10 Conversation Starters for the First Date

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Whether you’ve spoken over the phone or are meeting for the first time, making conversation on the first date is nerve-wracking. The more dating experience you have, the more you recognize certain questions produce quality answers where others are a little uncomfortable. It’s important to brainstorm conversation topics before the first date to arm yourself with an arsenal of stimulating topics and avoid awkward subjects or long silences. Don’t insult a date on the first meeting! Small talk gets a bad reputation, but it’s actually the ideal way to set expectations.

First date conversation generally moves in different stages. First comes small talk: an established method of breaking the ice and establishing common ground with your date. Many people claim to hate small talk, but in the context of dating it serves a very important purpose. There is some basic information people just need to continue an intelligent conversation with someone. From there, you can get to know each other with more in-depth questions. These generally give an idea about a person’s attitude about life and their professional lives. Deep questions tend to come toward the end of the night (or after a glass of wine). These involve topics you would ask a best friend. Use the following categories and questions to guide your evening:

Small Talk:
Where are you from? This question helps establish a person’s background, culture, living situations, and expectations for lifestyle habits. If you are from the same town or even if you hope to travel somewhere your date has been, great conversation can stem from this.

Do you have any siblings? This basic question about family tells a lot about how a person grew up. If your date was the oldest sibling, they might be used to taking on leadership roles and taking care of people. A middle child could be a good negotiator, or a youngest child might be used to learning by example. There is a lot of insight a person can gain from birth order.

Do you have any pets? If you’re both dog lovers, perhaps a dog park date could be in your near future. If your date has allergies to pet dander, however, this could be a deal breaker. Use this question wisely.

Getting to Know You:
What do you do on the weekends? Learn more about your date’s hobbies, interests and secret passions! Is your date part of a jazz band or trivia group? This is where it will come up.

Would you ever move to a different state (or country)? This question is critical to ask before deciding to pursue a relationship with someone. If you fall in love, you want to know your date doesn’t have plans to pack up and move in the next few months (or if they do, that the two of you want to go to the same place). If a move is planned for the future, be prepared to make a long-distance relationship work.

What are you most proud of having accomplished? Stroke your date’s ego a little! Find out what they’re proud of in life. Is it becoming a parent? Owning a sports car? Their answer will tell you what they value and how to impress them in the future.

Deep Questions:
Do you vote? If the topic of political affiliation comes up that’s great, but this question is phrased specifically to be open-ended. If you date is uncomfortable discussing politics, this question makes it easy to direct the conversation elsewhere.

Are you religious? Again, don’t delve into this topic too heavily on the first date, but allow your date to explain whether they attend a religious service regularly, on holidays or not at all. If a philosophical conversation follows, then it’s up to you.

What’s on your bucket list? This is a playful way to breach the subject of future goals and dreams your date has. Do you both dream of skydiving? Maybe you both want to travel the world and visit the same countries. Find common ground and learn what your date’s goals are so you can be supportive when the time is right.

What are you looking for in a partner? The moment of truth has arrived! Will your date describe traits you have? Only time will tell…

Off Limits:
Whatever you do, avoid the following topics on the first date:

  • Sex
  • Medical issues
  • Death
  • Exes

Religious and political affiliations are helpful information to obtain about potential dates, but the above topics create more of an awkward space. Eventually it’s going to be okay to talk about sex or health concerns, but the first date is about getting to know your partner – not about putting them on the spot regarding sensitive topics.

First dates can make even the most practiced dater nervous, but it is possible to obtain peace of mind with a few backup conversation starters. Many singles also choose to invest in professional dating services or upscale matchmaking to increase the chances of quality conversation with their date. However you find your potential partner, the first priority is getting to know them in a fun and friendly environment. These questions can help set the stage for a successful meeting that will lead to many more dates in the future.

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