It's good to give people the benefit of the doubt, right? That's essentially key in dating, anyway. If we were pointedly aware and mindful of the truth that we are all a little insane in our own ways, dating would never even happen. When we have a promising-looking Tinder match or meet a babe at a mutual friend's potluck, we have to at least temporarily suspend our disbelief—kind of like watching a sci-fi movie or something starring Katherine Heigl. Then we schedule a first date, being careful to plan an amazing outfit to match. Finally, we...hold our breath?
Regardless of hope and faith and superstition, occasionally we find our biggest dreads confirmed: they are a total dud. Well—maybe not a dud, exactly. They could have casually mentioned a very deep-running passion for curing their own bacon and you've been a committed vegetarian for the past decade. Or maybe it's just something as simple and inarguable as a very absent chemistry only you seem to be aware of. Whatever the culprit, you know when you're seated smack-dab in the middle of a bad date. But you don't gotta stay seated—you are allowed to escape. And graceful options of doing so exist. Let's discuss.
The fake emergency phone call
This tactic is a classic for a reason. It was originally more of a pain back in the pre-cell phone days (LOL, were any of us even of dating age back then? Barely.) when you had to beg a good friend to call the actual restaurant to create the disruption. Now, we have the excuse at our fingertips (which, when a date starts to go south, can be found ferociously typing under the table for back-up). You can either outsource an unfortunate buddy to do the deed or fabricate the whole "crisis" altogether. Whichever method you choose, it all ends in your needing to bail early to help with a situation that cannot wait—you basically need to go put on your Batsuit—until after you even finish this weird lobster bisque app (why was that ordered, even?).
Mention ghosts in passing, but like...a lot
This happened to me on accident once. TO BE FAIR, I am still fairly certain a very real ghost possessed our dusty Brooklyn apartment bathroom at the time. TO ALSO BE FAIR, this definitely sounded very much like something a crazy would say, especially on a first date. Thinking your house is haunted is the kind of embarrassing thing you admit to someone you've been dating for, like, 2 years, and even then, you could reasonably expect that they might dump you over it. On my date, the dude called for the check shortly after my fourth or fifth mention of the bathroom ghost and I mean, OK, I guess I understand. The good news: We now know this to be a very effective tactic for putting someone off from being interested in you.
Offer to showcase your "best" funny faces
This might have also lent to the above dude needing to bounce from our date. (Dating: I'm working on it.) But if you are having a bad time and want someone to promptly lose interest in you, go for the funny faces. For starters, try making your chin completely disappear. Other ideas include nostril flares, crossing eyes, and fishy-face. For the advanced, give flipping your eyelids inside-out a go! Neat!
However, be warned: Sharing these talents have a minuscule chance of actually elongating the date and forcing this person to fall hopelessly in love with you. I'd wager that chance is about 0.09 percent, and honestly, if someone falls in love with you because you made a bunch of really dumb faces, you should probably keep dating them.
Test out new accents without warning or explanation
Slip into a little Cockney inflection, or sprinkle some NorCal slang around the conversation. If they point out the spazzy change in your accept or lingo, just wink and shift decidedly into Valley Girl until they ask for the check. The idea (with most of these suggestions, actually) is to get really silly until the person you're out with wants to escape you. So much easier than trying to slip away yourself, and way more fun.
A whole bunch, regardless of subject matter.
"Yeah, my great aunt's passing was a really challenging time for my family."
Ask them if your teeth feel real
"They do? Really? Wow, I guess selling that kidney was worth it, after all! Did you know deer bones are almost the exact same consistency as human teeth?"
Check your reflection in the silverware or glasses
If you feel an especially urgent need to end the eveing, go the extra mile and channel Ariel by running a fork through your hair.
Initiate a game of F*ck/Marry/Kill...over and over again
Make sure the roster of candidates include trios like the cast of Homeward Bound, various members of the GOP, and plenty of cartoon characters. If you successfully launch and navigate seven rounds and they don't seem swayed, I don't know what to tell you. Give them my number?
Use air quotes zealously
"Oh"? "Really"? "You went" to "the grocery store"?
Quiz them on their favorite baby names
Discuss various possible teasing nicknames associated with each. If they don't bring it up first, make sure you point out key ones. Here's a cool forum I found where you may find inspiration.
Talk about your ex
Excessively and in a fawning, longing sort of way. Show them photos from your last vacation together.
Either monotonously or in a jaunty little tune. Ideas for the latter route: "The Comet Song", the Jeopardy think diddy, Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping". If pointed out, default to reacting as instructed with accent tip: "Soohhhry, guv-nah!" *WINK*
Fake a graphic sickness
A headache just won't do here, bb. Excuse yourself to the bathroom and catch up on your whole Instagram feed from the past 48 hours. When you emerge, give vivid detail about a real ugly bug. Assure them you'll feel better if they give you a lil' belly rub.
Just straight up dip. Another classic. Sometimes you gotta go for it. Explain you gotta powder your nose or smoke a cigarette or otherwise leave the table for just a moment. Then jet and text an apology after. Sure, this kinda makes you a jerk, but you're out of there, right? I'd save this as an extreme option, so as not to build up bad dating karma and also not become a legit garbage person.
Although the above tricks oughta work, you do always have the option to assume adult responsibilities and tell them the truth. If the plan was drinks, wait until you're about halfway to 3/4 through yours before getting into it. If it's dinner, don't worry about getting past appetizers. Try to be gentle but clear: Let them know you're super into pursuing a platonic friendship with them (or not; I don't know your life) but that's the extent. Something like, "Thanks so much for meeting up with me. I'm glad we did this and am stoked to be friends." They should get it from that fairly blunt assessment, but if they probe, simply explain, "I feel like we'd do best as just friends." If they look absolutely forlorn, offer to set them up with one of your cute friends. Or just leave. Leave really fast.
Ultimately, the best way to navigate bad first dates anyway is prevention. Never schedule a dinner for a first date since those have the option to drag on. Make sure it's a quick thing. Offer to meet for a cocktail or coffee (but only limit yourself to two of each in either scenario...don't wanna get waste-y or shaky) but explain prior to meeting you have something right after you can't miss. Promise no more than an hour and a half. If things go well (and sometimes they do!), you can suss a second location or activity.
Images: Ding Yuin Shan/Flickr; Giphy (16)