Everybody loves to hear about a bad dating experience. There are entire television shows built on the disclosure of bad dates. Sometimes it’s easy to look back and find humor, and sometimes we want to make sure it will never happen again. But is there really any way we can prevent a bad date from happening? By dating, we risk spending hours with someone we wish we’d never met in hopes of finding someone we can’t get enough of. In the dating process, it is inevitable things might not always come out the way one might hope. [man11]
“Emotional and physical attraction play a huge role in determining how a date might proceed,” said Katherine Klein, MSU alumna, Ph.D., and Research Scientist for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. We have an obsession with instant gratification, and if we don’t like what we see or feel almost right away, we won’t pursue it.
For accounting sophomore Dana Casault, the attraction was physical at first, but lacked any emotional connection. Moreover, her awkward date didn’t end soon enough. Through a friend, Casault met a boy at a party. She described him as “cute” and was very excited when he asked for her number. Since they live a little distance apart, they decided to meet at their city’s Festival of Lights show. The road they started out on was a little bumpy. “We first went to dinner at a place he picked. Not good food,” Casault said. Further along in the date, Casault was even more disappointed when her date grabbed her hand and she found it to be, “the clammiest, sweatiest hand I’d ever held. Ick!” Being polite, Casault decided to forget the incident and try to make the most out of the rest of the night. But Casault knew she should have known better than to say yes when he asked her if he could give her a kiss. Casault described it as, “Beyond terrible. I’m a fan of tongue, but this guy took it a little too far, especially when his tongue swiped the back of my tonsils!” She blew the whistle on his ‘tonsil hockey,’ and made a quick dash out of there.[red]
So exactly how much slack should you give? It is safe to assume people might be a little more susceptible to make mistakes on a first date because they are nervous. That being said, we might be able to conclude Casault’s date had the first-date jitters. So he let his tongue slip a little too far, his hands were a little sweaty and he made a bad choice of restaurant. Does this exclude him from getting a second date or is this not the case at all?
“It sounds to me like Casault wasn’t as physically attracted to him from the beginning as she thought she was,” Klein said. She raises a good point by saying if Casault was in fact really attracted to him, she might have been able to overlook the small “quirks” and given him a second chance. He might not have been able to control the bad food or the sweaty, nervous hands, but he definitely made it apparent that he wasn’t socially inclined during the kiss debacle. Unfortunately, Casault had to learn the hard way that her initial attraction to the guy deceived her.
On a different spectrum, men can be tricked into thinking a woman is interested when she really isn’t. Traditionally, men are the ones who usually have to go through the nerve-wracking process of asking a woman out, and they are often setting themselves up for rejection. In their defense, women tend to be choosier than men when it comes to a date. “Since a man is doing the asking, he knows what he is interested in,” Klein said. A woman, on the other hand, isn’t always as sure because she isn’t the one who is initiating the relationship. As a result, we see a lot of instances where the woman subconsciously misleads a man into thinking she is interested when she is really unsure. This can put men in a very confusing and uncomfortable position.
[phew]This theory proved true in mechanical engineering sophomore Ryan Emmory’s disappointing dating experience. “It was my junior year of high school and I finally asked this girl that I had been interested in to go to the movies with me,” he said. She said yes and the date was planned for the following Friday. In preparation, Emmory decided to wash and vacuum his car to make a good impression. When Friday rolled around and he knocked on her door to pick her up, she had a guy and girl friend standing beside her. “She had decided that she should invite a couple of her friends to come along with us for the date,” Emmory explained. Pretending not to let it bother him they were no longer alone on the date, Emmory went along with the new plan.
Before he could regroup from the surprise, he found out they would be taking the other guy’s car. “My spotless car would now be staying at her house. The night had now gone from bad to worse,” Emmory recalled. The movies seemed to go smoothly, but when they arrived back at the house afterward, the most awkward part of the night presented itself. “We were all sitting in her living room watching TV with her parents, and then all of a sudden it was just me sitting there with her parents, and the three of them had vanished into the basement,” he said. [date2]
It was obvious Emmory’s date wasn’t as interested in him as he was in her. As a result of insecurity, we see a lot of cases where a woman might seek friends for support. “Since she invited her friends, she might have been trying to indicate that it wasn’t a date,” Klein said. This doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t like him at all – it just means she may want to remain friends. The friends are more for comfort than anything else.
