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How to escape a bad date

TOC sexpert Debby Herbenick offers tips on how to get out of a horrible date.
By Debby Herbenick |

What’s with all the yammering from presidential hopefuls about the need for exit strategies? Can’t we just Get. The. Eff. Out? Nope—it takes planning. Similarly, everyone in the dating world should have a few tactics up his or her sleeve to escape a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad date.

1. Leave with no explanation. Okay, so it’s not the kindest, most graceful way out, but it is effective. Says Meghan, 30, “A guy once took me on a first date to the Ice Capades. Generally, that is not my bag, but I figured I’d cut him some slack because maybe I was just being bitchy. Turns out it was Disney on Ice and he took me “because all broads dig that Disney shit” and he had a coupon, which is a bit much for a first date. After we got seated, I got drunk on giant beers and when they turned down the lights so that kids could play with their red and blue Mickey lights, I said I had to use the ladies’ room and I left the arena.”

2. Cry during sex. Look, dinner and a movie isn’t how everyone “dates.” Some folks just meet for sex. But if you’re not feeling it and need to end things stat, bring on the tears. As Adam, 39, says, “I can work the teary thing. I’ve said that I’m not over my ex yet and it’s not fair to either of us. I even told one woman that I hit on her because she looked so much like my ex. It wasn’t true but she called me an asshole and got up. This was after she blew me so I came out all right.”

3. Geek out. Talk nonstop about Second Life and your quest for your own island, and how everyone is so much nicer and more themselves on Second Life than in “biological” life (use air-quotes and roll your eyes), and how playing it five hours a day is not excessive and you never should have been fired from your last job because of it. Unless, of course, you really feel that way about Second Life (and if you do, you might have more important things to worry about than getting out of a date…like getting one in the first place).

4. Talk about your cats. All five of them. According to Hunter, 26, “A single woman living alone with one cat is fine. But two cats gives a guy pause.” Hence, five cats is pure exit-strategy gold. Especially if you talk about them as if they were your children (“they hate it when Mommy leaves them for the evening”). Then whip out the camera-phone pics (“This is Snowball’s first vet visit!”).

5. Constantly reference your ex. As in, “Oh, wow, you ordered the lasagna? My ex liked lasagna, too. We used to make it together on Thursday nights…. Huh? You like The Wire? My ex listed The Wire as one of his MySpace interests but I’ve never seen it.” Then if your date tells a joke, mumble “huh…funny…just like [so-and-so]” with a nostalgic grin.

6. Stage a phone call. Yeah, everyone does that. But to convince someone it’s true, the lying is in the details. Ignore your friend’s staged “call for help” a few times until it gets awkward (“Aren’t you going to answer that?” To which you say, “No, it’s probably just my friend who has constant relationship drama”). When you finally have to answer, freak out at the horrendous news and apologize profusely for not having picked up the phone before, but you were having so much fun, and oh my gosh, you’re so sorry, but you’ll have to go be with your friend.

7. Be honest. Says John, 27, “I met a guy online, who said he was 27 like me, and into fitness. When we met up for drinks it was clear he was pushing 40, and weighed probably 300 pounds. The only fitness he could possibly be into was watching the people get their asses whooped on The Biggest Loser. I said, ‘Dude, you’re not who you said you were. I’m leaving.’ And I left. Some people need to be called on their B.S.”

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