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How to Cut a Bad Date Short: The Best & Worst Guilt-Free Excuses

Dating is full of surprises, some good and some not so good. When the latter happens, it is best to know how to cut a bad date short.

If you’ve been on the dating scene for a while, knowing how to cut a bad date short is your key to survival. You know that most dates don’t turn into relationships. Sometimes they don’t even make it past the appetizers.

Whether they chew with their mouth open, smoke like a chimney, or talk about their ex non-stop, cutting a date short is totally understandable, and usually warranted.

How to cut a bad date short without feeling guilty

The main reason most of us endure bad dates is guilt. We don’t want to come across as snotty or judgmental. And it’s true, some bad dates can turn around.

But, in most cases, bad dates are just that, bad dates. There is no reason for you to waste a night talking to someone who spits and is racist when you could be at home watching reruns of Friends.

Dates should be fun. Even if you don’t feel a spark, you could have a good time with someone. But, if you are miserable and can’t stop watching the clock, it is time to say goodbye.

[Read: First date red flags that speak a lot more than your date says]

Whether they said something inappropriate or offensive or just weirded you out, you have every right to cut a bad date short.

In fact, staying longer than you want to could end up putting you in a worse mood and headspace when moving into future dates. Not to mention, sticking around when you have zero interest in this person romantically or platonically could get their hopes up.

I actually went on a date that lasted nearly three and a half hours. I thought it went well. At the end he said he would text me to do it again. I never heard back. Clearly, he wasn’t interested. I would have preferred if he cut the bad date short so I would at least have had a clue that we weren’t on the same page. [Read: Ghosted after the first date? 13 calm steps to quell the rage]

Cutting a bad date short doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be rude or stuck up. It not only gets you out of a miserable situation but helps your date move forward too. So, there really is no reason to feel bad about cutting a bad date short.

How to cut a bad date short

For those times where you know the person sitting across from you isn’t Mr. or Ms. Right, but are in fact, Mr. or Ms. Wrong, here are some ways to escape a date without being too harsh.

#1 The Plan. Instead of playing it by ear, have an escape plan to use just in case. Give yourself an out before the date even starts. Meet them at the location so you can get out on your own terms.

Drive yourself, have money for cab fare, etc. You don’t want to run out and need a ride home. If this is a first date, always have access to leave at any point without needing their help. Just knowing you have that freedom will put you at ease. [Read: 13 warnings signs to look out for after the first date]

#2 The Emergency Call. I’m sure you have seen this in countless movies and TV shows, but it isn’t a bad idea. Before a first date, ask a trusted friend to give you a call or text with a fake emergency about 30-40 minutes in.

Stick to something simple that doesn’t warrant too many follow-up questions: my friend ran out of gas on the highway, my dog got out of the yard, there’s a work emergency.

You want it to be believable, but also not too serious, so, no family deaths. It should be just enough that they understand you have to leave, but they also won’t question it. This way, you have an out if you need one, but can ignore the call if the date is going well. [Read: 10 unfair but relevant dating rules we all have to live by]

#3 The Classic. Simply tell your date at the start that you have an early morning and still have work to get done tonight, but didn’t want to cancel. This lets you get to know them, but also lets you get out nice and early if the date is less than impressive.

They can’t argue with work. And they will appreciate that you didn’t cancel all together and gave them a fighting chance.

Now, if you take advantage of these maneuvers you avoid a face-to-face dumping, but will probably have to tell them you’re not interested eventually – unless they take the subtle hint immediately. If that is not the case, at least now you have more time to plan out your “I’m sorry, but…” text. [Read: How to recognize a bad first date within minutes after meeting them]

How not to cut a bad date short

#1 Saying you’re sick. They will probably want to take you home. They will follow-up and may even bring soup over and offer to watch movies with you. That is the last thing you want if you wanted to get out of a bad date with them. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

#2 Leaving while they’re in the bathroom. Or going to the bathroom and not coming back. This is the real life version of ghosting. It is super harsh. Avoid this at all costs unless they’re a real jerk.

#3 Spill something. Not only is it hard to fake spilling something while making it seem authentic, but why waste a decent date outfit? There are more realistic and easier options to cut a bad date short. Spilling something so you must go home and change or get cleaned up is a bit dramatic. Just skip this one, please.

#4 Make them leave. Instead of looking like the jerk, some people scare off their date so they walk out. That requires a lot of acting and effort just to not be the leaver. Don’t start ranting about your ex or sharing your dream wedding ideas so they get freaked out, just leave on your own.

#5 Waiting. If you know the date is a dud early on and plan on bailing, do it earlier rather than later. The longer you wait the more unhappy you’ll be, and the more your date might think you’re enjoying yourself. [Read: How to tell if a first date went well: The signs you should see]

How to cut a bad date short in the best way

Learning how to cut a bad date short could be considered an art, but if you’re anything like me and can’t be bothered with the plans and the lying, just be honest.

Tell the truth. This may not be the easiest method. In fact, it may actually might be super awkward, but it gets straight to the point and avoids any interactions later on. You won’t have to ghost or carry on being polite for weeks before they get the hint.

First, compliment them before you let them down, then apologize, and simply tell them you’re not feeling it. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs. [Read: How long should an ideal first date list? The guide to perfect timing]

For example: “You’re really great/sweet/cute, and I’m really sorry, but I don’t feel a spark between us.” Hopefully they’ll understand and respect your honesty. And who knows? Maybe your honesty could bring the date back to life. Sometimes being blunt pushes you past the awkwardness.

If you can’t take the possibility of hurting their feelings, embellish and say you realized you’re not over your ex. This way they won’t take offense. Plus, there’s no unfortunate follow-up text required.

[Read: How to end a date without feeling awkward – The good, bad and ugly way]

Always keep an open mind and positive attitude when going on a date. But just to be safe, keep these ideas in mind when you’re wondering how to cut a bad date short.

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