We’ve all heard the so-called ‘don’ts’ of first-date conversation. For instance, don’t bring up politics, religion, money, or the number of kids you want. Don’t complain about your day at work or your cantankerous landlord. Don’t bring up your last relationship (or your first, or any in between). But there’s more to good conversation than avoiding these subjects. Remember, the first date is not only intended to help you learn more about each other, it’s also a great opportunity to let your personality shine. So fill your repertoire with topics that not only reflect who you are, but that are interesting and that will fuel more than thirty seconds of discussion.
First and foremost, talk about what you enjoy. Talk about a job or hobby that you are passionate about, or your pets, or the amazing cheesecake recipe you recently discovered. If you’re engaged in and excited about the conversation, you will smile more and generate positive energy that will transfer to your date. On the other hand, talking about something (or someone) that annoys you will only bring out your cranky side, which is far less attractive.
You should also talk about what you do. Your date probably already knows you’re a college student, so talk about your extracurricular activities—he or she will be intrigued by your other facets, and the fact that you’re more than one-dimensional will be very appealing. Plus, you may find that the two of you have something in common, be it a sport, a musical instrument, or a favorite movie. If not, there’s a lot you can learn from each other (and a lot of opportunities for future dates).
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to open up a little. This doesn’t mean you should unload your emotional baggage, but it’s not a bad idea to get a little more personal. After all, the first step to getting to know each other is moving beyond small talk, so consider discussing your future goals. Maybe you want to start your own business, or you’ve always dreamed of traveling the world. Sharing your dreams, or your fears for that matter, will make your date feel special and will ultimately make you more comfortable with each other.
And don’t be afraid to give compliments; just keep them tasteful, not cheesy, and don’t go overboard. A good strategy is to give your date one or two thoughtful, sincere compliments. Try to be both original and specific—don’t just say “You look nice.” Even if you really mean it, this sounds like a formality. Replace it with “That’s a nice shirt” or “That color looks great on you.” Let your date know that you notice the details, that you’re actually paying attention to him or her. During conversation, offer something your date probably doesn’t hear very often—“You have a really cute laugh” or “Wow, it sounds like you really know what you’re talking about.” Original compliments are more memorable and come across as more sincere.
So the next time you find yourself sitting across from a potential Mr. or Mrs. Right, keep these in mind. Whether or not you wind up with a second date, you can at least get the first one off on the right foot.