So there you are in the middle of dinner, on a date with someone new. You're talking, looking into one another's eyes, and then it suddenly hits you: "Good gods, this is the most mind-numbingly horrible date I've ever been on. I've got to get out of here." Yes, anyone who’s been in the “single and looking” category has been there and done that at some point. And if you’re still braving the cutthroat world of dating (after all, there’s that much-quoted saying that a girl needs to kiss a lot of frogs before she finds a prince), we completely understand your need for a fallback in case a date starts heading south.
There are, of course, the strategies with a lot of tradition to them. These include faking an illness—food poisoning and migraines are quite popular—and staging a phone call from a friend to give you a chance to get out of there—yes, I really need to go, it's an emergency, I'll call you, okay? But the problem with these excuses being so classic is that everyone knows them and can see through them. So scrap those plans; it's time to take those methods up a notch, get creative, and plan your exit strategy as obsessively as you plan your weekend getaways.
Here are some ideas to get you started, but be warned—some of them need great acting skills and cooperation from people you know. Click on an idea to read more about it or simply read on.
- Act weirdly
- Be obnoxious
- Have a parent come to pick you up
- Attack of the psycho ex
- Be the psycho ex
- Spill something
- The frantic friend
- Demand commitment
- The back-up date
- Be upfront
This takes a wee bit of practice and a willingness to humiliate yourself. But that's not a problem if you don't plan on your date ever seeing you again, right? You're going to have to keep bumping up the crazy level, because you're not sure yet what your date counts as weird. If you don't want to do anything disgusting, it's always safe to make outlandish, even controversial statements out of the blue. Otherwise, you can settle for sitting quietly with a spaced-out expression and giving one-word responses to every question. That should be odd enough to make your date want to scurry off instead—make sure to look concerned (but not too concerned) when he fakes a case of food poisoning!
Think back on all the terrible dates you've been on and throw the most repugnant habits and behavior of your once-and-never-ever-again dates into the mix.
HAVE A PARENT COME TO PICK YOU UP
Sometimes, you're never too old to be bailed out by your parents, especially if they're the type who are perfectly willing to play along with any of your crazy ideas. Have your mom, dad, or an older relative or friend find you on your date. The idea is to get them to act really angry that you're out with someone they don't know, and for them to turn to your date and give him a good dressing-down about how they don't want you dating yet, "Especially after her nasty split from her husband two weeks ago!" Look mortified, say goodbye, and follow your parents out the door.
ATTACK OF THE PSYCHO EX
You don't really have to deal with your ex—just have a trusted guy friend (preferably one with some acting skills) pose as your ex. On your signal, have him go wherever you and your date are, rush up to you, and launch into a full-scale dramatic episode about how awful you are and how he or she is still in love with you despite everything. Have a look of consternation on your face throughout the entire scene. When your friend leaves—ideally with tears still flowing—turn to your date and say, "Oh my god! I'd better go and check on my ex. When he gets in that mood, there's no telling what he's going to do to himself. Rain check?" Then peel out of there.
(Photo by ©iStockPhoto / Candice Cusack)
BE THE PSYCHO EX
Burst into tears. Tell your date that the place reminds you so much of your ex. Hurtle down memory lane and share a long and detailed history of your last failed relationship. Cite scary examples of how you showed your love to your ex but was ultimately rejected ("I sat in my car outside of his house all night long and asked my friends and his friends to tell me what he was up to when I wasn't around. I just wanted to know he was always okay, was that so wroooong?!"). Be inconsolable and excuse yourself for the rest of the evening.
Not your guts, but anything on yourself, great new outfit be damned. Don't go for something as lame as water; a bowl of creamy soup, the kind that can really leave a huge stain, could be your best friend. Make sure your date definitely can’t say that the stain will be gone in an hour or so. And if he’s a really terrible, obnoxious date, well, why sacrifice your fab clothes when you can murder his instead?
THE FRANTIC FRIEND
This is an upgrade of the frantic phone call. Your friend could rush up to you and yell, "Oh my god, where have you been? I've been looking all over for you! I called your roommate and she said I'd find you here. You've got to come with me, we've got a problem."
Talk at length about how you're ready for marriage and kids. Make jokes about how you've already picked out a wedding and reception venue, the names of your kids, and a good honeymoon spot. After a while, stand up dramatically and ask your date, "I just want to get this straight. Do you see a future with me or not? I'm not about to waste my time on anyone." Flounce off in a huff and a hurry. But make sure you've planned your hiding place in case your date comes after you.
THE BACK-UP DATE
Have a friend call you and pretend that he or she is your next date for the night, then tell the person you're with that you have to run to meet up with someone else. This is ideal for dates who are so openly scamming on other potentials in the room.
And for something really, really innovative...
We all tend to rein in what's really on our minds, so give yourself a chance to be honest by telling your date goodbye before you waste the rest of the evening—and maybe even a few years of your life, if you keep on being too polite to say that you're just not interested.