Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I have a question regarding the manners (and safety) of when to end a date when you met the person online. I’m a woman in my late 20s, and I’ve had enough experience with online dating to be relatively savvy with it. I typically find it a fun way to meet new people and go on some fun dates. I feel comfortable navigating most situations, except for this: when I want to end the date before it’s over.
I’ve experienced this scenario in two categories: one, when I’m simply not attracted to the person and don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and two, when I feel uncomfortable. It’s this second version I need the most help with. I have not figured out how to end the date early without relying on a transparent lie (I have other plans, a family member or friend needs help, I have to go study, etc.) or just sticking it out and then driving home shuddering. The issue with lying is that sometimes they try to convince me to put off whatever I say I need to do, or they push really hard for an answer about when we will be hanging out again.
My biggest concern comes from my knowledge of what certain men do to women when those women reject them. From news stories about women getting stalked and killed to my own and my friends’ experiences, it’s genuinely threatening and alarming. I’ve had guys eavesdrop on my conversations and then follow me and my friends to bars, had them demand an explanation into why my boundaries are what they are, had them stick their hands (and mine) into places they had no business being, had strangers insist on buying me drinks I don’t want and then get aggressive when I refuse the drink, and on and on. Men have also yelled at me and my friends via online dating apps when we wouldn’t share our phone numbers or meet up after a few lines of chatting.
My strategy for meeting with someone new is to go for a chat over coffee in the afternoon at a busy coffee shop, so I’m doing my best to minimize any possibility that I’m in an uncomfortable situation. I’m also trying to prevent us wasting our time if we aren’t attracted to each other. The fact remains, some people just make me uncomfortable for various reasons, like the men who can’t stop talking about sex or the guys who repeatedly push physical boundaries. Unfortunately, it’s not easy figuring out what someone will be like in real life when you meet them online. Honestly, I’m often afraid to bring attention to the problem because the outcome feels like a game of Russian Roulette. Will they respectfully back off? Will they keep pushing harder? Will I start getting yelled at, insulted, or gaslighted? Will something worse happen?
I’m happy to say this scenario doesn’t happen to me often. Usually, even if I’m not romantically interested in someone I meet online, I have a fun time hanging out with someone who has mutual interests. The majority of guys I meet are not creepy boundary pushers who make me want to run away home. But I want to be able to get out of a date without being afraid of the consequences. Even when I simply don’t see a friendship or a relationship coming out of a meeting, I’m still a little wary to cut it short and leave because of the reasons I already stated. If continuing to lie is the best option, that’s fine. I’m a Slytherin, I can handle that. If there’s another more effective way, though, I would love to hear it.
Thanks for listening.
-Afraid to End the Date