Avoid awkward silences and uncomfortable moments with these conversation starters for the first date. 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, your date probably is, too.
“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 is to 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…
10 First Date Conversation Starters
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!
Is your first date a meal at home? Read 10 Tips for Cooking for 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 first date 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 extremely interesting, and showed us that we can talk about different opinions on our first date.
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.
If you’re searching for first date conversation starters because you haven’t dated for a long time, read Is It Too Soon to Start Dating Again?
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 closed-ended questions, such as “How was your day?” and “What’s your cat’s name?”
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.
It’s hard to remember to ask “open-ended” questions, such as “What’s the story behind that tie?” Questions that are “closed-ended” are “How long have you had that tie for?”
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 first date conversation starter – and a great way to 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 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 first date 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.
If you haven’t gotten to the first date yet, read Dating Apps to Help You Avoid Bad Relationships.
I welcome your thoughts on these first date conversation starters below.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.