If a woman doesn’t want to consider it a date, she tends to try and produce non-verbal signs rather than coming right out and saying no to the invite. There is no right or wrong answer because everybody has a different level of comfort. Some people find it too harsh to say they aren’t interested. Emmory was very confused and upset with the fact she chose to ignore him. “That was my first and last date with her,” he said.
For those who are a little more verbal, make it clear what kind of relationship you hope to have. If you are originally not attracted to a person when they ask you out, save yourself the misery and just say no from the beginning. Then, the second date request is avoided, and you don’t have to uncomfortably dodge that doorstep kiss. In a way, it’s just courteous because you are letting them know you want to respect their feelings and want to remain friends. “As you date more people, you learn how to say things without hurting feelings,” Klein said. There are nicer ways to say ‘I’m not interested in you.'[date]
Animal science freshman Isaac Brugger’s dating dilemma shows how having a passive opinion on the relationship’s status had him shedding some money. Brugger received a call from one of his good girl friends from high school. He remembered she had just broken up with her boyfriend. When she mentioned they should get together for a meal sometime, Brugger didn’t hesitate to agree. “Even though I had no intentions of actually turning this into a relationship, I couldn’t turn her down because she went out of her way to ask me out,” Brugger said.
Although Brugger was confused about whether she might think it was a date, he refrained from bringing it up throughout the whole meal. The bill came and Brugger was wondering if he was going to have to pay because he was a guy. “After all, she was the one who asked me out. It’s not like I wasn’t going to pay for myself, but I didn’t want to pay for her, especially since I never really wanted to consider it a date in the first place,” he said. Although the bill wasn’t ridiculously expensive, Brugger wasn’t quite sure if he should have been paying for the two of them.[man12]
Most everyone has experienced the awkward moment at the end of a dinner date when the waitress sets the bill on the table. It’s a contest to see who will pick it up first, or rather, who can politely hold out the longest. “If you’ve been dating for six months, there’s usually some sort of system to how a couple might share the responsibility,” Klein said. “The woman might offer to pay once in a while. Or maybe the woman offers to give the tip and pay for dessert while the guy pays for the meal.” Gender roles are constantly changing, and it shouldn’t be assumed it’s the guy’s responsibility to pay.
In fact, more couples are shirking ancient dating traditions and ‘going dutch,’ or splitting the bill down the middle. It can be a little confusing, however, when two people are new to the concept. “I have a friend in Texas who says the guys down there are raised to always pay for everything. She doesn’t even bring a wallet on her dates,” Klein said. Resolving this situation depends on the context and clear communication between the two. If a girl asks a guy out, it might be better for her to offer to pay for herself and then see if the guy insists on paying for her. Klein pointed out every circumstance is different and communication should be concise about the status of the relationship.
[bagel]Although ‘bad date’ will always be a term used by anyone in the single-and-looking world, there are ways to tell if a person is attracted to you from the beginning. This might come in handy when deciphering whether to initiate a closer kind of relationship with one of your current friends. “One thing that we subconsciously notice is each other’s dilated pupils,” Klein said. “The whole cliché phrase of ‘gazing into each other’s eyes’ that we hear a lot in the movies is actually true.” Some more obvious signs to pick up on are exemplified through body language. Is he leaning in or closed off with his arms crossed? Is she keeping eye contact and showing interest by asking questions? Sometimes people even mirror the other person’s actions.
The next time you go out in public, check out the conversation between two people. Not too close to eavesdrop, but far enough away to observe without looking too creepy. It’s interesting to see how many of these signals can be identified, and you can avoid a lot of awkward moments of your own by taking a peek at somebody else’s, as well as noting these tales of romantic missteps. Remembering these dating dilemmas and mastering these signs and signals won’t guarantee you the date of your dreams, but it might save you from clammy hands and stilted conversation.

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