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Feb. 7, 2022

Bad First Dates

Bad First Dates

How bad was your worst first date? Whatever it was, we can almost guarantee these stories are far worse.

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How bad was your worst first date? Whatever it was, we can almost guarantee these stories are far worse.


Eleanor: Have you been on any particularly bad dates lately?

Hiwote: I can't say that I've been on any of the kinds of dates that you're going to hear in a moment, but the worst date, this was not recently, but the worst date was like a year ago and I had a couple of drinks with this guy. It was fine. Didn't really intend to see him again. And when I got home, I had a dick pic from him.

Eleanor: No. Oh God. Why do men do this? I don't understand men. Gentlemen, no.

Hiwote: It's never a good look. 

Eleanor: This is Dating. I'm Eleanor Kagan. And I'm going to tell you right now that I am really not a Valentine's Day person, even though I am deeply very much inside, like a huge cornball. I really do not like having that corniness externalized against my will. 

Hiwote: Okay, Eleanor, I really feel like you might be overthinking this.

Eleanor: Fine, Hiwote, fine, but it's like everything right now is so love focused. And I feel like for those of you listening, who maybe haven't been on a date in a while, it can be just like painful. I feel like this holiday is made literally just to troll people. 

Hiwote: I mean, you're not wrong. This really does feel like the time of year where everyone is obsessed with romance. But I mean, my approach has basically been to give dating another shot and re-download my apps, tentatively, very, very tentatively. 

Eleanor: Okay. So this is exactly why I want to talk about bad dates because bad dates make for good stories, just later on. And that's what I want to hear. So we asked a bunch of people to submit stories about their worst dates and oh my God, y'all delivered. Let's hear these stories. 

Bad Date #1: My strangest date by far was with a girl who spent more time searching for her lost credit cards and cell phone than she did with me yet, she still managed to find the time to do Coke and make out with other girls in the bathroom at the club. 

Bad Date #2: I went on an OkCupid date with a girl who showed up drunk. Afterwards, she asked me to walk her, and on the walk, she told me that she wouldn't be having sex with me that night—a thing I did not ask her for—because she didn't believe in abortion. And if the birth control failed, she wanted to be okay with that person being the father of her child. And she wasn't okay with that.

Bad Date #3: I waited for probably 30 minutes on a random street corner, which during this time some other woman, literally honk honked my boobs as she walked by. 

Bad Date #4: And about 10 minutes into the date, he looks at me and says, you know, the earth is flat, right?

Bad Date #5: I'm trying to enjoy a very good daiquiri while she notes that she's a lawyer works for the UN anyways, Vladimir Putin isn't really such a bad guy. 

Bad Date #6: I had just moved to New York, making maybe bad decisions. And he was like this like white rapper.

Bad Date #7: And he went on to tell me on our first date that the reason she had cheated on him was because he wouldn't go down on her. So naturally there was not a second date, but several months later, I was one of many recipients of a group text about how all of us bitches would be sorry, when he became rich and famous. 

Bad Date #8: I babysat this woman's child for about 20 minutes while she was outside getting high with her husband. 

Bad Date #9: And he just behaved really badly. I endured it, but decided at the end that I didn't want to see him again. Of course, I didn't tell him because that's not what you do when you're in your twenties. You just ghost people. And then he got quite obsessive and would sort of text and call all the time. And I was incredibly overwhelmed by all of this, so my friends and I devised a plan to tell him I was dead. Seven years later, I bumped into him in the street and yes, he very much did look like he had seen a ghost.

Hiwote: I love bad date stories because it feels like such a healthy way of coping with the disappointment of dating. 

Eleanor: I know. I know. So, you know, when we were talking about doing an episode about the worst first dates people had been on and started looking for stories, naturally, I went to TikTok, which is where I hear most stories these days and oh my God, y'all have been on some very weird and very bad first dates. But there was one in particular that I was thinking about four days after I saw it. And it's this. 

Elyse Meyers: What's the worst, first date I've ever been on? I'm so glad you asked. I'm gonna tell you right now. Before I met my smoke show of a husband, I was on dating apps as you do. This man messages me out of the blue and he goes, I like your face, let's go get some food. I love food. Are you my soulmate? 

Eleanor: This is Elyse Meyers. And immediately after watching this TikTok, I had to call her up. So Elyse said this all happened 10 years ago when she was just out of high school. And basically this guy asks her to meet him at his house. So she drives for 45 minutes. And then when she gets there, he says, he's lost his car keys and can Elyse drive them to the restaurant. 

Elyse Meyers: And I just kept saying, where are we going? And he just kept giving turn by turn directions. And I was like, okay. So he's like, just take a right uphere. And I, I was like, surely he's not saying like, take a right in this parking lot. And I was like, at the next street? He was like, no, like right here. And I was like at taco bell? He's like, yeah, yeah. 

Eleanor: So she turns into taco bell and he tells her to go through the drive-through and when Elyse pulls up... 

