She Said – By Elizabeth C.

Ah, the bad date.  We’ve all been there.  You try to be open-minded, you think “maybe things will improve once we order,” you try your best at finding a common interest to discuss, but sometimes, there is just no salvaging the date.  Lasting memories can be created while dining out, but they aren’t always good ones!  If that is the case on your date, here are my suggestions:

1)      Don’t sneak out the back, as much as you might want to.  While it’s possible that you can think of nothing you’d like to do more than run out the back door in the kitchen, that’s just mean.  Not to mention, you and this guy have had enough contact to have met up for a date, so odds are he has some way of reaching you to find out why you vanished.  If things are really THAT bad, save yourself the awkward conversation and at least let him know you’re leaving.

2)      Come prepared.  If you think there is a chance things might go poorly and you’ll need an out, plan ahead.  Most girls are well versed in the “emergency phone call” trick.  Have a girlfriend plan to call you at a predetermined time.  If things are going well, ignore the call.  If he has been telling you about his ex-girlfriend for the past 45 minutes and you’re about to intentionally choke on your spaghetti, answer and politely explain you are SO sorry, but there has been an emergency and you have to leave immediately.

3)      Focus on your food.  If your date is unbearable, you should at least enjoy your meal.  If you already know your dining companion is less than desirable, you should definitely make sure you order something you’ll love.  No need to worry about getting something that isn’t messy if you already know you’ve got a dud sitting across the way!  You might also want to make your entrée count since there is no way you’ll want to stick around for dessert. Bonus: If you order something interesting, it might give you something to talk about during awkward lulls.

4)      Try to practice your conversation skills.  You are going to encounter situations in life where you are forced to talk with people you’d rather not, and this is a great opportunity to practice.  Stick to topics of conversation that won’t elicit yes or no answers, and practice your listening skills instead of just talking about yourself.  In the best case, you’ll find something about your date that isn’t all bad, and in the worst case, you’ll leave with some fantastic material for a story.

He Said – By Phil V.

While I do agree with most of Elizabeth’s suggestions, being the guy in the bad date situation can be a tad more problematic.  There is not a great way to leave early without looking like a total jerk, since I would guess in most instances the issue of who is paying for dinner will always come up.  Here are a few of my suggestions from the ‘He Said’ side of this installment of our “He Said / She Said” series.  Of course, I haven’t necessarily tried all of these, but they seem like they would work in theory.  Results may vary; please use as directed.

1)      I totally agree with the idea that you need to at least enjoy your meal.  If you decide that you are going to power through the date and get past the entrée portion of dinner, make it count.  Splurge on yourself.  Order that steak, or even the full rack of ribs.  Get that meal that you love, but always feel guilty about ordering due to cost.  Let’s go ahead and make one part of this evening a good memory.

2)      While you are enjoying your meal, why not get some practice under your belt for the next date.  Always been the funny guy?  Try being serious for the rest of the evening.  Obsessed with talking about Pop Culture?  How about going the politics route for a change?  Or maybe international affairs?  A couple of different scenarios can play out with this approach.  You either wow yourself and your date with your incredible intellect, or your date is so bored that he or she runs out on you and problem solved.  This one I would call a Win/Win.

3)      How about trying on a different accent for the evening.  Sure the switch from one accent to another may be a little jarring for your date at first, but after a while it will seem like you have been British the whole time.  If you have to suffer through an awkward date, you might as well spice it up by pretending to be someone you aren’t.  Perhaps the chap from London that you are now pretending to be will actually even enjoy the rest of the date.  Worth a shot, with little to lose.

4)      This one is for EMERGENCY use only, but you could always get a page (that’s right, I said a page) and say that you are needed immediately for whatever amazingly selfless profession you make up for yourself.  This can be doctor, SWAT Team member or the even better “I would tell you where I have to go, but it is for the sake of National Security and you don’t have the proper clearance.”  They key here is that you need to own the fact that A) you own and use a pager and B) you are an insanely awesome professional that frequently gets pulled into duty at the most inconvenient times.  OK, I know this one is a little outrageous, but I did say it was only to be used in an emergency situation and as a last resort.

No matter what approach you take, remember that a bad connection on a date isn’t fun for anybody.  Maybe the perfect ice breaker is just being honest and calling out the awkwardness at the table.  At least this way you can have an honest conversion and maybe make a new friend along the way; because at the end of the day, the ability to connect with people at many different levels is what makes dining out so enjoyable.

What are some of your tips for coping with a bad dinner date?