Not only is there an art to dating, but there’s an art to not dating – or at least, figuring out how to end a date once it becomes clear it's not going anywhere.
If we’re honest, dating is just hard – there’s no formula or foolproof way of cheating the system and landing the right guy off the bat. Part of the reality of dating is that it’s necessary to date in order to find out what we like and what we don’t like as we search for “the one.”
But sometimes, a date isn’t only not wonderful – it’s downright bad. Maybe it was a setup gone wrong, he showed another side of himself that we’re not too fond of, or it just became obvious that there was not much in common and we had run out of things to talk about even before the salads came.
So what exactly do we do when we’re on a date with a guy we know for a fact isn’t a good match? Once we come to the realization that we don’t plan on ever seeing him again, how should we handle ourselves for the rest of the date?
Should You Finish the Date, or Cut It Short?
We’ve all been there, wishing we could just be upfront and say we’d prefer to head home rather than finish out a date, especially if he said or did something rude. It’s understandable to feel like our time and energy are limited and wonder if we should be willing to waste them on another guy who turns out to be someone we never see again.
With that said, unless he makes a comment that's utterly offensive or unforgivable, it’s probably best to finish out a date – especially if the problem is solely based on the fact that he’s not your type or the conversation is dry. In the latter scenario, it’s not that he’s doing anything wrong or immoral, but that he’d simply be a better match for someone else.
Guys we aren’t romantically interested in still deserve basic kindness and consideration.
Leaving a guy hanging for not being exactly what we want him to be isn’t kind, mature, or fair; guys we aren’t romantically interested in still deserve basic kindness and consideration.
How Should The Bill Be Handled?
It’s a moment that can turn awkward all too easily: the bill arrives, and the dance of figuring out how it’ll be covered ensues. Should we let him pay for the total, or offer to split it? Is it rude to not offer? Would he even take us up on it?
Whether or not a bill should be split truly is a case by case scenario – some guys won’t ever want a woman to pay on a first date, while others might, depending on the situation. But if we know without a doubt that there will be no second date, splitting the bill is the most polite route to take.
This way we won’t run the risk of feeling all the more terrible when we turn his invitation for a second date down. He also won’t walk away feeling used and wondering why he paid for a meal with a woman who, all along, had no intention of ever seeing him again. If we both took a loss for a bad date, no one will come out the other end feeling bitter or awkward.
What If He Asks for Another Date or To Exchange Numbers?
So the end of the bad date arrives, and we’re ready to go home, slip out of our uncomfortable pumps, and move on with life. But then, he attempts to plan another date – and in order to do that, he wants our number. This is where honesty (gentle and tactful honesty, that is) is the best policy. Accepting another date just to get out of the awkwardness of the moment only leads him on, as does exchanging numbers or social media handles.
If we truly have no intention of going on another date, this is the moment we’ve got to break the news to him. But we don’t have to be blunt or brutal about it; there are indeed polite ways to let a guy down.
Gentle and tactful honesty is the best policy.
After all, it’s flattering that he’d want to continue seeing us. Most often, offering a simple explanation of not being interested in another romantic date, and not making a big deal about it, will help him recover more quickly than if we’d dragged it out. Saying something along the lines of, “I appreciate the invitation, but I don’t think I’m interested,” keeps things simple while getting our point across.
The most important elements of turning a guy down are maintaining a friendly demeanor to keep him from feeling embarrassed, and having compassion for what he must be feeling. He put himself out there and was rejected, and that’s not anyone’s favorite pastime.
Should You Give Your Bad Date Feedback?
Sometimes we can’t put our finger on why exactly we didn’t connect with a guy, besides the “feeling” we got. Other times, it’s clear as day as to why the date was a dud – maybe he had poor hygiene, his rude demeanor toward the waitress was off-putting, he seemed a little too desperate to woo us, or we clearly weren’t physically attracted to him.
It’s tempting to tell him what his misstep was, and we tell ourselves it’s coming from a place of wanting to help him out for future dates. But if we’re honest, it’s probably because we don’t want him to think ill of us for not wanting to see him again – that it’s him, not us.
His problems aren’t ours to figure out for him – so tread lightly when it comes to feedback.
Feedback is only constructive and meaningful when someone is open to hearing it. If he’s not asking for feedback or doesn’t seem curious as to why we don’t want to go out again, our feedback will come across as less helpful and more heartless, like we’re volunteering to pour salt on a wound. We’ve all had someone attempt to give us unsolicited advice, and even if their advice wasn’t half bad, their approach made us not want to listen.
If we do end up giving feedback, we need to remember that he’s a human with feelings and insecurities. We should carefully consider how we express our opinions, and whether the criticism will ultimately be of benefit to him. In the end, his problems aren’t ours to figure out for him – so tread lightly when it comes to feedback.
It’s almost certain that we’ll all find ourselves on a bad date one day, if we haven’t already gone on a variety of them. But as uncomfortable as they are, we can handle them with maturity, compassion, and decency. In the end, we’re just getting dinner with a guy we won’t marry -that’s not the worst thing in the world.
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