A bad date. We’ve heard the horror stories. Likely, we’ve had them ourselves. And certainly, we’ve bemoaned the experience. During a time when Netflix binging with a bottle of wine in your pajamas is not entirely awful, it’s especially hard to think of wasting even an hour on a bad date. So what can you do to remove yourself from an epic calamity of a bad date? Well, you’re going to need an exit strategy. Surely you’ve tag-teamed this system while at social events…a flick of the hair or an expression used that indicates to your party-mate that it’s time to leave, like yesterday. So why not create this for yourself in the dating scene? We’ve rounded up five dos and five don’ts for saying sayonara to a date you’d rather not be on.
Bad Date Dos
1. Hold the Sugar Coating, Please
If you’re already an assertive person, this is the option for you. And it doesn’t mean you have to be mean, but you can be direct. “Look, Joe Blow, you seem like a very nice person. But I can tell already from our conversation that this is entering the ‘no second date zone’ and I’d rather not waste any more of either of our times, you know?” Chances are, he’ll nod in agreement, as they probably felt the same. Maybe you’ll even have a quick fireball shot, cheers, and be on your merry way.
2. There’s Something About Self Sabotage
If you see the writing on the wall and you’ve got enough data collected, this can be a smooth maneuver. Did they mention their political leanings? Make sure to mention you lean as far the other way as possible. Loves sports? Tell them you’re the furthest thing from a fan and require all suitors to give up football season in favor of pumpkin patches and apple picking. If none of that works, just start picking your teeth. Works every time. And don’t forget to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
3. Lay the Groundwork
You’ve got a fifty-fifty shot of this going well, but when you think about the fact that this could be the date of your dreams, those aren’t bad odds. However, it’s never a bad idea to leave yourself an out by slipping in a quick, “I have to meet friends at 8:30 but I look forward to our drink.” If the date ends up going well, you can win huge points by “canceling” with your friends. Wink, wink.
4. Blame it on the J-O-B
What don’t we blame on our jobs these days? Stomach ulcer? Work stress. Horrible traffic? Stupid work commute. Missed your son’s game? Work, work, work! This is just one more thing you can add to the list and, heck, your boss half expects it at this point. If the date starts heading down a bad road, use those late-night work emails or early-morning meeting excuses with abandon. It’s like you’re getting paid for this.
5. “This One Time, at Band Camp … My Mom”
Is there anything worse than talking about your band camp experiences while on a date? Yes, yes there is. It’s talking about a band camp you attended with your mother. Throw in a few stories about your dad for good measure. Reply to his comment with an, “Oh, my dad does that, too,” or, “My mom also loves to putter around the yard.” Do this even if your parents are no longer with us. Trust me, they’ll surely be sending you their posthumous approval.
Bad Date Don’ts
1. Slip Out the Back, Jack
Do not go out the back door of the establishment, try to climb a short fence, and fall and break your wrist. Yes, this happened to me, and I don’t recommend it. Trust me, it’s better to just face the music. Plus, he might be one of those guys who doesn’t take the hint, and sticks around to make sure you’re okay. Then, you’ll just feel like a giant heel.
2. The Call is Coming from Inside the Restaurant
Come on, everyone knows this move. Ring, ring. “He WHAT!? No!? Okay, I’ll be right there!” (Hangs up.) “You’re not going to believe this but…” You’re right. They’re not going to believe this, unless your date is extremely gullible or has lived under a rock all through the sitcom years. And unless you’ve taken acting classes, this is going to be a cringeworthy performance. Don’t. Just don’t.
3. Fake Choking
Warning! Warning! Abort this mission before it even starts. See the previous note about lack of acting chops. More importantly, though, what if your “fake choking” becomes real and this bad date does not know the Heimlich Maneuver? Do not let a mouth full of mushroom risotto be your legacy. On your headstone: “Here lies Emily, who should have just said, ‘Look, this isn’t working for me.’”
4. Talk About Your Ex
This sounds like a great way to throw the date, right? Classic move. Everyone hates when their dates talk about their exes…or do they? This has a chance at working, but there is another very distinct possibility that you will open Pandora’s Box. And by “Pandora’s Box,” I’m referring to the fact that they might be ready to open up their own baggage for you, and you’ll have to put on your therapist hat and hold tight – this could be a bumpy ride.
5. Use Bodily Functions Gone Awry
A lot of people think they’ll use the bathroom excuse. You know, they ate something that didn’t agree with them. But you remember Bobby from first grade, right? The who had an accident in class and, well, it got on his chair. Instead of throwing the chair away, the teacher had it cleaned and put back in the classroom, where someone marked it with an “X”. For the rest of the year, everyone fought not to have the X-chair. Quite frankly, Bobby never lived this down and is likely in therapy today. Take this parable to heart. People do talk, and you do not want a bathroom-derived nickname.
Bad dates feel like they are a universal experience. Have you had one that was exceptionally bad? How did you handle it? Share with us in the comments.
Looking for more dating advice? Read our articles on How to Recognize a Good Contact on a Dating App and for date-night ideas, try What To Do on a First Date That’s More Exciting Than Dinner and a Movie.