We’ve all suffered through awful first dates: Maybe you have nothing in common and wrangling conversation out of the other person is like pulling teeth. Or maybe you’ve been kittenfished, and your date looks more like a distant, homely cousin of the guy you swiped on Tinder.
Is all that first-date suffering necessary? Not if you’ve employed the “one-drink bailout.” In a blog post, a British sex and lifestyle writer who goes by Girl on the Net proposes putting a very drink-specific time frame on all of your first dates. Here’s how she describes it:
You meet someone in a pub, or a coffee shop, or in the bar of a posh theatre if that’s your bag, and you both know from the outset that the date might last no longer than one drink. If the person who arrives is funny, interesting, and the sort of person you might want to spend a whole evening with, you can suggest another drink, a move to somewhere more exciting, or the mutual exchange of rings and vows. But if the date — as is so frequently the case — does not work out that way, you both get a bailout. If either of you realise that the other is not as described or unfit for purpose, you may invoke your right to terminate the date with no hard feelings, recriminations, or mutterings of “but I came all the way from [whatever city you live in], for Christ’s sake.”
Brilliant? We think so. As any single will tell you, modern dating is exhausting, and we’re all crunched for time. With the “one drink” rule ― or leaving a date after about 30 minutes ― you avoid slogging through another unnecessarily long, no-chemistry date. In the process, you’re streamlining your whole dating schedule and conserving energy for good first dates.
There’s one catch, though: To avoid getting locked into an “I’ll get this round of drinks, you get the next” scenario ― and avoid feeling beholden to your date because they’ve bought your drink ― both parties need to purchase their own drinks, Girl on the Net said.
“That way, you sidestep any of the potential political, emotional, financial issues with deciding who pays on the date,” the writer told HuffPost. “The main aim of the bailout is to make it super simple to have a quick, casual drink with someone where you can be as ‘yourself’ as possible, with as little pressure as possible. [And if] you say, ‘Actually, do you fancy having another?’ it’s a nice way to say to someone, ‘I’m up for doing more of this, how about you?’”
Maybe at this point, you’re thinking, doesn’t this whole thing seem a tad brusque and maybe even a little rude?
Sure, it could be perceived as cold, but it depends on how you broach the subject. If you’re the bold type, tell your date from the get-go that you can only do one drink, then renegotiate from there.
The sort of bad news? If the “one-drink policy” catches on, it means you, too, will inevitably hear, “Good drink! G2G!” But isn’t that better than spending another hour with a someone who’s not interested in you? (And in the age of ghosting, having someone be honest about how they feel seems downright refreshing.)
The “one drink” bailout isn’t for everyone. Years ago, Erika Ettin, a Washington, D.C.-based dating coach, toyed with the idea of a similar policy ― a sort of “lemon law” for dating like Barney Stinson proposed on “How I Met Your Mother.” Stinson’s rule was that both parties could leave within five minutes if the date was a bust.
In hindsight, Ettin wonders if putting a time frame on a date comes at a cost.
“When you already have the conclusion of the date set in your mind, it will usually impact the date itself,” she said. “If you go in thinking that if you don’t like this person, you’re going to leave quickly, then you won’t be present for the time you’re actually there, which isn’t fair to either person. You can still gain something from the interaction.”
Even if you’re against the one-drink policy, it is a good reminder that you’re never obligated to stay on a bad date. You’re not the Mother Teresa of bad first dates ― call a Lyft and hightail it if it’s awful.
Either way, you’re enjoying ― or ending ― the date on your own terms.
“As a single, I used to end up staying on dates with men who were boring or awful because I was too polite to say, ‘No, thank you,’” she said. “The ‘one-drink policy’ is more of a coping mechanism for tedious dates than anything else.”