3 Right and Wrong Ways to End a Date

Whether you're interested or not, there's a good way, a bad way, and the best way.

As I mentioned on Friday, my love life has been far from thrilling of late. Maybe that's for the best, considering that, when it comes to me, "thrilling" is usually synonymous with "whirlwind three-month affair followed by brutal breakup and cataclysmic depression." But I'm very ready to spice things up by this point.

I did, as you will recall, have that recent date with the God-believer. And a couple of weeks ago, I went out with a very nice poetry-loving lawyer — handsome, successful, and considerate, with sexy glasses. We got together on one of those disgustingly humid East Coast days, so that by the time I saw him, at 9 p.m., I was exhausted from the day of relentless heat. Nonetheless, we managed to have a very pleasant, lively conversation — he's a real intellectual. But we seemed to convivially disagree about a lot of things — or he seemed to disagree with me about a lot of things — and although it was all in good fun, by the end of the night, I became quite worn out by the conversation. At one point I said, "Well, I guess we just look at the world rather differently." And he said, "Not necessarily! Think about all the things we agreed on!" (I'd say it was about 50/50.) At some point, I took a deep breath and sat back in my chair; from that point on, I felt less engaged in our back-and-forth. I remember thinking, "I could probably go on another date with this guy, but I wonder if we'd even make it through that." And even as I was withdrawing slightly, I was also flipping through my mental Rolodex to think about what friends of mine I might set him up with.

The Wrong Way to End a Less-Than-Perfect Date

When the time came for our date to end, the poetry lover walked me toward the subway, gave me a hug, and said, "This was fun. We should get together again sometime." And I said, "That sounds nice. It was fun."

I did not squirm, frown, pause before answering, or mention my busy schedule — as I have done in the past after less-interesting dates, when confronted with a similar adieu.

But here it is, nearly two weeks later, and I haven't heard from him. As such, I have decided he lacks proper etiquette. The dude is 30 years old — why not have the life experience and common sense by now not to make false promises? Why say, "Let's get together again" if he's not going to follow up? Do men think it's polite to end on a disingenuous note? I think it's a bit immature. I mean, even if a guy says something like that in order to gauge how a woman feels about a second date, it's awkward and puts someone on the spot. Much better to end politely and warmly, without any discussion of the future ... and then follow up with an e-mail. Isn't it better for everyone when a minor rejection comes by way of computer, rather than face-to-face on a crowded sidewalk?

The Better Way to End a Less-Than-Perfect Date

The God-believer had a much better handle on how to conclude a date. He walked me to my bike and said, "You know what? You're really fun to talk to. I had a good time." We hugged. Then I said, as you might recall, "I had a good time too ... the whole God thing aside." I said it with a touch of sarcasm and a smile. And he laughed.

That was polite, friendly, and warm — with no bad feelings on either side. Nice!

One doesn't need to go over the top and say, "Great to meet you — now have a nice life." But there's no need to make false promises either.

The Way to End a Great Date

Of course, if a date has gone well and a guy genuinely wants to do something again, I love it when he makes that perfectly clear.

But if the poetry lover's behavior is any kind of benchmark (and I think it is), simply saying, "Let's do it again sometime" doesn't prove he means it. What's a good indicator he does? Let's discuss tomorrow, or later in the week.