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6 Ways to Exit a Bad First Date (Gracefully!)


First dates have loads of potential to be either rewarding… or disastrous. It takes a confident collegiette to take this first step toward a relationship! Some would say that the benefits of going on a first date aren’t worth the potential risks: awkwardness, incompatibility, or extreme nervousness. However, 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 and always be wondering, ‘What would’ve happened if I went out with that guy?’

Despite the possible gains, one of the major date deterrents for collegiettes remains the fear of the Bad Date. The Bad Date nearly always has an uncomfortable ending, as these collegiettes 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?’ 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, check out HC's 6 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 that 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 over-share 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…)

bad date relationship

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 to a friend and he or 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. I’m sorry – to me those are really personal things to ask about on a first date. I just felt uncomfortable.” –Briana, University of Missouri-Kansas City

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: “*NSYNC 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 *NSYNC 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

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This one is pretty obvious. If you don’t feel that you have chemistry with a guy, don’t be overtly flirtatious. This 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.

At The End Of The Date

So, you’re on a date that’s winding down and you followed the previous guidelines: you didn’t get too personal, you were honest about your feelings, and you avoided bodily contact. He clearly wasn’t reading your signals and says:

"I had a great time… When can I see you again?"

If he still asks about a second date at the night’s conclusion (or even the next day via call or text) you’re going have to give him some tough love. You don’t have to go out with him again, so here are some ways to alleviate the awkwardness and make sure he gets the hint:

4. Say: You Don’t Have Time to Devote To Him

At first glance, this may seem counterintuitive because you made time to go on the date. But if you felt that the date was rough then you truly don’t have time to devote to him. You may not be too busy to go on a first date, but you ARE too busy to go on a bad second date. “In the middle of the semester, I really value my free time. If I were to go on a bad date, I would honestly consider it time wasted. Why would I go on another one that I knew was probably going to be bad when I could be hanging with friends or out looking for a new guy?” –Kylie, University of Kansas

bad date bored girl relationship hooking up

How do you use this reasoning to escape your date with ease? Use these points to craft a good reason why the end of this date should be a permanent ending:

  • You put a lot of focus and effort into what you are involved in (e.g. your friend/family relationships, your work, your grades, your outside activities).
  • It is important to you that you maximize your time with the things you focus on.
  • So, you don’t think that you have the time to fit him into your life.

You don’t have to make it about him personally, but you don’t have to lie, either. He’s not important enough to you to justify carving time out of your busy schedule to go on another date. Worded nicely, he should understand.

5. Say: You Aren’t Looking For Commitment

Again, this reasoning could seem like a lie based on the fact that you went out on a date. But the fact that you aren’t looking for commitment WITH HIM is not a lie. Here are a few different things you can say to make this point in a nice way:

  • “I think you are a really great person, but I think that I might not be ready for the kind of relationship that you are looking for. Dating right now isn’t feeling as natural as I think it should feel.”
  • “I don’t know if I’m in a place right now that I would feel comfortable committing to dating you regularly. Based on my life right now, I want to approach dating casually so that I can decide if   I’m ready for something more.”

“When a guy that I’d had a rough date with texted me about going out (again) a few days later, I told him, ‘Going out with you was a great experience, but I’ve realized that I just don’t see myself committing to this right now. I’m sorry and I hope we can still be friends!’ I felt bad, but I was being honest. I did not see myself in a relationship with him and hopefully he appreciated the fact that I wasn’t playing games.” –Kylie, University of Kansas

6. Say: You Don’t Think That You Are Compatible

Of all of these date-dodging options, we like this one the best. Why? Because it is the most straightforward. If you want to be graceful about ending your date, you’re doing him the biggest favor by being direct. If you don’t want to see him again, it helps to be honest about why. You weren’t comfortable because you lacked compatibility. If you can help him to see this too, he can use this as a learning experience when he asks someone else out next time (and so can you)! Next time you find yourself not clicking with the guy next to you, follow the advice of this collegiette:

“I'm a big advocate for not playing games and just being an honest person. Too often, people think honest and rude are synonyms, but as long as you're nice, most guys will find honesty refreshing. I went on a date this past Saturday and when he asked me out again at the end I said, ‘I've really enjoyed hanging out with you, but in the future I'd like to hang out as friends.’ I know from lots (and lots) of experience how frustrating mixed signals can be, so I would never want to do that to someone else.” –Michelle, Emerson College

And what if you follow these tips (making it clear you don’t want to go out again) and he STILL goes in for a kiss at the end?

“A guy I was on a horrific date with tried to kiss me when he walked me back to the door. I think some people would’ve just let it happen, but there was no way I was going to do that. You shouldn’t have to kiss someone and be super uncomfortable just because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Dodge it! I just said something like ‘I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable with that.’ If he isn’t a jerk, he will respect that.” –Emily, DePaul University


There you have it, collegiettes! If you keep these six things in mind on your next date (which hopefully won’t be horrible), you won’t have to deal with an even-worse second date. The key is to make sure you aren’t leading him on. If he still isn’t getting it at the end of the date, it’s important to be honest and direct about the fact that you aren’t interested in seeing him again. If he’s a good guy, he will understand and you both can move on to find your own happily ever afters!

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