What should you talk about on a first date?
What should you talk about on a first date?
First dates can be exhilarating, but also nerve-wracking. How we do our hair, what we decide to wear, and which cologne or perfume we decide to reach for are all valid concerns—but most of all, we seem to worry about what to talk about on a first date. What if conversation runs short or your nerves get the best of you? Don’t worry—we've compiled the best topics to discuss on a first date, which to avoid, and even a list of questions you can use on your potential partner to engage them and spark meaningful conversation.
What are the best topics to discuss on a first date?

What to Talk About on a First Date

The basics When getting to know someone on a first date, the basics can be a great starting point, even if they aren't the most captivating topics. By discussing your date's background and daily life, you can lay the groundwork for more engaging conversations down the line and steer clear of uncomfortable silences. Talking about how you spend your time, where you live, and your feelings about your environment provides a solid foundation to build upon. Enthusiastically sharing the things you enjoy can help set an upbeat, energetic tone for the date. Example question: “What does your typical day look like at work?”

Friends Discussing friends and social circles on a first date can provide valuable insights into your date's character and personality. Does your date have a wide social network or a tight-knit group? Are the people they associate with a positive influence, or do they tend to hold each other back? Have they maintained long-standing friendships, or are their relationships more fleeting? By exploring these questions, you can gain a deeper understanding of your date's values, priorities, and overall character. Example question: “What do you typically do for fun with your friends?”

Hobbies and interests Discussing your favorite hobbies, interests, and passions on a first date is crucial for establishing a deeper connection. Whether you're an aspiring guitarist, a dedicated crystal collector, or an avid hockey fan, openly sharing these aspects of yourself can foster meaningful conversations and help you both learn more about each other. By talking about how you enjoy spending your free time, you not only reveal insights into your personality, but also open the door for your date to reciprocate, allowing you to discover their preferences and gain a better understanding of how they choose to spend their days. Example question: “I’ve recently been really getting to cross-stitching. Have you ever tried it?”

Preferences Think of this as playing a fun little game of “this or that.” Ask them if they’re a morning or a night person, if they’d rather spend the weekend at the beach or in the mountains, if coffee or tea is better, etc. For more open-ended responses, you could ask about their perfect day or what they and their friends like to do for fun. These types of questions can naturally lead to discussions about shared interests, qualities, and preferences, without feeling overly intense on a first meeting. Example question: “Would you rather have Beyoncé’s talent or Jay-Z’s business mindset?”

Favorites In today's world of abundant streaming options, there's no shortage of access to movies, shows, and literature. Discussing your TV viewing habits, favorite films, and beloved books can be a great way to keep the conversation flowing on a first date, as it allows you to reveal more about your interests and personality. Example question: “I just finished my favorite show and need a new binge-worthy series. Have you watched anything good lately that you'd suggest?”

Travel If you’ve ever taken one peek at a dating app, there’s no shortage of folks who list “traveling” as one of their most beloved interests. Discussing travel is a popular first-date topic, as it allows you and your date to share stories, both positive and negative, about your travel experiences. You can also learn about each other's interests and passions by discussing your dream destinations and favorite vacation spots. Example question: “If you could fly anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?”

Goals and pursuits Discussing your long-term goals and aspirations can be a great way to get to know someone better on a first date. When asked about your vision for the future—whether in 5 years or 10—the key is to respond candidly about your hopes and desires, beyond just career ambitions. Sharing personal goals, such as learning a new skill or hobby, can provide valuable insight into your interests and priorities. This open dialogue allows your date to understand you on a deeper level from the start without getting too heavy. Example question: “Do you see yourself at the same job you’re at now in 5 years?”

What to Avoid Talking About on a First Date

Health issues It's generally best to avoid discussing personal health issues on a first date. The other person may not be familiar with your condition and may not know how to respond appropriately. Furthermore, you don't want to risk coming across as using your condition to define who you are as a person. Save any in-depth conversations about your health for when the relationship has had more time to develop.

Complaints Complaining on a first date is best avoided for a few key reasons. First, it can make your date feel uneasy and put them on the defense. People generally dislike chronic complainers, who often come across as negative and pessimistic. Excessive complaining can also be mentally draining for the listener. If you want to make a positive impression on a first date, it's best to steer clear of topics that lead you to vent or complain about anything. The goal should be to keep the conversation upbeat and focused on getting to know your date better.

