Break Up With Bad: Expert Answers to Modern Dating Problems

By Peter Guglielmetti

No matter your level of dating experience, there’s always something left to learn — and quite a bit to unlearn. Below, you’ll find questions from Bumble users regarding their bad dating habits plus expert advice on how to change them for the better.

Q: My match looked perfect onscreen, but when we hung out in person, my gut said meh. I should probably give him another chance, right? Like my mom always tells me?

A: Nope. Open-minded-ness is totally overrated. Your gut knows more than your best friend, your mom, and your brain put together. Trust it.

Q: Should I agree to a third date if for the first two dates the guy showed, but he showed late?

A: So what you’re saying is, he’s extremely cute. OK then, if we’re talking no more than 10 minutes late, sure—give him one last chance to get his ass firmly situated in the chair before you arrive. However, if he’s kept you sitting alone at a table for 15-plus minutes, awkwardly straw-stabbing the ice in your drink while side-eyeing your phone for updates? Uh-uh. Best case, dude is a poor planner (oh hey, turns out it’s challenging to get an Uber in midtown during peak rush hour!). Worst case, he’s casually disrespectful or seriously clueless. Either way, never forget: There’s a guy out there who would arrive 15 minutes early just to make sure he’s not late to meet you (at which point he’d have to secretly pace the block a couple times before strolling in all casual). That is a guy worth waiting around for.

Q: What’s up with people and their lists of dating deal breakers? “Must be this height, belong to this political party, work out at least X times a week .” How can I stay unbiased when it feels like nobody else is?

A: Scrolling through endless criteria makes you wish for the olden days of dating: Girl wanders into bar, girl orders dirty martini, girl feels spark with hot boy she knows zero about, girl and boy see what happens from there. Girl doesn’t whip out a tape measure to confirm that boy clears six feet; boy doesn’t know girl’s Flywheel stats. But here’s the thing: Even back then, people had deal breakers—they just didn’t immediately announce them all at once, in writing. There is an upside to that recent development. If he can’t commit to kids or a woman who needs multiple cats, it’s better to know from the get-go (before martinis and sparks and sleepovers make things all fuzzy). The downside comes when people don’t so much declare their deal breakers as make wish lists of every single freaking quality they imagine their ideal mate should have. Although—if you think about it, that’s not really a downside, because it lets realistic, optimistic people like you left-swipe anybody whose checklist reveals him to be a narrow-minded tool. Make doltish deal breakers one of your ultimate deal breakers.

Q: Even good people ghost sometimes. Do you give me permission to do it just this once?

A: There is a weirdly soft side to ghosting. Letting silence tell your match of four weeks that you don’t want to talk to him anymore feels gentler than knifing him through the soul with those actual words. But anyone who’s ever woken up to zero messages after a looong night of the same will confirm: Being ghosted is torture . It may seem less hurtful, but it just prolongs the agony—like when you try to peel off a Band-Aid one excruciating quarter inch at a time. So woman up and rip the Band-Aid off. Try a simple “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I’ve realized it’s not going to work out.” It’ll sting, but be over quick—and he can move on instead of hoping you’ll (ta-da!) reappear.