How To Move Past A Bad Date So You Don't Give Up On Love Altogether, According To Experts
If you participate in online dating, the chances are pretty high you've had some stinkers where dates are concerned, or at least some encounters that are less-than-fireworks level, romantically speaking. And if you feel like much of dating is daunting, figuring out how to recover from a really bad date can feel like a particular challenge.
But listen, you are not alone, by any means, when it comes to the struggles that might arise when you're swiping and meeting up. According to a survey by Highspeedinternet.com, 3/4 of people using dating apps have had bad experiences on dates. And these dates can come in all forms, from feeling unsafe or having an unsavory sexual experience, to having comically bad conversations with someone. And while going at your own pace— with as many breaks as you need—is totally cool, having bad dates does not mean you have to quit dating.
"You recover the same way you do a major breakup," breakup and dating coach for women, Cherlyn Chong, of Steps to Happyness, tells Bustle. "Feel all your feelings, cut it off with the person you’ve dated and then separate the self from the date."
Below, take some tips from a few pros on how to keep rolling when your love life has a few bumps in the road.
1. Don't Blame It On Yourself
Please, do not be hard on yourself when you have a bad date or a meet-up that really does not go well. Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert at DatingScout, tells Bustle to keep this in mind when you are upset with yourself after a bad experience on a date.
"If your date didn’t go quite as planned, remember that there are a lot of factors which led to that bad experience," Schweyer says.
And it can also be positive to remember that since you were not able to work together to make the first date a good one, it's likely that you would have a challenge maintaining a relationship if you force it or try to forge on with this person despite it not going well.
"Just be thankful because you’ve realized that the two of you are not compatible early on," Schweyer says. It can save a lot of heartbreak and further pain.
2. Look For The Lesson In All Of It
OK, this might be a little easier said than done. But take solace in the fact that you are not alone in having bad dates, and that usually there is some valuable information in your experience, even if it is painful or uncomfortable.
"There is some good in every situation, and that includes bad dates," Schweyer says. "Evaluating yourself can help you find out the things you need to shift when it comes to dating."
It can give you the opportunity to assess what went wrong and what led to it — even if in some cases it's really not anyone's fault. It can be just ridiculously bad chemistry.
Perhaps you need to take a beat so the other person can ask some questions during dinner. Or, maybe you need to listen to your gut when it tells you to leave after five minutes. It's all good.
3. Keep Moving To The Next One
"The point of dating is to have fun while having someone to share it with," Schweyer says. And truth, this does not always go down without a hitch when you're looking for it. But bad dates can also help you to refine what you're looking for, and might even call into question what initially attracts you. Either way, even if you need time to recuperate, try to not let it get you down.
"You may pause for some time but do not stop it from connecting with other people actively," Schweyer says.
A bunch of bad dates might change your criteria. Just try to keep learning and moving on.
4. Try To See The Humor In It
Think of the bad date as not only information, but fodder for comedy.
"The more terrible the date is, the greater the story you’ll tell your friends," Schweyer says. You aren’t the only one who has experienced bad dates, and one of the best ways to cope is by not taking it too seriously.
That being said, some dates are really bad, and can be or feel unsafe or even traumatizing. If that resonates with you, share honestly with a trusted friend or reach out for help to get some support with what happened or what the date might have triggered for you.
5. Do Some Simple Reflection
"Write down what did not work," marriage and family psychotherapist, Christine Scott-Hudson MA MFT ATR, of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. "Think of it as useful information. What, specifically, did not work for you? Was the date too pushy? Did you feel uncomfortable? Was there no chemistry?"
Give some real consideration to what made it a bad date, Scott-Hudson says. It will help you hone in even further on what you are actually looking for. And through that reflection, do try to keep some faith.
"You are one step closer to finding what you do want," Scott-Hudson says.
6. Listen To Yourself
Most importantly, listen to your body, Chong says. Whether that is before, during, or after a date. Listen to what your feelings are telling you, and honor them! It's also really OK to take your body's cues on when it might be time to just pause for a little bit on the dating thing. Even if just for a week or two.
"Too many bad dates add up and accumulate. When you feel like vomiting or are terrified at the thought of yet another date, stop," Chong says. "Take a break with as much self-care as possible. Then, regroup, reframe, and get back out there again."
And trust, friends, while dating is difficult, it can certainly be worth it if that's what you want. It's worth the end not that over half of that same group surveyed found what they were looking for online, at least at some point! Those are some OK odds, right?