Escaping from a bad date is no laughing matter. Mostly. Some first dates are so horrible they make for a great story later, if you can just make it out intact to tell the tale.

Step 1:  Assess The Severity of the Situation

Before pulling the proverbial fire alarm to escape from a bad date, assess the situation. Are you over reacting?  Is the fact that she owns 14 cats and has spent the last 42 arduous minutes sharing pictures and describing their personality traits truly a deal breaker for you? So what if she not-so-absentmindedly doodled her first name with your last name on the cocktail napkin before the appetizers arrived. That’s no real reason to panic, right?  

Step 2:  Try to Salvage What’s Left of the Date

Escaping from a bad date may not be necessary if the situation is, in fact, salvageable.  Many a good relationship starts off with funny stories of misunderstandings and a lopsided interest.  Yours would neither be the first nor the last date to begin awkwardly only to find magic as the night went on, so can you turn things around? Maybe an accidental water spill on her cat pictures is all that is necessary to change the subject. Consider it a blessing and discuss your mutual interest in sailing around the world, where the cats can’t possibly join you.

Step 2.1: If Necessary –  ESCAPE

Let’s face the cold, hard facts. The two of you are wholly incompatible. A moment more spent in this insufferable situation is time that could be better spent picking up your dry cleaning, walking your dog, or picking lint from your belly button.

In short, escaping from this date is your only option. When you feel the need to flee as though the future of the free world depends on it, it’s time. As it stands, you have several options.

Bad Date Escape Options

The best technique for escaping any given bad date will depend upon your personal style, and your assessment of the situation. Review the following and choose wisely. 

The Cowardly Lion

Escaping from a terrible date is as easy as walking out the door.  Some call it “going ghost”.  Other’s call it “the backdoor boogie”.  In this case, we will refer to it as The Cowardly Lion. In essence, when escaping from a bad date – your first and most natural reaction is often to bail, leave, duck out. Zero explanation. Zero confrontation. After all, couldn’t she see you yawning through your teeth? Your eyes glazing over?  It’s okay to take a runner out to the parking lot when every attempt to change the subject and salvage the conversation was made, right? 


Just know The Cowardly Lion is the least preferable of all ways to escape from a bad date. Even if she is clueless and the chemistry nonexistent, this method of escape should be reserved for the most extreme cases, which hopefully means never. 

The Alibi

Your second alternative for escaping from a bad date requires a bit of premeditation to maintain an air of authenticity. Similar to buying trip insurance, establishing an alibi provides you with legitimate backup should you need a reason to leave. Only a slight step higher on the authenticity scale than The Cowardly Lion, The Alibi involves a bit of engineering.  At a preset time, your friend/plant-sitter/plumber/stockbroker calls. Excuse yourself from within earshot, yet not visibility, and take the call. In the event you need to escape the date, the alibi kicks in.  Feign surprise, but don’t overdo it.  Your body language should convey shock and dismay, not national disaster.  

The secret to a successful Alibi is in the swiftness with which the departure must be carried out. A skilled Alibi consists of one solid motion from the moment you hang up the phone, to your harried explanation, continuing through the hug, the thanking her for her time, the paying of the check, the hefty tipping for stiffing the waiter out of a full seating, and on through a fluid departure out the door.   It’s like a run-on sentence, keep moving and take no breaths allowing anyone else a word in edgewise until you are a safe distance to, or better yet, in your car.

The Double-Booking

Your third option for escaping a bad date is like the Alibi’s second cousin… related, sort of look alike and yet rarely seen together. The Double-Booking is prearranged in the same manner as The Alibi, however instead of blaming your rapid and non-negotiable exit on something borderline catastrophic, you’re blaming it on a scheduling error. This works particularly well if you have children as you didn’t realize it was your fictitious night to drive the evening carpool. Gotta run! Sorry, the car will be full and it will take me hours to get everyone home, greatmeetingyoubye! As you run out the door. 

If you don’t have kids, no worries.  Any occasion will do. You forgot you promised your aunt a night out on the town.  You swore to your boss you would let out her dog.  You totally forgot you had an appointment to get your appendix removed. At 8:47 pm. On a Thursday night. In a snowstorm. Chat soon, bye! 

The Flare-Up 

The Flare-Up is fairly easy to pull off, all things considered.  Escaping from a bad date using the flare-up requires no premeditated phone call, no alibi, and no outwardly visible physical symptoms either. A flare-up can strike at will and when necessary. A flare-up could be something as simple as a severe stomachache rendering you the world’s largest drag to be around. It could also be an old back injury, or some other phantom pain that allows you to beg off the evening’s festivities in a timely fashion. The Flare-Up is the Switzerland of reasons to leave a date, it’s a neutral territory where private matters are treated with discretion. One should exercise caution, however, as overdoing the Flare-Up could backfire leaving you with an overly attentive date that refuses to leave you without medical care. 

The Catastrophe

Use of the Catastrophe to escape a sucky date is neither for the weak of heart nor the superstitious. If you are feigning an accident, a sudden illness or claiming that your kitten is trapped in a tree you’d better have the acting chops to pull off a convincing delivery.  Furthermore, watch your karmic back on this, as it may be poetic justice if you get home, crack a beer and relax ,on the sofa only to find your precious Mittens is, in fact, out on a limb. 

The Honest Abe

The Honest Abe approach is the antithesis to The Catastrophe when escaping a rotten date.  Hands down, however, The Honest Abe is the most courageous. If things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt the date just isn’t salvageable, it takes a courageous man to simply say so. And it takes an honorable man to take ownership of the mismatch, even if it was her idea to surprise you with skydiving not understanding you are afraid of heights.

The Honest Abe approach is very calm and non-accusatory. It simply lets you both off the hook of what was surely a painful experience and saves any awkwardness later. There will obviously be no good night kiss.  A polite hug with two pats on the back is stretching it.

Should you assess, salvage and still need to escape from a date, a clumsy handshake and a moment or two of awkwardness is the pricetag for the remainder of the evening being yours to do with as you wish. Maybe you’ll head home, hop online and find the woman whose conversation flows freely with yours.  Where there is no effort and the only misunderstanding you share is who went on more awkward dates than the other before you finally met. 

Godspeed my friend.


Tell us about your worst dates and how you survived in the comments below.


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(c) Can Stock Photo / mikdam

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