Um, h…hi. My name is Awkward. I’m your date.

I’ve been single for a while. And when I say single, I mean…not in a relationship. I’ve had things. We’ve all had things. But things eventually go down one of two streets; Boring Lane or Sucky Road.I can usually tell the difference between a thing and something cool within the first five minutes of being out with someone. Even when my head is telling me to ‘give it a little while!’ my instinct is already walking out the door. Either there’s a spark or there’s not. Either I feel something when I’m around him, or I just feel annoyed.

Admittedly, I’m a picky gal, and try as I might, I can’t settle for anything less than awesome. Why should I? Why should anyone? I’m sure some great philosopher once said something like, “life is short, why chill with losers?”, and I can’t think of any reason to argue with such a statement.

The combination of being single and liking adventure, but being picky as hell, has led me on a lot of first dates. Some of them have been hilarious. Some have been uncomfortable. And some have just been bullshit. (“I don’t know why girls think a guy should pay for anything” an asshole once said within 10 minutes of meeting me, “I’m a starving artist. I’m not into paying for things.”)

Not all first dates can be magical. The statistics just aren’t with us. So what happens when you find yourself on one of these less-than-killer hang out sessions? Total bitches just get up and leave the guy stranded, but what if you’re not a total bitch? What if you’re just a nice girl who’s quite certain she’s ain’t sitting across from Mr. Right?

We all have our own escape methods, but here are a few ideas I’ve come up with. (I started compiling this list during my most recent date. I had time to write it down in my head because the guy wasn’t really into witty conversation. Or talking in general.)

Upon first meeting, you see that he is clearly nervous. Perhaps he’s a little socially defunct, and the smooth gene was never inserted into his bloodstream. Obviously, he’s not going to help make things un-awkward, so what do you do? Smile, smile, smile! Keep it warm, friendly, easy going. Even if you’re crawling out of your skin, don’t let him know. It’ll make things much easier.

He’s not good at keeping the conversation going. Instead of staring down at your hands and wishing yourself out of there, smile, lean into the silence, and ask him a question. Silence doesn’t necessarily have to mean death, but the more open ended questions you ask, the more he can fill it.

You can’t tell how he feels about the situation. Not getting a vibe from the guy? Let him ask you things. Again, the more you rush to fill the silence, the less time you have to sit back and watch him and get a read.

It’s weirdly obvious that he digs you—and you’re sooo not sharing the sentiment. Keep your body language friendly, yet distant. Sit back in your chair, lean your shoulders in the opposite direction, and be careful not to touch him at all. At the end of the date, if you feel obliged, give him a nice, forceful hug or handshake. Nothing says platonic like a handshake.

The check comes. Look, you’re not into the guy, so why make him pay for your drink? Unless I’m really feeling a dude or he’s really adamant about it, I always pay for myself on a first date. I don’t want to owe him anything, or make him THINK I do.

He calls you a few nights later. Eh. This is a hard one. Some schools of etiquette would tell you to answer the call and ‘politely’ decline another date. I’ve never figured out how to do this without making the guy feel shitty, so unless I think I owe him an explanation, I don’t call back the first time. And sometimes the second time. I know we all complain and bitch when it happens to us, but I honestly think most people would rather someone fade out of their life instead of having someone they dug telling them “thanks, but no”. If he calls you more than twice, just pick up the phone, and do what you have to do as tactfully as possible.

And look, if all else fails, you can always climb through the bathroom window. Or find a way to make yourself puke in front of him. Puke can end anything.

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