It might be a safe assumption to say that we’re all trying to find happiness out here in this big sweaty city. Whether that happiness comes in the form of love, sex, acceptance, or extra guac is up to us, and that is the beautiful part of ~romance~.

For those of us looking for all of the above, going on dates is our burden to bear. Add dating apps, poorly lit bars, hookup culture, and general intimacy into the mix and the process can get exhausting pretty quickly.

I’ve been on a fair share of heinous dates. For example, a date once told me he liked that I was an English major because he didn’t want to have a girlfriend who made more money than him (I know). The point is, dates are bad sometimes. And just because you agreed to go on one, doesn’t mean you have to stay.

It is tragically easy to fall into the trap of swiping right on a handsome guy with a profile picture in which he strikes a nonchalant pose with his family’s adorable dog that he probably only sees twice a year when he visits his parents. His Bumble bio is a quote from Dodgeball and you’re weak in the knees. You exchange a few witty texts and agree to meet up for drinks.

But because fate is cruel and life is full of disappointment, when you meet up with your prince, it turns out he is way more fuckboy than animal lover. Maybe he makes a stupid comment about your makeup. Maybe he mansplains the micro-brewing process of his favorite IPA. Maybe he’s wearing acid wash jeans. Anyway, you need to get out of that date before any more of your patience withers away with the rest of your pride.

I’m here to help you develop an exit strategy.

Here are a few date-ditching suggestions. A few I have actually tried, and a few I think would work in the right –or I guess wrong circumstances:

Say you suddenly don’t feel well

In the same way that taking a “sick day” off of work only means you’re actually ill about 30 percent of the time, saying you are suddenly not feeling well during a bad date can be a fool proof way of saying you are definitely running away. I have used this strategy before, and not just on dates. It works at family functions, awkward house parties, the bill-splitting part of a group dinner, etc. If you say you’re not feeling well, your date isn’t super likely to question you. What kind of monster would call you out for being under the weather? To your date, “not feeling well” can either mean you have explosive diarrhea or you are leaving him in the dust, and I don’t know many people who would be willing to find out the truth. Though using the “I feel sick” excuse isn’t exactly a lie, it’s also not total honesty. But it IS a polite and valid excuse to bail on a bad date unscathed.

Have your friend send you an “emergency” text

I’m going to make and assumption and say most of us have either tried this one, or have at least talked about it. Some of us just know when we’re about to go on a potentially sketchy date, so we tell a friend to call or text half an hour in with a pre-packaged “emergency” in case we need to bail. For some reason, “Oh my god my roommate called and there’s pipe leaking in my apartment! I have to go, bye!” as you sprint out the door, is a lot easier to digest than “Look, this conversation is boring, you are wearing Chacos in February, and I just don’t really enjoy this.” If you do feel the need to justify ditching your date with a third party excuse, then this might be a good strategy for you.

Excuse yourself to the bathroom and just never come back

While this might not be the most tactful or empathetic way to exit a bad date, I will admit it probably takes some resolve and a buttload of ingenuity. If you, like me, are both irrational and impulsive, then pulling a restroom Houdini might feel like your only option when you are truly desperate to GTFO. I personally have never tried this technique, but I imagine it’s like the IRL version of ghosting someone. But instead of ignoring his texts, you are literally sneaking out of the restaurant/bar/café where you met in an effort to actively ignore his existence and the overall concept of human interaction. So, if you’re cool with being A Haunting in SoHo, then go for it… and then tell me how you did it because I want to know logistics.

Completely shut down and be ice cold the rest of the night

This is definitely my go-to. Is it mature? No. Is it effective? Not really. But is it super satisfying to make a bad date feel uncomfortable? You betcha. Unlike the bathroom bail, you wouldn’t be physically leaving your date, but you’d be using body language and one-word answers to convey that you have indeed shut down. It’s not as aggressive as straight up leaving the date, but it’s also torture to both parties because while you’re doing your best to be unpleasant, he’s either thinking of ways to ditch you, or he is just really unobservant. Although I am definitely guilty of doing this, I wouldn’t advise it because it makes everyone involved miserable and awkward. Do as I say, not as I do.

Get really drunk

Though I will not condone alcoholism here, if your date really sucks that much and you have no major responsibilities for the rest of the day, then why not get a little tipsy and hope he magically becomes less awful? I probably don’t need to point out that this is a very risky game to play. Because if you’re anything like me, drinking will just magnify your mood x100 and you’ll probably end up telling him that his ironic soul patch looks stupid, and that you actually don’t give a shit about his think piece on The Life of Pablo. But if tequila escapism still sounds like your ideal, just ask yourself if this guy is worth the hangover.

Actually be honest

We all knew where this was going. Yes, you could feign illness, yes you could take a bathroom break and never return, and yes you could actually get alcohol poisoning to get out of a bad date, but because we humans and we are capable of empathy, it might be your best bet to just be honest. Though I have regrettably never tried this on an actual bad date, part of me feels this would be the mature thing to do. There is no reason two adults should have to spend their precious free time straining to have a conversation with a person they think is terrible. If you are not enjoying yourself, and you don’t think you could stand one more second making unfulfilling small talk, then simply just say that you aren’t feeling a ~connection~ and that you’d like to make your exit stage left. I have friends who have tried this and they said that surprisingly, some guys actually thanked them for their honesty and respected their burning desire to sprint away. I’m not saying this is the rule for this type of delicate interaction, but in the era of ghosting and the general awfulness of dating, honesty, even about awkward stuff, is much appreciated. So if you must ditch a bad Bumble, honesty is most likely the best policy.