First date advice: Getting the conversation started


You can spot a couple on an awkward date a mile off. How? They’re shifting in their chairs, silent apart from the odd comment or question that doesn’t really go anywhere. They look around the room for inspiration or feign deep interest in the menu. In short, they don’t seem to know how to talk to each other.

This silence can be attributed to two main factors: lack of chemistry or nerves. Unfortunately we can’t tell you how to create chemistry out of nowhere on a date. It’s either there or it’s not. However, a couple can be compatible, have chemistry and still fall down when it comes to conversation. First dates are nerve-racking situations, so it’s no surprise conversation sometimes dries up.

But there’s no need for this to happen to you. Here are our four essential rules for helping conversation flow on that crucial date:

Rule #1: Be quiet and listen
It might seem counter-intuitive but by listening as much as – if not more than – you talk you can encourage more conversation. Some people are scared into silence when their conversation partner just talks at them, rather than to them. Give the sound of your own voice a break and hear what your date has to say. They might be quiet at first, but encouraging nods and interjections should lead them to open up.

Rule #2: Go softly, softly
Getting to know someone is a slow process. Don’t feel you need to get right in there on the first date and ask deep and meaningful questions – some people will be scared into silence by this approach. Keep things light and airy, if things go well there will be plenty of time in the future to get to the heavy stuff.

Rule #3: Don’t vent
It’s important to remember the person you’re talking to is your date, and it’s likely that youbarely know them. So this is not the time to rant about your rude boss, your untidy housemate, your painful hernia or your evil ex. As we said above, light and airy is the order of the day. After all, if you make the conversation all about you and your issue, where on earth does your date get the chance to chip in?

Rule #4: Be genuine
Whether your date turns out to be the love of your life, or just someone you shared a coffee with, try to always be genuinely interested in what your date has to say. This involves listening carefully, engaging with what they’re saying and hopefully asking follow up questions. If you’re not genuine it’s so easy to spot, and so incredibly off-putting too.

Your starter for 10…
If you find yourself racking your brains as to what to say on a first date, we’ve got a few questions here that might get you started. We’re not saying you need to memorise all 10 of these questions, or that you can’t come up with your own, but they might give you some ideas for conversation boosters when things go a bit quiet:

1.    Who’s influenced you most in your life?
2.    What really makes you laugh?/How would you describe your sense of humour?
3.    What’s your favourite place in the entire world?
4.    What’s your favourite movie ever?
5.    How do you like to spend a lazy Sunday?
6.    Do you have any pet peeves?
7.    What kind of child were you?
8.    What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask?
9.    Do you have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?
10.    What was the last gig you went to?

Got your own favourite first date questions? We want to hear them in the comments!

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