As regular readers will know, not all of my dates have gone very well. In fact my hit rate for me actually enjoying my dates is hovering at or below around 40 per cent. When you consider the amount of dates I have out myself through, that can make for some depressing times.
So given that most of these first dates have ended in disaster, how do you make it clear that the first date shall be the last, and that the only thing unique about your fateful meeting is that it will never happen again? It rather depends on your suitor’s attitude, but here goes:
Mark Twain once said: ‘It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt’. And how right he was. Nine times out of ten, the best way to deal with a bad date is to pretend it never happened. After you’ve shaken the hand and bid au revoir (even when you know it’s ADIEU ADIEU ADIEU), simply cast it from your memory. Don’t call or text them and usually, especially if they’ve also felt the date was an unmitigated disaster, they’ll do you the courtesy of accepting your silence. Mutual silence is the gentleman’s way of brushing off your date, and only the most churlish and amateur of daters would pursue after a total nightmare of a date. Some, however, persist.
‘They seek him here, they seek him there’, went the old rhyme about the Scarlet Pimpernel, who, in the eponymous play, used to lead a team of 19 men to rescue French aristocrats from execution. You don’t have to save the heads of any Gallic lords and ladies, but you do have to keep your own neck from gracing the guillotine of second date hell, so simply make à la Pimpernel and get elusive. Suddenly become busy with work or social engagements so that your date eventually gives up all hope of pinning you down. If you’re feeling extra spiteful, agree to meet up and then cancel a day or two before, citing some pathetic reason. Perhaps an illness. Keep it realistic — no cholera, for example. If they’re persistent, offer to give them a ring once ‘things have calmed down’, the result being that things will never calm down, because you’re just so occupied, so busy, so LOVED. And they’ll forget you, they always do.
3. With friends like these…
Your third option is to almost lay it on the line, but not quite, and say that you’d like to be friends, even if this isn’t true. Most people aren’t on dating sites to make new friends, no matter what they say. They want to be kissed and be fucked and get married and buy a house and argue with you over whose parents are the most annoying and whose turn it is to change the bedsheets. This is why they’re here, to find someone else and make them the second half of their life, however dreary it may be. They’ve got friends, usually ones who come and empty all their problems over them or invite them round to dinner and sit them awkwardly next to a fellow singleton because friends who aren’t paired up cause problems when it comes to booking hotel rooms. When they hear that you want to be friends, 99 times out of 100 they’ll quietly and quickly forget you ever existed.
And finally, the one you only have to do if forced, even if it’s the one you should’ve done in the first place. When you’ve tried 1 and 2, or even 3, only to be met with texts like ‘Did you get my last message? Should I take it we’re not seeing each other again?’ or ‘Soooo been a while, we meeting up again or not?’, don’t despair. The kindest way is to say that your phone’s been off, but you’ve been thinking about things and, while you had a great time/ it was nice meeting them (sigh), you don’t see a future. This could either mean that you’re terminally ill or that you never want to see them again, but only an insane person would take the former meaning. Only the most shameless suitor would not take that as a definitive ‘no’ and if you’re unlucky enough to have dated that shameless guy, there’s nothing for it but a swift visit to the canal, whereupon you should chuck your mobile into its murky waters and arrange to see your next date.