Pop culture generally offers two resolutions for bad dates: the ditch or the duck. But is it the best way? Picture: Pexels

The experts don't recommend leaving a first date after 20 minutes.

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Dating coaches want you to be open to whatever a first date has to offer. That might be a romantic connection, or a platonic or professional one. Maybe you'll never see or speak to this person again, but even a bad date can teach you something - about yourself, about how to find common ground with a stranger, about the possibility of attraction or admiration blooming over time.

So, no. The love experts don't suggest that you peace out early.

But even they admit that they've done it before.

On Francesca Hogi's shortest first date, she left before she'd finished her latte. With online dating, those first meetups are more of a pre-date than an actual date. A cup of coffee or a drink to just decide: Is this somebody I could actually go on a first date with?

So once Hogi knew the answer was no, she told him: It was really nice meeting you. I can tell that we're not a match. I don't want to waste your time, or my time. So I think it's best that we said goodbye and went our separate ways.

Pop culture generally offers two resolutions for bad dates like the one Hogi found herself on. The ditch: Excuse yourself to the restroom and then slink out the back without saying goodbye. Or the duck: Fake a phone call from a friend who's in need of help.

Those might make for laughs on screen, but in real life, neither is very honest.

"I'm really big on not making excuses for leaving," says Laurie Davis, founder of the Worthy One, which offers relationship coaching for women. Don't say: "I have an early meeting; I should get going. But actually just speaking your truth," Davis says, even if your truth sounds like: "You know what, I'm going to get home."

If someone is being disrespectful or offensive, or makes you feel unsafe, don't feel bad about skipping out early. And if you think a date might not go well, better to go in with a hard out, Hogi says - like dinner with friends - than to make one up on the fly.


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