When you’re in the online dating scene, eventually you’re going to have a bad first date. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you think you’ve screened someone, sometimes there just isn’t spark or the other party has misrepresented themselves online. Ultimately, it’s hard to gauge how well you’ll actually get along with someone until you meet in person.
Here are some strategies for how to minimize the suckage of a not-so-great first date.
Make the first date informal
When planning a first date, you may be tempted to plan something lavish or exciting to make yourself seem thoughtful and interesting. While sometimes this can work out, it can also really backfire if you find yourself on a date with someone you can’t stand.
Take a more informal approach for the first time you meet this person- maybe meeting for coffee, drinks, or at most a meal. That way if you’re not feeling a connection you can leave relatively quickly.
Impose a time limit
Leading from the last point, choosing to meet for coffee, means that you can wrap up the conversation once you’ve finished your drink if really you need to. Half an hour is probably a bit short for a first date, but an hour is probably enough time to decide if you’d like to see this person again. Unless you get majorly creepy vibes from someone, an hour isn’t a very long investment of your time.
If after the allotted amount of time, you don’t want to see that person again, you’re under no obligation to. It’s really up to you how long you think is appropriate to meet and certainly you can choose to extend the date if you think it is going well.
Consider meeting for a first date during the daytime if you can say that you have a meeting you have to be in X amount of time. Imposing a time limit for a first date means you’ll spend less time hanging out with someone you don’t intend to keep dating. You’ll waste less of your own time and theirs as well.
Treat it like a bad job interview
Even if your first date experience was horrible, there’s probably something you can learn from it. Have you ever had a bad job interview? Chances are you completed the interview process and didn’t get up and leave, even if it seemed like not the greatest fit.
Use this bad date as an opportunity to practice your conversation skills. Being able to have a conversation with nearly anyone is a serious life skill and will come in handy at cocktail parties, awkward work functions and on airplanes.
Focus on asking open-ended questions. If nothing else, you can perhaps find out some interesting things about this person. Maybe they have great stories, or can offer you further insight into what you don’t want in a relationship.
Be firm but polite
It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there and go meet a total stranger. Both parties probably decided to meet with the best of intentions, hoping that you two would be a match. Give this person the respect of being honest with them.
Wrap up your conversation and thank them for coming out to meet you. Be firm but polite and say you’re not feeling a connection. Don’t say you’d like to be friends unless you really mean it.
If they ask you for a second date and you’re not feeling it, also be direct and honest, not avoidant.
If all else fails, have an out
Here at GDG, we’re big fans of being honest & open with the people you’re dating. However if you find yourself in a bind, there is one other way you can wrap up a heinous first date.
Before your date, ask a friend to call or text you at a designated time. If the date is going well, you can ignore your phone, but if absolutely necessary you can use their call as an excuse to leave.
You could say your roommate locked herself out of your apartment, or your BFF is having a crisis, or something equally urgent but ultimately banal (e.g. don’t say Grandma died or something of that level). Seriously though, reserve this strategy for people who are creepers or making you feel extremely uncomfortable. It’s usually best to leave on your own terms without a lame excuse.
Need some help with your dating strategy? Does your dating profile need an overhaul? The Geek’s Dream Girl Team is here to help!