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A Modern Etiquette Guide on How to End a Date

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Ending a date can sometimes feel like a weird situation – whether it went well or not. So, should you just make an excuse? Perhaps pretend you had preexisting plans before the date? Or is being direct the best choice?

When looking at how to end a date, there are also more subtle signals you can give to your date about how it’s going. So, what is the best way to end a date? Let’s explore some, whether it’s going well but you think it’s time to end it on a high note or if it’s going badly, and its place in modern dating etiquette.

Tips for how to end a date without being awkward

Firstly, let’s just take a look at some general ways to end the date without hurting the other person’s feelings.

  • Being direct – Sometimes the best path on how to end a date is the straightest one, just tell them it was nice meeting them and that you think the date has reached its natural conclusion. This may either be because the date is getting awkward, or you just think you’ve spent enough time on it.
  • Agree on a specific amount of time before the date – An easy way to end the date is to have a set time built into the date itself. For instance, you could say you only have two hours free on a specific day.
  • Check for subtle cues in the body language – There are many signals you could use to determine how the date is going, but you have to know what to look for specifically. So, the natural question becomes how to interpret the end of a date. They may become less focused on the conversation, begin closing off their position to you or reduce eye contact. These can help you know when it’s time to call it a day. 
  • Making up an excuse – While this seems a bit cowardly, sometimes a date is just making you uncomfortable, you’d like a quick way out. Just tell them you had a prior engagement already planned or that something has come up.
  • Suggest asking for the bill – This is sort of a nice balance between direct and subtle when you’re trying to figure out how to end a date politely. Once again, just say it’s been nice meeting them and suggest asking for the check.

There also may be the matter of who should pay for the bill, which is a whole other issue we’ve covered.

How to end a date that went well

The date has been a hit. Your conversation feels natural, you make each laugh and just generally click.

But you know it has to end sometime. So how to end a date that well is to give them a clear signal you’d like to further explore this budding connection. You could try offering a comment on the date itself, like how much you enjoyed it, which is a positive cue. Or you could instead compliment the person themselves to indicate interest like, “I love how you look at things.”

You could also try initiating bodily contact by holding their hand. But be respectful regarding their boundaries. 

A more direct way to indicate your interest is to take the initiative and ask for a second date. If it’s going well enough, you could say, “I’d love to see you again.” Or text them the same evening or a couple of days later, asking them out again.

You may also be wondering, is a hug at the end of a date good or should we shake hands? In general, hugging is just a lightly familiar gesture often even used between acquaintances so a handshake may tell you’re not interested. If it’s a first date, you may be wondering if you should kiss. That’s up to you and depends on the individual date. It’s a topic we’ve explored in detail.            

Dating Rules: 8 Keys To Finding Someone Special

If you haven’t dated in a while, you might wonder what the dating rules are in 2023, or if how to date has changed since the last time you were single. In this article, we’ll look at eight essential dating rules to help you in your search for that special someone.

How to end a date if you’re just not feeling the chemistry

Some dates are just bad. Maybe they talked too much and didn’t listen, or the conversation felt stilted and awkward or, perhaps, you simply just didn’t feel that spark. You may even be thinking of cutting the date off early.

When looking at how to end a first date – or perhaps even a second or third one – you should probably start off as politely as possible, if only to spare their feelings or create resentment. So just be honest but firm, tell them you don’t think this is going well and maybe it’d be better if you didn’t waste each other’s time

The worst possible way to approach it with a critical tone, telling them all the things they did that put you off. This is how to end a date badly and may even lead to a confrontational atmosphere. Even if they were a bore, just thank them for the date in a kind-spirited way, taking a chance with it and that maybe you just aren’t right for each. To make the situation less uncomfortable you can also wish them the best of luck with their other dating effort and that you still had fun trying it out, to end things off.

The important thing is to let them know as soon as possible so you don’t waste their time or they develop one-sided feelings. Don’t ever leave them hanging or ghost them – tell them on the night or, if you really don’t have the nerve or you feel it may make them react aggressively, over text soon after the date!

How to handle a bad date

A bad date is one of those universal things, yet everyone wants to be that one lucky dater who skips gleefully over them. Let’s look at how to get past a bad date, recognizing when you’re on a bad one and how to fix it and the best way to end a horrible date that’s gone awry.

Ending a date doesn’t have to be weird

When you meet up with friends and you feel like leaving, you just say so, say goodbye to each one, say you had a good time and they respect it. When figuring out how to end a date, try to approach it the same way.

Sure, these people are strangers but they’re still human beings. They understand dates can’t always work out so honesty is always the best policy. They may be disappointed, but it’ll pass and they won’t be left hanging. You may even often find you both have already arrived at the same conclusion.

At eharmony, we’re very good at reducing the odds of a bad date by only connecting relationship-seeking singles based on their psychological compatibility. So come see for yourself and may find a date you never want to end!

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