We often use the term “lemon” to describe a bad or faulty car, perhaps because dealing with its flaws leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth. But as any of us who’ve done a fair amount of dating have learned, there can also be dating lemons. Dating lemons can upset you, bore you, disgust you, frighten you, offend you, and astound you with how wrong the person is for you.

But short of excusing yourself to visit the restaurant’s bathroom and then squeezing out of the bathroom window to make a quick escape, how can you deal with these lemon dates? I believe the key to effectively dealing with them is exactly the same as effectively dealing with any other negative person or situation in life. In this case, it means turning dating lemons into lemonade. In other words, extracting whatever good you can from the person/situation and thereby salvaging the afternoon, evening, your dating attitude, dignity and your sanity.

What follows are a number of common dating lemons along with the process by which you can easily turn them into dating lemonade.

      Dating Lemon #1

Your date shows up looking far worse/older/heavier/less attractive than his or her dating profile photo.

A lawsuit is simply out of the question here, so get that out of your mind right now. After you spend some time with the mis-representer, do you feel there could be a platonic friendship here? Do you pick up on other redeeming qualities? Might you know someone for whom this person might be perfect? Or might they have a friend for you? Could this person help you with your career? Has their life been so interesting/entertaining that it’s fascinating just hearing about their journey? Can you make one another laugh? See what I’m getting at? You can solve this initially depressing situation and make it pay off for both of you! You’re welcome!

      Dating Lemon #2

Your date is attractive, but you have absolutely no chemistry.

It’s entirely possible that it may only seem that you have no chemistry because he or she is so shy. Give things a chance and let them unfold at a leisurely pace. You might be pleasantly surprised. Some people need to establish a sense of trust before they open up and feel free to present their true selves. Show a little patience. All that said, if you truly feel there is absolutely no chemistry or potential for it, try to find the humor in the situation. Write an essay about it and have it published. When you’ve accumulated 50 or so such essays, get them published in a book. Sell the rights to the movies. Eventually, you’ll make so much money that you’ll be able to buy someone with whom you have chemistry. See how things work out sometimes?

      Dating Lemon #3

Your date wants to get physical on the first date.

And you’re not interested, not ready, feel it’s premature, and/or make it a policy never to get physical on the first date. Here’s a revolutionary concept: tell him the truth, whatever it is, and if you like, thank him for being interested. But the great thing about dating and romance and sex is that it works best when, strangely enough, both people are into it and want it. Will someone kindly explain that to Mr. Cosby. He’s got a PhD. I’m sure he’ll understand.

      Dating Lemon #4

Your date only talks about himself/herself.

Of course, you already know about yourself, so it’s generally more interesting to find out about the life of the person sitting across from you. Still, at about minute twenty, you can’t help but notice that said person has been going on and on about his/her life without asking you one thing about yourself. Sometimes, I make it a game: How Long Will This Person Continue Before Realizing There’s Another Person Present? On more than one occasion, they’ve gone all the way to the end of the date without exhibiting any curiosity about their potential life partner. How to turn this lemon to lemonade? Consider it a gift from the dating gods—the red flag is being shown right up front and you can feel good about moving on to a slightly less egomaniacal date!

      Dating Lemon #5

Your date is over a half hour late.

Well, you could kill them, but you’d end up in jail and probably would not enjoy the dates you’d find there. So, first get the backstory. Is it a legitimate excuse? Those being, for example, bad traffic, emergency at work, family or friend emergency. And, most importantly, did they call to let you know they’re running late, and seem apologetic? Or do they just seem spacey, inconsiderate, having a vague notion of time and deadlines? In any case, don’t sit there fuming ‘til they arrive. It’s bad for your blood pressure. So, as in all waiting situations, you hopefully have something with you to occupy your time, be it a book, your cellphone, a notebook for doing some work, your weekly report to your parole officer, etc. Another bonus: Once they do arrive, they owe you one!

      Dating Lemon #6

Your date is Donald Trump.

Granted, the guy’s wacko, but he could be our next President and he is the leading Republican candidate. Plus, he’s rich. Coffee’s no doubt on him. So, here’s what you do. First, of course, try not to stare at the hair. Next, try not to dwell on your Mexican background. Finally, write an article about it titled “I Dated Donald Trump and Lived to Tell” and sell it to the media. Who knows? A book deal and a movie could result. After all, it could be worse. Your date could have been Bill Cosby. See? Things are looking up already.

Mark Miller is a comedy writer who has performed stand-up comedy in nightclubs and on TV, written on numerous sit-com staffs, been a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and is a current humor columnist for The Huffington Post. His first book, a collection of his humor essays on dating and romance, is: 500 Dates: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Online Dating Wars. But he says he’d trade all his success away in a minute for immortality, inner peace and limitless wealth.

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