Look, we've all been there. We go on a date with someone we fancy, end up having a great conversation, and believe everything is going perfectly. Then, all of a sudden, something awkward happens and your too-good-to-be-true date comes to a halt.
Truth be told, awkward dating moments happen all the time, from burping loudly to accidentally saying "I love you" on the first date. But why do awkward dates happen so often in the first place? According to clinical psychologist Dr. Kim Chronister, one of the main reasons they occur is because you may not be truly present when you're on the date.
"This can make people talk at a rapid rate and say things without thinking it through. People get so caught up with wondering what the other thinks of them (and being distracted about what is going to happen next) that they forget to be right there with the other person mindfully," she tells HelloGiggles. "This creates either a self-consciousness or an unfortunate distraction that could be prevented."
The good news is, Dr. Chronister says you can use awkward situations as an opportunity for bonding. "Showing lightheartedness and non-judgment for both yourself and them can make you much more liked," she explains. And if your date is the one who experienced the awkward moment, she says to comfort them with a warm smile and ask them meaningful questions right after to make the awkwardness working in your favor.
Unfortunately, though, some embarrassing awkward moments trump others, so to learn how to make a date less awkward, we connected with a few experts.
How to make a date less awkward:
Dr. Chronister suggests reminding yourself that awkward moments are bound to happen, especially in the first few encounters with a person. "You are learning about each other and it is normal," she says. "If you are caught in an awkward moment, take a deep belly breath and get back to being curious about who they are and what makes them mentally stimulated and excited about life."
While this is a good general tip that everyone should keep in mind, what about those god-awful moments that make you want to curl into a ball and hide forever? Well, etiquette and culture expert Sharon Schweitzer provides some suggestions for you to use below, based on some of the most common awkward dating moments.
Jealous fur ball
Listen, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still in motion, it can be really tough to have some private time to go on a few virtual dates. How exactly are you supposed to connect with someone when your mom could be listening in or if your puppy keeps on wanting to make an appearance?
If "your dog or cat keeps making unwanted cameos during a virtual date, you plan ahead by filling their Kong with peanut butter and treats to keep them occupied in the other room," Schweitzer advises.
But what if the clawing or barking starts later in the call?
Solution: "At this point, all you can do is embrace the situation and show the pet some love," says Schweitzer. "If your date gets annoyed, maybe they aren't a good match for you. Fido just did you a favor."
"During a romantic virtual date, your roommate keeps interrupting like Kramer from Seinfeld," says Schweitzer, as an example.
Solution: "In this situation, excuse yourself for a moment, place your mic and camera on mute, and have a quick conversation with your 'Kramer,' politely asking for privacy."
"At the end of a respectful socially distanced in-person date, they lean in to kiss you," Schweitzer says. "During, or after a pandemic, this can be an awkward situation."
Solution: Stay true to yourself and your boundaries. Smile, and say you appreciate the offer—however, you're playing it safe during the pandemic, and tell them you had a wonderful time."
"You bring your dog on an outdoor date as a surprise, he/she is unexpectedly overprotective, and it's a disaster!" Schweitzer imagines.
Solution: "First, decide if you wish to continue the date. If so, apologize, then if you live close by, offer to quickly take your pup home before continuing the date. If that isn't an option, thank the date for their time and end it there, or reschedule."
Overdressed faux pas
"Your date surprises you with an outdoor plan, and you're expecting a dinner, museum, or coffee shop," says Schweitzer. "Wanting to look your best, you show up in a dress and heels only to discover that they planned a hike."
Solution: "In this scenario, politely decline, ask for a trek reschedule, and find a nice place outdoors for coffee or drinks. Next time, stow tennis shoes in your bag."
"After a few incredible virtual dates, you and your new crush decide it's time to meet in person. To your discomfort, they show up without a mask," imagines Schweitzer.
Solution: "Avoid this situation in the future by discussing and confirming mutual mask and social distancing comfort levels and expectations before the date. It also helps to have an extra disposable mask with you."
Whoops, wrong name
"Imagine being online for a Valentine's date and accidentally referring to your date by the name of your ex," says Schweitzer.
Solution: There's only one thing to do besides hope they don't go offline on you: apologize and try not to do it again."
Schweitzer gives this example: "You met Mx. Perfect on a dating site, and today is the day—you are finally meeting in person. Unfortunately, though, you show up but don't recognize the person; they look nothing like their profile picture."
Solution: The best way to avoid this scenario? Always video chat with a potential date from an online source before agreeing to meet in person. Protect yourself and your family."
Is an awkward moment considered a red flag?
While it's pretty common for awkward moments to occur, sometimes they can also indicate a red flag. One of the ways you can distinguish between a normal awkward moment and a red flag is by looking at the nuances of each situation. For instance, if someone refuses to agree to a video chat, has called you by someone else's name more than once, or never wants to meet at their place, then these are likely bad signs. "Be cautious and trust your instincts if these things raise a red flag," says Schweitzer. "As always, go with your gut. If something feels off, take the time to give it space and explore why you are feeling that way."
What if you no longer are interested because of the awkward moment?
Although all awkward moments should be handled with grace, humility, and humor, sometimes these situations can bring up uncomfortable feelings, which may mean you no longer want to date the person. If this occurs, just know that this is normal and there is nothing wrong with you for wanting to bounce. Secondly, Schweitzer suggests to "communicate authentically and in your own words tell them that you don't want to move forward." Below are a few examples of how you can do this.
"It's been a pleasure to meet you. However, I don't think we have chemistry. I know you will meet the right person soon. Take care."
"Thanks for your time and interest. I'm not sure that we are the right mix moving forward. I wish you all the very best."
"It was wonderful getting to know you; however, I don't see a future for the two of us, so I think it's best that we part ways now."
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that awkward moments are going to happen. And how your person chooses to handle them can determine if you want to move forward with dating them. Either way, kindness goes a long way, and as long as you're having fun and no boundaries are being crossed, then it might be worth to overcome the situation and go on another date.