6 Most Awkward First Date Scenarios & Exactly How To Handle Each One Like A Boss

by Annie Foskett

I have a confession: I kind of like going on first dates. I know that's a bit masochistic, but I’m just an extrovert who likes drinking and meeting new people. Put me at a bar alone, and I’ll make weird eye contact until the bartender strikes up conversation with me. I love an airport bar, because it’s a place where everyone is particularly chatty. That said, the awkward first date is unavoidable. I would even consider it a rite of passage for anyone who dates frequently.

It’s one thing to randomly talk to a stranger at a bar, but it’s another thing to make plans to meet up with a stranger to decide if you both want to get in each others pants (or families). Despite my semi-fondness for first dates, I’ve had plenty of awkward ones. For example: the time I picked a scab on my wrist and was suddenly bleeding on my drink, my sweater sleeve, and eventually, my date. (This is why I like going to bars alone!) I’ve gotten a bloody nose mid-kiss on a date. (Yes, another embarrassing blood-related snafu.) I’ve also choked a little bit on a piece of popcorn on a date — luckily I survived sans Heimlich.

I also co-host a podcast, 51 First Dates, where our listeners send in their worst first dates. In these submissions, dogs have died, racists have been exposed, and bodies have unexpectedly released substances grosser than blood. When dates go terribly awry, there are a few things I wish I had: Floo Powder and a fireplace in order to make a speedy-yet-dramatic exit, OR a pre-imagined plan of attack on what to do. I broke down six common first-date woes and a three-step process for how to tackle each one:

Your Date Has Something In Their Teeth

Or on their face. Or in their hair. Admittedly, if your date has something anywhere but their teeth, this becomes a one-step process. Just tell them, "Ooh, you have a snowflake in your hair!” How cute.

But somehow, when your date has something stuck in their teeth saying something feels much more invasive. You could ignore the hunk of broccoli in the room (mouth), but when your date discovers it later, they'll know you left them hanging. Here is my proposal for the least awkward way to deal with a UFO — Unidentified Fixed Object — in your date’s teeth:

1. Do a little gesture where you make it extra obvious that you’re checking your teeth for UFOs.

2. If they don’t get the hint, try a running your napkin over your teeth a bit more aggressively, before excusing yourself to go to the bathroom to give them a chance to deal with the UFO on their own.

3. Just tell them! You can say it sweetly. Try, “You have a little something in your teeth, I feel so silly telling you, but I was thinking I’d want to know!” It will be weird, but it will be kind.

You Don’t Recognize Your Date

Once on a first date, I thought I was meeting someone other than my date because I got two unsaved numbers mixed up in my phone. *Cringes forever.* I've never felt more like a f*ckgirl. Luckily, I was the first one there, so my date found me. (I later told him this story and he thought it was hilarious.) If you’re showing up second to a date, and you can’t find your potential bae, here’s what you should do:

1. You cross your fingers that you are not being catfished or scammed, and then text them, "Are you here yet?”

2. You continue parading yourself up and down the bar, scouting for a person who is also looking up from their phones like a lost puppy.

3. When you still can’t find your date, you sit down at the bar and text, “I’m at the bar.” Let your date come to you.

Your Date Shows Up Super Late

Showing up to a date is a vulnerable moment. You’re not sure what the person you're meeting will be like, you’re not sure if you’ll have a nice time, and you’re not even sure if the person will show up. When I walk into a location for a first date, I can almost feel all of the other patrons' eyes on me as if to say “Aw, she’s waiting for a first date…”

Guess what? That's all in my head. No one is paying attention to you at the bar, so try to treat showing up first to a date as though you just showed up first to meet a friend:

1. Set yourself up comfortably at the bar — then you can chat with strangers! Remind yourself that someone being late has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.

2. Text your date to check in, but also text all of your friends and read all of the articles on your phone if you feel weird about sitting at a bar alone (YOU SHOULDN’T!). Pro tip: If it’s been over five minutes, order a drink and chat up the bartender.

3. Try to gauge how apologetic your date is when they arrive — being late is definitely a turnoff, but it shouldn’t be a total deal breaker. Hopefully their cab got a flat tire.

4. Your Date Gets Super Drunk

Of the worst first dates that are submitted to the podcast I co-host, someone getting too drunk is probably the most common culprit of bad dates. To be clear: I love getting buzzed. I love the idea of a buzz on a first date to loosen everybody up. I am also cool with getting drunk.

However, I do not love the idea of being very drunk on a first date. Some people get nervous about first dates, and they go a little overboard on the booze. Here’s how you deal with an inebriated date:

1. Safety first: how drunk is your date? If you get the sense that you're in an unsafe situation, leave.

2. Order whatever you want as a first drink, just not shots. Try a beer or a martini first instead of throwing back tequila shots.

3. Finally, make up an excuse for why you have to leave after one drink. If there's chemistry, you can always try again (when they’re less hammered).

Your Date Goes In For An Unwanted Kiss

OK, this is just a single step process: if your date kisses you and you don't feel like kissing them back — duck out of it! After going on 22 dates out of the 51 I committed to, I have been surprised at how easily I will peck someone I don’t really feel like kissing just because they are leaning in at the end of the date.

No, Kimmy, no! THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT KIND OF NICE TO BE! If you don’t want to kiss someone, give them your cheek. You don't owe your date anything.

Your Date Likes Saying Offensive Things

We're all offended by different things, so you’ll have to use your judgment on this one. If your date sincerely believes Superbad is groundbreaking cinema, you can stay for a drink and see how things go without compromising your morals. But if your date is outwardly racist or sexist and you're not down with it, here's what you do:

1. Call your date out: “You’re being racist and I’d like to leave.”

2. Put some cash down on the table to cover your drink.

3. GTFO of there and treat yourself to an ice cream cone, you American hero.