Elyse Meyers: He like leans over me and he's like, I just want 100 hard shell tacos. And I'm like, no, that's that cannot be right. And at that point, I had no frame of reference for how much food that actually was. 

Eleanor: At this point, Elyse is just sort of rolling with it all. 

Elyse Meyers: He's like, do you want anything? After he already ordered for us. And I was like, I'm good. I think that the hundred tacos will cover it, thanks. And so we get to the window to pay and he just starts like patting down his like, body, like to look for his wallet. And I was like, did you forget your wallet? He He's like, yeah. And I was like, do you need me to pay? He's like, yeah, 

Eleanor: Elyse said it ended up being 150 bucks, which was the money that she'd set aside for all of her groceries that week. But anyway, she pays and they load up a hundred hard shell tacos into her car. And then the guy tells her let's go to my house. 

Elyse Meyers: And I was like, okay. And I am still holding out hope that he's got this like beautiful thing set up in his backyard. Oh, my gosh. I'm like just dying, thinking about it. 

Eleanor: They walk in and the guy's dad is sitting there on the couch.

Elyse Meyers: And I'm like, this is not, this is a roommate. This can't be his dad. And he's like, oh, say hi to my dad, meet my dad. And I'm like, no, you should have said it was a roommate. If there's any time to lie to me, it is right now, please. For the love of everything, just lie to me. I'm like, okay. He lives with his dad. It's fine. Where else would I eat tacos with a stranger from the internet, with his father in the next room? So we didn't empty all the tacos. There was like probably five big bags and five boxes of tacos. Cause there's so many. And he just like starts releasing like two or three boxes of these tacos onto the table. They're like overflowing. And he just screams let's feast at the top of his lungs. And I'm like, this has gotta be some sort of like ritual that he is taking a part in right now. This, I do not, this is not gonna end well for me. Well, I bought all these tacos. I am for sure going to eat at least one of them because I'm starving. So I'm like slowly unwrapping my food. He's eating and like crunching so loudly. It's absolute chaos. The dad walks in. And the dad like looks at all our food and he's like, doesn't even ask, just grabs a taco and stands at the table, doesn't sit, doesn't address me. His son just starts unwrapping a taco and like eating it and lettuce is falling onto the table in front of me. And it was the way that him and his dad, like looked at each other. And the dad looked at me and was like, do you want to go see my studio? And I was like, no, they have definitely done this before. This is like... the fact that he wasn't like weirded out that his dad joined his date. I was like, no, this is no. So I just started collecting all the tacos and I was like, thank you so much for your time. Like a job interview. Like you'll never, you'll, won't be hearing from me. It's been great, but goodbye. And I like walk out that was, that was that date..

Hiwote: Oh my God, Eleanor, that is easily the worst first date I have ever heard. 

Eleanor: I think one reason that I can't stop thinking about it is because I too have totally been on dates where things felt off, but I just stayed and it's like why? To be polite? And then why do I have to worry about being polite when there are just so many red flags?

Hiwote: I know, sadly, it's totally relatable. Plus, can I just observe that a lot of these bad dates are women going on dates with men? 

Eleanor: Oh, yeah, that was not lost on me either. And you know, a lot of these stories are really funny in retrospect, like in the way that somebody tells it, but there is this undeniable like undercurrent of women fearing for their safety. And this is something that actually came up when I talked to Elyse. You know, her story about Taco Bell is hilarious because she's hilarious. But when we get a little bit deeper, the story's scary. 

Elyse Meyers: Oh, yeah. I mean, I had a panic attack, like on the way on the drive back, like genuinely, like, it is funny, but it also is so scary when I watched the dad and his son look at each other. That was like one of the most like bone chilling moments of my whole life, because it was like, they knew exactly what they were looking at each other for. And that's when I was like, I'm going to leave now. So like the adrenaline was pumping through my body and when I got into my car, I had to drive 45 minutes back home and I was like having a literal panic attack, in my car smelling like tacos, thinking like I can't ever tell anyone this happened because one it's embarrassing, but two, like it's embarrassing.

Eleanor: Keep in mind, Elyse still a teenager at this point and this story happened a decade ago. And now she's obviously told the story to millions of people. 

Hiwote: It took a lot of red flags for her to realize that this bad date could have been way worse. 

Eleanor: Yeah. But it's understandable when you're that young, you know? And when you haven't dated a lot, you are just going along with it because you're like, oh, this maybe this is normal, even though my gut is telling me otherwise. So there's a lot to be said for what dating a lot, and having more experience gets you. 

Hiwote: Yeah. My friend, Liz actually is someone I'd consider a really good dater because she's just gone on lots and lots of dates. 

Liz: Probably over 200 dates. That sounds insane. But I kept going because there's always like the potential and there was always, it was always an adventure for me. And if you go on so many dates, you get to a point where it doesn't, it's not very stressful, right? Like you're like, oh, I'm going to go spend an hour with somebody and have a coffee.

Hiwote: Would it surprise you that Liz has her own wild, bad date story? 

Eleanor: After 200 dates, I would assume she has at least one. So yes, I need to hear this. 

