Any good first date relies on there being a conversational spark between you and your date, and any sober silences and gaps in conversation can kill the mood instantly.
While it’s important to be relaxed and not seem like you’re reading off a script, there are some definite conversational gambits you can try that help break the ice and for the two of you to get to know each other more intimately.
The important thing is that you ask questions and give the other person a chance to talk about themselves.
Here’s a few genuinely decent get to know you questions for a first date… and some topics to 100 per cent avoid.
Unless his/her family have been killed in a freak sharknado attack, asking about your date’s family is a surefire way to get them talking. It allows them to open up about a huge part of their life that they’re almost invariably proud of and love. It also gives you a chance to talk about your family which is a big plus, people are attracted to people who can love and respect their parents and siblings. A happy home life shows that you’re a balanced, well-adjusted person who at least a few people can stand to be around, it also gives you an insight into how the date generally treats people. You don’t need to even be specific, a simple ‘tell me about your family’ will suffice. Try not to stick to specific questions, a simple broad topic like family has scope for tons of questions to get to know someone and relax into the date.
As trite as it is to ask someone what they do for a living, it is still a genuinely revealing question that is totally worth asking. Best case scenario, they love their interesting job and will enjoy telling you about it, worst case is they hate it, which gives you an opportunity to empathise, ‘yeah I’m not liking my job of licking and sticking envelopes closed either’. It’s always just a jumping off point, and if you just listen and relax then more follow up questions will come. If the date is pissed off or fed up with their job you can ask them what they’d love to be doing.
Most people, even the shy retiring types, will have some sort of ambition for a dream job or lifestyle, and will more than likely gladly talk about it. It might be something modest like becoming a teacher so you have the summer free for travel or setting up a business or even just working less, the point is that it reveals the type of person your date is, and people really open up when they talk about what they want in the future.
Questions like what did/do you study in college/uni are also quite revealing in getting to know someone on a first date. Chances are most people picked a subject that they find genuinely interesting and will be prepared to talk at length about it. Also it’s a handy way of filtering out the weirdos, if they say they studied theology or taxidermy you can just end the date there no questions asked, safe in the knowledge that your date’s a bit of an oddball.
When you’ve moved passed asking people what they’re like, you should use the adage from High Fidelity and start asking what they’re into, music being the chief question here, but can also include films, TV shows, books, anything really. What people enjoy about art and culture says a lot about them, and gives them free reign to talk about themselves. It works as a great lead-in to other topics, they might mention festivals or gigs they’ve been to that you might’ve also attended.
Topics To Avoid
On a first date you don’t really want to get too deep (unless the conversation naturally goes that way) so try to avoid asking questions about politics or religion. You want to keep things light and interesting by talking about food and films, not priests and politicians. And whatever you do, don’t talk about the weather, it just smacks of you not having anything interesting to talk about.