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First dates can be overwhelming, regardless if you've known the person for some time, or if you're just on a blind date. Some of the nervousness can start even before the date begins.

  • How should I dress?
  • How should I do my hair/makeup?
  • What if he/she doesn't think I'm funny/good looking/interesting?
  • What do I talk about with him/her?

For many of us, that last one is what gets us worried, which carries into the start of the date when "boring salad talk" begins: "How's your food?" "Good, and yours?" "It's good." And then the silence continues for what seems like an excruciating amount time.

Here's a helpful tip if you've come to a stand still: avoid asking questions that can only be responded with one-word replies, i.e. "What's your favorite color?" Everyone has a favorite color, and sometimes it can be helpful to ask, but you're not on a date to know someone's favorite color. You're on a date to really get to know the person and to provide an equally great first impression. You should be asking questions that really delve into their mind, personality, and their life (but try not to get too personal with them).

Give Compliments

A helpful way to start a conversation off is by giving a compliment or two. If your date looks good, tell them. If they're talking about their career and how they like it, and you can see that it makes them happy, show a sense of support. This will give them a sense of confidence to continue talking to you, and it shows them that you're into what they're saying and actually paying attention. It makes the entire date much more comfortable to go through as it goes on. Plus, they may even compliment you in return. If all goes well, you just might have a second date!

Ask Them About Their Interests

This includes anything about their social life (if they belong to a social club, travel, etc.) outside of work, hobbies that they do by themselves or with friends, how their friends are, or any interesting story they have about a certain experience. The point is to listen more and talk less. This will show that you respect their time to talk and what they have to say, while knowing when it'll be your turn to speak.

To help build the connection, tag a story of yours to one of theirs! It makes for interesting and humorous conversation.

Talk About Family

Any siblings? Family that isn't blood related? Parents? Kids? However, approach this topic with caution. Some people may not be comfortable talking about some of their family as some others are. The recommended approach? Start with siblings or cousins first, and if they talk about their parents and other family, let them. If they don't, maybe it's best to avoid that subject for now.

What Are They Currently Engaged In?

You can definitely learn a lot about a person by what they're doing career-wise, how they landed the job, what kind of schooling they may have had to do in order to be in the position they're in, or if they're still currently enrolled in a college or university or grad school. Here are a few example questions:

  • "Why did you choose your college/university?"
  • "What does your company do/job entail?"
  • "Is that what you've always wanted to do/be?"
  • "What other passions are you pursuing?"

Talk About Their Past

This doesn't necessarily mean they (or you) have to open up everything about their past from their childhood to the present, but ask how they were as a kid, what experiences they had, if they went on a lot of family vacations (and where they went as a follow up question), if they had any childhood pets, if they're still friends with their childhood best friend, what subjects they enjoyed through their k-12 school years, and so on. You still want to avoid sounding too personal. If your date doesn't want to talk about something, don't push the subject anymore.

Of course, these aren't the only topics you could talk about, and maybe you'll think of others before or during your date. Keep it casual, keep it positive, and keep it interesting, and you'll be on your way toward a second date.

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