first date conversation

Somewhere along the way conversation during dates has become a tick list of yes and no’s and do’s and don’ts. Yes, I live locally. Yes, I enjoy a night out with the girls but I also enjoy a night in with a glass of wine. Yes I enjoy busting out moves on the dance floor. Where do you work? Do you like it? Boring!

When did date etiquette govern our conversation and when did it all become so formulaic? My friends and I came to the conclusion that if you have rough guidelines going into the unknown realm of a first date you feel like you have at least some control of the situation. It brings a sense of reassurance and calm to it all. You have armed yourself with knowing the safe topics of discussion and have equipped yourself suitably. But the reality is we are all individuals and no person is the same; dating is not the case of one size fits all.

If you’re pre-programmed with generic date chat are you likely to have a good time or more importantly come across as the great person you are? I don’t think so. Sure you need to find out the basics, you need to know if there is some compatibility there. But most importantly you owe it to yourself and your date to just have a good time!

It’s OK to want more than standard conversation from a date. It’s OK to be a bit unpredictable and surf the social wave then dive off into the ocean of randomness. Dating has every reason to be an enjoyable, engaging experience, so ease up and have a look at these first date conversation topics for that upcoming day.

1. Get your date talking about themselves

Sounds simple enough? It’s easy to down the wine and not let him get a word in edgeways. If there’s no silence, there’s no awkwardness, right? The truth is it’s flattering to your date to encourage them to talk about themselves, to ask them questions and listen to the answers. The more you can steer the conversation around them the more favourably they will think of the date after it ends; and consequently, you! My last date managed to get me talking about myself without me even realising which is an achievement in itself. He asked questions, remembered the answers and peppered back into conversation things I have previously said. It may seem like a small effort, but it has a big affect. What’s not to like about that? And by the way I’m talking about my now boyfriend, as that guy from the date.

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2. Nostalgia

Yes, you can say it’s a cliche but nostalgia will always bring about playful and upbeat conversations. Who doesn’t want to see someone smile as they fondly recount their favourite movie as a kid, remember a delicious scent or recall a song that represented an era. It gives you that warm fuzzy feeling like Mum’s roast dinners and Christmas day. Almost no topics are out of bounds either and your nostalgic memories can’t be right or wrong either. If someone doesn’t like that you were subscribed to Garfield magazine then it’s their problem (me). You may find that you bond over the smell of freshly cut grass from your school sports days or relive the hilarity of busting out the Macarena in unison.

3. Dreams and desires

Let’s swing in with the tried and tested topic of travel. I’ve used this as an example because it presents an exotic element to the conversation and who doesn’t like to dream? Granted, it can be a bit of a snooze fest if you’ve got yourself a Gap Year type who has backpacked just about everywhere in the world; and chances are unless you’ve done the same the conversation may revert to one way traffic. But these are chances to take. That’s the game of dating and that’s the excitement. Maybe your date has really great stories to share. They might be cute, or macho or…laughably rubbish. All great material for your friends to enjoy hearing about, right? Talk about a recent holiday, why was it enjoyable? Did you try something for the first time? What is the weirdest food you’ve tried abroad? Do you have any embarrassing travel stories? Travel talk and the longing to explore can go a long way. A couple of my friends met their partners while traveling themselves. One friend met her boyfriend while caravanning in Bognor Regis. You don’t need to be an international jet setter to enjoy the topic or have it in common, it’s more about state of mind.

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4. Loves and hates

This can go a number of ways, but almost always the person opposite you won’t have unresolved anger issues and won’t be using dating by a means of free counselling. Ideally, your date will get you thinking, get you laughing, get you intrigued. It’s a great buzz when two minds meet, whatever the subject, and you carry that buzz for days after. You crack into a shy smile when someone asks you about the date. You laugh to yourself and look like you’re mad when recounting that silly conversation you had. Talking about what you and your date mutually love and hate can bring about a lot of laughter! Laughing is good and fun and addictive. Test the waters before you launch onto your epic monologue of love or hate; introduce things slowly and start off light hearted. I’ve had a date where I have confidently explained my hatred of bad table manners such as talking with your mouth full and pushing things around your plate. I was not to know that my date would possess those exact qualities… Another story my friend shared a passionate hatred of Marmite with her date and they then went on to tackle the subjects of carbonated water, white jeans and selfies both sharing a laugh that they were things they both hated intensely. You might find someone who secretly loves something as much as you, you just never know. It’s about tact, or if you’ve had several glasses of wine, that may go out the window but what the hell. Mix it up, make it bespoke and laugh about the ridiculousness of it all!

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5. Other people

I’m not referring to picking a fight with innocent bystanders minding their own business. I mean when you are sat with a drink in a pub perhaps and commentate on the couples that surround you theorising about their body language, relationship status, conversation topic and how much they like each other. Do you think she wears the trousers? Who is the keenest? Is it a first date? Providing it’s all done in good humour people watching can be a really fantastic and amusing way of casually detracting attention away from the situation at hand and consequently finding out more about your partner in crime. What are their observations like? Are they witty? Have they made comments that you would say yourself? Observational humour is a fun and subtle thing. In my experience it’s thoroughly rewarding as the speculation can lead to bets, challenges and detective work- it all depends how far you want to take it!

So here we have 5 first date conversation topics and approaches to try. Within these topics there are listless variations on what you could say, they are not limited and they are certainly not generic. It’s trial and error, but that’s life and why not have a really good time finding out what works for you (and them). Be brave, be different and I guarantee that anyone worthwhile will appreciate that you are doing something unique. After all, dates are supposed to be fun.

Image: flickr

Clare lives in Brighton, the UK with her husband and Plato the cat. She divides her time between writing TV scripts, blogging about procrastination and writing some articles. Dirty Dancing is not her favorite film.

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