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Ditching dates is good for you

OPINION

July 18, 2012|By Niki Fritz, For RedEye

Bad date? There's now an app for that.

Earlier this month, eharmony.com released a free Bad Date Rescue app. It automatically calls you with built-in excuses to ditch your bad date in the least-confrontational way possible—with charmingly lame excuses like "My sister is in labor" or "My boss needs my help."

This app has gone too far! Although the app is meant to end a bad date in a "fun and light" way, as one eHarmony rep put it, what it really does is allow users to avoid the potentially positive act of ditching a date. As strange as it may sound, ditching a date can be one of the most empowering (while still awkward) things daters can do.

I earned my bad date merit badge last spring, thanks to a woefully naive attempt to date a man I had saved in my phone as "kickball guy with facial hair." After some memory-jogging texts back and forth, we decided to meet for dinner and a concert.

It is not an exaggeration to say the date instantly went bad. He regaled me with a summary of his bad day at work and then mused on whether his true artistic gifts lie in writing or piano. I unwisely attempted to play career counselor and, when that didn't work, relied on sarcasm to get through the rest of dinner.

The concert was beyond bad. It was eardrum-threatening wretched, and I knew I could not spend another two hours awkwardly swaying next to this date.

So I did what any good Wisconsin girl would do: I bought him a beer, thanked him for dinner and said I would find my own way home. In technical terms, I ditched my date. It was definitely not the ladylike thing to do, but it was straightforward, honest and saved us both a miserable two hours.

I would like to be clear that kickball guy with facial hair is not a bad guy or even a bad date ... for someone else. We were just a bad fit.

But what I learned from that bad date is you can leave a bad date. You can walk away from a bad situation and survive the awkwardness. And if you do it honestly, you also can cause the least amount of harm possible. An app that allows you skirt the honesty of a bad date in the end is only going to teach you skirt bad situations in life.

We spend way too much time hiding behind our electronics. We Facebook, we text, we Gchat, we Grind, we OKCupid—we do everything electronically possible to not actually call and meet someone. We put so many barriers between ourselves and real-life interactions that we create our very own digital curtains.

And instead of making life easier, all these apps are doing is decreasing our resilience to life's awkwardness and possible rejections. When we don't ditch a date, we don't learn that we can leave a bad situation. And when we aren't ditched by dates, we don't learn that we will survive rejection.

We all have the power to survive the awkward and leave a bad date or rebound after being rejected. But to really know this we need to decrease our reliance on apps and increase our self-resilience.

God forbid your battery dies and you're in the middle of a bad date without your ditching app.

NIKI FRITZ IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.

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