Making a break for it

Illustration by Elyse Taylor

We all have a different concept of what constitutes an enjoyable evening. Not every personality is compatible with every other personality. In everyday life, these differences can be both enriching and aggravating, but on a date they can become positively unbearable. In these situations, it’s handy to come to a date armed with exit strategies when he takes you to Beto’s and insists on reciting the entirety of Monty Python and the Holy Grail just for you, the alleged love of his life.

When it comes to dealing with bad dates, there are an infinite number of variations on three basic approaches.

First, you can play dirty. This includes any method that involves an element of deception, such as excusing yourself to go to the bathroom and making a run for it when he’s not looking. The benefit of this approach is that it avoids immediate awkwardness or hurt feelings – if you’re skillful. If you feel neither confident nor right about deceiving your date, then your performance won’t come across convincingly, and you’ll both hurt his feelings and look like a jerk. The other danger is that if you “accidentally” spill Dr. Pepper in you lap and need to go home to change clothes, he may be left thinking the date was going swimmingly and will ask you out again.

Other techniques include The Curfew and The “Emergency.” In The Curfew, you pretend that, depending on your situation, your child, roommate, parent or pet requires that you be home by ten. For The “Emergency,” arrange to have a friend call you after 45 minutes with a made-up emergency. If the date is going badly, look panicked then excuse yourself after the call, citing a problem that requires your immediate attention. If things are going well, tell your friend whatever it is will just have to wait. This will impress your date.

Second, you can stick it out. This is the approach for ladies who don’t want to hurt their date’s feelings and have an infinite reserve of patience that will permit them to spend the entire evening with a lout without blowing up. The benefit is that by the end of the night, your date’s dignity is intact, though you may be left emotionally exhausted, bored or on edge. But like many of the previous techniques, he may be left with a vastly different idea of how the date went and could ask you out again. And again. And again. If you wait it out, however, you may find he’s not such a bad guy as the evening wears on, and you may want him to ask you out again. And again.

Third, try honesty. This is the only way to ensure that your date gets the right message about whether or not he has a shot with you. Be gentle. Highlight good qualities that would be good for someone – anyone who is not you – before you tell him that you think it is best to just leave it at date one. You can be harsh too. If he’s earned your displeasure by abusing the server at the restaurant, driving dangerously or trying to cop a feel on the first date, go for it. Give him a piece of your mind and maybe, just maybe, he’ll repent of his ways, and you’ll save his future dates from similar performances.

There’s no reason that a perfectly good Valentine’s Day should be spent in the company of someone you can’t stand. If you don’t have high hopes for the date, go in with a strategy in mind for getting out. You may or may not need it, but you’re better safe than sorry.

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