How To Manage A Date Crisis

You met a hot guy—but then on your first get-together, disaster strikes. Could you recover?

By Dave Singleton

irst dates are nerve-wracking enough. They send your mind racing: Are you wearing the right thing? Will you two click? But such questions are quickly forgotten when you’re faced with a bona fide dating disaster. Consider this tale from Brian, 29, of New York: “All was going great on my date. We were at a cool restaurant in Chelsea and our waiter asked if
No matter what the problem, ’fess up immediately.
we’d like fresh pepper on our meals. He couldn’t get the pepper mill to work so he hit it, and pepper went into my eyes, which began tearing up so badly! I went to the men’s room where my left contact lens popped out and went down the sink. I returned to the table red-eyed, half blind, and embarrassed, but my date was good-natured about it. It made me like him more, and we’re still dating.”

Could you be as unflappable as Brian if a pepper spray threatened your next perfectly good dinner date? Let us help ensure that by offering these common date disasters and how to fix them.

Date Disaster: Something bad just happened at work (i.e., you got fired or assigned a project that’s due tomorrow).
Fix: Consider canceling if you don’t feel at your best. “Especially on the first few meetings, you owe it to your date to check whatever baggage you’re carrying at the door,” says Washingtonian Brooks, 34. “Drama should be kept to a minimum. You aren’t starring on Desperate Housewives.” But if that can’t be done, do be honest about what’s going on. “No matter what the problem, ’fess up immediately. Otherwise, your date will sense something is wrong and think the problem’s her or him,” says Dr. Joy Browne, author of Dating For Dummies and Dating Disasters and How to Avoid Them. “And if you’re the one who’s been through the bad experience, remember, no matter how bad it gets, really, is it the end of the world? Looking on the bright side of a dim moment can mean the difference between a disaster date and one that’s the beginning of a great relationship.”

Date Disaster: You forget your wallet or your credit card gets rejected.
Fix: Apologize to your date and insist on picking up the next tab or sending him a check after the date. “When this happened to me, I tried not to make a bigger deal about it,” says Californian Aaron, 34. “I acted very responsible about following up and then focused my attention back on the guy, where it belonged. In fact, I used it as a way to ask him out again, and made it clear the next one was on me.”

Date Disaster: You talked waayyyyy too much.
Fix: Cop to your loquaciousness as soon as you come to
Access your inner Oscar runner-up and act happier than you feel.
your senses. “After I blathered on too much,” says Washingtonian Michael, 38, “I told my date that I was a little mad at myself. I apologized for being a nervous-talker and made it clear I hadn’t heard as much about him as I’d like. Flattery can work wonders.”

Date Disaster: You got horribly drunk.
Fix: Apologize to your date for getting carried away. “I had three martinis on an empty stomach,” says Orlando native Russell, 34. “Not smart. I called my date the next day and let him know that drinking a lot wasn’t typical for me. I’d overworked, skipped lunch, and then headed to meet him. On our next date, I limited my intake to a glass or two of wine during dinner. All was forgotten.”

Date Disaster: You had a terrible fight with a friend beforehand.
Fix: Access your inner Oscar runner-up and act happier than you feel. “Sometimes, you just have to get over yourself,” says Washingtonian Derek, 33. “This is one of those times. My friend’s bad timing was not my date’s fault. I took a few minutes before the date, breathed deeply and decided to put off thinking about the fight until later.”

Date Disaster: Your face breaks out, your hair has a crazed mind of its own, or you have a wardrobe malfunction.
Fix: This kind of situation tries one’s innermost faith. You see, you have to accept that, if your date is going to like you, he will overlook that scary zit, bad hair day, or popped button. As Virginian Chris, 27, says, “Being stressed out will make you feel worse. Fix what you can fix, like using concealer for a zit, and then let it go. Just don’t face any mirrors during dinner that might make you feel self-conscious.”

Bottom line: Any PR person will tell you that handling a crisis with humor, truth and grace is the best approach. By all means, don’t lose your cool if dating disaster strikes! Very few dating calamities ruin lives, so keep perspective. As dating coach Melissa Darnay suggests in her book Dating 101: the Instant Cure for Romance Blues, “Keep a sense of humor! At the very least, you can enjoy a good laugh from your latest horror story.”

“My worst dating disaster was the night I accidentally let my date’s dog out of his house,” says Dave Singleton. “The dog took off down the street and I still remember the look of abject terror in my date’s eyes. After two hours of chasing, followed by the fortuitous bottle of wine, we reclaimed the dog and the date.” An award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, Dave Singleton the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at
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