Why You Should Never Feel Bad About Leaving A Date

by Lily Feinn
Attractive Caucasian woman using a smart phone at home, looking sad and distressed
Ivan Pantic/E+/Getty Images

I have been on quite a few bad dates, but there is one I still think about to this day. I do not feel bad for leaving the date early, but I do feel bad for how I left. When I was in college I went on a first date with a cute pre-med student. Unlike the normal college date which included a few cheap beers and watching YouTube clips in a dorm room, this gentleman took me to a fancy restaurant. There were candles, and low lighting, and cocktails with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. All signs pointed to romance, but when we were finally seated across from each other, the conversation was stilted and dull. I quickly realized we had absolutely nothing in common except for the mutual friend who introduced us.

By the time appetizers hit the table, I was eyeing the door. I had no idea how to extricate myself without being rude. I excused myself to the bathroom and surreptitiously called my mom. I begged her to call my cellphone in 20 minutes and say that there was a family emergency and that I had to leave immediately. Our plan went over famously, and I was able to slide out of dessert and enjoy the rest of my evening.

While I certainly don't regret leaving early (I knew after five minutes that we weren't vibing), in hindsight I wish I made a more graceful or honest exit. I wish that I was strong enough to tell him that I wasn't interested and offered to split the bill. Instead, I left my date confused and seriously worried that someone in my family was injured. A bad date is nobody's fault. Sometime two people just don't gel no matter how perfect they seem on paper or over IM. The only thing that can make a bad date worse is drawing it out. Regardless of first date jitters, you probably know if you are attracted to someone in the first ten minutes (if not, like, three seconds). If you go on a date and you aren't feeling it, no matter how early, you should leave.

Ducking out with a quick "Goodbye, thanks for the wine!" may seem harsh, so for the direct approach try “I think you are great, but I just don’t see romance here.” And while I would not advise using my method, there are also plenty of excellent excuses out there (feed your cat, get up early for work, just got your period, etc.). Maybe your date will get the hint, and maybe they won't. But we do what we do to get out the door, and away from that uncomfortable situation. If you are still feeling like it is rude or hurtful to leave a bad date early, here are a few reasons to never feel bad about leaving early:

1. It Is Kinder And More Considerate To Your Date

Most people feel like they can't leave early because it would hurt their dates feelings. And, yes, if you stand up and scream, "I don't find you remotely attractive and am having a horrible time, see ya never!" and throw your beer down for emphasis as you run out of the bar, they probably will be a little upset. But it is actually way better to let your date know that you aren't interested earlier rather than later. By letting them think that there is a possibility of a future relationship, you are wasting their valuable time. Once you leave, that frees them up to find a match on Tinder and maybe even set up another date for that night— who knows?

2. Drinking More Will Not Make A Bad Date Better

Often times, when we are confronted with an uncomfortable situation, we seek out a little social lubrication. A glass of wine or two can help loosen up a date, and get a conversation flowing. But if you are contemplating a third cocktail 'cause the date still isn’t progressing, you should not feel bad about calling it a night. Drinking more will not make the hangout any more fun — it will just get you drunk. You should never feel like you have to drink in order to enjoy your date. A good date should be able to get flirty without getting sloppy.

3. You Should Never Stay Somewhere Where You Feel Unsafe Or Uncomfortable

There are some certified creeps in the dating pool, and that has never been more clear since the rise of internet dating. We no longer have to rely on friends and family to set us up with possible romantic partners and the dating pool is so much bigger. The unfortunate side to that, is that friends and family do not vet the people we date before hand.

If you meet someone for drinks and they give you a bad vibe, trust your instincts and get out of there. Protecting yourself is the most important thing. Do not worry about saving your date's feelings, or giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they are being creepy or rude on the first date (where you are supposed to present your best self) they probably won’t turn into Ryan Gosling given a few more minutes of your precious time. Why wait around adding another awful date story to the collection, when you could be home with a glass of wine and a quality book?

4. Life Is Too Short For Bad Dates

If you are not enjoying yourself, why stay? It may be difficult to extricate yourself, but you need to value your time over anything else. There are tons of other fun activities to do, so why sit around with someone you don’t like? Carpe diem!

5. Staying Could Keep You From Meeting Someone Cool

Never feel bad about leaving a date early, as you could be depriving yourself from meeting someone you may actually fall for. It is pretty hand to meet someone when you are on a date with someone. If you are not into that person, end it early, and go get your flirt on!

6. You Don't “Owe” Them Anything

When it comes to romance, there is no such thing as obligation. Just because you agreed to meet someone at a certain time, doesn’t mean there is a correct amount of time to spend with them. Even if you kiss them, go back to their place, or are messing around — if you stop enjoying yourself, stop feeling comfortable, or stop wanting to do whatever you are doing, you should never ever feel bad about leaving. You go on the date by choice and you leave by choice.

7. You Are Busy!

Of course it is possible to get over a bad first impression and change your mind about who you are attracted to (ahem, Mr. Darcy). Do not devote the limited free time that you have on a person you don't really like. You are busy! You have tons of responsibilities! Spend the precious few hours you have with your friends rather than feeling like you are obligated to listen to some bozo's detailed description of their gym routine (unless that's what you are into!).

8. There Are Other Fun Things That You Could Be Doing!

If you are not feeling it, why suffer? A night at home is always preferable to a night spent with someone you don’t like. You can feel trapped on a bad date, picturing the joy you would feel if you could just escape and watch the new episode of The Bachelor. Get out of there, girl! Go meet up with friends, take yourself out for a drink, see a movie, or sleep! The options are endless and a bad date is just time wasted.

9. They Only Talk About Themselves

Conversation is a two-way street. If your date forgets this, and you spend the hour listening to them drone on why feel bad about making a swift exit? A self-absorbed date will probably not suddenly become interested in your life. So if you can’t get a word in, even if they are really cute, it’s time to peace out.

10. They May Want to End The Date, But Don’t Know How

You could be saving them. Sometimes on awkward dates, it becomes pretty apparent that neither party is having fun, but they aren't sure how to end it. They could be waiting for you to make the excuse, because they don't want to hurt your feelings. You can be awesome and they can be great, but that doesn't mean you will click romantically. Do the right thing and put that hangout out of its misery.

11. You Control Your Time

You should never feel bad about putting yourself first. Never.

Image: Ivan Pantic/E+/Getty Images, giphy