Jul 012008
 
first date conversation starters

These words are potential first date conversation starters! (image by patti haskins, via flickr)

What do you talk about on the first date? These conversation starters will help you avoid those awkward silences and uncomfortable moments.

The most important thing to remember is that the happier and relaxed you are, the more you’ll enjoy your date. And if you’re enjoying yourself, so will your date!

Before the tips, a quip:

“A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself,” says Lisa Kirk in New York Journal American.

That’s one of the best tips for first date conversations: talk to your dating partner about him or herself. Ask questions; listen sincerely and attentively.

It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly difficult to really listen and be curious about other people.

If you’re worried about dating – and you’re not ready to throw in the towel and sit home with your cat every night – read The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible.

And, here are a few tips for making small talk on the first date…

What to Talk About on the First Date

Even shy, introverted personality types can use these tips to avoid awkward silences on first dates. These tips range from discussing “the elephant in the corner” to knowing when to “fold ‘em” — and they’ll make your dating life easier and more enjoyable.

Talk about the “elephant in the corner”

If you notice that there seems to be nothing to talk about, then your date is probably noticing the same thing. Talk about that!

I often say this to start conversations: “Isn’t it awkward when you feel like you have nothing to say?” Then you’ll start talking about that – and you’ll both be more relaxed. Try it – it really is an effective first date conversation tip. You’d be surprised at how fun it can make your date!

Brush up on the news

I’m not a big fan of American politics, the war in Iraq, or the Canadian housing economy – but I listen to CBC and scan various news sources so my hubby and I have something to talk about at dinner (because sometimes old married couples need conversation starters, too!). Find stuff to talk about from the news, sports, your community, or politics.

One of the most interesting conversations I had on a first date was about a feminine hygiene exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. On display was used feminine sanitary products. I thought it was disgusting; my date thought it was fascinating. Our conversation was a blast!

Share the highs and lows of your day

Here’s a great “first date conversation starter” that works for any get-together: family meals, first dates, or huge galas. Ask for the highs and lows of the day, and share yours. Did you lose your keys or find $100? Maybe you ate at a new restaurant recently, or found a great new CD. Making small talk is about sharing the little things — which, by the way, is important even after you’ve been married for years!

Comment on a piece of clothing or accessory

Even better, wear a funky brooch, scarf, or necklace. If you’re talking to someone wearing any accessory, ask where it came from or what the significance is. Being observant about people and your surroundings is a great conversation starter for first dates.

If you’re tired of small talk tips, read When You Can’t Think of Anything to Say – Connecting With People. It’ll help you connect on a deeper level.

Ask questions about what your date says

There’s nothing worse than talking to someone who’s eyes are flitting all over the place. When you’re making small talk, follow up on what your conversation partner is saying. For instance, if they say they’re “doing excellently”, ask why. If they mention that they’re exhausted, follow up on it. This is a good way to make dating fun – and get to know your date better.

Recall your past conversations

Even if it’s a first date, you can highlight what you talked about on the phone as you were setting up the date. Here’s a first date conversation tip that will carry you to second and third dates: file away bits of information, such as  their favorite vacation spots, the tie they were wearing the last time you met them, or where you were the last time you saw them. Then, make sure you ask about those things.

Ask open-ended questions that require an explanation

For instance, “How are you?” isn’t an effective first date conversation starter. Making small talk is easier if you ask “Whatever happened with ‘__________’ “? or “The last time we spoke you said ________. What happened with that?”

Avoid close-ended questions, such as “How was your day?” and “What’s your cat’s name?”

Ask what funny movies or books your date has seen recently

Someone once asked me that at a party –and this is so much more than a first date conversation tip. When I was asked what book I was reading, it felt like contrived conversation – which it was – but then we had a fantastic discussion about the book! Even the obvious conversation starters can be effective, especially for first dates…you’ll never know where it’ll go.

Take deep breaths – finding stuff to talk about is easier if you’re relaxed

Your date (and conversation partner) will pick up on how relaxed – or anxious – you are and will respond in kind. And two nervous people aren’t great at making conversation! So, let your guard down with your first date, business lunch partner, or the stranger at the gala event. If you’re nervous, say so. If your shoes are too tight, say so. Knowing how to make small talk on a first date is about having fun on your date with chit chat.

Know when to fold ‘em – let the conversation die out

If the conversation feels like dragging a piano uphill with cement boots on, then let it go. You can’t connect with everyone, and some conversations simply refuse to take life! Making small talk involves knowing when it’s time to move on – because conversational chemistry is just like personal chemistry. You can’t force it to happen.

Remember that making conversation on your first date is just like making conversation with a family member, coworker, or stranger at a party. The most important thing is to be yourself – let whatever is on your mind or going on in your life come to the surface.

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10 Easy First Date Conversation Starters
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What do you talk about on the first date? These conversation starters will help you avoid those awkward silences and uncomfortable moments.

  39 Responses to “10 Easy First Date Conversation Starters”

  1. The most important thing is to BE YOURSELF! No matter how much you like him, no matter how desperate you are to make a good first impression, you need to let yourself be yourself.

    Sooner or later, your true self has to come out. Might as well be sooner, right?

  2. I have a first date tonight and I’m really nervous! I like him alot. I wish we weren’t going out for dinner because i can’t eat in front of guys I like.

  3. For me, the worst part of making conversation on the first date is small talk. I hate making small talk! I’d rather talk about more interesting, important things. This is part of being an introvert.

  4. I totally get it, Courtney! Eating in front of someone you don’t know well and maybe even are attracted to can feel weird. One major suggestion is to avoid messy food, like spaghetti or burgers.

    Another option is to avoid eating on the first date. Instead, go to a dog show or to a cooking demonstration (some fine restaurants do cooking demonstrations that are tons of fun!). Do something that focuses on something other than eating.

    But eventually, you’ll have to eat in front of your date. What makes you feel weird or self-conscious about it? Write down 3 reasons…sometimes knowing the root of an issue helps with overcoming it.

    What’s your biggest fear, with regard to eating in front of your date?

  5. I’m typically really shy, but I’ve never had problems with first dates. I use the “elephant in the corner” one alot..and surprisingly it opens up the whole night. For me at least. I, on the other hand, am self conscious about eating in front of my date. How can this be fixed?

  6. I think this could be summed up in two words. Conversational chemistry. This is definetly the most important thing in any possible relationship. U need to be able to talk too the person easily and freely if u have a chance of the relationship going any further. And like the article says u can’t connect with everyone so if its not working dont press it

  7. Hi Krizix,

    I think that’s a great idea, to tell your date that you searched for first date conversations starters! You’re instantly “connectable” and likeable, and your sincerity and authenticity will make your date relax with you. If a guy told me that, I’d probably like him more.

    Although, it really does depend on the guy! Some guys might make it sound weird and needy, which wouldn’t be a good start to a relationship.

  8. I think mentioning that you went onto this website and looked up conversation starters is a good conversation piece. It would show that you were willing to put in effort towards the conversation which makes you interesting and dedicated to whatever may follow. Also being prepared shows that you are well organized, which is always a good trait to have if the person is to look at you as a potential partner. The only negative thing I could draw from this would be if the person immediately figured you were incapable of coming up with ideas for conversation yourself at this point, so I don’t believe this should be the “First” Conversation piece you should start with, give yourself time to get things flowing first.

  9. Who keeps mentioning money problems on the first date — you or your partner? I can’t tell if you think it’s annoying to talk about money problems, or if you’re annoyed because your date keeps talking about money problems.

    Either way, I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about money problems on the first date. You should be getting to know each other in a fun, light-hearted way! The serious discussions should come later.

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