How to Tell If Your First Date is Going to Be a Disaster

When It's Actually Okay to Cancel Those Plans

After you’ve been working all day, there are probably few things you’d rather do than have a glass of (insert your favorite wine or beer here) as you throw on sweats and watch a few episodes of “Making a Murderer.” Believe me, I’m right there with you. But if you’re single and dating and you’ve made plans, sometimes you have to drag your ass off the couch and go meet a stranger to see if you’re compatible. It’s a necessary evil on the seemingly never-ending quest for love and companionship. And as tempting as it may be to fake your way out of those set arrangements, you know in your heart of hearts that doing so is crappy.

I’ve written a lot about why flaking on people is more hurtful than you might think. First of all, giving a weak “I’m sick” a la Karen from “Mean Girls” is lame and leaves the other person questioning why they weren’t good enough for you. It also prevents them from doing other things with their time because they were counting on seeing you. But with that said, I’ve learned that there are a few instances when bailing on a date is acceptable. In fact it can actually be smart. Here are some examples of those instances:

  • When you go days at a time without hearing from the person: On Monday you made plans to meet up on Friday. Now it’s Thursday evening and you’re sort of wondering if your would-be date has left to go colonize Mars. If this is the case, it’s safe to assume that they’re probably not THAT interested in seeing you. Before you go and get all upset, know that this may have little or nothing at all to do with you. Instead of wasting your time trying to see this person, it’s better to pursue hobbies, see friends, or go out with someone who’s more eager to verify that you’re still getting together.
  • When they’re not responding to you: If you’re trying to text or (gasp) call and they’re not getting back to you, they may as well hold up a neon sign that says “Meh, not really feeling it.” Move on.
  • When you’re talking regularly but you’re just not really feeling a connection: Texting is definitely not the best way to get to know someone, but it certainly tells you something about the person on the other end of the keyboard. If you’re going back and forth and having a very “blah” conversation, or you find that you’re rolling your eyes every time your phone lights up with the person’s name, you just may not have good chemistry. Depending on the severity of the situation, it could be worth it to give it a shot and see if things are different face-to-face, but if you’re really dreading the date, trust your gut.

Back in my early dating days, I would give anyone and everyone a chance. It didn’t matter if my date would disappear for days and days on end or if they drove me crazy via text message, I was showing up ready for magic. Maybe I’m cynical and jaded now or maybe I’m just more experienced, but I’ve learned that the days before the date are a good indicator about what to expect when you actually meet. And if those days are giving you “uh oh” feelings, it’s usually best to exit stage left. As soon as possible, of course!

I’ve only been on two really bad dates in my life, and looking back on it it shouldn’t have been that hard to know what was in store for me. The first date was with a guy who got super drunk, invited the waitress to sit with us, and told me about how he enjoyed petit larceny as a hobby in college. Leading up to the date, this fine, upstanding gentleman told me that he never kept his phone charged and would often leave it dead for days on end. Sort of sketchy for someone who was 30 years old and supposedly had a job. Yeah, talk about red flags.

The second bad date was with a guy who called me the wrong name, talked about his ex constantly, and let me walk home alone at 1 a.m., not bothering to check on whether I made it home safely after we had parted ways. Before that date I got days of silence and/or unanswered texts. After I confirmed our plans, he agreed to meet. Again, another warning sign that I failed to accept.

Now I’m more selective about who I go out with. Time is limited, so there’s no reason to use it sipping vodka tonics as you try to make conversation with some sketch mcgretch. If they don’t seem that into it, you don’t have to be either. If you do see some of these warning signs and therefore plan on canceling the date, honesty is always a good thing. Just saying you’re sick and that you’ll reschedule doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s awkward, I know, but it’s worth the fifteen seconds of discomfort to be honest with the other person.

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