Knowing what to talk about on a first date is possibly as important as knowing what to wear and how to behave. First dates are all about leaving a good first impression and if nervousness or social anxiety is making you unable to sustain a conversation, you need to remember these do's and don'ts when it comes to first date talk. Read on, and pick up conversation starters that will make your first dates special, romantic and fun.
What to talk about on a first date: Conversation starters
1) Compliment your date: Compliments can often tumble into full blown conversations
Compliments are fantastic ice breakers and also double up as conversation starters. A good compliment can lead to a plethora of questions that can open up someone's style and fashion sense like a book.
For example, something as simple as 'Hey that's a nice top' can be followed up by 'Only someone as fit as you can carry it off', 'Do you exercise much?', 'Which gym do you go to?', 'Where did you buy it from?', 'Do you shop there often', 'Are you a brand person', 'What kind of clothes do you generally like wearing?', etc.
2) Talk about your interest and hobbies
One of the most common things to talk about on a first date is interests and hobbies. Questions like 'So what do you do in your spare time?' or 'Do you have any hobbies outside work?' are common place in a first date scenario. One thing will lead to another and before you know it, the both of you will be sharing your life stories with each other.
Knowing a person's everyday interests also gives an insight into what makes his/her life tick. Interests and hobbies speak volumes about how fun, or boring, it may be to hang out with your date regularly.
3) Use trending stuff and popular culture as fun first date talk
If you are really running out of things to talk about on your first date, use trending stuff, popular culture, viral videos/photos or any other meme that is the talk of the town. It can be something as simple as talking about a YouTube video that has gone viral or a trending story about a bathroom singer winning a talent show.
4) Share your travel experiences
Travel experiences are fantastic conversation starters for first dates because they give you the chance to sit back and relax as your date passionately tells you about his/her travels. Elaborate conversations about travelling can go on endlessly for hours because one thing can lead to another.
A chat about a trip to Europe can spin into an elaborate discussion about a pub crawl in London, the displays at Louvre, coffee shops in Amsterdam, Skiing in Switzerland and other intricacies of different places.
5) Start conversations with current affairs and news
If you feel like staying away from personal talk, current affair topics can be easy picks as conversation starters. But before you start yapping about politics or business, try to get a vague idea of what your date may or may not be interested in talking about. For all you know, business may be the last thing on his/her mind.
6) Talk about common friends, work colleagues or contacts
If you have been introduced to your date by a common friend or a work colleague, you can talk about your shared connections and how you got to know them. This has always been a favorite because it is an opportunity for you to 'snoop around' and get to know more about your date from common connections.
7) Discuss yours and your date's job and professional life
Job, career and work related chit chat is common first date talk. Ask questions like 'What do you do for a living?' followed by 'Do you like it?' and 'How are the people you work with?' If your date asks you the same question, make sure that you don't overindulge by talking about your job and work for a very long time.
For example, if you are an accountant and your date is a sales rep with a real estate agent, you could risks boring him/her by talking about how you spent hours looking for a missing item in your balance sheet. You are on a date, not a job interview, so make sure you don't get into minute details.
8) Ask your date about his/her family
If you want to ask your date about his/her family, do it in a subtle manner. The trick is to ask questions that are seemingly superficial but serve as a starting point for a discussion. These questions will allow you to judge your date's reaction and find out whether he/she wants to talk about it or not.
For example, questions like 'Do you have any family in the city?' or 'Where did you grow up?' are safe bets for starting a conversation about family. On the other hand, questions like 'Do you share a good bond with your parents?' or 'Are your parents still together?' can turn out to be mood spoilers.
9) Talk about your ambitions, dreams and future plans
Once you are familiar with your date's family, educational and professional background, feel free to throw around questions like 'So do you plan to continue working in retail?' or 'Where do you see yourself going with this degree?'
Talking about ambitions and future plans will give you an insight your date's life. It will also allow your date to open up and talk passionately about his/her career choices and views about life in general.
10) Get to know your date's craziest memories and antics
Asking 'So what are the craziest things you have done in life?' is a good way to allow your date open up about some of the silly antics he/she has done. Make sure you follow up that question with 'Be honest, don't be afraid. I'm sure I've done something worse'.
This conversation will also give you a sneak peek into whether your date is a wild child, a laid back personality, a fun person to hang out with or a boring person you want to keep away from.
