An Exhaustive List of Everything I’ve Said (and Done) to Leave a Bad Date Early
As someone who has spent nearly the majority of her dating years in this human-dense town, let me tell you: The situation is less so Carrie and Big (or Aidan or Berger or Alexander Petrovsky) than it is a horrific iteration of Jumanji.
After being burnt enough times via bad dates that weren't just boring but also drained me of my precious time, finances, and joy, I decided to never go into one of these situations exposed, schedually speaking, ever again. I refused to spend even one more minute anxiously clock-watching through gritted teeth as my companion waxed poetic about ventriloquism—seriously. Enter: My trusty arsenal of exit strategies.
After being burnt enough times via bad dates that weren't just boring but also drained me of my precious time, finances, and joy, I decided to never go into one exposed, schedually speaking, ever again. Enter: My trusty arsenal of exit strategies.
The best exit strategies are the ones initiated before the date even starts. For example, while making plans, I'll usually plant a vague, noncommittal seed like, "Yeah that should work, though I may have to stop by a friend's birthday at some point." That way, should you need to pull the escape hatch, it won't seem cruel, or even like an excuse at all, in practice. This way, everyone wins…kind of.
Behold, 7 exit strategies to ensure you never see a bad date to completion again.
1. "I have to stop by a friend's birthday party"
After putting this possibility on your date's radar before meeting, like an exit-strategy pro, pull it out whenever things start to head south. Bonus points if you have a friend text "where are you? you're late!" while leaving your phone on the table to make the whole charade more believable. If you end up not not wanting to go to the fake party, just keep your phone in your bag and carry on with your potential romance. And if your date asks about the party? Just say it got canceled (which isn't a lie since it never existed in the first place).
2. "I think my uterus is trying to kill me"
This is one of my all-time fave fail-safes. I've used it so many times—and honestly, the more graphic you can be, the better. First of all, as a hetero female, it's a great way to feel out my date, because any dude who is uncomfortable with me talking about my period is simply not someone I want to be spending my time with anyway. Second, no one can tell you that you're overreacting to period pains—even if they are phantom, at best. Pro tip: Start grimacing and clutching your stomach minutes before sharing your date-ending revelation. Works like a charm.
3. "My dog is throwing up"
A couple of text messages and one phone call later, I've told many a date that I had to pardon myself because my "dog" (I don't have a dog) was at home throwing up. The origin of the texts and call? From "my roommate" who was frustrated with the mess and didn't want to pick up after "my dog."
4. "My cousin is staying with me, and she just got locked out of the apartment"
You can really say anyone is visiting you and is locked out of your apartment, but a cardinal rule of excuses and fibs is to do your best to ground 'em in reality (even if loosely). My cousin is frequently in New York, so this isn't exactly improbable. And though some of excuses on this list require some waiting and performance art (see: #2), you can detonate this one immediately. I once pulled it on a first date that was so cataclysmically boring that I was pinching myself to stay awake.
5. "I'm allergic to the sun"
I've only used this very specific excuse once: I was seeing someone whose primary occupation was being a professional-ish skateboarder, and we had a lunch date in a park. When I got to the park, he made me watch him skateboard, and after 30 minutes, when I asked about our lunch plans, he informed me that he had packed a dozen yogurt tubes in his backpack for us. (I feel it's worth noting this was a thirtysomething man.) So I told him that I actually had a sun allergy and had been exposed for too long and needed to head home byeeeeee.
6. "There's a leak in my apartment"
Sure, this one is a tad dramatic and elaborate but, hey—it works. Have your date near a friend's apartment, and if things are going poorly, text the friend to come. The friend will then run into the bar, café, whatever, and inform you with exasperation that there's a leak from the upstairs apartment ravaging your belongings. Cue: end date.
7. "I need to leave"
For all the straight shooters out there, brutal honesty is an option. Just say you need to leave, but brace yourself for questions, comments, and general feelings that may follow. Sure, it may beget a more taxing experience for you, but the bottom line here is that if you're ever uncomfortable, you shouldn't feel obligated to spare a near stranger's feelings when doing so compromises your sense of agency. They'll get over it, and will, at the very least, have their own version of a "worst date ever" story to tell for years to come.
If you're out there in the dating world here's how to deal with confronting your ghosters and what it means to be orbited.
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