Dating disasters


By Rory Gibson

This month we’re talking about your bad dates, and it seems everyone has a horror dating story. From awkward dates, to romantic encounters with colleagues, and just straight out bizarre dates – Rory Gibson explores the world of dating disasters.

It is normal to feel nervous about going on a date. That’s because they can be excruciating. As Jerry Seinfeld once quipped: “People. They’re the worst.” He could have been talking about what happens on disastrous dates.

Human interaction is always complicated, never more so than when two strangers meet to assess their level of attraction towards each other. Myriad such encounters are wonderful, fun, charming and uplifting.

Then there are the horror shows. One US survey of 1000 people found that over 63per cent of those asked reported having had terrible dates. I’d say the other 37 percent of respondents need to get out more.

I’ve had my share. There was the girl in England who showed up with absolutely no money and no conversation other than to order vast quantities of food and drink. At least she had lager with a dash of lime tastes. On another first date the woman turned up with the not-quite-ex lover I didn’t know she had and the three of us had a lovely evening. I liked him better than her.

Then there was the little charmer who kept telling me throughout the evening that if I tried to lay a finger on her she’d get her brothers to kill me. I hadn’t even thought about it, but if it was her intention to stay chaste it was a good strategy.

I’ve also had to endure the company of women who for whatever reason drank far too much, talked far too little, were boring – or bored with me – or were just unlikeable.

But my biggest dating disaster actually involved a work colleague who I knew was a lovely person and what happened had nothing to do with any character flaws on both our parts. We had booked a table at a theatre restaurant for dinner and the show, and the proprietor – a friend – had given us the top table right in the middle and closest to the stage.

The dinner was fine and the evening was going well, when, just as the show was about to begin, my date suddenly grabbed her bag and leapt to her feet with puzzling haste. “I’m sorry Rory. I can’t stay.” And with that she fled the small, dim room – just as our table was illuminated by the stage lights. It was like someone had shone a spotlight on me at the exact moment to capture my shock and embarrassment. Everyone was looking at me, wondering what I had done to upset her so much that she was compelled to flee into the night.

I didn’t go after her, because I hadn’t done anything to cause offence. She didn’t appear ill, and if she was that keen to leave without explanation what could I do about it? I decided to adopt an air of nonchalance, ignore the stares, and enjoy the show. Sitting there on my own that night was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

As I said, we worked together. She apologised the next day. Turns out she was an epileptic and felt an attack coming on. Poor girl. Just as embarrassing for her as it was for me. We never had another date.

At least her behaviour was explainable. The people questioned in the survey mentioned above, which was commissioned by an activity-booking website, recounted some cringe-worthy moments. One subject recalls: “He brought his mother as a chaperone. The entire conversation was about her and how close they were. It went downhill from there.”

One woman reported going on a date during which all the man talked about was his dead wife. The wife was with them in spirit, he told her, and was rating her. Another man’s idea of romantic dinner conversation centered on his “most recent bowel movement”. One bloke tried to impress his date with the new steering wheel he’d had fitted to his sports car. Weird enough, but then it came off in his hands as they were driving down a busy street.

Another man was a rubbish date, literally. Having done the hard bit and talked his companion into coming back to his place, he got her to help load up his ute with trash and then took her to the dump with him. Classy.

Bad dates can happen to anyone. The Daily Mail reported that actress Jennifer Love Hewitt once recounted a date she went on with an older man when she was 25. He gave her a box of Altoids to prepare her for a goodnight kiss. British actress Emma Watson told last year: “The worst date I’ve ever been on was a guy who told me he couldn’t be friends with fat people or anyone who was unattractive. I realised pretty quickly that he was a nutter.”

How do you avoid awful dates? There is no fail-safe method, but the more information you can gather about your prospective paramour before it gets to that can limit the disasters. That’s why eHarmony is such a good option for those looking for love. The levels of communication built in to the site offer tools for vetting suitors and hopefully identifying a compatible partner without the risk of going on a date with someone who is planning to take you to the dump after dinner.

Have you had any dating disasters? Tell us your bad date stories in the comments below or join the #eHDateDoctor conversation @eHarmony_AU or on

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