We’ve all been there.
Sometimes, no matter how excited you were for the date beforehand, the person sitting opposite you just isn’t who you expected them to be. That’s a bad date.
It can happen on first dates, it can happen on fifth dates; if you’re dating, you should probably know how to get out of a bad date without any awkwardness.
After all, your time is valuable.
So how do you do it?
Here are our top tips for a covert, but effective, bailing strategy so that you don’t have to suffer through another bad date.
Always enter a first date with an exit plan
First dates are the hardest, because — especially if you’ve met online — you really have no idea who this person is.
You’re basing your entire romantic potential on assumptions of who they are (thanks to their online profile or a friend’s glorious painting of their personality 😉).
It’s only when you actually sit down together that you’ll be able to decode their true character. And it can sometimes take several dates, to dig down past their surface level persona.
So, you should always enter a first date with some sort of exit plan, should you need to bail mid-way through your evening.
This starts with being savvy around what you do on your first date. If they suggest dinner, or a concert, or any other activity which requires a time commitment, bounce back with the suggestion an afternoon coffee, or an early evening drink in a bar.
Also, earlier dates are always better for this reason, you can make tentative plans for later on and not feel bad when you have to bail for other commitments.
Then, if you’re having a good time in a more relaxed setting, you can move the date on to dinner.
But, if you’re not, you’ve at least given yourself a lot of space to exit gracefully. Perhaps you’ve got to meet up with friends after or have a pressing work assignment to finish.
Both of these are more-than-acceptable excuses, so neither you nor your date will be left feeling awkward if you slip off under these pretenses.
Finished your drink? Now’s a good time to go
Every time your date asks, “Would you like another drink?”, you’ve got an opportunity to continue the date, or make your move to go.
It’s a perfectly natural time to say your goodbyes — at least you’re not skipping out mid glass of wine, leaving your date wondering what went wrong.
If you’re not entirely feeling it, limit yourself to one drink.
Give your date a chance to win you over, but don’t stick around any longer than you need to.
Take a timeout in the restroom, and return with a plan
Thank goodness that we are constantly connected to friends and family via our smartphones!
That’s why, if you pop off to the restroom for a minute and come back saying you’ve received an emergency call or text from a friend, your date won’t find it too suspicious if you use this as an excuse to head home.
Sure, it’s a cliché — but it’s a cliché because it works!
We would recommend, though, that you use a semi-emergency, rather than an emergency-emergency. You know what we mean: a friend gets dumped out of the blue, rather than a death in the family.
There’s less guilt involved in that for you, and your date is more likely to believe it.
Pick your words wisely: avoid talking about future plans
You can definitely drop subtle hints into conversation, hinting to your date that this is likely the last time you’ll see each other.
Avoid saying things like “Next time let’s…” or “I’ll tell you another time…” during your date, even if they are saying them to you. And when you go to say goodbye, leave it with a “It was nice to meet you”, rather than “See you again soon”.
If you don’t want to see them again: don’t say you will!
Don’t be afraid to just tell it like it is
Honesty is often the best policy.
But, actually, you don’t need to be 100% honest to give your date the brush off.
If they’ve done something to really turn you off, or you think they’re online dating photos make them look entirely different, you don’t really need to tell them that, unless you really want to!
Instead, be honest by saying: “Anyway, it was good to meet you, but I think I’m going to call it a night now”.
No pretend emergency phone calls. No fake work commitments to finish off.
Be upfront and real.
They may be left feeling a little bamboozled, but it’s all in the delivery.
If you’re kind, they should accept how you feel. Plus, this gives them the freedom to pursue other dates, and not be left waiting around for you.
Ask for help
Unfortunately, not all bad dates are easy to get out of.
It’s a sad reality, that when you’re dating, you do have the chance of coming across a proper bad egg.
Maybe they are really not who you thought they’d be; you could find them threatening, aggressive, or have tried to make excuses to leave only for them to manipulate you into staying.
In these situations, please don’t try to get out of it on your own.
Ask for help; grab the attention of a waiter or bar staff while your date’s in the restroom.
Don’t allow yourself to feel uncomfortable or out of your depth.
Chances are, the waiters or bar staff have dealt with a similar situation in the past, and they can help remove you from any danger.
You can also protect yourself from scary encounters by downloading uSafeUS or Circle of 6 onto your phone. These apps help you call on your friends (and other, professional, points of contact) if you need backup.
Dating: it’s a rollercoaster!
There are, without doubt, pros and cons to dating.
You just simply never know which date will lead to a blissful, long term relationship. And which will end with you trying to climb out a restroom window!
Know how to subtly get out of bad dates, and you’ll be prepared for everything.
And if a string of bad dates has got you doubting your approach, maybe you’d be better off enjoying single life for a while? Our blog post on how to be a happy singleton will help you realize the beauty of your freedom.
Whatever you choose to do, always remember to be good to yourself!