I’m the strange one for wanting just some small notice if you are coming over.

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      I think it’s possibly a cultural thing – Terry’s family is Greek, and they’re very big on the idea of displaying hospitality, and welcoming all and sundry, whereas us Brits tend to be a bit more reserved, I find!

      • Raquel
        June 22, 2018

        I’m Portuguese and although we’re usually very welcoming and warm guests, popping in unannounced is a BIG NO for me and I don’t know anyone who does this (fortunatelly)! I’d hate if someone did this to me, I could be busy or unpresentable for a number of reasons and in this day and age it doesn’t cost anything to just call or text ahead to see if it’s okay. So I’d never do this to anyone, except maybe really close family and one of my best friends (whose house is The House of The People as we call it, because the probability that there’s someone inside who doesn’t live there is very high 😛 ) and still I’d ALWAYS call ahead.

      • M.
        November 7, 2019

        No, sweetheart, it’s not a cultural thing. I’m 100% Greek and living in Athens. Showing up without calling first is considered rude. Seems hospitality is more a stereotype than a fact. Even when at school we’d call first and then visit. Only the postman is ok to ring.

  • Kathryn
    June 22, 2018

    Ugg. I hate it when people pop in. We both have full time jobs and long commutes so while we don’t live in a pigsty the house isn’t often ‘guest’ clean. Plus, I think home time is pj time and that’s just awkward.

  • Colene
    June 22, 2018

    I have most definitely lied when someone has text to ask if we were in as they were nearby.

    Cue going upstairs for an hour *just in case* they actually still drove past…

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      The problem now is that social media makes it so much harder to lie – I could say, “Oh no, I’m out, sorry!” and the person would be all, “Er, I just saw your Insta Stories, Amber – I know you’re just taking selfies in your bathroom!”

  • Emerald
    June 22, 2018

    Team Terry here – in theory – but with huge concessions to Team Amber. So I would only EVER pop in on someone I knew well enough to not mind, but also knew would tell me if it wasn’t a good time. When I stayed in London there were only a few folk I’d go to see without calling first, and as I got older the popping-in got less and less. I’d call a friend to say I was in his or her neighbourhood if they fancied grabbing a coffee rather than just chapping the door.

    My dad – a London Irishman and discerning popper-inner – had to explain to an Irish friend why you couldn’t just pop round to see most middle-class Londoners like their mutual friend Eric. And as he’d be able to with him. The Irish friend had chapped Eric’s door to be greeted with a barrage of abuse because he hadn’t warned him first – and why did he think he could just pop round!? The poor man is still smarting about it twenty years later!

    So yes, in theory it’s fine you’re sure your friends are. And as long as you’re not offended with being told it’s not a good time. But I guess that’s the thing – a lot of folk don’t feel comfortable about saying that and setting boundaries, hence tend to get lumbered.

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      Totally – this is why I’m not even a fan of the text/call saying, “I’m 5 minutes away, can I come round?” – I think a lot of people will feel like they can’t say no to it, even if they want to!

  • Honest Mum
    June 22, 2018

    It’s a tricky one as rarely pop in but then if it was my folks say, yes I’d definitely pop in. Thanks for making me laugh this am, love the way you write! x

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      Thank you, lovely! And yeah, I’d pop in on my parents or in-laws, but I think that’s about it!

  • Georgina
    June 22, 2018

    Team Amber. Give me a heads up at least. If you’re in the neighourhood, I am totally cool with you sending me a message or phoning to ask if I’m around and THEN stopping by, so I have time to at least hide the washing I haven’t put away yet and put on something other than my Batman leggings…
    But just showing up on the doorstep? I’m likely to pretend I’m out, I can’t lie.

  • Bry Jaimea
    June 22, 2018

    No no no! No popping in! I might be dying my hair, cooking a risotto, doing a face mask – I can’t accept unexpected visitors during these times (especially not during a risotto, that rice ain’t going to stir itself!)
    My parents were Popper-Inners and even as a child I considered it to be so disrespectful of the other persons time and space! I’m on Team Amber here 100%!

  • Linda Libra Loca
    June 22, 2018

    Having someone pop in is my personal nightmare! Which is why I´d probably only pop in at someone from my Mortal Enemy list, hoping to catch them without makeup and covered in Baby sick.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  • Elaine
    June 22, 2018

    I don’t mind people calling round if they are in the area as long as they give me an hour’s warning. My in-laws were in the habit of popping in unannounced for a visit. They lived 300 miles from us in Kent! So a visit lasted several days.
    The first time they did it we were out and I got a call from our piano tuner who l’d left in my house to say, “there are two people at the door who say they are your in-laws”
    The second time was when my husband had been fixing the extension roof for three days while I became more and more frazzled looking after our 3 young children. My own parents had just arrived to babysit and I was so looking forward to having a rare opportunity to go out with my husband, and have a break from catering for others, when my in-laws appeared at the door for a surprise extended visit. Our night out was swiftly cancelled. I tried hard to be polite but was seething!!

