This Is What You Can Get Out Of A BAD Date

Even a bad date can have a silver lining to it.


Believe you me, I've had my share of dates that were, let's just say, less than impressive. But I always try my best to give credit where credit's due and when it comes to what inspired this lil' write-up, it was an article that I happened upon entitled "29 Women Reveal Their Absolute Worst First Date Stories".

MAN. One woman said she went on a first date with a guy who gave her a heads up that $10 was her limit on the menu. Another woman said that her date brought a friend who was 1) dressed up like Michael Jackson and 2) decided to do a concert for people as they waited in the ER (right…the date ended in the emergency room). Another woman said that she experienced one of the worst kisses ever while trying to tell her date about her mom being in the hospital (awk-ward). Still, another woman talked about how a dude spent the entire date reminiscing about his exes—how he lived with all of them and when they broke up, he had to go back to live with his mom. Then he proceeded to ask her about the size of her own place (SMH…this guy).


But the one that probably inspired this piece the most is the lady who went out with a guy who stole gas (she knew because he pulled up to her house with the hose still attached to his car's tank). Yeah, that sucks but, guess what? She's been married to him for 22 years now (just wow)!

Although dating—let alone marrying—someone who does a criminal act is a bit of a red flag for me personally, it does co-sign on something I do personally believe. No matter how much a date sucks, that doesn't mean that it can't come with its own silver lining or two.

Before you roll your eyes and click off of this, give me about five minutes (give or take) to explain where I'm coming from. Then think back on some of your own bad dates and see if you can pull some actual benefits out of them. Perhaps ones like the following:

You Can Figure Out What “a Date” Is to You


Personally, I don't get down with that whole, "If you don't have any expectations, you won't be disappointed" mentality. I say that because the people I know who claim to live like that are actually some of the most jaded and cynical people I've ever encountered. At the same time, I do think that a lot of us find ourselves unnecessarily disillusioned because we assume that just because we think that something should go a certain way that everyone else has the same mentality.

Absolutely not. Recently, I watched a video of Savannah Chrisley talking about how chivalrous her new fiancé was to the point that, on her first date, he called her dad, Todd to say he would call him once he picked her up and again once he dropped her off. Savannah also said that she hasn't touched a door since they've met. Meanwhile, I know folks who stay in relationships with guys who've never paid for a date (at most, their guy will do Dutch) and hasn't done anything to write home to dad about.

Why do women put up with Column B? I think a part of the reason is they don't really think about what a date means to them—what standards they have. For instance, do you want to be picked up? Do you want him to plan the date himself? Do you always want him to pay?

A good thing that can come from going on bad dates is it can give you clarity on what you expect, moving forward. Like, if you want a man to go through the effort to plan the date and the next guy asks you out and says, "I dunno. What do you want to do?" -- you can already decide if he's worth two hours on a Saturday night. Or not. If you want chivalry to be in full effect but the guy doesn't open a single door, maybe there doesn't need to be a second date.

You’ll Learn How to Sense Red Flags Quicker


They say that hindsight is 20/20, but just think about all of the time, effort and energy (not to mention all of the blood, sweat and tears) that could be spared if we learned how to recognize red flags in someone out the gate.

Some first date red flags—a man who shows up late (he doesn't value your time); a man who flirts with your server (he's disrespectful); a man who orders for you (unless he already knows what you like, he's too pushy); a man who checks his phone (he's flippant and distracted); a man who brings up sex too quickly (ugh…just ugh) and a man who's all talk and no listen (he's confrontational and probably a know- it-all).

Some after the first date red flags—he's an exaggerator (that's a step away from being a liar); he never really makes plans in advance (again, he doesn't value you as much as he should); he doesn't make good on his promises (he can't fully be trusted); he always makes the date/relationship decisions (he's inconsiderate and selfish) and you're doing most of the work to make the relationship work (he isn't all in).

