I've been on more than a few bad dates in my lifetime, but I haven't had a seriously bad date in a long time. That's because I've learned what to do. And what not to do. Here are a few tips on how to cut your "oh no!" dates down to a minimum. (Of course, I'm assuming that the badness in the bad date is not your fault.)
The Only Tip You Really
Make the first date a short date. Meet for coffee and dessert. Or a drink. The first date should last an hour. You can tolerate anything for an hour, right? If you like each other, you can always schedule another one for another day.
If you ignore this tip and find yourself out on a good-date-gone-bad, first consider how bad it really is, on a scale of 1-10. What you should do next depends on how you rate this date.
Uh-Oh....1 = I'm bored
4 = Something's not right, though I'm not sure what
7 = What a jerk
10 = This guy is psycho
Related: The 5 Biggest Turn-Offs
1 = I'm Bored
If he's a nice enough guy but just not that interesting, you should be pleasant about it. Finish your food and drink quickly and start packing your belongings and refreshing your lipstick like it's time to go. He should get the hint. If he doesn't, yawn and comment on your early morning tomorrow. The "yawn/early morning" thing also works if you're at a party. If it's a movie or concert, you don't have to talk to him much anyway, so just enjoy the event and vow to yourself that next time you'll pay better attention to The Only Tip You Really Need.
4 = Something's Not Right…
I ignored my own "Only Tip You Really Need" and went to dinner with a new guy. He took me to a supper club that puts on a Drag Queen Revue. Everyone there --including all the Drag Queen Performers - knew him by name. I thought this was an odd choice of venue, but decided not to be judgmental. I kept pushing to the back of my mind the question as to why a supposedly straight guy was so well-known here. The first show was quite enjoyable, though I was more concerned when we stayed for the second show. He had an extreme amount of empathy for the performers who, he explained, "had very difficult lives trying to reconcile their male and female sides". No doubt, that is true. But I was a little alarmed at how passionate he was while making this argument. I also was uncomfortable with how well the performers knew him and how much vamping they displayed toward him while they were on stage. I decided to make the most of the evening and enjoyed the shows. As soon as I could, I told him I was tired and thought we should leave. I just never returned his call after that. It was just too complicated. I don't know why he was so involved in this community, though I assumed he was grappling with his own sexuality. At any rate, I didn't feel he would give me an honest answer if I raised it. So why bother? Something wasn't right…and I just went with me gut.
Related: Is the Dating Pool too Overcrowded?
8= He's a Jerk
I had the misfortune to go on a date with a guy whose ex-wife happened to have the same birthday as mine. Once he had that bit of information, he proceeded to tell me all the ways I was probably just like his ex ("probably," as he said, because he didn't really know me, but since we had the same birthday). At first, I tried to laugh it off and even made a joke about it, while gently reminding him of the universal "You shouldn't talk about your ex on a date" rule. When that didn't work, I tried changing the subject a few times. That worked for the short-term, but he kept finding a way to sneak ex-wifey back into the mix. So, I suggested we cut the date short. With a sweet voice and a smile on my face, I pointed out that this clearly wasn't going to be a love connection, thanked him for the evening, and wished him well. When a guy is consistently behaving like a jerk despite your efforts to turn things around, honesty is the best policy. He might not be a bad guy, but he's not on "good date behavior" and you don't have to accept that. If you're not having a good time, politely cut your losses. Say good night.
10 = He's a Psycho
For most bad dates, I think two things: get out as soon as you can, but don't make a scene about it. If it's a seriously bad date tand he is clearly and probably intentionally being ugly, I think it's fine to end it however you can. I was at dinner with someone who I decided was mentally unstable. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and kept walking…right out the front door. Safety first. (And, fortunately, he didn't know where I lived.)
But keep in mind, some bad dates are worth it for the laughs and great stories they make. Plus, they make all your other dates seem even better.
What are your tips for ending an awful date?
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Eleanore Wells is a singles lifestyle expert, media personality and author of The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons For Living Happily Single & Childfree.