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      NOOOOOO! That’s SO bad – I mean, you don’t just travel 300 miles out of your way on a whim, so how hard would it be to call ahead?!

  • Carol
    June 22, 2018

    The only people I “pop in” on is my parents. And it’s a 3 hour drive to get there, so odds are good they’ll know I’m coming anyway. I have taken to turning out lights and locking the front door if I see certain people come into the driveway to visit next door. Just in case, you know…

  • Jennifer
    June 22, 2018

    I can’t stand when people ‘pop in’ I find it rude! Probably because I almost always change into my PJs when I get home and really don’t want guests when I’m looking like that

  • Hana Mond
    June 22, 2018

    I’d be Team Amber – but I find it totally okay to call “Hey, I’m nearby, can I come over or is it a bad time?” I’m German and often hear “Germans are so brutally honest” on Youtube oder the internet in general – and in this case it’s true for me: So I’d have absolutely no problem to tell someone “It’s not a good time – I’m tired and my home is a mess” (and I am a shy person who does not wish to alienate a friend, but my home is HOLY!)
    But in my opinion, you HAVE to call! It’s much easier to say no at the phone than to send someone away who is standing in front of you – I’d feel obligated to let them in in this case. Please no!

  • Hayley Jane
    June 22, 2018

    My mother is a Popper-Inner (and my brother sometimes, too). I don’t mind it for me because she’s close family. But she does it to her friends as well, though usually because she needs to use their restrooms (small bladder + long drives in our area), so it’s a short visit. Personally, the only people I’ve ever even thought of popping in on are my grandparents.

    My husband, on the other hand, is fond of inviting people over on a whim, where I have MAYBE 10 minutes to clean in a rush. And he has a couple of friends who seem to pop in, but it could be that they’ve contacted him and he just doesn’t tell me.

  • Dana Stone - Raleigh, NC - USA
    June 22, 2018

    100% team Amber on this. Popping in unannounced ranks right up there with the absolute worst social situation that could ever potentially happen to me: A surprise party. Am I correct in assuming Amber would hate a surprise party? 🙂 I’ve warned all my friends and family to never, ever, EVER do that to me!

    Oh, on another note – I’m American and have been following your blog for some time. My hubby is English, and last December we visited his family and took a road through all of the UK up to Skye, Scotland. Staying in Edinburgh for the night, I thought aloud, “Amber lives in Edinburgh. I wonder if she has had her baby yet.” Hubby was like “who’s Amber? I didn’t know you knew anyone living in Scotland.” So then I had to explain that I don’t actually know you, but had been following the details of your entire pregnancy online, some of which I shared, and the whole thing came out way creepier than it had seemed in my head. And now I’ll stop this comment thread before it, too becomes creepy. Just wanted to holler at ya and let you know I love your blog! ?

    • Amber
      June 22, 2018

      Awww, thank you! And I absolutely LOVE it when people see something or go somewhere that makes them think of me – I do that with the bloggers I follow, too, and Terry’s just like, “Er, I didn’t know you had a “friend” who lives here?!”

      And yes, a surprise party is my worst nightmare, and my family have been warned, on pain of death, to never do that to me. I’d 100% turn up wearing worn out sweatpants, and then spend the entire night thinking, “Awesome, I’m the one who’ll have to clean up after this!” (Actually, my best friend and flatmate DID throw a “surprise” party for my 21st, but she was so excited she ended up telling me about it a week before, so at least I was prepared. Then, the next morning, she went home to visit her parents – we were in university at the time and sharing a flat – and I had to spend the entire day cleaning up after it. NEVER AGAIN.)

  • Sharon
    June 22, 2018

    Most definitely Team Amber.

  • Sascot7
    June 22, 2018

    I am saying a no on the popping in. I just don’t enjoy the unplanned pull in and park off visitor…..mean perhaps but with 3 kids and a 4th on the way I need organisation in my life and routine…..

  • Christine
    June 22, 2018

    I’m totally with you there! You do NOT pop in on people! When I was little, random friends of my parents used to pop in unannounced on apparently very spontaneous three-hour-family-biking-tours and even at 10 years old I was all “why don’t they just call a few days ahead like I would???”. It’s just weird and awkward.

