27 June 2012
What to talk about on a first date
by Fran Creffield
One of the most common fears people have when going on a first date is that they won’t have anything to talk about! Here are some useful pointers.
There is nothing worse than sitting in uncomfortable silence with a first date and it is a situation everyone wants to avoid. Even if you talk naturally and openly with family and friends, sitting across the table from a virtual stranger can leave even the best conversationalist tongue tied and anxious. Preparing yourself with some simple strategies will help you feel more relaxed and ensure that you know how to keep the conversation flowing.
Use what you already know
Before you go on your date read over their profile again. What was it about them that first caught your attention? If you had email correspondence read over those too and see what other information you have learnt about this person. Most of what you have learnt will be facts – where they live, what job they do; whether they have pets etc. You can use all of this information to good effect on your first date by saying something like – ‘On your profile you said you liked windsurfing, where did you learn?’ Or ‘In one of your emails you told me you love to travel, have you got any trips coming up?’
Every single fact you have about your date is a potential conversation and by opening conversations in this way you will show that you have been paying attention to what they have been telling you. Sometimes people have chatted online for so long they feel they have found out all there is to know about each other. The date is the time to put those facts together with the person – to hear them describe the things that are important to them or to see them light up when they talk about their passions. It doesn’t matter if you ask the same things on a date that you asked in an email – it shows that you want to know more.
If you feel uncomfortable talking about personal things you can always start a conversation about books, films or music. Everyone has some experience, maybe of a book that influenced them when they were young, a great concert they have been to or a genre of film they are particularly keen on. Talking about these things will help you both find out what areas of interest you share and where you are different and could learn from each other.
How someone relaxes and how involved they are with hobbies and interests will all give you vital information about them as a person. Again it is different hearing someone talk about these things in person than it is reading them online so don’t be afraid to cover some of the same subjects.
Listening is just as important as talking
There is no point opening up a great conversation if you don’t listen to what the other person is saying or are so busy formulating what you are going to say next you don’t pay attention to their views. Good conversation is a two way process – a bit like a game of tennis – you take it in turns, batting ideas back and forth, hopefully developing a rally that you will both enjoy.
When the other person is speaking make eye contact and use your body language to show that you are listening and interested in what they are saying. Listening is an art that can be practiced and doing it well will make the person you are with feel valued and appreciated and more likely to carry on speaking.
Give of yourself but not too deep
First dates should be light and fun, a chance for you to get to know each other and see if there is any chemistry between you. A common mistake people make is that they feel so comfortable and relaxed that they not only open up – they do it too much and reveal all sorts of personal details about themselves or their past relationships. There will be a time and a place for this if the relationship develops but offloading too much on a first date can easily put your date off.
Be open to talking about yourself but keep if fun and light. Focus more on the future, and your dreams and ambitions, than on the past and things that have gone wrong in your life. Ask your date about their dreams and ambitions too – talking about the future and the exciting things that might happen will make you both feel good and upbeat and increase the chances that you will want to see each other again.