First dates can and should be exciting – but, naturally, they can also be a source of anxiety. A lot of the time, these feelings come from worries about getting tongue-tied or not knowing what to talk about.
But we can all find it difficult to think of things to say at times, and your date may well experience this too. Plus, who knows, you might even bond over those clumsy, socially awkward moments – as they’re just a reminder that you’re both human.
That being said, it’s always worth having a few tricks up your sleeve to help you strike up an easy but meaningful discussion with whoever you’re meeting.
To help, we’ve put together a list of eight things to talk about on a first date.
1. Share an experience together
Finding something interesting to talk about can be difficult enough with anyone you’ve just met, let alone someone you’re really hoping to impress. So, having a guaranteed conversation starter can help to ease any nerves and really let the exchange take flight.
One tried and tested method for this is to go out for dinner after you’ve both shared an experience together. This might be the classic dinner and a movie – but if you switch things around and eat dinner after the film, you’ll both have an in-built conversation topic to fall back on.
Chances are, you won’t want to be sharing your thoughts about the new blockbuster or theatrical hit for the entire date. But having something to talk about as soon as you arrive can help you feel more comfortable and will almost certainly lead to deeper discussions.
Your activity of choice doesn’t necessarily have to be a movie either. Any kind of experience that might prompt an exchange of emotions and opinions afterwards can work, from watching the latest musical to taking a scenic bike ride.
2. Explore what you already know about each other
It can be easy to slip into panic mode when trying to make conversation on a first date, but there’s usually plenty of thought-provoking things we can draw on right off the bat.
Unless your meeting began in true rom-com style, with a mild collision and frantic picking-up of dropped groceries, there’s a good chance you and your date will have already shared at least a little about yourselves by the time you sit down.
It might seem obvious or unexciting, but there’s no harm in retreading old ground. Exploring what you already know about each other can be helpful when striking up a conversation, finding your way onto new topics, and learning more about your date.
Maybe your date previously mentioned a hobby or interest of theirs, or an aspiration in life. Bringing these up and asking follow-up questions to learn more is an easy way to get talking – and also shows that your date that you’re invested in getting to know them.
3. Ask your date about their future plans and ambitions
When we meet someone new, it can be easy for us to spend lots of time asking about their past. For example, “Where did you grow up?” is a popular first-date question. And, while these kinds of conversations can be useful to help you get to know your date, they can sometimes come across a little uninspired.
Instead of asking about your date’s past, why not try switching it up and asking about their future? Do they have ambitions that they’re passionate about fulfilling? Perhaps they’d like to start their own business someday, or maybe they’d like to move somewhere exotic.
Asking about someone’s future plans can lead to interesting conversations and show that you’re interested in their goals. And telling them about your own aspirations can also show that you’re passionate, ambitious, and forward-thinking.
Plus, speaking about each others’ future plans can be useful from a practical perspective, because you might find out how compatible you are. For example, if you want to do more travelling in later life, but your date doesn’t, this might affect how you go forward with the relationship.
However, it’s worth mentioning here that just because two people have different aspirations, it doesn’t mean that they can’t have a successful and supportive relationship.
4. Talk about hobbies or passions
Most people love to talk about their passions and interests with others, and in many cases, are waiting for the opportunity to share their enthusiasm with a willing ear.
How we choose to spend our time is one of the most important parts of what makes us unique, and getting to know what excites someone is key to learning more about who they are as a person.
Whether you find that you share an interest or partake in the same hobby, or just enjoy watching your date’s eyes light up talking about their greatest passion, chatting about what makes you both tick is a dependable way to spark up an engaging conversation.
5. If stuck, look to your environment for inspiration
This is a helpful tip for any kind of conversational lull, but it’s especially helpful for nerve-inducing situations like a first date.
If you’re stuck for something to talk about, look around at your environment. Often, you’ll find something conversation-worthy to comment on and a little imaginative thinking can progress conversations even further.
Finding something to keep up the conversation could be as simple as pointing out a scenic view, or a painting that strikes your fancy.
But perhaps more useful is the opportunity for something in your surroundings to remind you of a story or question you’d like to bring up. For example, if you’re out for a walk in your local area, you’re bound to pass by a place that holds a heartwarming or amusing memory you could share.
6. Talk about travel
People love to talk about their most exciting and memorable moments and experiences, especially when first getting to know a person. And for many people, a lot of these memories come from travelling.
If you’ve been lucky enough to explore the world, or even just your local area, you’re bound to have a collection of experiences to share with your company.
If your date is a fellow globetrotter, your travel experiences can make for a fun, low-pressure conversation topic, while still giving you the opportunity to learn something meaningful about each other’s personalities, interests, and values.
If you’re on the lookout for that next adventure, you’ll find lots of inspiration in the travel section of our website, including unforgettable cruise destinations and inspiring places to visit in the UK.
7. Address dealbreakers early on
Before anything else, dates are meant to be fun – and the experience of getting to know someone new can make first dates even more compelling.
However, it’s still important to look out for your needs and wants. For this reason, it can be helpful to address any issues that might be a dealbreaker for you early on.
People tend to want to have some casual, low-pressure fun on a first date, which means heavier topics, such as politics or a lot of in-depth details about your previous relationship, are usually best avoided.
But if you know of any specific and important needs you have in a relationship – or if things like taking care of children, opposing political beliefs, or even just different lifestyles are a dealbreaker for you – it’s usually better for everyone involved that you communicate this before things get too serious. This can help to avoid disappointment when they inevitably come up later down the line.
That being said, try to keep the conversation light at first, and save any dealbreaking topics until a bit later in the date when you’re both feeling more relaxed.
8. Ask about their career - but keep it personal
People’s jobs are one of the most important parts of their lives, so it’s natural that careers come up often in conversations between people who’ve just met.
If you’re trying to get to know your date, asking them about what they do for a living is a must. After all, it’s difficult to get a good understanding of who someone is if you don’t know how they spend the majority of their time!
If you or your date are retired, it’s worth asking what they were up to before and how they spend their time now. They might have some new and interesting retirement adventures to share.
Though, it’s worth keeping in mind that, since chatting about careers is a particularly common date-night conversation topic, it does have the potential to be a little dry or end up feeling robotic.
To avoid this kind of mechanical discussion, try to be mindful of your reason for asking in the first place: to get to know your date and show them your genuine interest.
Instead of only asking the predictable questions, make an effort to listen closely to what they’re saying, ask follow-up questions, and relate your own experiences to theirs. Going through the motions of explaining what they do for the millionth time in the last month may be a little tedious for them, but being asked about their aspirations in life can be much more exciting and engaging.
All conversations have their ups and downs, but first-date conversations can often feel much more awkward than a casual chat with an acquaintance.
We hope that you’ve found our tips and suggestions helpful. But the most important thing is to be yourself. Do your best to listen, ask meaningful questions, and above all, appreciate each other’s company. Remember, dates are supposed to be fun!
Or, if you’re on the lookout for that special someone, you might like to head over to Rest Less Dating. It’s free to sign up, and you can start searching for a meaningful connection right away.