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Top 10 Ways to Get Out of a Bad Date

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
A woman on a date looking very bored while the man is laughing at something
At some point in your life, you're bound to end up on some awkward or downright painful dates. Getting out of a bad date can be tricky, but you shouldn't have to devote tons of time to something you're not enjoying. That's why it's helpful to know how to get out of a bad date.

Bad dates are inevitable, even if you're using the top dating sites and getting to know people through messaging or video chat before meeting them. You might find that you and your date have many disagreements and find it difficult to get along. Maybe they don't look like they do in their pictures, or maybe they're being downright rude.

Here are some tips on how to escape a bad date as soon as you notice any major first date red flags.

1. Just Get Going

It won't always be this simple, but sometimes you don't need an explanation. You can just make moves to wrap things up when you're ready. Ask the server for the check or just say, "It was nice to meet you. I'm going to get going now." Most people will take the hint and not ask further questions.

2. Be Honest

People appreciate honesty, especially if you phrase it nicely: "Hey, I really appreciate you taking the time to meet up with me, but I can tell this isn't going anywhere, and I don't want to waste either of our time." Then, thank them again and wish them the best.

If you can't get the words out, you can resort to one of the excuses below, but try to use them only if they're true.

3. Tell Them You Need to Get Back to Work

If you've met someone on Zoosk, OurTime, or another app who is just plain unpleasant to be around, one easy way out is to let them know you have work to get back to.

Depending on your job, this is probably one of the most honest excuses you can give. We all have something we could be getting done. You don't need to make up a big story about what it is you have to do. Just thank them for taking the time to meet you, and let them know you need to go.

4. Tell Them Your Bedtime Is Approaching

During an evening date, you can use the excuse that you need to get to bed because you have a big day tomorrow. Again, it's not a total lie—we all need our sleep! Just don't say this before 8 p.m., or you'll raise eyebrows.

5. Say It’s You, Not Them

If you can't get up the nerve to say you're not feeling a connection, blame yourself: "I'm so sorry. I have a lot on my mind right now, and I'm finding it difficult to be present. I apologize, but I think it's better if we cut this short."

This is also likely partially true and saves them the ego blow. On a similar note, you can use the classic excuse that you're feeling sick or just say you slept badly the previous night and would like to go home and relax.

6. Tell Them You Have Plans

Another easy out is to say you have to meet a friend for drinks, call your parents, or do something else that requires your attention. If you prefer not to give specifics, you can leave it at, "I've got somewhere to be by 7:30, but I appreciate you meeting me here and hope you enjoy your evening."

7. Ask a Friend to Call You

This isn't the classiest move, but if you can't think of another way out, you can text a friend and ask them to call you. Look at your phone and tell your date to please excuse you because the call is important. After you pick up, let them know that you need to get going to address an issue.

If you're concerned that an upcoming date may go in a negative direction, you can ask a friend in advance to be prepared to do this.

8. Make up a Minor Emergency

Say a date has been going on for hours, you despise the other person, and other ways of getting out aren't working. It may be OK to tell a white lie.

Don't make up something horrible that'll worry your date. Tell them there's a minor emergency (your roommate just texted you that your toilet's overflowing or a friend was just broken up with) and skedaddle before they have the chance to ask about the details.

9. Do Your Best to Pre-Screen Dates

The best way to get out of a bad date is to avoid planning one in the first place. This isn't completely within your control, but it is to an extent.

If you know you won't get along with someone who's politically conservative, find out their views in advance. If you're a Christian and your faith is important to you, use Christian dating sites to avoid situations where your date doesn't share your values. If you're a hardcore vegan and feel passionate about the vegan lifestyle, don't go out with someone who has a photo of them hunting on their profile.

Read profiles thoroughly before meeting up, and fewer bad dates will be in your future.

10. Plan Short Dates

Another preventative measure is to plan a date that doesn't require a large time investment. One of the biggest dating mistakes is making big time commitments when they don't know a person yet.

Try planning something quick that can turn into something longer if desired, like a mid-morning coffee that could turn into lunch or a walk on the beach that can go on as long as you'd like it to. It's easier to elongate a date than to cut it short.

Keeping Things in Perspective

How many first dates lead to second dates? Less than half, actually. So, if you find yourself on a bad date, understand that this is just part of the dating process.

If you can get out politely, do so. If not, just wait it out until it's appropriate to leave and reassure yourself that the date will be over shortly. Even if your date is not your cup of tea, they took time out of their schedule to meet up with you, so do your best to be respectful while also respecting your own needs and boundaries.

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
Suzannah Weiss is a writer, certified sex educator, and sex/love coach.