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3 ways to exit a bad date (gracefully!)

Some first dates are full of fireworks... and some are just a disaster. Here's how to exit a bad one gracefully.

By HerCampus.com Jul 2, 2013 7:21PM

First dates have loads of potential to be either rewarding… or disastrous. It takes a confident woman to take this first step forward into being in a relationship! Some would say that the benefits of going on a first date aren’t worth the potential risks, including awkwardness, incompatibility and extreme nervousness. But taking the plunge and going on that date is definitely HC-approved. It may not go as swimmingly as you like, but you won’t have to live with regret, always wondering, ‘What would’ve happened if I went out with that guy?’

Photo: Bad date / Jamie Grill/Getty Images Despite the possible gains, one of the major date deterrents for college women remains the fear of the Bad Date. The Bad Date nearly always has an uncomfortable ending, as these college women will attest:

“Bad dates are awkward all the time, but the endings are the worst, especially if he drove and is dropping you off at your house. I just cross my fingers and get out of the car and into my door ASAP so he doesn’t try and make a move!” – Briana, University of Missouri-Kansas City

“At the end of a date there’s always the inevitable, ‘So, will we see each other again? is the question hanging in the air. If the date sucked, then it is so awkward to know in the back of your head that you don’t want to pursue anything else with him.” – Emily, DePaul University

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No doubt, a bad first date beginning makes for a less than pleasant bad first date ending. Luckily, it is possible to make your thoughts on the date and on your future – or lack thereof – with the guy clear without coming across as a mean girl or completely crushing his heart. And it’s important to remember that although ending the date is initially awkward, it WILL have an end and tomorrow will be the start of a new day (a day when you don’t have to redo your date).

But to make it easier before you get to the point when you’ve said your goodbyes, Her Campus has three ways for you to make the exit of your bad first date smooth without seeming stone cold!

During the date

Yes, the key to a graceful exit begins before you reach your doorstep. If you follow your intuition, you will most likely realize if the date isn’t going well pretty quickly. Conversation will feel forced. You’ll be noticing some red flags. You’ll find yourself disagreeing with a lot of things the guy is saying. In general, you will just feel some unease as opposed to some spark. To have an un-dramatic exit from this situation, you can’t lead him on!

1. Keep some things to yourself

To explain simply, don’t overshare or open up more than you would to a casual acquaintance. If you sense the date isn’t going well, don’t bring up intense things about your past or talk about all of your hopes and dreams for the future. Here’s why:

  • When you don’t want to go on a second date, he will just be confused. Why did you seem so comfortable talking about emotional topics if you weren’t connecting on a special level?
  • If he does take the fact that you’re not interested in a second date harshly, he will have loads of personal information about you to use against you. He may try to take something you say and twist it into a nasty rumor! (Which would be more proof that he wasn’t worth your time…)

There’s nothing wrong with making conversation, but you may want to be on your guard with what you share—especially if you feel the date heading south. Stick to lighter topics like hobbies and favorites before you delve into family life and career aspirations.

2. Don’t be a ‘yes’ woman

This goes for any date, not just a bad one. If you were talking with a friend and she said something that directly challenged your beliefs or opinions, you’d be honest with her about how you felt. Chances are if you’re on a good date, most of the things he will say won’t contradict your views. If you’re on a bad one, the odds of this may increase. “On one first date with a guy I went to church with, he asked me straight up about my feelings regarding gay marriage and abortion and told me all about how he felt," says Briana. "I’m sorry – to me those are really personal things to ask about on a first date. I just felt uncomfortable.”

Obviously, getting defensive or angry when this happens is not the way to go if you want to avoid awkwardness. When you find yourself in this situation, be honest but not aggressive. Here’s a short and non-serious (unless you’re really intense about your ‘90s boy band allegiance) dialogue to give you an idea about how to respond if this happens:

Him: “'N Sync was clearly the best boy band of the ‘90s. I honestly don’t get how anybody could listen to the Backstreet Boys. Their CD players must have been broken.”

You: “Well, I actually preferred the Backstreet Boys when I was younger. I think everyone just has his or her own music preferences though. I don’t have anything against 'N Sync fans!”

Though you’re unlikely to end up butting heads over pop music of decades past, the same principle applies: By being honest about your opinion, you aren’t leading him on to believe that you’re meant for each other. Plus, if it is meant to be, the fact that you don’t agree on everything wouldn’t be a turn-off for him.

3. Avoid physical contact

This one is pretty obvious. If you don’t feel you have chemistry with a guy, don’t be overly flirtatious. That means don’t hold hands or put your hand on his arm when you’re talking with him. What’s the point of this besides leading him on? Physical contact is a sign that you’re enjoying yourself, so be careful not to lead him on when you aren’t!

If he’s making contact with you when you aren’t feeling the spark, chances are your night will only get worse. You didn’t sign up for this kind of discomfort when you agreed to go on the date, but it’s easy to neutralize the situation. If he’s crossing that boundary, make him aware of it. Move your hand away or say something like, “I’m sorry, I’m just not comfortable with this right now!” and give him a smile to let him know that you don’t plan on biting his head off for attempting to hold your hand. It may be awkward in the moment, but you shouldn’t have to increase your discomfort just to get through the date.

For three more ways to exit a bad date gracefully and more love advice, check out HerCampus.com!

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Photo: Bad date / Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Jul 5, 2013 3:39AM

Okay gals....here's the best way I know to get out of a date that's not going well.  Just pretend you have to throw up   He'll get you home asap.  No guy wants barf in his car, and he most likely won't want anything more to do with you that night.   My Grandma taught me this ploy when I was a teen to use if a guy gets fresh.   This ploy is pretty fool proof providing that he doesn't drop you off on a curb somewhere.

Jul 5, 2013 2:08AM
 Just say ya know I thought I might like you but now it's clear that I don't. I'm outta here.
Jul 5, 2013 12:29AM
sooooooooooooooooooo stupid.  Gossip Monger!!! 
Jul 4, 2013 9:19PM

Of course you were sensible and made the date for an urban location, with easy to find cabs, and of course you have plenty of extra cash for the taxi, and of course you have a credit card or more cash to pay the restaurant tab, if he is the one to sneak out and leave you with the tab. Don't plan the first date without keeping your escape route in mind -


If it's really not working, pause in your conversation, smile weakly, start to get up, and just say thanks, but you must say goodbye now.  If he makes a scene about the tab, just hand him some cash and walk as fast as you can. 

Jul 4, 2013 7:47PM
Just excuse yourself to use the bathroom, then go home.
Jul 4, 2013 7:46PM

The best ways to get rid of a date is

1. take her to McDonalds and order from the dollar menu.

2. let her get all dressed up then take her to the local bowling alley

to watch you and your friends bowl a few games.

3. Tell her that your going to take her on a lake or river cruise ONLY to find out that she is going fishing with you and SHE can bait the hooks with dirty stinky worms.

4. Take her to an expensive resturant then leave her there while you drive off to go on a better date or bar hopping.

5. Hail a taxi only to have her dropped off way out of town

6. Tell her on the first date that she would be perfect for a farm hand to tend to the livestock for him.


If these don't take of your dating problems with someone YOU DON'T want to date then you may need to get more inventive!!

Jul 4, 2013 3:00PM
Mostly men are what women make them.  Physically between 15 and 24, they are a pile of raging hormones looking for release.  But socially, they are generally whatever the women they've met have insisted they be.  Far too many women have been "giving it away" for the last 50 years..., and now guys have come to expect it.  Ladies, you have mostly yourselves (as a group) to  blame.
Jul 2, 2013 11:09PM
If you are not interested....just tell them you used to be a female
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