You messed up. You came late, you got badly drunk, you forgot the date altogether or you did some other thing that made your date walk away not interested in planning further dates with you. Do you walk away from that too and put it down as a regretful experience? Or is it possible to salvage things? I’d argue the latter. It’s not over until it’s over! If you’re interested in pursuing it, I want to cover a few ideas on how you might be able to salvage a ‘bad date’.

Firstly, I want you to think about the fact that humans make errors. We mess up, forget, get things wrong and sometimes make a fool out of ourselves. It’s not uncommon, in fact it’s almost to be expected. And because of this, we also need to be forgiving, which thankfully most people are.

So, what is the best way to come back from a date you messed up? Quite straightforward really – simply take ownership of the mess-up, apologise, ask for forgiveness, ask how to make-it up to them and request a second chance.


According to research a full apology includes 5 elements

  1.   Expressing regret (I’m sorry)
  2.   Accepting responsibility (I messed up)
  3.   Making restitution (how can I make it up to you?)
  4.   Promising change (I promise it won’t happen again)
  5.   Requesting forgiveness (can you give me a second chance?)

In fact, I did a study once linking high emotional intelligence with the use of a full apology – super interesting stuff – and it works! You need to get over yourself and accept that you are grovelling. If you really like the person, it will be worth it. What have you got to lose anyway?!


What if it feels like there’s no hope? 

Let’s say what you did is so unforgivable to the other person or feels like there’s no hope or point in trying. It might have been a first date for example, and you have been thoroughly dumped in the ‘no-thanks-moving-on’ box. Then what? Then you have to up the ante. So start with your five-point apology and wait a while. Pop back up after a week or two and ask for forgiveness and a second chance again. Depending on whether you were ‘aired’ (as in you got no response from your original apology) you may want to consider inserting a bit of humour. For example, by saying something a la ‘Am I still in the doghouse?’. Any response you get is a positive sign that you are not entirely shut off, especially if you can get a conversation going. You want to follow through on making it up to them. Remember you messed up, you need to repair the damage, so pursue this line of enquiry.


I’m getting no response. Should I give up?

If the other person does not engage, you might need to wait a while before getting in touch. I am talking 6 months or more. If you find yourself thinking back to someone where you messed up and it’s been many months or even years, you can always check in with a message. Not the creepy sort of message that makes it unclear what your intentions are (‘so you seeing anyone?’) and not a lazy ‘hi’ either. More of a friendly sort of check in ‘I passed by x and thought about you, how are you doing?’, and from there you are essentially starting from scratch, which is fine – it’s your second chance.

Be respectfully persistent, but if the person never responds or consistently tells you no thanks, then you can move on knowing that you gave it a go. In all likelihood, if after all the apologising and offer of restitution is not heeded, then there probably wouldn’t have been a relationship worth having anyway. Which I think is good to know.


Don’t be afraid of an apology making you feel vulnerable

I want to highlight that this applies to all genders. When it comes to relationships, everyone has a responsibility to make things work. If you are sat cringing over the above advice, I’d invite you to take a look at how not allowing yourself to be vulnerable is holding you back from dating successfully. I am not saying you have to do any of the above things or that indeed you might find a different way, I am just saying these are ways by which you might get yourself a second chance with someone. It’s not all lost if you somehow manage to mess up, even if the person initially says so and tells you there’s no hope. Until you have actually taken responsibility, apologised, asked for restitution and forgiveness, and promised change, then you haven’t properly challenged the other person’s rejection of you.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right.