Previous relationships It's best to avoid discussing your own love life, especially past relationships, when on a date. Bringing up an ex tends to make your date think one of two things: either you haven't moved on, or you have significant baggage from that prior relationship. Instead, use the time to get to know your date better. Conversations about past relationships are better saved for once you've established a deeper connection.

Religion While you may prefer to marry someone of a certain religious faith, it's generally better to avoid discussing sensitive topics like religion on a first date. These subjects can be contentious and it's wise not to risk starting a debate so early in the relationship. You'll likely encounter these topics eventually, but it's best to wait until you've had more time to get to know your date first.

Sex While discussing your own sexual history may feel comfortable for you, your date may not be as eager to share details about their past sex life. Bringing up sex or sexual history on a first date can come across as a red flag and potentially sabotage the relationship. Sex is a very personal topic for most people, so it's best to avoid delving into those specifics early on.

Politics Some of us are very passionate about politics, and we could never imagine ourselves with someone who’s viewpoints didn’t align with our own. While your political views may be a source of passion and interest for you, it's best to avoid discussing them on a first date. Bringing up politics can be one of the quickest ways to upset your date and derail the conversation.

Talking too much about yourself It's important to be genuinely curious about your date and allow space for them to learn about you as well. Asking thoughtful questions will help the conversation flow naturally, enabling you both to get to know each other better. Be an attentive listener, allowing moments of comfortable silence so your date feels heard and has the opportunity to share what's on their mind. Aim to ask more questions than you volunteer personal information - this balanced exchange will foster a deeper connection.

How to Make Your First Date Conversation Stand Out

Keep a list of questions handy. Having a list of conversation starters on hand can help ease first date jitters. If you tend to feel nervous or anxious, keep a list of potential topics and questions saved on your phone. This way, you'll have a backup plan ready in case you freeze up or run out of things to say. The list could include lighthearted anecdotes or icebreaker questions you can use to keep the conversation flowing. Knowing you have this resource available can help you stay relaxed and focused on enjoying the date.

Avoid making it feel like a job interview. Dates should feel relaxed, not like you’re meeting with a prospective corporate employee. Steer clear of grilling your companion about their educational or professional background. Instead, focus the conversation on getting to know them as a person.

Practice active listening. Actively listen to your date and demonstrate your interest by asking thoughtful follow-up questions. For instance, if you ask where they would go if they could go anywhere in the world, follow up by inquiring about the reason behind their selection.

Focus on getting to know who they are. To genuinely get to know someone, make your objective to learn the details of their life and what excites them. For instance, you could ask about their daily routine, favorite foods, or how they spend their free time.

Don’t feel pressured to overly impress them. On a first date, people often feel compelled to demonstrate their value or worthiness to their companion. This dynamic creates an imbalance of power that puts you in a weaker position. While you still want to make a good first impression, remember that this person needs to impress you before you go out of your way to impress them.

Go in with no expectations. Many people approach first dates with unrealistic expectations, trying to force a potential partner into a preconceived mold. This excessive pressure can stifle spontaneity and enjoyment. Instead, it's better to have modest goals for the initial meeting—simply assess whether you'd like to spend more time getting to know this person.

Questions for Engaging Conversations

Ask questions that are thought-provoking but not too deep. When we begin to lay on thick and philosophical questions, this can be too much for a lot of people in the beginning stages of getting to know someone. Instead, focus on light-hearted yet engaging questions like: Where did you grow up? What’s your favorite novel? What do you think is important for a healthy relationship? What does your ideal weekend look like? What’s your biggest pet peeve? What do you like to do outside of work? Have you ever had any pets? Do you usually like nights out or nights in? Have you ever traveled abroad? What do you usually order for the table? What’s a topic you can rant about forever? What animal would you say best represents you? If you could time travel, when would you travel to and why? Are you a big texter in a relationship? What is your love language? Do you consider yourself a romantic person? What’s one thing you can’t leave home without? Where do you see yourself five years from now? What are you most grateful for? What’s your worst habit? If you could have any superpower, what would you pick? If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would you pick? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Do you prefer the outdoors or indoors? What kind of music do you like? Who’s your celebrity crush? What’s your favorite meal?

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