How To Redeem Yourself After A Truly Awful First Date

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man and woman on a date

First dates are terrifying. You have just a few hours to make a lasting impression on a stranger.

The ultimate goal is to hopefully form a life-lasting connection, or at least be bearable enough that they’ll want to see you again.

As much as we try to relax and live in the moment, there’s a lot at stake on a first date, and sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

Nerves can get the better of you and leave you feeling stuck for things to say. A hectic day at work can put you in a foul mood which and causes you to come off rude or pessimistic.

Bumper to bumper traffic can make you late — leaving your date alone, fearing they’re being stood up. Or, a terrible restaurant choice can ruin the vision you had for your time together.

A lot can go wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. Even if you had a bad first date, you might feel like you’re throwing away something good, so it helps to know how to make a great second impression if the first wasn’t so great.

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Bad dates can leave you feeling dejected and embarrassed, but you can still recover. If you have a crush on someone, so what if you messed it up a little in the beginning? Sometimes even the rockiest of starts have smooth finishes!

There are things that you can do to redeem yourself after the first date does wrong.

What to do after a bad first date if you want a second chance

1. Evaluate what went wrong.

You probably don’t even want to think about that tragic date again, let alone analyze in detail. But if you want to move on, you’re going to have to do some self-reflection.

Where did it go wrong? Were you awkward, too nervous, or just plain rude? Did you say something to offend them? Was the venue part of the problem? Do you deserve a second chance?

You need to know exactly what mistakes were made in order to avoid repeating them, but it’s also important to ask yourself why you even want to go on a second date.

Did your date do anything to make things worse? Do they deserve a second chance? You don’t have to take all the blame! Not all first dates result in a second.

2. Apologize, sincerely.

If you messed up, you might have to swallow a slice of humble pie and say you’re sorry.

Even if it’s a bruise to your ego or feels a little uncomfortable, your date needs to know you’re willing to admit your mistakes. Shoot them a text ASAP so they don’t feel cornered by a phon ecall and can decide how to respond.

If you upset or offended them in some way, they deserve a sincere apology, no exceptions. But if the date went wrong for some other reason like nerves or a bad setting, you might want to explain yourself a little so they know where you’re coming from.

You don’t have to beg for their forgiveness, but it doesn’t hurt to acknowledge some mistakes.

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3. Ask for a do-over.

Depending on how badly you messed up, jumping straight into arranging a second date could be a risky move. But if they’ve accepted your apology, it’s definitely worth a shot.

If something inside of you is telling you that your bad first date was just a terrible start to your romantic destiny, then go with your gut. Tell them you’d love a clean slate and a chance to get to know them better.

Pick a new venue so you don’t go back to the scene of the crime, or let them choose so they feel in control of the situation.

It’s daunting to put yourself out there like this, but you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

4. Play it cool.

Whether they’ve accepted your apology, thrown it back in your face, or are leaving you waiting, give them some space. The last thing you want to do is come across demanding or overbearing.

Let the universe do its thing and don’t wait by the phone for their texts! If they respond, you can take it from there, but keep it casual. This is your time to leave mistakes in the past and be your authentic self.

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5. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Some people just aren’t good at dating. This doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person or that you’ll end up alone, it just means you haven’t gotten enough practice at it.

Like all good things, romance takes time. Each date gets a little easier, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you got off to a rocky start.

You could even enlist the help of some friends to practice your dating skills on or just to ask for some advice.

6. Don’t change for anyone.

Sometimes dates don’t go well simply because it’s not meant to be. You can’t be compatible with everyone, and provided you didn’t do anything too horrific, you shouldn’t change yourself just because of one bad date.

If your apology didn’t work, it’s time to move on and keep looking for love. Some people just may not get your humor or aren’t willing to accept you for who you are.

Hold your head high in knowing that you gave it your best shot. There’s someone out there waiting for you.

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Alice Kelly is YourTango’s Deputy News and Entertainment Editor. Based in Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest.