If an awkward pause in everyday life seems like it lasts 24 seconds, it feels like 24 hours when on a date. It’s as if you’ve set up camp right there and are engaging in a game of conversation chicken. So, it never hurts to have some general ideas of what can get the banter ball rolling. We’re here to provide some inspiration based on what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for us. See our roundup of first date conversation dos and don’ts below.
First Date Conversation Starter Dos
Find Their Passion
You’ve likely heard this asked of celebrities during interviews. Ask your date if they could talk for 20 minutes about anything without having to look up information, what would that be? Everyone has something they’re dying to talk about and, chances are, you’ve just tapped into it. Boom! Whether it’s gluten-free recipes, craft beers or what to feed your Alaskan Malamute, you’ve just unlocked Pandora’s Box – but in the best possible way.
You don’t want to have this one in the chamber, so to speak, as you want it come from the heart – a canned compliment isn’t going to fly. But if they show up and you like their shoes or their hair or the like, go for it. Compliments are rarely a bad thing, and it’s more than possible you’ll get a little story about whatever it is you complimented.
“I love those red and purple streaks in your hair.”
“Thanks so much. I like to joke that it’s my mid-life crisis hair.”
“I highly doubt you’ve even reached midlife yet.”
And you’re off…
Modes of Entertainment
If you’re on a Netflix binge, ask about TV. Perhaps you’ve found a podcast that you want to shout from the mountaintops about – if so, go that route. If you just finished a book that was life changing, head down the literary trail. Not only will this get the conversation going, but it could also help determine the fate of that second date. For instance, some people can’t abide when others don’t read, and if you feel that way, that’s your prerogative. For others, a revelation that The Jersey Shore is their favorite show could be a deal breaker (or, depending on who you are, a deal maker?).
Other Good Questions
Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, you can start to get creative and have some fun.
- What would you choose for your last meal?
- If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
- If you could have dinner with anyone whether dead or alive, who would it be?
- What was the best live show you’ve ever seen?
Go forth and inquire. You’ve got this.
First Date Conversation Starter Don’ts
Play the Name Game
“Oh, I saw on your dating profile that you’re from Great Neck. Do you know So-And-So?” Seems harmless enough, right? It could very well be, but it could also be that So-And-So is the reason for their divorce. You just never know, especially if you’re from a small town. If you get comfortable down the line, name drop until your heart’s content. But get yourself on solid ground first.
“So What Do You Think of This Whole Online Dating Thing?”
If you’re on a date that resulted from an online connection, that’s great. The truth is, though, no one is hoping for their “how you met” story to be from Tinder. It’s an excellent way to meet people and there are surely hundreds of thousands of success stories, but you don’t have to address the elephant in the room right away. Perhaps as you get to know one another, you can share online dating stories. For the first date, however, let’s just pretend this (read: online dating) never happened.
All you have to do is hop on social media for those weeks and months leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas to know that family is a loaded topic. Yours might be a Norman Rockwell painting, but there is certainly a chance that your date would rather talk about farm animals or root canals…or root canals done on farm animals. Basically, anything other than family. If it works out, that whole topic will come up naturally. So for now, let that lie.
Test the Political Waters
Just as you were raised to know that politics is not appropriate table conversation, you want to avoid even dipping your toes in these muddy waters on a first date. If their political leanings are that much of a hot button issue for you, perhaps you should consider weeding out those across the aisle before you even get to this point. By the time you’re on a date, it’s too late. So unless you want to cause a scene that would make Jerry Springer cringe, don’t. Just don’t.
Other Definite Nos
When it comes to dating (or at least initially getting to know someone), there are some questions that are simply taboo.
- So why are you single?
- How many people have you slept with?
- Have you ever had a threesome?
- Have you had any plastic surgery?
And if these are asked of you, run – don’t walk – to the nearest exit.
What are some conversation starters that have worked for you on dates? What are some that have sent you down the rabbit hole? Share them with us in the comments!