There was once a time when women’s sole initiative role in the human mating ritual involved nothing more than dropping a silken handkerchief in the presence of her objet d’amour – an olden day version of the “bend and snap” – thereby prompting him to retrieve it and engage her in some polite conversation.
Today we play a much more proactive part in the dating world. This evolution is, for the most part, a positive improvement. We can now go after what – or rather whom – we want, rather than resorting to passive aggressive Victorian “subtleties” involving superfluous floor-bound accessories. On the other hand, it is on us to handle those situations in which we wish to extricate ourselves from the reach of gentlemen showing us unwanted attention… Preferably while still maintaining the grace and decorum befitting a twenty first century lady.
So here it is. The quick ‘n easy exit strategy. How to escape from an insufferable first date.
The Best Laid Plans are set in advance. Give yourself an out before meeting up with your date. Mention it casually: an early morning yoga session, a birthday party later on, whatever. Keep it simple and stick with something that might plausibly be true for you. I like to say I’m puppy-sitting and need to go to walk her. I have a friend who says her brother is crashing at her place. Don’t try to get too creative. Chances are he’ll bring it up at some point, probably when he’s trying to persuade you to stay out. You don’t want to get tripped up and expose your lie. That could be awkward. (The downside to having pre-established an exit time is that you may actually be having a good time and want to stay… Still, it can’t hurt to leave him wanting more.)
Try to maintain your manners up through the very end of the evening, no matter how unattractive or ugly or downright awful your date is. I once went out with a guy who made fun of mentally challenged people and – when I called him out on how off base his comments were – he actually attempted to justify his insensitivity. Still, I disguised my eagerness to bolt, lied through my teeth, and told him how nice it had been getting to know him. As tempting as it may be to bolt for the door – clicking your heels whilst jumping for joy on the way – don’t. You can do your freedom dance once you’ve gotten away and are out of his sight.
In The Event Of Emergency wing it… And hope like hell that he ends the date for you. Maybe you forgot to arrange an out. Maybe he stubbornly insists on another round. If so, try to temper his enthusiasm and decrease his interest.
Ask Questions — Specifically, those aimed at highlighting your differences. Make it abundantly obvious that you don’t want the same things; that your lifestyles don’t sync; that your world views are at odds; et cetera.
Expose Your Flaws — We all have them. Exaggerate yours. Focus on those that you think he will find most off-putting. If you’re a smoker, fess up. If he’s a smoker, express intolerance. Is he strongly self-motivated? Let it be known that you’re somewhat of a slacker… If you really, truly just happen to be perfect, well then, make something up.
Use Body Language — Your posture and facial expressions give away a lot more than you realize. Utilize them to your advantage. Leaning away from him subtly suggests disinterest. Crossed arms and raised eyebrows can convey defensiveness or disdain. Slouching communicates boredom. These gestures will most likely emerge naturally if you’re not enjoying yourself, so you won’t have to put too much thought into them.
Don’t Use Your Blackberry — Or your iPhone. Textually ranting about your misery right in front of him is rude and un-classy. That being said, there’s no harm in escaping to the ladies’ room for a brief telephonic bitch-and-moan.
If All Else Fails be honest. But not too honest. There’s no point in telling a guy that you think he’s lame or find him pheromonally repulsive, but it’s fully okay to say you’re not feeling it. Whenever I find myself in seriously dire straights, I duck out and blame it on the spark. Or rather, on the lack thereof.
This is actually a lot easier and less painful than it sounds. There’s nothing personal or offensive in telling a guy that your feelings towards him are spark-less. You can even couch your confession in softer terms or flip it around to help him save face. Saying, “You know, I don’t really feel a connection, and I sort of sense that you don’t either” is an amazingly effective and diplomatic way of ending a date that’s going nowhere fast. I’ve used this line many times and it works really well.
Be forewarned though, some guys will react in a less than gentlemanly way. Most recently, the dude I laid it on came back at me with “Yeah, you seem kind of uptight” – for the record, I’m totally not – but I just smiled, agreed with him, polished off the last of my drink, and bounced. NBD. What matters is that I was out of there a mere thirty minutes in – thirty minutes more and I might have had to run into oncoming traffic or drown myself in the East River – and out with my girlfriends, enjoying remedial libations, and relating the horrors of my earlier engagement. (As an aside, this guy used the term “The Web.” Multiple times. And he wasn’t trying to be ironic.)
Now, I know it’s far more comfortable to simply fade out. But in the interest of compassion, courtesy, karma – or whatever calls out to your conscience with a slow shake of its head and a wag of its finger – it’s better to be upfront than to allow him to nurture false hope, or fantasize, or fume over your silence – or whatever he feels compelled to do when he puts on his crazy hat – while you string him along.
Relate much? What have you done to get out of a bad date, and to what end? Insert ridiculous anecdotes and whatnot in comments.