I’m a fan of bad dates. I’m not going to tell you that I sit at home plotting what next terrible outing I’m going to go on because that would be a lie, but I will say that I’ve learned to appreciate dates that go awry. Here’s why—and what I do when I’m on one that’s gone bust.
Not all of my dates are going to be great.
Bad dates really used to bum me out. I’d come home at the end of a bad date upset, thinking that our missed connection was partly my fault and wanting to change it somehow. Over time, however, I’ve come to realize that having a bad date is not only completely normal but completely OK. It’s a numbers game, after all— I wouldn’t still be single if I had so many incredible dates.
I’ve learned how to identify a bad date early on.
Sometimes it’s hard to identify when a date has gone sour. Is it you? Is it the other person? Are you just not vibing? The first thing I do when I’m on a date and I realize something is off is identify where the turning point was. I take a moment to figure out if at any point in the conversation, the other person has said something that made me feel distrustful, embarrassed, angry, hurt, upset, etc. Have they hit a nerve in any way? If the answer is yes, I know this date is not going well.
I don’t try to make things better.
After I have pinpointed the moment that’s resulted in a missed connection, I can make peace with the fact that I’m on a bad date. I don’t try to make the date better or walk around pouting in misery. I also don’t flee then and there. Instead, I just ride out the rest of the date and give them the benefit of the doubt. We came together, we can ride this out together as well.
I don’t want my friends to come bail me out.
The fact that it’s not going well and that I most likely know that I won’t be seeing my date again is irrelevant. I could call a friend to come bail me out of an unpleasant situation, but that always feels childish to me. As an adult, I’m completely able to tell the person I’m with that I am having a horrible time and will be leaving if it comes to that. Usually, this doesn’t happen, but if in a dire circumstance I feel that I need to leave, I do just that without an excuse or explanation.
Standing up for myself makes me feel empowered.
By putting myself in a space where I’m able to ask for exactly what I want and need when I’m feeling uncomfortable is empowering. I’m on a date expecting to have fun, laugh, and enjoy myself. However, being that this is a bad date, I’m likely in a foul mood and miserable. Calling a friend or making up an excuse as a way to get out of this already negative situation doesn’t make me feel any better. What makes me feel better is knowing that I’m capable of making the most out of my crappy date and if needed, I can tell them exactly how I feel and then get up to leave.
Bad dates have taught me to take better care of myself.
Telling someone face to face that their comment about queer women offended me or that their opinion of my career choice didn’t make me feel good has given me the space to take better care of myself as a whole. Many times, we force ourselves into situations we feel are unpleasant because we feel we have an obligation to it or we do something just because everyone else is doing it. Going on crappy dates has given me the permission to stop asking for permission.
Bad dates have taught me what I’m willing to put up with.
As I said above, I don’t like to walk out on dates. However, in the past, I was much more apt to continue dating someone even if I knew they had a behavior, ideology, or thought pattern that didn’t particularly mesh with mine. Because I’ve had many bad dates, I’ve learned what I am actually willing to put up with and what I consider a deal breaker.
I’ve become more accepting of myself.
Saying no to a second date with someone is really a form of self-acceptance. When you’re lonely and just want someone to talk to or a warm body to spend the night with it’s easy to convince yourself that your date’s issues really aren’t that bad. Whatever they are, you can deal with them. But giving myself the power to say no to what I don’t want has opened me up to what I do want and allowed me to accept parts of myself that I’d closed off in the past.
On some level, my dates are a reflection of myself.
I went on a date with a woman a few months ago who was sort of bashing on bisexual women. I happen to be a queer woman who dates both men and women and this was offensive to me. I confronted her and told her I didn’t like her telling me how much she disliked bisexual women and when I came home that night, I realized that her apathy toward bisexuals was a reflection of my sexuality. She made me realize that somewhere deep down, I was still not completely accepting my sexuality. I never went on another date with her but I have since taken a closer look at any shame I still have lingering over my sexual identity.
I know the next great date is just around the corner.
Not every date is going to be a home-run. If they all felt like they were taken right out of a Jane Austen novel, you wouldn’t be able to differentiate the horrible dates from the fantastic ones. Really, the beauty of dating is being able to trudge through the rain long enough to know when the sun’s about to come out.
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