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Eek!! I had one of the most uncomfortable and strange dinner dates of my life last week. I’ve been online dating for a few months now and have had decent luck with meeting nice men. No one has been a homerun, but I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced a bad apple until this past date. It was a disaster. The man was nothing like what he had described in his online profile. He was rude to our service, a total creep and made me feel uncomfortable the entire time. I hung in there, but honestly wanted to walk out upon meeting him. Physically he looked nothing like his profile either. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on online dating, but how do I avoid a bad online date? What do I do when I get into a situation of wanting to walk out on a date? He was horrible!
-Bad Apples of Online Dating
Dear Bad Apples of Online Dating,
You are not alone! I have had this discussion with many of my single friends time and time again regarding the online dating world. Sometimes it’s great, often times it’s not.
So how to avoid the bad apple, or bump-on-a-log in the future? If there was a true science for making perfect matches I’m sure someone would have already figured it out by now. My thoughts are, instead of responding to an “emergency text” and leaving your cosmo half full, try to hang in there. You aren’t committing to another date, you’re just getting through the meal. Be strategic. You can skip another cocktail or dessert without sneaking out the door after a bathroom run. If he has any sense he will read your disinterest and get a clue.
Some may disagree with the etiquette here, but you don’t owe this person anything.
The exception is if he’s a total creep. Whenever there is a situation that you feel unsafe or socially mortified, trust your gut and ask yourself, is it worth sticking around? Some may disagree with the etiquette here, but you don’t owe this person anything. If I retained anything from my statistics class in college, it was opportunity cost. If there is greater value cutting and running from Mr. weirdo, than sticking around to watch him harass wait staff, then make that call.
Sometimes first impressions are not the best, but I am a firm believer in trusting your gut if you are in a position that feels wrong. In that case, excuse yourself politely, leave some money on the table and bounce out of there. Although you have seen a profile and read a little bit about this person, online dating is walking into a blind date. It takes bravery and flexibility. The person you’re meeting is probably sharing in the same first meeting jitters as you. There may not be sparks every time, but eventually there could be. There’s the potential for a very positive outcome from online dating. Don’t let one bad apple spoil that for you.
Dear Bad Apples of Online Dating,
I think we have all had our fair share of awkward experiences and bad dates. Thankfully it sounds like you have had a pretty good experience until recently and quite frankly, the fact that you haven’t had a bad date until this point may be the more surprising thing. There are certainly bad apples out there but you aren’t. You’re a special catch and the right guy is out there for you. It may just take a little longer to find him.
Given that you had such a bad experience, I would encourage you to consider some changes to your approach in order to reduce the likelihood of another experience like this. I’m not sure what dating site you’re on, but I would look into what options you have to increase the scrutiny of the matches sent your way. It might reduce the number of people sent your way but may cut out a few bad matches as well. I also would consider having a few conversations with your matches before you go on a date to get a sense of who they are and what they’re about. Even if it’s just a few texts or emails, it can help to get the conversation going before hand.
Online dating is tough and I think that you may have to get a little tougher in order to make it work for you.
Lastly, have an exit plan. Whether you choose to be open and honest with the other person (“I’m just not enjoying this and would like to leave”) or give a well-intentioned untruth, you can always leave a situation. Both of you agreed to participate in a first date of your own accord and can also choose to leave that date of your own accord.
If it was me I would pay for my portion of the meal, express my appreciation for their time, and then excuse myself from the evening. Online dating is tough and I think that you may have to get a little tougher in order to make it work for you.