11) Quiz each other about likes, dislikes and favorites
If you find yourself running out of things to talk about on your first date, spice it up by randomly saying 'Let's play a game. Let's get to know each others' likes and dislikes'.
You both can then quiz each other about likes and dislikes in food, clothes, drinks, friends, restaurants, movies, pubs, gadgets, websites, art, etc.
12) Movies, TV shows and music
Movies, TV shows, music and many other forms of entertainment make for fantastic conversation points. Unless you and your date have distinctively opposite choices, chances are that the both of you will be able to narrow down a conversation to a cult film or a TV show that you both like.
Once you have picked something that you both like, go with the flow with questions like 'Which TV shows do you like to watch?', 'The Big Bang Theory is my favorite too. Did you know that Sheldon in real life is a guy named Jim Parson who is nearly 40 years old? Hard to believe, isn't it?'
What not to talk about on a first date: Risqué first date talk
1) Don't ask probing questions about past boyfriends or girlfriends
Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, previous relationships and all other types of exes are best not talked about on first dates. Past relationships can ignite bad memories which can ruin a romantic setting. Unless your date wishes to talk about his/her past relationship, avoid any questions or conversations that remind your date of an ex.
2) Don't jump into talking about sex, your sex life and sexual experiences
Sex life, sexual antics, sexual experiences, views on sexuality and any other discussion about sex possibly tops the list of things that should not be talked about on a first date. In no way does this mean that sex talk is taboo, but uninvited discussions about sex can make you sound like a weird person.
3) Don't sound desperate by talking about commitment, marriage or kids
Unless you want to risk sounding desperate or insecure, conversations about commitment and marriage are best avoided on the first meeting. Refrain from asking questions like 'What are your views on marriage?', 'Do you see yourself having kids in the future?' or 'Do you like to be in a committed relationship?' unless your date starts such conversations himself/herself.
Even if your date begins talking about commitment, tread with caution as it may actually be a test of your personality.
4) Don't be too opinionated about race, religion or religious views
Whether or not you are open minded about race and religion, make sure you don't talk about it on your first date. Racism and religious prejudice is absolutely no joke. Don't risk giving out a bad first impression by talking about your opinions, views and beliefs about religion or race.
5) Stay away from dull subjects like business or politics
First date talk is all about being romantic, flirty and having fun conversations that bring a smile on your faces. Don't ruin the mood by picking up serious and dull discussions about politics, government policies, business strategies and some such.
Talking about how an online entrepreneur started a million dollar website from his/her bedroom may be acceptable. But a conversation about how a blue chip company had a 15% increase in EBIT but cutting costs, has the potential of ruining the romantic charm of a first date.
6) Avoid talking about your family problems
There are fewer more apt situations for the phrase, don't wash your dirty linen in public. Stay away from talking about your family problems. This includes possible fallouts with parents, brothers, sisters, cousins or any other relative.
Talking about your life's woes may not work in your favor of leaving a good first impression. First dates are all about being likeable. If you seem like the kind of person who has a lot of problems, it may become very difficult for the guy or girl to develop a liking for you.
7) Don't talk about medical and health problems
Let conversations about your medical history and related problems remain private, with your family doctor. Don't ruin a perfect first date atmosphere by talking about your regular bouts of Gastroenteritis or the frequent muscle cramps.
Also be careful in not irking off your date by saying something stupid, for example, 'Oh I don't want to drink red wine, because it generally makes me feel gaseous'. There is absolutely nothing wrong in discussing biological conditions, but keep that talk for later when you get to know the person over a few weeks/months time.
8) Avoid money talk
Asking a guy or a girl who you have met for the first time, straight forward questions like 'How much money do you make?' can create an awkward moment.
If you must know if your date is financially well off, weave in a subtle question while talking about his/her job. For example, you can ask 'Do you enjoy your job? It pays well?' while talking about professional life.
Rob from Oviedo, FL on September 10, 2012:
More great insight.
Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on September 06, 2012:
Great tips! I wish I had had this to read back when I was younger. Hopefully the people who could really benefit from reading this will find it. Voted up and useful!
Rinita Sen on September 05, 2012:
Very helpful tips, and written very interestingly. Some very funny as well. The EBIT one LOL.