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What to Talk About on a First Date

The Dating Gurus, veterans of many dates, have mastered the art of what to talk about on the first date.  But we haven't forgotten the pain and agony of trying to think of conversational topics when meeting that stranger for the first time. So, we have devised a simple 5-step plan to help things go smoothly:

1.  Talk About:  Neutral Topics

Neutral topics aren't about you and aren't about them.  Neutral topics are about neither.  They are things like:  sports, weather, the meeting place, traffic (in fact, sometimes I believe that sports were invented for the sole purpose of helping strangers break the ice in conversation):

  • Have you ever been to this coffee shop before?
  • Did you get stuck in that construction on the way here?
  • Did you see the game on Sunday?

Yes, this initial line of conversation may sound dull.  In fact, it is.  Do not spend more than a few minutes on it.

Still, neutral topics are necessary to get started.

2.  Talk About Them (Facts)

One bit of advice about talking to strangers:  "If you can think of nothing to talk about, ask questions of the other person."  That's because people looooove to talk about themselves.

Ask them safe, factual questions to begin:

  • Do you have any kids or pets?
  • What type of work do you do?
  • What general area do you like in?

This initial set of questions is devoid of anything emotional.  No "like" or "dislike" is involved right now.

Avoid getting too specific.  Do not ask for names of relatives, addresses, the name of the place where they work, etc.  Many people at this stage are understandably cautious of giving away too many particulars for safety reasons.

3.  Talk About You (Facts)

You cannot only talk about the other person.  This person has shown up at this coffee shop or lunch spot to learn about you, too.

Take the same tack as before.  Start with factual information, only don't wait for them to drag it out of you.

Volunteer basic information about yourself, but be sure that it flows.

Don't Say This:

Him: "...and after that, I finished my medical residency at Johns Hopkins."

Her:  "I love paddleboarding."

But This Instead:

Him: "...and after that, I finished my medical residency at Johns Hopkins."

Her:  "Hey, I lived in Baltimore, too."

4.  Talk About Them (Deeper)

As you progress, you can cover the same territory as before, but from a more emotional level.

  • Do you like your job?
  • What do you like about where you live? (Assume that they like where they live; it's the polite thing to do.  They will readily tell you if they don't like it)
  • What do you like about owning a corgi?

Re-framing your initial questions in an emotional sense is almost like asking an entirely new set of questions.  More importantly, you are propelling this potential relationship into higher realms.

Keep the conversation positive ("What do you like about driving a Beetle?"), rather than negative.  But if they bring up a negative, you can ask them to clarify or expand on the topic a bit.

5.  Talk About You (Deeper)

What are you passionate about?  Cats, classic cars, vinyl records, cosplay or humanitarian trips to Chad?  Passion is sexy.  Passion is attractive.

But if your passion verges on obsessive, be careful.  It doesn't matter if your obsession is considered weird by most people (cosplay) or wholesome (saving the world's children), it's still an obsession, and obsessions can wear on other people.

Definitely bring up the topics that you love.  After all, your loves help define your personality.  But don't go on forever about them.

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