Yesterday, the pilot webisode of America Ferrera’s new online short series, Christine, debuted at YouTube. In it, the title character has her first of what will probably be a number of harrowing speed dates over the course of 12 episodes. As I watched and cringed, I started thinking about all the ways a first date can go off the rails — and the various escape tactics that can be used to end that sucker early.
Here are a few of my immediate first date-enders:
1. Comparison to an Ex
A surefire way to be ditched on a first date is to mention how I resemble, dress like, talk like, act like a suitor’s ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. That comparison may be fine as a mental note, but if he doesn’t think to filter it before it comes spewing out of his mouth, an hour into our first lengthy conversation, it’s likely that relationship is still too fresh on his mind for him to be embarking on a new one.
Escape Route: The good ol’ fake emergency text or call works fine here. Since the behavior isn’t egregious, an apologetic exit is a nice way to go, but be sure not to make any empty “I’ll call you” promises or tell any fibs, like, “This was nice! We should do it again.”
2. Sexual Innuendo
If there’s a prude doesn’t like sex mentioned on a first date, it will be me. There’s nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than when a man I just met starts assigning hopes and dreams to my body parts. Don’t tell me what you would do if you ever got me into a bedroom, sir. Just take me home now.
This is only a date ender once I’ve expressed my discomfort and it’s been disregarded in favor of more out-of-pocket commentary.
Escape Route: The direct approach is best here: “This is inappropriate.” If you drove — and here’s hoping you did — there’s always the most succinct date-closing comment of all: “I’m out.”
3. An Expectation That I Open My Wallet (When It Hasn’t Been Previously Discussed)
Dutch is definitely OK with me, as long as I know I’m going to pay for myself going into the date. If I issued the invitation, I enter the outing with the expectation that I’ll cover my own costs. If my date’s all, “Your money’s no good here!” that’s great, but if we split a check, I won’t hold it against him. However, since I’m usually not the one issuing the invitation, I rarely anticipate opening my wallet on a first date, unless, of course, it’s for cab fare after I’ve excused myself to the ladies’ room and found the nearest exit.
Escape Route: See above.
4. Too-Close Relationships
Super-closeness and intense affection is one thing when it comes to a date’s children. That’s actually adorable and appreciated. But it’s something altogether different when he talks about his coworker, his dog, his first cousin, or maybe even his mom with that same level of intimacy. If he waxes rhapsodic about his female coworker, who also happens to be his roommate; if his last date was with his mom (who also interrogates every new woman he meets — and not in a joking way); or if he brought that dog on this restaurant date and proceeds to let it lick his face throughout dinner … yeah. Those are some serious red flags.
Escape Route: Yawn theatrically, make up an early morning appointment, and hope said mother, coworker, or cousin doesn’t find your number and call to ask you how you could pass up someone so wonderful, tell you don’t deserve him, and warn you that “someone better” will date him if you won’t.
5. One Too Many Whiskeys
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an alcoholic beverage on a first date. But four? That’s gonna be a problem. If a date orders a beer or a glass of wine to calm his nerves, it isn’t even worth noting. If his speech begins to slur, his lowered inhibitions have him engaging in Date-Ending Behavior No. 2, and you have to ask for his keys so he won’t keep insisting he’s “OK to drive home,” it’s time for your “last call.”
Escape Route: ”Check, please!” Leave his keys with the bartender and beat it, girl!
What are your first-date dealbreakers? What’s the wildest method you’ve used to end a first date early?