Last week, a friend of mine with a flair for the dramatic brought up a guy she went on a “really good” first date with. They didn’t go home together because, according to him (according to her), he really liked her and wanted to see her again. He has not texted her since. When she reached out to him with a suggestive text, he claimed that he had come down with a cold, which both my friend and I know is code for “I need an extra 5-7 days for you to either lose interest, give up on texting me, or, if you don’t give up, for me to grow the balls to tell you that I’m not that into you.”
Ending a date when you don’t want a second one is always awkward. Men, I’ve observed, like to postpone the awkwardness by over-promising and never delivering. And it’s not just dates! A few years ago, in a month I jokingly dubbed “Cocktober,” I went out with as many guys as I could from Bumble, which was fairly new at the time and positively overflowing with absurdly attractive guys. I ended up hooking up with a guy who told me in the first 30 minutes of meeting that he was getting really into Charles Manson’s music. He was hot, so I ignored that.
He offered to drive me home in a super transparent play to hook up, which I was totally fine with. I wasn’t looking to date this person! It was not Date-tober! I assumed that this was a one-time situation, so post-sex I walked him to the door of my apartment and locked it behind him. No sooner had I done so than he started knocking on the door. I figured he left something, but no: We hadn’t exchanged numbers, and he wanted mine so we could “do this again sometime.”
The following week, I reached out to him to see if he wanted to get a drink. Everyone knows that “get a drink” means “fuck.” If I’d meant “date,” I would have said “go out sometime.” He told me he was in Philadelphia all week, but that he’d let me know when he got back. He apparently never got back from Philly.
I want to make it clear that neither my friend nor I were or are upset that there wouldn’t be another date. Everyone understands—logically, if not always emotionally—that there are people who simply don’t want to go on another date with you, and that it’s no big deal. If you don’t understand that, then you’re not ready to date. The problem arises when someone ends a good date by enthusiastically declaring they want it to happen again when they really don’t. It’s easy to try to be kind to people by using the phrases we all know and love: “I had a great time”; “Let’s do this again”; “I’ll text you!” We all whip out these phrases at the end of a good date. But you shouldn’t fall back on them when the date was just meh for you. Here’s what to do when you know a date is going to be the last with this person:
Don’t lie. If you aren’t going to text her again, don’t say that you are. If you aren’t into a woman, don’t give her signs that you are. You’re not going to break her heart or anything—it’s been one date. She will not be mad. You’re not in trouble. So don’t lie.
Be kind. The above being said, you don’t have to break it to someone in person that you never want to see them ever again. You also don’t need to give a reason why, or start a conversation about why you’re not feeling this. You just have to refrain from implying that you will see her again, that you’re really into her, or that you will be following up with her soon. If she says something like “This was great, let’s do it again!” just say, “I had a great time, too” and send her a text the next day.
Don’t linger. If you know while on a date that a date is not going well, don’t make it last longer. Don’t suggest dinner after drinks, don’t suggest drinks after a movie—don’t keep it going. Don’t even ask for the dessert menu! Get out of there. You don’t need to head for the bathroom and run away (please don’t ever do that). But stop wasting both of your time. When people retell romantic first-date stories, they often mention how long the date lasted: “We hung out for five hours.” “We spent all of Sunday together.” A long date is a sign that you’re into the person. “I have to get going, but it was so nice to meet you!” is a full sentence and a great way to end a bad date. Then stand up and go in for a hug, not a kiss.
Don’t fuck it up. Sleeping with someone whom you went on a date with first is an escalation of said date. If you guys just messaged on Tinder, and it’s a simple hookup—that’s different. There’s some level of understanding that you’re there for sex only, and if after that you don’t feel like doing it again, that’s fine. Follow the above rules and just say goodbye. Don’t get it on if you’re already sure you’re going to be “slammed at work” next week when she reaches out.
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