If you experience any of these things on your date, it's uncomfortable and unfortunate, there's no doubt about that. But sometimes, seeing these kinds of flags spelled out in black and white can help you to realize how to detect them quicker…just in time for the next date, with the next man.

It Has a Way of Making You a Better Communicator


Sometimes dates are a dud, not because the guy isn't attractive or a gentleman; it's just that there doesn't seem to be much of a connection. Sometimes, that's because something within the communication is a bit off.

If you were to be honest with yourself, that might not have been all on him. It can be challenging to strike up conversations with someone that you barely know. If you totally feel where I'm coming from, it can't hurt to think about what you would do differently, communication-wise, on your next date. What would you like to know? What kind of questions would you ask? How would you approach awkward moments of radio silence?

Although it would be nice if all dates flowed seamlessly, this is not a rom-com, it's the real world. Sometimes there needs to be a plan of action, even as it relates to communication.

It Can Boost Your Confidence Levels


There are the kind of dates that, even as you're on them, you end up telling yourself that you probably won't go on a second one. Not because anything is wrong per se; it's more like something doesn't feel quite right. Then there are the kind of dates that makes you get up to call a ride before dessert is even served. Either the guy is rude to the rest of the staff or the stuff he says (or asks) you is totally inappropriate.

Column A sucks but Column B is much worse. There still is an upside, though. When a bad date happens and you decide that you deserve more (column A) or better (column B) and you make a conscious decision to not go on another date (column A) or continue the one that you're currently on (column B), the boundaries that you set can be super self-affirming. It can remind you to not settle for less, even when it comes to a two-hour outing.

It Can Also Make You More Empathetic and Compassionate


Suppose your date was a set up and 20 minutes into it, you think to yourself, "Yeeeeah, this isn't gonna work." Maybe you're not physically attracted to him. Maybe you don't feel a spark or any real chemistry. Maybe he's already said or did something that has automatically made you want to friend zone him. Before you text one of your girlfriends to call you so that you can cut your date short, now is the time to implement the Golden Rule. How would you feel if he abruptly left you in the middle of the date because there was no romantic connection?

Another good thing that can come out of a bad date is it can test your level of empathy (putting yourself in someone else's shoes) and compassion (wanting to relieve the suffering that someone may be experiencing). If you put these two things into practice, it will only benefit you in the long run because even when you do meet "the one", you're going to need to extend empathy and compassion to him in order for the relationship to go the distance. (Just ask any married person that you know.)

You Will Get a Better Sense of What You Want


One of my favorite dates of all-time consisted of going zip-lining in the morning and a four-star dinner in the evening. Everything was a total surprise. At the end of the all-day-date, I asked the guy how he came up with the idea. He said he wanted us to both do something we'd never done before together and, because some of our best memories consisted of being around food, he then wanted us to enjoy a new high-scale restaurant. The proactiveness, the thoughtfulness and the reasoning behind it all caused me to raise the bar of expectations when it comes to dates moving forward. No longer do I just want dinner and a movie, simply because I now know, firsthand, that men can be a lot more creative than that—when they want to be.

So, when another guy thought bringing fast food over to my house to watch On-Demand was the idea of a first date, his visit got cut short. His lack of investing into the date was like…a forecast into what our future would be like.

So yeah, to me, another benefit that can come from a sucky date is it can provide you with clarity regarding what you want from dates (and relationships), moving forward. #givethanks

It Can Make YOU a Better Date


Something that I think far too many of us overlook is, whether a date is good or bad, it can be a teachable moment. It can reveal to you what your expectations and triggers are. It can show you how good (or not so good) you are at engaging another individual. It can help you to discover the strengths that you have in dealing with others, along with your weaknesses.

Keeping all this in mind, if you take nothing else from this lil' write up, at least be willing to use your bad date experiences as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. If you do that—and I mean really do that—you significantly increase your chances of heading bad dates off before they even begin. Guaranteed.

Featured image by Getty Images

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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