You’ve played out two hours, consumed three glasses of iced tea, and devoured a shared cheese plate; it’s time to hatch an escape plan from this first date. You’ve dropped plenty, and I mean plenty, of hints, hoping you wouldn’t have to take the direct approach. The truth is, you think your date is a nice person, but you’re not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.
What’s unfortunate is that you’re so charming, their excitement has blinded them to your responses. As the night winds down and they appear to be angling for a goodnight kiss, what do you do? How do you end this date?
- be ready
- take the lead
- extend your hand
- wish them well
- keep dating them if you only plan to be a friend
- play hide and seek
You should expect a move to be made. It might just happen when you least expect it. If you anticipate it, you won’t be caught off guard and you’ll know what to do to prevent it from happening before the situation gets tricky.
At the end of the date, as you’re heading out the door or to your car, walk a step or two ahead. Put about an arm’s length of distance between you and your date.
With a gap between the two of you, you have the space to offer your hand so your date can shake it goodnight. If you’re an expert hugger, meaning you know how to hold your space and maintain the distance and hug without it causing anything more than a friendly gesture, that’s also a lovely way to say goodbye.
Plan the date to end with grace. After the handshake or hug, simply say, “Thank you so much for taking the time to come out tonight. It was very nice to meet you.”
Kissing anyway, just to end the date, is not the way to go. It may seem awkward to hold a boundary in that moment or to stop someone in mid-lean, but it is better for both of you in the end.
If your date is leaning in, gently put your hand on their shoulder and slide to the top of their back and give a soft, friendly tap on the back (something akin to a hug). Or if needed, rest a soft but unmovable open hand on the front part of their shoulder as a stopping signal while shifting the rest of your body a step back should do the trick.
You can do this with kindness and respect for your date.
If you don’t want to see them again, there’s no need to make concessions or conciliatory gestures. They don’t need you to tell them how awesome of a person you think they are. Trying to save the situation by building them up can often make the other person feel worse.
We all deserve the respect of knowing another person’s motivations when it comes to matters of the heart. If you enjoy the person, but you don’t see a romantic future with them, be gentle in letting them know. If you plan to cultivate a friendship, have a future activity ready to suggest, like an evening out at a concert or an invitation to a house party.
Don’t say, “Yes, let’s see each other again,” and then spend the next two weeks dodging their phone calls. Checking your caller ID and then letting them ring through to voicemail will be frustrating for them, and agitating to you. If you said “yes” to someone and you meant “no”, waiting for them to figure it out on their own is just a mean thing to do to somebody. Take the high road, say, “No thank you.”
None of us are skilled at breaking it off because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or be displeasing. This is natural. If they ask you out again, say, “Thank you so much for asking. I can tell we’re not quite a match. But I did appreciate our time together.” Kindness is never out of fashion, and it will make you a good dating citizen.