  • Kelly Glen
    June 22, 2018

    TEAM AMBER all the way for me. I can’t stand people just popping in, it drives me mad , I would go as far as to say I even hate people coming round full stop, that will make me sound very weird but I just find it uncomfortable having other people in my house.

  • Maria
    June 22, 2018

    I am not afraid to say that I find popping in unannounced very rude (unless you know the person very well): I mean, I’ve had various people “pop-in” while I was at home and it wasn’t always pleasant: sometimes I heard the intercome buzzing, answered and heard the dreaded omen “Hi it’s *insert name of acquaintance/long distance relative you don’t know very well here*, can I come in??!?!?!!”. Uhm, no, you can’t. Or that’s what I would have liked to answer, anyway, because I was either in the middle of a shower/studying session 2 days away from an exam/cleaning spree/nap/meal/etc., and on top of all that, I was a mess, aesthetically speaking. And the funny thing? Is that some people even got mad when I answered “Uhm, hi! Could you give me 15 minutes to get ready/finish what I was doing before I let you in? I’m not very presentable atm”! Like, some of them would just say “Well if you don’t want me to come in just say it!” and I had to reassure them I didn’t mean that and that popping in unannounced could lead to waiting for the person they were visiting to tidy the house a bit/finish what they were doing/get ready, before letting them in. But boy, there was a certain relative that popped in unannounced very often and expected to be let in RIGHT AWAY: she’d say “Who cares if you’re a mess, wearing stained clothes and scrubbing the cat’s “toilette” with plastic gloves, bleach, a “nurse mask” and hair in dire need of a wash, I can still come in, we’re relatives!!”. Well, thanks for the input, but still I’d prefer if you could just give me 10 minute to get presentable.
    So yeah, I think it’s only polite to call beforehand, to ascertain if the person you’d like to see is not in a bad moment (in the middle of a shower/changing a nappy/eating/sleeping/in the middle of a job they have to deliver the day after).

  • Brenda
    June 22, 2018

    I’m Team Amber on this one too. My husband USED to be a popper, but he learned a valuable lesson. Never Ever pop in on newlyweds. Right after we started dating, we were out one evening and he wanted to just “pop in” on a couple of friends who had just gotten married. I was like, “no, you can’t just pop in on people!!” and he was, “what? no, it’s totally ok, these people are like, my best friends!!” and so I just followed along, blindly. The worst was when he rang the bell not once, but twice because he absolutely knew they were home. Their cars were there, duh! Imagine my embarrassment, when they did answer the door (because he just couldn’t give up!!!) and it was obvious that they were VERY BUSY. If you know what I mean. OMG. Since then, he’s much less of a popper. Thank the lord.

  • Jyoti
    June 22, 2018

    Team Amber!!

    It’s especially inconsiderate to pop-in on families with young children. Young kids have a bedtime and a routine and unexpected guests throw all of that out of whack.

    The worst people for this are my in-laws. Turning up on the doorstep at 8pm to visit us and our (then) 12 week old baby and complaining (!!!!) that she was sleeping. I excused myself and my daughter and went to bed early, leaving my husband to deal with his family. It probably was deemed rude but I think they’re more rude for turning up at that time of night expecting a 12 week old baby to be a source of entertainment at bedtime!

  • Mandy
    June 22, 2018

    This post is great – it sums me and my husband up. In theory I love the idea of popping in and people popping in on me. But the reality is different – and if people do pop in on us and the house is a mess, I clean it after they have gone – what is that about?!!

  • Dee
    June 22, 2018

    Most definitely Team Amber! I have a rule that I need at least a week’s notice before other people show up in my house – even workmen. I need time to make it look presentable, especially at the moment because I’ve recently moved and there are still boxes everywhere. Thankfully my husband understands and always gives me lots of warning before he invites anybody round. The only person I will allow to ‘pop in’ is next door’s cat, because I know he won’t judge my piles of stuff all over the place. I don’t even answer the doorbell unless I’m actually expecting someone!

  • Jenna
    June 22, 2018

    Oooh! I like reading the comments here! I definitely think there is a cultural element to this. I live in a very small town in the middle of the US (population less than 3000), and popping in is completely normal here. Not that I’ve completely gotten use to it, but I now come to expect people to drop by randomly on the weekends (people do keep respectful hours when they do this) and ocassionally on weekdays during the summer. I’ve, surprisingly, actually come to enjoy the random visitors. However, I never pop in on anyone else in return.

