What to Talk About on a First Date
You asked her to meet in person...she said yes. Sweet success!
First, congratulate yourself. You fought the good fight to get here: you made an effort to write a great first message, took the time to write an online dating profile that stands out, and stayed vigilant about keeping your conversation engaging, thoughtful, and fun (for both of you). You deserve this win.
Now, we’re on new terrain. The first date. It’s a brave new world and it’s hard to know what to expect. Some details you can plan ahead for, like the place you’re meeting. What you can’t plan for is what it’ll actually be like to meet her, talk to her, and connect with her.
There ARE a few critical tools you can prepare yourself with to help a date go smoothly: conversation topics, conversation skills, and how to read and adapt to nonverbal cues.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Prepare Yourself with Conversation Topics
Start by quickly re-reading a girl’s online dating profile and the messages you’ve exchanged before your date. (This is especially important if you’ve been talking to more than one girl!)
This will remind you of what you already talked about and give you a couple follow up questions to ask. These are safe conversation topics to have in your back pocket, because you already know how you connect in these areas. It’s good to bring these up again on a first date when you want to take the conversation to familiar ground, to make her (or you!) feel comfortable.
Bonus: reviewing what you’ve already talked about saves you from accidentally asking her the same questions again -- making it seem like you don’t care about her enough to remember what you’ve already talked about!
Reviewing your previous conversations and her profile can also inspire a couple new topics to introduce if you get tongue-tied. A girl’s profile is basically a list of things she’s interested in talking about. Use it to your advantage!
Why else is this first step critical? When a guy shows up prepared with stuff to talk about, it’s kinda old-school and really smoking hot.
2. Hone Your Conversation Skills
At one point or another, everyone’s arrived at a date and realized that they have NO CLUE what to talk about. This happens to girls just as often as it happens to guys! Plus, online dating can add that extra level of weirdness.
Here are a few tricks to spark conversation and hold her attention when you’re drawing a blank:
A. Focus on Your Common Interests.
Use your prep work from item 1. Check out your date’s profile and create a mental list of hobbies or interests you have in common. On the date, ask her about those things!
You can ask her really specific questions, like about books you both like or TV shows you’re both into.
For example: “You said you like Master of None. I do too! Did you know those were Aziz's real parents?”
Or you can ask her more open-ended questions to get her talking, reveal more of her personality, and show how she thinks.
For example: “That’s cool you’re into Sherlock, too. What do you like about the show?”
When you do get her talking, go ahead and weigh in with your own thoughts, opinions, and excitement for the hobby or interest you share. You want her to learn about your personality and how you think, too!
B. Don't be Afraid of the Things You Don’t Have in Common.
There’s nothing creepier than a date who agrees with everything I say. It feels like he’s desperate for me to like him at all costs. Yeesh. Meanwhile, a little friendly debate is a great way to spice up a date! It’s OK to point out things you don’t have in common, too.
For example: “Seems like you’re a big Kanye fan. His latest album didn’t do anything for me. Do you see something I’m missing in his newer stuff that might change my mind?”
As long as a guy is asking our opinion and not diminishing our thoughts or antagonizing us, girls are OK with a friendly disagreement on a date. This is a natural part of getting to know someone. A little difference of opinion can create a fun spark in the conversation!
C. Ask Questions that are a Little Personal.
On an online dating first date, lots of guys make the mistake of asking the same old questions that don’t give a girl a chance to reveal her originality. Girls get bored by guys who ask her to list off facts about our lives, like:
- What part of town do you live in?
- What do you do for work?
- How long have you lived here?
- What did you do last weekend?
A girl’s answers to questions like these don’t share much about who she is and what makes her that way. On the flip side, it’s not hard to turn these into questions that DO ask about her life, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. For example:
- What’s your favorite thing about living in that neighborhood?
- How did you get into web development? What do you like about it?
- What brought you to the area?
- What kinds of things do you like to do on the weekend? Why?
D. Ask Unique Questions.
When the conversation gets rolling, it’s fun to go beyond the basics and ask questions that bring out what makes each of you unique. Here are a few examples:
- Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party?
- What does success mean to you?
- Have you ever sent an embarrassing email?
- If you had tomorrow off work, and could literally do anything, what would you do?
- Do you vote in elections?
- What was the last guilty purchase you made?
You can also take a look at the questions on her OkCupid profile, like, “Would you rather that only good things or interesting things happened to you?” Which of those would be fun to ask her about?
When she lights up and the conversation is flowing, enjoy yourself and share your own thoughts! This is the holy grail of a date -- when you’re having fun, opening up, learning about each other, and not worrying too much about asking the “right” questions.
E. Keep the Conversation Going.
Keeping the conversation going in a natural way makes a date flow smoothly. It’s fair for each person to hold up their end of the conversation, but sometimes one party needs a little more help. It’s impressive when a guy can step in and save an awkward silence.
Here are some simple ways to ramp up the conversation longevity:
Ask follow-up questions. Get your date to share more about herself by asking her to elaborate on her opinions, her interests, and her life. Asking questions that begin with “Why,” “What,” and “How” prompt her to respond with more than a “yes/no” answer!
When she asks you questions, respond and then relate your answers back to her. For example, you can say, “What do you think?” or “How about you?” or “What would you do if you were in a similar situation?”
Be curious and show her you care about her thoughts. Your date will immediately find you more interesting if you show interest in her. Just like the adage that “boring people are boring,” when you’re on a date, engaged guys are more engaging. When she shares a detail with you, show real interest in it!