What to say on a first date
There is nothing like a first date to take even the wittiest and most charming of people and reduce them to a quivering pile of one syllable answers and non-committal grunts. Or, you could suffer from babble-itis, a dire condition that causes you to verbalize every small, random and inane thought that pops into your head.
Neither of these conditions is a good thing for a first date, and if it’s not a date with a long time friend, how do you keep the conversation flowing in a productive way, while avoiding treacherous waters that could sink the relationship? The good news is there are some simple things you can think about before and during a date that should give the conversation smooth sailing. After that, let’s just hope they have personality and potential.
Where have you traveled, where would you like to travel? Travel is a great conversational topic, it’s fairly safe, and it will tell you a lot about the person you are with. If you only like 5 Star resorts and think not having 24/7 room service is roughing it, pay attention when they say the month they spent backpacking through the Australian Outback was one of the best times of their life.
Talking about where you would like to travel can be a great way to get to know someone, and since you are only limited by your imagination, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never traveled out of state.
Tell me about your friends. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and most people will enjoy sharing a little about their social lives. This can be very important if the relationship takes off. If their social circle seems to be the antithesis of everything you believe in, it’s better to find out now.
It can also be telling if you hear stories about how every friend they had screwed them over – this is a great time to look for red flags. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know any of the people they are talking about, how a person interacts with their friends is a key insight into their over all personality.
Do you have siblings? You want to be careful treading into the family arena. You never know what could be hiding around a corner, trauma from a parent’s divorce, an overbearing mother. Asking about brothers or sisters will allow the conversation to stay on the lighter side, and it will give you information about where your date falls in the birth order.
With this or any other topic, if it seems like you have unwittingly pushed a button or found a tender spot, change the subject. First dates are not meant to be psychotherapy sessions, so it’s ok to move on to a lighter subject.
What are your career goals? Hopefully the person you are with is not recently unemployed. Asking about long term career plans will fill you in on how ambitious your date is, as well as let you know how tied to their situation they are.
Again, this is a good place to look for red flags, if they do nothing but complain about their job, boss and co-workers, yet have no plan for changing, picture what 15 more years of that could be like. Keep in mind we all may have transitional jobs that we don’t love; here I am looking at overall attitude more than the specifics.
Drinks and Food. While I don’t advocate lots of alcohol consumption on a first date, talking about food and drinks can be a great conversation. You can find out if you both like to cook, what styles and dishes are favorites.
Be careful if you set up a date for drinks only, not to bring the food conversation up until you know you want to move on to dinner. This conversation, if paid attention to, can come in handy for the next few dates. Did she say she loved Thai? On the second date, there’s a great idea for dinner. Does he love Italian? Invite him over for homemade spaghetti.
What do you do for fun? Just like the food and drinks, this conversational topic can be filled with great ideas for future dates. This one is always a hard one for me to answer, for some reason I can never think of anything. One key here is to be HONEST.
Don’t agree that you think naked hang gliding is the best ever if you are afraid of heights. It’s ok if you have different interests, but you want to look for some free time compatibility as well. This will also give you an idea of how busy they are compared to you, if you are going from one club, event or class to another, and they are the classic couch potato, it’s good to learn this early on.
Music. Most of us like music. I know I panic if my iPod ends up too far away from me. Find out what kind of music they like, who they can’t stand and you can easily see if your musical taste is compatible. One question I love is “What was the first concert you ever went to.”
Since most people start going to concerts fairly young, and musical tastes change, this can be a great funny and nostalgic conversation. I always get a reaction when I admit my first concert was Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth Tour.
Movies, Television and Books. I’ve gone ahead and put these two together, as it’s so close to music. Don’t go to a movie on a first date, no time for conversation, but a movie can be a great follow up date. Getting an idea of what kind of films or books they like can be very eye opening.
I personally am an avid reader, and am turned off when I hear someone say they don’t EVER read. It’s a great way to get a glimpse at some of the basics. Think about the next five years with nothing on the television but reality shows…it’s only great if you both like them.
Avoid controversy. Duh! Don’t get into a serious religious debate; you are there for a first date, not a conversion. Since you don’t really know each other yet, getting into highly divisive areas can lead to huge misunderstandings.
The last thing you want if the date is going well is to offend someone by being passionate about what you believe. Find out if you get along on a more basic level first, then move onto more serious topics. It’s ok to come up with a one line statement like “I was raised Catholic,” or “I’m a registered Democrat” and then move the conversation along if you feel like you need to have that out there. If it seems like the conversation is getting heated, move along.
Be YOURSELF. You would think this one would be a no-brainer, but when nerves and the desire to impress combine, weird things can happen. While you want to be on your at least “better” behavior, you don’t want to find yourself agreeing with things you don’t agree with, or putting aside vital parts of who you are.
Be yourself, and if you are truly compatible, the rest will be easy. No one wants to be with someone who doesn’t like and respect themselves for who they are.
Some resources to help you work out what to say on a first date if you are stuck for words
- “First Date Conversations: A Guide” by eHarmony
- “First Date Tips: What to Talk About and What to Avoid” by Psychology Today
- “First Date Questions: What to Ask and What to Avoid” by Elite Daily
- “First Date Survival Guide” by Match.com
- “First Date Talk: The Best and Worst Topics” by Cosmopolitan
- “The First Date: A Survival Guide” by The Art of Charm
- “First Date Conversation Tips” by Zoosk
- “First Date Do’s and Don’ts” by The Huffington Post
- “First Date Ideas: What to Talk About” by Men’s Health
- “First Date Conversations That Will Get You a Second Date” by LovePanky
Mandi is a 41 year old single gal in Arizona. Never married, she’s been on the dating treadmill for 17 years. She’s dated all different types of guys, come close to marriage twice. Often besieged by friends for dating advice, she enjoys the opportunity to share what she’s learned from personal experience and watching her friends through romance ups and downs.