To quote comedian Louis CK, “It takes courage to go on a date, for both sides” (oh please, watch the clip). And this is true. Even if the date goes the best it ever could, you are willingly throwing yourself into the vortex of love, to be sucked in or spat out. And if it goes the other way, well, you have to deal with the other possible outcomes—a bruised ago, a restaurant to never return to, a friend to scold for their poor matchmaking skills, etc. After exploring the field and coming home empty-handed, it is easy to look at this courage and see it as a nuisance. You wonder if your bounce-back ability in the dating world is a pro or a con. However, the conclusion that I have arrived at is: there is no such thing as a bad date. Fear not, because there is a reason for your resilience!

Just ask:

How did the location impact you?

Did you find a new spot? Did an old faithful let you down? This is educational! You learned about the location and learned about how your surroundings affected you both. If your date picked the meet-up spot, you learnt how they choose to entertain and how they act in a specific setting. Now you can decide whether or not you ever want to be in that setting again, with or without their company. If you picked the spot, how adaptable are they? Even if you don’t like them, but you like their bar choice, well, that is just good information to have in your back pocket. Stake your claim today.

What did you like?

Riffing off the location, what else did you like about the encounter? Get personal—what about this person was working for you? Whether it’s a great laugh, a fiery passion for travel or discovering your identical snow globe collections—there has to be something. Find the good; find what intrigues you. Whether or not this is the deciding factor to see them again, recognize that it is a factor you would like to see in a person you end up with.

What you didn’t like?

Let’s get a li’l’ critical. Red flags: they happen, but they are not always easy to spot. As you go through life and dating, you’ll eventually be able to cobble together some patterns and habits that just aren’t going to work for you. That is, if you pay attention! The guy who talks excessively about his ex-girlfriend on the first date? There’s good chance that won’t stop anytime soon. Take mental notes to learn for next time. You don’t have to cut someone out immediately as they utter the wrong word, but it’s a good idea to take stock as you are piecing together your knowledge of the person in front of you.

No such thing as a bad date? There is, of course, such a thing as a bad date. There are horrible, faith-shattering dates. But no matter how senseless and frustrating this mating process may seem, there is always a lesson of sorts to be unearthed. We feel pain and pleasure for a reason. When you accidentally burn yourself on the stovetop, that’s your skin telling you to never, ever do that again. And when you are petting a puppy, something in you is telling you to never, ever stop. When it’s emotional, it’s more difficult to see the burns and feel the fluff but it can be done. And while we never will have all the answers, at least a person can try to not make the same mistakes over and over again. So… how could this learning opportunity that is a date really, truly be a bad thing?