Listening: The ‘Little Black Dress’ of First Date Conversations

Healthy RElationships Start With You

You mustered up the courage to ask that special someone to lunch, out for drinks or to try that new brunch place you read about in the paper and got a “yes.” Doesn’t that feel great? Hopefully, you answered “yes” but it is perfectly normal to be a bit nervous about your upcoming date.

A first date is all about getting to know the other person a little bit better and walking away with a sense of whether or not you would like to see them again. That’s all it is. Think of it as a learning opportunity.

The best way to get to know your date better is through the simple art of conversation. Alright, maybe this isn’t so simple or easy. But it can be.

The most interesting people are the ones who are most interested in others. Suppose your date mentions that she recently purchased plants for her garden. You can use that little tidbit to move into great conversation – whether you are into gardening or not — by asking what’s her favorite part of gardening or how long she has been doing it. She’ll jump at the chance to answer and think you are more interesting just by being interested in her.

It always helps to have a couple of topics in mind or a few questions on hand before the date. Below are a few clever conversation starters, or when you need a little help getting out of one of those awkwardly long silences:

  • Find out what they do in their free time
  • Talk about your recent travel experiences and ask them where they would like to visit
  • Mention where you grew up and ask your date about their hometown
  • Ask about their favorite sports, movie genres or what books they have read
  • Mention something exciting in your life: class reunion, recent promotion or if your moving
  • Discuss something that you found touching, moving or beautiful; even if it was just a post on Google+ you read
  • Talk about what your passionate about: volunteering, hobbies or even your 80s record collection

A few reminders:
1) When you talk about yourself, keep it positive. Stick to your best attributes and shy away from being critical of yourself or your current situation. Nobody likes a Gloomy Gus. Put your best foot forward.

2) Ask open-ended questions that require a response beyond yes or no.

3) Avoid talking about ex-anything. Leave the past relationships in the past for the first date.

The last one is a huge deal killer, I have found. Many clients have listed this as a major turn off and a deal breaker.

No matter how you present it, mentioning your ex will make your date feel compared, analyzed and found wanting. Remember, they are nervous too and looking for any cues that this may not be the ideal match. Keep discussion of exes for later in your relationship.

However, if you feel pressured by your date to reveal the “tell all” regarding past relationships, it would be best to politely decline. Let them know that it’s a bit early to share those details, but that you will gladly give them an all-access pass at a later time.

Keep the conversation light and fun. Pay attention to what you are learning about from your date. No matter how excited or nervous you might be, it’s important to listen.

Happy first date!