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15 Ways to Recover from a Bad Date

We all go on dates with high hopes and good intentions. You expect the encounter to be fun, exciting, and maybe even a step toward something bigger down the line. But not all dates are created equal, and some don’t meet expectations. Maybe you and the other person just didn’t click. Maybe you were just super nervous and couldn’t relax. Maybe your date dominated the conversation.

So how do you recover after a dissatisfying date? Start here:

1. Evaluate what exactly wasn’t working. Often it’s obvious (your date was 45 minutes late). Other times it’s less obvious (both of you were feeling worn-out and preoccupied). Pinpointing the dissatisfying part of the date will help you know if the issue is fixable.

2. Assess if compatibility was a problem. Sometimes two great people don’t have the same energy level, communication style, sense of humor, or other qualities. If that’s the case, it’s good to find out early on.

3. Don’t give up too easily. Some fabulous relationships simply get off on the wrong foot.

4. Realize that dating dynamics amp up the pressure. Early dates can seem like you’re tiptoeing through a minefield. Expectations and nervousness run high, making it easy to misstep and create the wrong impression.

5. Take responsibility for your part. If you contributed to the lackluster date, the best way to recover is by acknowledging it.

6. Apologize if you need to. Maybe you made a slip-up: an insensitive remark, not giving the person your full attention, forgetting your manners. If so, a tangible act of atonement may be called for, such as a handwritten note.

7. Give it time. Let the dust settle and think it through, so you can be wise about next steps.

8. Decide if a do-over is warranted. If you see potential in this relationship—despite a dissatisfying date—give it another try. Sometimes a diamond in the rough just needs polishing.

9. Don’t be too hard on yourself or the other person. So it didn’t work out the way you wanted—that’s part of the dating process. And part of life.

10. Keep it in perspective. A disappointing date is just that—disappointing. It hardly qualifies as a disaster or a crisis, and you are certainly not the only person to experience a mediocre date.

11. Summon your sense of humor. Your ability to laugh—at yourself and the situation—is an essential source of strength.

12. Don’t take it personally. You might be tempted to blame yourself or think there’s something wrong with you. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of two people lacking the chemistry to generate an inspiring time together.

13. Accept imperfection as part of the process. Even great dates rarely go flawlessly, and less-than-great dates are full of flaws. Try to lighten up and let go of perfectionistic expectations.

14. Identify lessons learned. Disappointing dates can teach us what to do differently next time. What insights can you discern that will enable you to have better dates in the future?

15. Muster your courage. A disappointing date can deflate your enthusiasm and make you hesitant to try again. Don’t give up. Your next date could be your best ever.