Liz: So I went on a tea date and I walked in and there's this super handsome man. He was like piercing eyes. And we sit down and he tells me he's a war photographer, which is a completely fascinating job. He tells me about being all over the world, 20 years of war photography, Syria, takes off his jacket. He's got these scars, shrapnel wounds. Whoa, amazing. I'm asking him every question you can imagine, we're getting into it. He's telling me about his PTSD because of the war, et cetera, et cetera. And then the date ends.

Hiwote: So Liz leaves and she's kind of charmed, but as she's walking home, she realizes that this guy didn't ask her a single question about herself. Plus he drinks a lot and Liz is sober. So she's like, yeah, no, no second date. And, Liz is also a writer. So a year later she publishes this essay on The Cut, that's called "Confessions of a Tinder Tourist". 

Liz: Didn't mention his name and strangely a couple of hours after this, I get a DM and it's a woman who had gone out with him more than once, who had been in a relationship with him. And he had conned her out of money. He had stolen I think a computer and she invited me to a Facebook group filled with women. That also had been in anywhere from like two dates to like seven year relationships with him. And he was a pathological liar. War photographer, no, never not at all. His portfolio online was like other people's photos, flipped, mirrored. So you couldn't reverse image search them or something. There was a warrant out for his arrest in New York. I ended up talking to a police detective, even though I knew nothing. I just gave the phone number that I had. And so, in a way, it was like a very unexciting date, but a year later it became very exciting.

Hiwote: Eleanor, there is a group of women that hate this man enough to create a Facebook group for him. 

Eleanor: What the actual fuck. 

Hiwote: This is like the dating horror story. 

Eleanor: I cannot, oh my God. I'm speechless. I am speechless. But okay, the thing that I found really interesting about the story, like aside from the arrest warrant and the lies in the Facebook group army is like, if we focus on the date itself, you know, the actual thing that happened. He didn't ask her any questions about herself that happens on hundreds of mediocre dates. And what's cool is that Liz noticed that, and instead of making an excuse for him, she was like, that's a deal breaker, early. Done. And I feel like you don't do that unless you've had enough experiences to realize that's a sign that you're not a match.

Hiwote: Yeah. The lies and the arrest warrant were just extra bonus red flags in this particular instance. 

Eleanor: Totally. Totally. So it all just keeps coming back to Liz, knowing what she wants, right? And I kind of feel like that's really what we're trying to do on this show. Trying to create an environment where we prep people with the help of a dating coach and an understanding of what they're actually looking for. So even though Liz and Elyse are both now in these long-term loving relationships, that is not necessarily the goal of this show. 

Hiwote: Exactly it took going on so many dates for Liz to learn that. 

Liz: The other thing about going on 200 dates is you become skilled at knowing yourself, and at sort of like reading your own feelings.

Hiwote: So when she went out with the guy she's now in a relationship with, she says, she just kind of knew. 

Liz: Like 10 minutes into my day with him, I had this little voice come into to my head and it said, this is the man you're going to marry. It was really weird to have that voice because I'm not that girl, like I'm never going on dates being like, oh, this is it. That was never a voice that I had. Turns out, pretty sure that's right.

Eleanor: All right, Hiwote, what have we learned here today? 

Hiwote: Okay. So go out with all kinds of people and some of the dates will be weird or bad, but that's not necessarily the end of the story. 

Eleanor: Right. I think the second thing is trust your gut and your intuition. And going on dates helps build that confidence in yourself. But of course please prioritize your safety. If you want to end a date before it's technically over, you can end it. You're allowed to. And you don't owe the other person an explanation. 

Hiwote: And finally, not every date that's bad, stays bad. Like this one last voicemail I'm going to play you. 

Bad Date?: So I had just moved to a new city and I met this guy who offered to show me around this city that I had never lived in before. We went on the date. And roughly 15 minutes in, we were lost and I asked him, do you actually know anything about the city? And he just said, no. And I thought about leaving, but he was so earnest and so apologetic. And just a minute of that, he just wanted to find a reason to spend time with me, that we ended up going out to dinner and having a wonderful time. And I dated him for about two years.

Eleanor: I love what we went on this whole journey. All of this comes back to trusting yourself. All right, people, I hope you have lots of dates from here on out with new people, with old people, with people you're already in relationships with. Good luck, stay safe. Let me know how it goes. And please no flat earthers, no secret Vladmir Putin lovers, and no white rappers.

Jesse: If you'd like to be set up by us on a future date, go to This is Dating is produced by Jesse Baker and Eric Nuzum at Magnificent Noise. Our production staff includes Hiwote Getaneh, Eleanor Kagan and Taylor Hansen. We also received help from Esther Perel, Courtney Hamilton, Robert Smith, Julia Natt, Julia Silbergeld, the Quarantine Love Project, Hayden Dawes, Lulu Krause, and Eva Wolchover. Original music production and sound design by Paul Schneider. Logan Ury is our consulting producer and the executive producer of This is Dating is Jesse Baker.