Jameela Jamil Wants You To Start Leaving Bad Dates Early
“We should cut our losses, and f*cking go home.”
Every person has wished they could ditch a bad date as soon as it started, but actually doing it is a rarity. Instead, most stick it out — despite the red flags, awkward small talk, and split bills for artichoke dip that you didn’t even want to order in the first place. Jameela Jamil, comedian, actor, and activist, has a problem with that. “I want to create a Bad Dates Bell that everyone could take on dates and ring when things get bad to say, ‘Nope. Time's up. I'm tapping out,’” Jamil tells Elite Daily. “I think that's one of the things I'm most fascinated about: What is stopping us from ringing that bell?”
Jamil’s new podcast Bad Dates, which drops new episodes every Monday, invites comedians and listeners to share their cringiest, most ridiculous dating stories. Jamil shares a few of her own, too, though she’s been in a relationship with English musician James Blake for almost a decade. “The show’s about what we're willing to tolerate in the pursuit of love and sex,” the 37-year-old says. That doesn’t mean the podcast is all doom and gloom, though. It’s more of the opposite. “We want it to feel like you are listening in on your friends’ conversation,” she says. “It has to feel like you're all getting sh*tfaced at a bar, just with a microphone nearby.” The stories range from third-date suppositories to boiling-hot red wine. “It's a free-for-all.”
Here, Jamil shares her best advice for handling bad dates — plus, why she thinks obsessive passion is overrated.
Elite Daily: On the podcast, you talk about bad date stories being a point of connection and a way to bond. Why do you think that is?
Jameela Jamil: There's just something so democratic about bad dates. It doesn't matter how hot or cool or funny or rich you are, you're never exempt from a truly sh*tty date. It’s the great equalizer. We've all been there, and there's something about dating that opens you up to a vulnerability that leads to the most obscene events. People really let their freak flag fly on a date. It makes for the most relatable, human stories.
ED: What’s the best go-to move if you find yourself on a bad date?
JJ: I think you should leave. I don't understand why we stay on terrible dates. We should cut our losses, and f*cking go home. Tell them the truth, that there just isn't that spark. It's not personal. Then, leave, buy yourself some dinner, and call your friends.
ED: Based on the stories you’re hearing in interviews, what do you think makes a bad date bad most often?
JJ: There's no one way to sum it up, but it's harder to sense chemistry when you haven’t met someone in person first. Over the internet, it’s really difficult to tell who you're going to be compatible with. I mean, I help my friends write their messages on dating apps. So, who's helping the person you're texting? That’s what has led to a lot of chaos: the fact that we are meeting these people from a menu of tits and cock.
ED: Obviously, personal stories come up in the show. How do you decide what to share on the podcast versus what to keep private?
JJ: I'm an open book; that's my problem. I have surprised myself with what I have been willing to share about my romantic and sex life on this podcast. But once someone starts sharing, the floodgates open and everyone starts telling stories that they've buried.
ED: Do you ever catch yourself starting to tell a story and then realizing you probably should have kept it private?
JJ: Yes, I’m constantly imagining my boyfriend's horrified face.
ED: Feeling burnt out after a bad date — whether you leave early or stick it out — is pretty standard. What’s the best way to stay optimistic when dating?
JJ: Laughing through the pain is the best thing for your mental and physical health — looking at everything in life as an opportunity for a funny story.
I also think we need to stop putting so much f*cking pressure on people to be in a relationship. I loved being single. Being completely untethered is amazing. It's only that being with my boyfriend somehow managed to top that.
ED: That’s a great way of looking at things. Do you have any other pieces of dating advice?
JJ: One of my good friends, Brett Goldstein, told me this: When you feel so much excitement, like you're just going to starve yourself and die naked in a field with someone because you're so obsessed with them, that’s a bad sign. It's a sign of fight or flight. Instead, you want to find someone who makes you feel comfortable and mildly excited — not that feeling where there's a thin line between passion and terror that you're going to lose them.
Music and film have taught us that "passion” is so extreme, chaotic, and stressful. That’s not actually true. The older you get, the more you realize you just want to be with someone who makes you feel as calm and authentic as possible.
ED: That mindset sounds a lot like the saying, “You should be with your best friend.” Do you believe that?
JJ: You have to be with your best friend because life is f*cking impossible. If you're going to spend all your f*cking time together, buy a house together, and maybe make a child together, it is vital that that person is your best friend. You have to be allies.
James [Blake] and I have been together for nine years. He's my best friend above all else. You have to be with someone that makes you feel the safest and happiest when they're in the room.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.