in: Dating & Relationships

How to Survive a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Date

Kacy Zurkus

Sometimes dates catch us off guard with their magic and luster. Other times… well, Kacy Zurkus knows what a bad date looks like (and what to do about it).


Dating is a winnowing process, an attempt to weed out the strong contenders from those that are not a good match in hopes of finding a rewarding partnership. Sometimes, though, we have to suffer through a few bad dates which can make us want to throw in the towel all together. With the right frame of mind and realistic expectations, we can survive even the worst of bad dates with hope intact. 

Whether it’s a blind date, a set-up, or the initial physical meeting of two people whose personalities aligned virtually, folks going on a date have high hopes that they might find a potential partner. When they are lucky, things work.

Last year I read a fun romantic comedy, In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister. The protagonist, a therapist, endured a series of bad dates in pursuit of her soulmate. One miserable evening, she drove over an hour to suffer through dinner with a complete meat head with whom she had been set up. Not only did he order her dinner for her, but in the first five minutes of their conversation he asked what her workout regimen was.  When she said she didn’t have one, he gave her his unsolicited advice on what she could do to improve her physique. 

Yes, this was fiction, and a fun read, indeed; but the reality is, many people agree to situations that are similar or far worse in hopes of finding love.

Hayley, 23, from Massachusetts said, “I went on a date with someone who spent the entire time questioning me on why I didn’t go to college, if I’d ever considering going back to school, and overall just trying to make me feel like an idiot. I survived by just reminding myself how delicious my free meal was.”

If viewers learned anything from Good Will Hunting, it’s that some people can be really snobby about whether or where someone goes to school. There are definitely those people—both men and women—who define a person’s status and character based on their scholastic achievements. 

“He spent a lot of time talking about how great he was, his good job, his world travels, his fancy car,” said Hayley.  “He acted like I was some sort of peasant.”

Fortunately for Hayley, she had the confidence to know that she is talented, intelligent, and beautiful, so she pitied him and gave him the small window of time he demanded to make himself feel awesome. Then she said, “I got in my jaguar and drove off. That threw him for a loop.”

Sometimes a bad date is learning that you aren’t really on a date at all. 

Joe, 38 from Connecticut, said, “I’ve never been on a bad date, but one time I did think I was on a date and found out about half way through that the girl actually had a boyfriend. That was a disappointment.”

Those disappointments are much easier to deal with when the other person isn’t demeaning, rude, or defensive. In fact, Joe said, “she ended up becoming a really good friend. We had a lot to talk about, so it ended up fun, just not what I expected.”

Just because there is no chemistry or potential for a romantic partnership, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad date. There can be lots of interesting conversation that comes from engaging with a person—especially one with whom you thought you might find a love interest. There was something that drew you to agree to go on the date in the first place, so roll with it. Let a friendship blossom instead.

With dating—as with many other facets of life—being able to enjoy yourself comes down to managing expectations. 

Melanie, 42 from Colorado advised, “I think we can be too nice sometimes and try and stick it out because we feel bad. Our time is precious. If it’s bad early on, it’s not going to get any better. It’s perfectly fine to call it what it is and cut it short. Life is short a bad date doesn’t need to be any longer than it should be. Our time is valuable.”

Several years ago, I did just that when I realized after only 10 minutes that I was not at all interested in the other person. In addition to his picture not being an accurate representation of what he looked like and the fact that he fudged his height and dimensions a bit, his personality was less than charming. 

After several years of dating, I learned that my time is valuable, and I never agreed to anything more than coffee or a cocktail for a first drink. We met in the afternoon for a beer, and I knew right away that there was no chemistry. Even worse, there was no desire to engage in conversation on my part. I found him utterly banal and mildly offensive.

When the waiter asked if we wanted another round, I said no thank you. Hoping that he could woo me with his desire to get into my pants, he asked, “Do you want to come back to my place?”

It wasn’t even 5:00 PM and we had only had one drink and talked for less than an hour. “That’s a really good offer for a girl like me,” I said. My favorite line from Pretty Woman.

I thought it was pretty obvious that I was not interested, but he decided to give it the old college try and hope for the best. In hindsight, I respect his approach. That’s one way to handle a bad date.   

The option to leave is always available, and I agree with Melanie that our time is valuable. We have to honor and value ourselves if we expect to find a partner who will honor and treasure us. 

[image: via shutterstock]

About the Author:

Kacy Zurkus Kacy Zurkus

Kacy Zurkus is a Mompreneur. In addition to being a writer, she owns a successful virtual franchise and is a high school teacher of English. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, a Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Regis College. She has written several personal essays, poems, and short works of fiction. Her self-published memoir, Finding My Way Home: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Happiness (under the psuedomyn C.K. O'Neil) is available in print and e-book on Amazon. She continues to work as a freelance writer in MA. One of her essays is included in the self-published anthology, Loving for Crumbs, by Jonah Ivan. Kacy has an adoring husband of five years and two gorgeous little girls. You can follow her on twitter or 'like' her Facebook page.

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