Every date can’t be out of this world, but some are worse than others. Self-awareness, honesty and kindness can go a long way in knowing when to end a date.
Dating can certainly wrack your nerves, but ending a date doesn’t have to.
Own Your Time & Your Choices
Before we move to the end of the date, let’s take a quick look at how it started. Nine times out of ten, if you’ve been deliberate in choosing your date, there shouldn’t be any big surprises. Did you pay attention to your inner voice while communicating? Did you feel comfortable in sharing information and did your potential match easily share with you? Last, and most importantly, did you get their last name?
Yes, you heard right. I know it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to meet someone they’ve met online only knowing their first name. Look, any good employer is going to check your social media before they invite you to an interview and dating is the same way. It’s an interview: for a friend, lover or partner. Dating and courtship is a series of interviews to allow you to get to know the deeper layers of a person.
Setting Boundaries Is for Champions
Boundaries are the key to any good relationship. How graceful and articulate a person is in setting them and respecting them is valuable. One of the things I hear and see over and over in profiles and from people who are actively dating is the consciousness of time. How they spend it, feel a lack of it, or don’t want to waste it.
I read in a guy’s profile, “I don’t play games, so one strike and you’re out!”
While time is important, it’s essential to leave a potential lover feeling optimistic about getting to know you. After all, if you’ve chosen a date, hopefully you’ll be able to let go of time—at least for the time the date warrants.
Making Up Excuses Is for Amateurs
Every date is unique; coffee date, lunch date, athletic date, happy hour, or dinner. Each of them have an implied time frame. For example: you’d expect to spend 30-45 minutes having coffee. If you’ve done your homework—trusted your gut and done a little background check and still decided to meet someone–respect that.
Quite a few people ask me how to get out of a date if the person isn’t as they expected.
“Should I have my friend text me in 30 minutes with an ’emergency’ in case I’m not having a good time?”
My response is always this: be honest.
In the spirit of honesty, I’ve created a few scenarios.
Best Case Scenario #1
You’re having a magical time on your first coffee date. Coffee dates can run from 30-90 minutes. Don’t be afraid to end the date when you’re having a great time. Remember the first few dates are setting up the energy and flow of the relationship. If you spend a lot of time at the beginning because it’s a blast but won’t be able to sustain it in a few months, set the boundary now and leave them wanting more. Let them know what a great time you had and that you look forward to seeing them again.
Friend Zone Scenario #2
So, you show up for your date and there doesn’t seem to be the spark you had in your phone or online communications? The person is seemingly smack in the middle of the friend zone. That’s okay. People are always different in person in some way, it could be a temporal stressor that they may not want to give you the details or they could be nervous and shy. It’s completely appropriate to ask how they’re doing and mean it. And, if honest conversation doesn’t bring out that mojo you were hoping for and they’re still in the friend zone at the end of the date…. be honest: “I like you and I’m interested in being friends.”
Bored Zone Scenario #3
You show up for your happy hour date and within 15 minutes you are bored out of your mind. The truth is here, while your date may be quiet or uninteresting, you really just don’t feel like doing the work to make the date interesting. Or, possibly you have a lot on your mind and are finding it difficult to focus. Again, it’s a great opportunity to ask yourself why? No date or experience with another human is ever a waste. Make sure you get all the learning you can from your experience and when you can do no more? Say this, “I’ve got to go. Thank you for taking some of your time today to spend with me.”
Bummer Case Scenario #4
You arrive and your match is late. They are completely nervous and it’s making you uncomfortable. And, they look nothing like their photo. This is the bummer trifecta. My advice is: Stay. Take stock of why you’re uncomfortable and have some compassion for your new acquaintance. Most often we have attractions towards others because they mirror us in some way. If you were attracted during your communications, there is a reason. It’s a natural response to point out the things you don’t like about someone because they’re most certainly the things you don’t like about yourself. If you go in knowing this, not only can you grow as a person and glean some valuable information about yourself but letting go of your judgement may just clear the way to have a good time.
Worst Case Scenario #5
The only reasons you should arrive at a date and promptly leave? If your date has obviously lied to you, is acting erratically, or you feel in danger. In that case, worrying about their feelings isn’t relevant. You can feel free to say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t spend this time with you today.” And leave out the back door if you have to. I do have to say I’ve only had to escape a date once. Even the guy who lied and said he was 40 when he was 60 and pounded four beers in thirty minutes was enjoyable and interesting for 45 minutes, and when he asked if I’d see him again, I smiled and said, “No”.
Of course you’ve heard that you should never burn a bridge because you may need to cross it one day. I was instant messaging with a guy one time. It was a holiday and about the third sentence in of our first communication he asked me what I’d done that day. I responded that my cat was sick and I’d spent the day taking care of him. His response floored me.
“I’m allergic. This relationship is so over.”
Don’t get me wrong, I get where he was coming from. The truth is, not every person we meet will be a friend or a lover, but we need all kinds of relationships: colleagues, clients, connections.
Dating, at any age, is getting to know yourself, testing yourself, and being yourself with an audience. Embracing it paves the path to making new friends and relations in ways that we didn’t have before dating apps and the internet. Being willing to take people as they are and give them value can only bring the same back to you. (That is, if you needed a motivation.) Enjoy every experience you have, you never know what can come from it.