  • Dee
    June 22, 2018

    I think it’s a bit rude to show up on someone’s doorstep expecting to be let in without having given prior notice (and that means the day before). Myself and other family members have different health issues that mean that even if the house is spotless we may not let you in because someone is having an autoimmune disease flare up, a migraine, etc. If we at least know you are coming, we can assess our energy levels and plan accordingly to be a gracious host/hostess while also prioritizing our health. It doesn’t mean we don’t like visiting with other family and friends, just that we aren’t feeling up to it.

  • Trudy
    June 23, 2018

    The only people I will let ‘pop in’ are my parents or my siblings. If I’m in my dressing gown, they’ve seen that before, or if I’m in the middle of something, they have no problem with me carrying on, Mum will often be just dropping something off anyway. Anyone else who comes without warning, I don’t even answer the door for. I suppose that’s rude, but I think it’s ruder to turn up unannounced. I had one friend who was always asking me to ‘call in anytime’ for a cup of tea, and I knew she was the sort who really wouldn’t care if her house was a mess or something, so I did pop in a few times on her, until she moved out of the area. But I would never do it to anyone else.

  • heather
    June 24, 2018

    I’m Team-Amber on the “popping in ” issue… I’m normally in various stages of undress, and definitely braless (especially in the summer, we have no air conditioning for this 90 plus degree heat!!!). I like having people over, but let me have time to tame my frizzy hair, do the dishes and put on a bra!

    Also: my husband is a more-the-merrier type like your husband. If I suggest an outing/activity for us to do, he will immediately start thinking of who else he can invite… Though now he will pause and ask, wait, is this a date-date or is it ok if I invite people? He has finally understood that yes, I love our friends, but sometimes I just want it to be me and him, ha.

  • Totally Team Amber. I think our husbands were cut from the same cloth. He LOVES people ALL OF THE TIME. Meanwhile, I need to plan people time so I’m ready for it. My husband has learned, sorta, that he needs to check in with me first before inviting people over to our house. I don’t like having guests without a clean house (esp toilets!!!), wine stocked, and I’m dressed in something more than running sweats. So popping in unexpectedly on friends is a definite NO, especially since I’m still making ones (moved from the States in Sept). I find that if I need to compromise with the hubs on seeing someone last minute, that we text first and if there’s no response within 5, then it’s a no-go.

  • Justina
    June 25, 2018

    I am hardcore team Amber on this one. I hate when people pop in on me. It makes me nervous to be in my house and know that someone could knock on my door at any minute. I come from a big family (ten kids) and we always had tons of people over, but popping in still bothers me. Then again, people calling me -how dare they think I’m at their beck and call! – annoys me too, so maybe I’m not the best judge here. The only household I think it is ok to pop into is my mom’s, mostly because I don’t expect them to drop everything when I get there and it was my house for 10+ years.

  • Team Terry! Big fan of let’s do life together! anytime…it’s how I grew up as well. 🙂 Plus more excuses to keep tasty treats baked.

    • Amber
      June 26, 2018

      Not everyone enjoys baking, either, though!

  • Suzanne
    June 27, 2018

    It didn’t take me long to come up with my answer, I knew within the first few sentences – Team Amber all the way! I think ‘back in the day’ popping in was acceptable, I’m talking my parents’ generation and they are in their 70s. Now? Not so much. People don’t like it and I know for sure that if anyone attempted ‘popping in’ on me they would not be invited back! It’s not socially acceptable these days but my dad continues to do it regardless. Sounds like you’re fighting a losing battle mind!

  • rings90
    July 1, 2018

    A few years ago my mother told me that when we were little kids, both sets of grandparents would just pop in (They lived about an hour a away) if they were in town. Now my parents worked opposite shifts one St the hospital & one at the jail & had us 2 little kids.

    It greatly annoyed my mother… Mostly because like you said Amber just let me be a tiny bit presentable by giving a little notice.

    She followed up by saying she would give anything today to hear a knock on the door & see anyone of my grandparents standing there.

    Popping in annoys me a bit mostly because I am more like Terry in being untidy & would like to be able to do a fast clean, but since that conversation I have also realized that my family & friends know I am untidy & that spending time with those you love is more important, even if I still have yesterday’s mascara under my eyes.

  • Candace
    February 9, 2019

    I really do think it all depends on who you are popping in on. Close friends, I’m fine with as we all just pop in on each other but distant relatives or acquaintances I think really is a big no-no. Times like that I think you should arrange to meet up in advance.

  • M.
    November 7, 2019

    No, sweetheart, it’s not a cultural thing. I’m 100% Greek and living in Athens. Showing up without calling first is considered rude. Seems hospitality is more a stereotype than a fact. Even when at school we’d call first and then visit. Only the postman is ok to ring.