The Upside Of Awful Dates

This guy says nightmare dates don’t have to be for naught—if you’ve got the guts to learn from them. Here’s how to do just that.

By Myatt Murphy

nybody’s who’s been single long enough has been on at least a couple (or couple dozen) bad dates. Sure, it’s a bummer, but if you try, those horrible experiences can seriously improve the type of dates you have in the future. Here are five of the best dating lessons I ever learned from five of the worst dates of my life.

The girl: The Yes-Woman
The bad date: We met at a newsstand, reaching for the same magazine—kismet, right? We clearly had a lot in common, something that
“I learned to listen carefully to a date whose opinions differ from mine.”
was really clear on our date… maybe too clear. She agreed with everything I said, nodding manically like a bobble-head. If I liked a politician, she did too. If I hated a TV show, so did she. It was like going out on a date with myself—only twice as expensive.

That’s when I realized… It’s actually sexier to disagree a little. When a woman agrees with everything her date says, she’s either nervous, lying, trying too hard to please—or some combo of those. Whatever the case, you’re definitely not seeing the real person. Now, I always listen for some conflicting views from a date, even if I have to provoke it by saying something ridiculous, just to make sure I’m getting a feel for her true self.

The girl: The Sleep-Inducing Date
The bad date: The night was going great until the conversation started to fizzle. It seemed like she wasn’t that interested anymore, so I turned down my interest a notch so I wouldn’t seem too eager. Little by little, we both made less small talk until we were left sitting there in painful silence, waiting for someone to say “Well, I’ve gotta get up early tomorrow.” Months later, I was stunned to hear from her friend that she had liked me, but shut down because she thought I wasn’t into her.

That’s when I realized… Always bring your A-Game, even if you aren’t into her. Acting indifferent might feel like a good defense against getting hurt, but it can also end things early when there’s real potential. Now, instead of checking for a hint that things are starting to sour on a date, I act 100-percent interested. That simple attitude shift has resurrected many bad dates and given me great practice at charming the women I am into. Plus, if things don’t work out, I leave knowing it wasn’t meant to be instead of wondering if I gave the wrong impression.

The girl: Ms. Nice When Necessary
The bad date: Before we hit the movies, one date politely offered to buy me coffee first. I thought that was thoughtful of her… until I watched her cut in line and verbally manhandle the poor guy making our cappuccinos. She came back to the table all nice and innocent, while the crowd behind her was ready to attack her! The entire night, she was sweet as pie to me and absolutely awful to anyone else who dared to cross her path. Three hours later, my throat was raw from saying, “I’m sorry” to everyone she had bumped into, yelled at and blown off.

That’s when I realized… It’s how she treats others that reveals who she truly is. We’re all on our best behavior on dates, but this woman showed me I should pay attention to how she acts around others. Now I look for little things, like whether she holds the door open for people behind her or badmouths her best friends. Noticing these actions early on can keep you from being the victim of her bad manners once the romance has worn off.

The girl: The Looker
The bad date: Jackpot! I’d snagged a date with a drop-dead gorgeous B-list actress. All I
“Dating a gorgeous girl taught me not to be blinded by looks.”
could think about how amazing she looked and what people thought of me being with her. Meanwhile, all she did was treat me like crap. She talked me into taking her from expensive club to expensive club and vented about all her exes who’d dumped her. When she left the bar with some sugar daddy, I finally snapped out of my haze, $400 poorer and feeling like a used doormat.

That’s when I realized… Don’t let looks blind you. It’s easy to get distracted by beauty, but if you’re really looking for a lasting relationship, don’t spin your wheels with the wrong woman. Since that date, if I can’t come up with any reason I like a girl other than her sex appeal, I don’t fool myself into thinking she’s The One.

The girl: The Stupid Cupid
The date from hell: My friend set me up on a disastrous date. The girl was nerdy, loud and a sloppy dresser. Nothing about her appealed to me and that night I called my friend to ask, “What were you thinking?!” She dropped a bomb and replied, “I can’t believe you guys didn’t hit it off. She’s just like you!”

That’s when I realized… You can learn about yourself from who you’re set up with. If that’s how I came across as to my friends (and, presumably, to dates), no wonder I hadn’t yet landed the kind of girl I wanted. This incident motivated me to work on how I looked and acted. The trick: Listen when your friends tell you why they chose that person they set you up with—even if the answer isn’t something you want to hear. You’ll find that a little introspection can do wonders for your love life.

Fitness expert Myatt Murphy, C.S.C.S., is the author of the best-selling books, The Body You Want in the Time You Have, Ultimate Dumbbell Guide and co-author of The Men's Health Gym Bible.

For the gal’s perspective on bad dates, read The Upside Of Awful Dates.

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