in: Dating & Relationships

How do I redeem myself from a horrible first date?

So the first date was… uhhh… kind of terrible. Now you’re wondering “How do I redeem myself?” Have some self-compassion, take a breath, and read on.

The first date jitters can lead to some awkward moments.

Your stomach is in knots, and you’re full of adrenaline. It’s a setup for some disastrous—but human—moments. They’re the moments that make you cringe or blush on a first date, and keep your mind spinning with embarrassment. Was it that you snorted mid-laugh? Smiled all night, only to later discover a piece of food wedged between your teeth? Fell off your chair? Or was it the comment that somehow offended your date, despite your good intentions?

Let’s face it. You’re human. You’re going to have a bad date sometimes. Regardless, here you are, reeling with anxiety and trying to figure out how to redeem yourself. Hold on, my friend. Let’s think this through. Here’s your bad date recovery plan:

Let it go.

So you “messed up.” Of course you want to impress someone on a date, but you are not perfect! And, you can’t change the past. Worrying about something you can’t change will only cause more stress. Its best to accept what happened, own that you’re perfectly imperfect, and move on. If your date can’t let it go, it might be better to let them go, trusting that the right partner for you will see your human side and give you a second chance.

Laugh it off.

You have to admit, there are some great first-date-gone-bad stories. Could this be the one you tell at your wedding? You never know if that moment of embarrassment could turn out to be the moment of endearment that helped your date see the vulnerable, human side of you that they fall in love with. You could laugh at it in the moment, or in post-date text. When you ask for your next date, you can laugh about how you plan to impress him or her again with more escapades.

Remember that self-acceptance will attract an accepting partner.

First of all, don’t beat yourself up for a bad date. It is stressful for everyone. Accept yourself, and reframe what happened into something humorous or positive. And consider the type of partner you want in your life. Do you value someone who expects perfection (and likely views themselves as perfect as well)? Or would you prefer to fall in love with someone who sees you as you are, with all of your imperfections. Having a high degree of self-acceptance will help you attract partners who are non-judgmental, accepting, and compassionate.

Own it in the moment.

If you catch yourself in a moment of embarrassment or awkward conversation on a date, instead of trying to ignore it, talk about it. Say “that was embarrassing,” or “I really meant for that to sound a different way. Could we start over?” Chances are your date is just as nervous, and may feel relieved to talk about it. Again, wrapping your awkward moment in some humor is always a way to lighten a heavy moment.

Ask for a do-over.

If you want a second chance, ask for it. Don’t make the decision that you’re going to hide in a cave for the rest of your life because of a date gone wrong. Dating can be tough. If you want to survive it, you have to persevere with strength and courage. What do you have to lose by asking?

Remember, you are human, just like everyone else. A bad first date can be a source of humiliation, humor, or bonding between two people. You create the stories about your experiences. A little self-compassion, honesty, and humor can go a long way when you’re searching for love. And who knows, your moment of embarrassment, and your courageous, authentic approach in handling it could be the quality that your date finds most attractive. So what are you waiting for? Redeem yourself by asking for that next date!

About the Author:

Chelli Pumphrey

Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC is a love & dating coach and a Licensed Professional Counselor from Denver, CO. More importantly, she’s a human being who strives to live an authentic life, by being real, raw, and unafraid to express her truth. She is devoted to helping others live and love passionately by gaining the confidence to be authentic in their own lives. She works with clients through her relationship coaching practice and as a therapist and founder of Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, where she offers retreats, dating and relationship coaching and therapy. If you’re looking to boost your dating confidence, self-esteem, and become a dating warrior, you can visit Chelli at, Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, follow on Instagram, Twitter, or like her on Facebook.


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