How can I escape a terrible social distance date when there’s no check on the way?

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Hi, Group Chat, 

I recently went on a first socially distanced date last week at a park to be safe with coronavirus, and it did NOT go well. But, I still found myself sitting there for nearly three hours listening to my date drone on about when he went abroad five years ago — a complete mess and waste of my time!!

Normally, at a bar date, you can kind of dip after the check comes. It just seems that with socially distanced dates … there’s no natural end. How can I make a bad date stop when there’s no check coming?


My Pandemic Romance 

Dear MPR,

Chase Hill, who doesn’t have time to stroll down your memory lane, says… Ok, first of all, it’s cute you’re going on dates during COVID and I’m super jealous. Second, I totally feel you when it comes to wanting to not do something that you’re currently doing, and then feeling like you can’t. I’ve compiled a list of excuses/methods for you to use to get you out of that date and back on your couch watching “Gilmore Girls” for the 15th time:

  1. My roommate locked herself out again! She’s such a forgetful person!
  2. I totally forgot about my cat’s anxiety medicine, I have to go pick it up before they close.
  3. The dog walker canceled and my dog has IBS, I really need to get going!
  4. (Or, leave the dog out of it) I have IBS and need to get going ASAP!
  5. I forgot about a candle I lit in my bedroom and need to go blow it out before it burns everything down.
  6. Suddenly I have a migraine. The bright sun and your trip down memory lane are like a drill in my head. I’ve gotta go!

Or, you can just be real: Let them know gently that you’re just not feeling it. To be honest, if they can’t take a simple “no” without getting too emotional, it was probably a bullet worth dodging anyway. It might be difficult to hear and difficult to deliver, but you’re both better off and now have more time to find a better fit.

Brittaney Trent, who believes dating you is a prize, so keep your standards high, says… Girl, it’s the three hours for me! For starters, good job being safe while dating in the pandemic and going to the park. Now onto the actual date. I can usually tell within the first five to 10 minutes if there’s a connection or not. If he’s not asking any questions about you and not showing any GENUINE interest — you need be gone like the wind, out like a light; whatever, it’s time to go.

He should be asking you questions to get to know who you are as a person and vice versa. When dating, you’re trying to figure out if this person is someone you want to be with, so having a date is taking the steps to find out. But if this guy is spending three hours talking about when he studied abroad and not talking about taking you on a trip, it’s a NO.

Next time, all you have to do is let him down nicely and politely (just to be safe because some guys have fragile egos and can’t handle rejection maturely). You say: “You know, you seem very nice but I just don’t think this is going to work out and isn’t worth either of our time. I’m going to head out but it was nice meeting you.”

And then, you politely get up and leave. Don’t wait until the end if you’re not feeling it, and don’t be afraid to cut it short. Men have been wasting our time for centuries and we have to put a stop to it now.

Jess Butler, who believes if someone is going to waste your time you might as well have a little fun with it, says… First off, I would just like to say that if you live in NYC and you wrote this, then congrats — the city hasn’t broken you yet, because you are far too nice. We’re all a little lonely right now but there is no need to stay on a date with someone who thinks traveling five years ago is a personality trait!

It’s 2020, we need to be resourceful. Bring a snack and drink on the picnic and if you must, spill it on your date! They’ll have to go home to clean up which is your perfect out. No one wants to continue to sit in wet pants and get to know you. It’s distracting and, most importantly, uncomfortable, which pretty much guarantees a timely goodbye. 

If you are truly desperate and throw caution to the wind when it comes to other people’s stress levels, you can always start coughing and say you’re not feeling well. Anyone will gladly let you excuse yourself and immediately get a COVID test (as we should all be doing *wink wink nudge nudge*). 

Justin Chan, who has rarely been on a bad date but knows how it feels, says… Alright, first things first. Park dates are incredibly overrated — like, COME ON. If that’s your date’s idea of a good time, then you need to keep it moving.

You two would have been better off spending your first date at a nice restaurant or a bar (either choice is a safe bet and almost always guarantees GOOD food). And before you rag on me for suggesting a dining establishment as a date spot amid a pandemic, let me say that restaurants still offer outdoor dining (at least, they still do that here in New York City). 

Number two: Why did you not think of using the old, “I have an emergency and my friend really needs me” stunt? I almost always tell my friends about my first dates ahead of time so that they’re ready to save me just in case.

If you’re not comfortable getting your friends involved, I suggest using the old “sleepy eye” tactic. Basically, gradually close your eyes and yawn a couple of times. If your date finds your behavior rude, just tell them that you had a long night and that you’re running on three hours of sleep. That will almost always evoke some sympathy on your date’s part. Then, finally, make a run for it. I suggest walking slowly and then picking up the pace before you start sprinting like Usain Bolt. Problem solved.

Morgan Greenwald, who has not been on a first date since 2015 (brag), says… Girl, your time is precious, and if you know a date is not going well then SHUT! IT! DOWN! I applaud you for finding ways to date amid this crazy pandemic, but just because things are different doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to politely excuse yourself when you know you aren’t hitting it off with Ben, the thirty-something accountant from Midtown who loves “The Office.”

My go-to back when I was still on the market was to have a friend call me at a specified time in the night and offer me an out in case things weren’t going as planned. Tell your best friend, sister or whoever else to call you an hour or so into the date and say that there is an emergency at home — the dog is sick, your roommate broke her ankle, whatever — and that you need to get back ASAP. If you’re having a good time, you don’t even have to answer. It works every time.

If you don’t want to be quite so conniving, you can also just be honest and tell your date that you don’t quite feel that spark — any good guy or gal will understand that you can’t force love!

TL;DR… It’s 2020, there’s simply not a moment to spare on a bad date — no shame in lying like a rug to get out of it if you must.

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