We all do embarrassing stuff from time to time, but dating brings out something truly special in all of us. From a flagrant faux pas to a furtive fart, here’s how to deal with some of the more embarrassing moments you’ll run into in the early days of dating someone new.
You’re Not Sure If You’re Even On a Date
You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to tell if you’re on a date, but in this age of such casual dating, people are sometimes a bit more coy than they should be. Maybe a relationship between you and a friend starts to turn into something more, which can make things a bit weird and hard to read. In at least one survey, about 69 per cent of people were confused about whether an outing was a date or just hanging at some point.
There’s potential for embarrassment regardless of which side of the table you’re on. If you think it’s a date and they don’t, you’re going to make a fool of yourself. Similarly, if you don’t think it’s a date and they do, you’re going to run into an uncomfortable situation toward the end.
If you’re not sure what’s going on, the best thing you can do is ask and get it out of the way before it becomes an issue. Seriously, it is a lot less embarrassing to ask than it is to make the wrong move. You’re always better off asking.
Of course, not everyone has the gall for that. If you can’t imagine asking, you’ll need to look for signs. These signs vary widely based on your age, location, gender, background, and even politics, but here are a few things to look for:
- If the evening was planned out ahead of time, then chances are it’s a date and not just hanging out. Same goes if you find yourself at a fancier restaurant instead of the usual burger joint up the street.
- There’s an awkward moment when the bill comes. Regardless of how you feel about the “who should pay?” question, if it’s a date, there’s usually a little hesitation when that bill comes.
- In most cases, if it’s a date, you’re both less likely to use your phone, reply to text messages, or look up random facts on Google.
- If the conversation starts to revolve more around you and your history than whatever pop culture factoid is popular that day, then there’s a good chance it’s a date.
All the obvious stuff applies here too. If you’re getting a lot of compliments, the other person’s dressed nicer than usual, or there’s a lot of touching going on, then you can safely assume it’s a date.
If you don’t want it to be a date, you should make that clear as soon as you realise what’s going on. You can follow the same basic rules for saying “no” to anything here: don’t make excuses, be an adult about it, and be honest. If you’re not interested in a person romantically, just say it. It will be uncomfortable, but it’s a lot better than the embarrassing moment at the end of the night where they lean in for a kiss and you’re forced to reject them.
You Get a Surprise Bout of Diarrhoea or Gassiness
Needing to poop during a date is a common enough conundrum that at least one book exists to help you navigate the etiquette rules of the covert defecation. The golden rules of pooping on a date according to the book are pretty simple: never say what you’re going to do, make sure nobody sees you, don’t talk about it afterwards, keep it under five minutes, and most importantly, never brag about it.
That seems simple enough, and if all goes well you can forgo the embarrassment altogether… unless your poop has other plans. Sometimes, things come on a little more strong. If a nasty case of diarrhoea wells up inside you, you’ll likely need to excuse yourself and cancel the date. As usual, honesty is the best policy here, but don’t be too honest. Tell them you’re not feeling well, apologise, let them know you’ll call them later, and leave it at that. There’s no easy win here, but it’s best to get away from your date before that diarrhoea sets in. If you’re too late and don’t realise what’s happening until you’re already sitting on the toilet, your only option is full on honesty. Tell your date (or text them, if you’re glued to that seat) what’s going on and hope for the best. It’s a little gross, but at this point it’s your only choice.
If you keep an eye on your poop throughout the day, you should have at least an idea that problems are brewing, so don’t be afraid to cancel the date beforehand either. Just make sure you reschedule so they know you’re not bailing.
While a fart (or a loud burp) isn’t as embarrassing as spending a solid 40 minutes in the bathroom, it’s harder to keep discreet, and it can still derail the love locomotive. It doesn’t have to though. Take a cue from this Reddit thread, which shows the best response to a surprise fart is usually with humour. Make light of the situation with a joke. You can even steal one from Reddit if you need to, some of the better post-fart responses include: “My compliments to the chef”, “Don’t listen to anything it has to say! It doesn’t know what it’s talking about!” or “Now you.” If all else fails, you can always just blame it on them. Even better, try and nip the problem in the bud before it even starts by eating foods that reduce flatulence before the date. These include fish, rice, dairy products (unless you’re lactose intolerant) and strained fruit juice. The good news? In either case, the embarrassment goes away eventually.
You Can’t Remember Their Name
Forgetting someone’s name is embarrassing, but doesn’t usually make you look that bad — unless you’re on a date with them (or you just woke up next to them). It might sound far-fetched, but it’s more common than you’d think. Here are a few tricks to try to figure out their name without asking them directly:
- Hand over your phone and ask them to input their info into your contacts.
- Ask if you’re following them on Twitter/Instagram/etc. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a name.
- Dig through Facebook. Chances are, you’ve got a mutual friend, so go through their friend list to try and find them. If you met them at an event, go through that event’s page and see if they’re on there. If you have their phone number, search for it. If they put their phone number on Facebook it will pull up their profile.
- If you’re at a party or event with other people you know, have a friend introduce themselves under the assumption your date will do the same.
- Complain about your student ID or drivers licence and show it off. Chances are they will do the same.
Of course, you can always just be honest and admit you have no idea what their name is, but don’t expect another date unless that person’s incredibly kind.
You Bump Into an Ex
Depending on the relationship, bumping into an ex is awkward enough as it is. Doing so when you’re on a date makes that situation even worse.
The trick here is to keep your cool. Don’t try to hide, don’t pretend you don’t know them. Say hello, introduce your date, and move on. Keep the encounter as brief as humanly possible (this is key), but keep it friendly. Ending the conversation is always a bit awkward as well, but if you’re struggling, just point out that you’re on your way somewhere and you’re running late. While it’s pretty self-explanatory, The Huffington Post adds that you shouldn’t talk about the past, even if it might make sense in the context (for example, if you’re at their favourite restaurant, bar or whatever).
If you’re lucky, the conversation ends there, with your date none the wiser. If your date asks about your ex, be honest and tell them you used to date. You don’t need to dig into the whole story (in fact, you really shouldn’t), but since there’s always a chance you’ll run into them again, it’s best to stick to the truth.
Your Kiss Is Rejected
So, you’re on a first or second date (or whatever) and things are going pretty well. So well, in fact, that you decide to lean in for that first kiss. But, much to your surprise, your date turns their head, shooing you away. Now you’re just sitting there, an awkward smile on your face, wishing the world would swallow you up into a hole. Do you backpedal? Pretend you were going to reach for something behind them? Throw a temper tantrum? Ask them “why not?”
Don’t do any of those things.
If you act like an idiot, you’re not only closing off any future potential in that relationship, you’re also going to come off as desperate. Instead, act like a grown up and accept it. The rejection doesn’t mean they don’t like you. As our friend Dr Nerdlove points out, it’s best to take a step back, apologise (say something like, “Sorry, I guess I read the wrong signals”) and move on.
As with any rejection, it’s also a prime time for learning. Once you’ve parted ways, mentally go through the date again to see where you might have misread some signals. What was their body language like? Was there any touching? Did they perform the “triangle gaze” (looking from one eye to another, then down to your lips)? Chances are, you misread something. That’s OK, it happens to everyone. The best way to prevent it from happening again is to learn the signs for when someone does want that kiss. If they’re getting closer to you as the date goes on, touching you, or paying close attention to their mouth (or yours), then a kiss is probably a safe bet.