An essential guide to ending a bad date

Emily Gulla
Photo credit: Alice Cowling

From Cosmopolitan

We've all been there: on a date with someone who's just not who you thought they'd be, or staring down the barrel of your pint glass waiting for the nightmare to end.

But a bad date 100% isn't something you should have to put up with. If you're not enjoying it, they're just not your type, or they're being creepy and you feel unsafe, you should never feel pressured into staying on a date that you don't want to be on. And now that the Coronavirus pandemic has welcomed us into the whole new world of video dates and socially distanced dates, learning how to end things under new circumstances can be stressful.

But there's no need to worry. Here are our top tips for getting out of a bad date, no matter the situation.

How to end a bad date

Have some go-to lines

If you're meeting someone for the first time, or you're unsure how the date's going to go, it's a good idea to have some go-to excuses ready in your head that can get you out of a situation. That way, you won't blurt something out and accidentally get yourself in a web of lies that you feel you have to keep up.

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"They might be cliche, but the old lines like, 'I've got an early start tomorrow,' or 'I think I've got a migraine coming on,' usually do the trick," says Kezia Noble, an attraction and dating expert. "The other person will probably get the message that you're just not interested, where as the more creative your lie, the more likely they'll think you're telling the truth. They might miss your hint and end up calling and texting you to pursue a second date."

Get a friend to call you

A classic get-out-of-date card is to arrange a call from a friend at a particular time, or to text them to ring with an 'emergency'. Plus, you should always let a friend know where you're going on a date, when, and who with - or share your location with them.

Decide whether they deserve a lie or the truth

Telling a white lie or getting a friend to call can be a good idea if you genuinely don't want to hurt their feelings, or if you feel that their reaction would cause you to be unsafe. But sometimes, you might feel like telling them the truth and saying their behaviour's not on.

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"If the other person has really made an effort or they're just not your type, but they've done nothing wrong, you might want to tell a fib to avoid hurting their feelings," says Kezia. "But if they've made no effort, been rude or inconsiderate, telling them the truth might make you feel better and also give them the chance to reflect on what they need to do to improve their behaviour."

Be honest

While making up excuses can be an option, sometimes honesty is the best policy - and just being straight up with the person can be the easiest way to tell them you're not feeling it. Dating app Bumble says that while you definitely shouldn't feel guilty about ending a date that's not right for you, you should still be kind. "Regardless of whether it's virtual or IRL, make sure you’re being honest and respectful about why you’re not interested and keep the conversation friendly," they suggest.

Kezia says to tell someone you're not interested gently, but without patronising them. "Avoid lines that could be a bit patronising like 'You're a really nice person,' or 'It's not you, it's me.' Instead, tell them there’s a few things that just didn’t make it click for you, and that you’re pretty sure they felt it wasn't clicking either," she suggests. Or tell them honestly that you just didn't fancy them, or saw them more as a friend.

Don't stay for the whole time

If you're meeting up for dinner or for drinks, you might feel pressured to stay for a certain amount of time. But if you're really not enjoying it, don't feel like you have to finish every bit of your linguine. This is why arranging a micro-date can be a good idea for a first date, so you don't feel you need to stay for hours.

Kezia suggests dropping an excuse at the start of any date that will enable you to cut it short if you need to. "At the start, tell them you weren't feeling very well in the morning, or that you might need to check a work email to do with a deadline," she explains. "The trick is to deliver it as an afterthought, but if the date does go downhill you can return to that story as an excuse to leave without seeming totally random."

You also shouldn't feel guilty about cutting a date short, says Bumble. So cut the politeness, and do what's right for you.

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How to end a video date

The whole new world of video dating brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic might seem daunting, but a video date is actually much easier to end than an IRL date. So that's a perk, we guess.

"Sudden technical issues are your escape route," says Kezia. "It could be as simple as secretly hanging up on them, then messaging to say you don't know what happened or that you've been meaning to get a new phone for ages. This way it won't hurt their feelings. Think: 'It’s not you, it’s my crappy out of date laptop.'"

How to end a socially distanced date

Socially distanced dates during the pandemic, like meeting in a park or for a walk, can also be easier to end because there aren't the same social rules around sitting in a bar or restaurant. Kezia suggests using a "false time constraint" at the beginning of your date.

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"Tell them when you meet that you have something to do in an hour. This way, they're only expecting an hour of your time. But if the date goes well and you want to extend it you can always check a fake text and say that your prior engagement has been cancelled," Kezia explains.

"This is also a good opportunity to see if they're enjoying the date too. If they remind you about your appointment, they might be trying to find their own escape route," she adds.

How to end a date if you feel uncomfortable or in danger

It's always a good idea to meet in a public place, and to share your location with your friends. But trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable and seek help to get out safely. You could call a friend to come and get you or discreetly ask the bar staff to help you leave or order you a taxi.

Kezia Noble is an attraction and dating expert. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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