In another article, we discussed what to talk about on a first date--in theoretical terms. It's a fairly simple 5-step process where you alternate talking about each other, beginning with simple facts and working deeper. Recently, though, we received a message saying:
"But what about actual topics of conversation? Suggestions, Gurus?"
Sure. Before anything, a few tips:
- Keep in mind that these topics, while admittedly boring on the outside, act as a kind of passive test to see what kind of person you're with. For example, you aren't really invested in specific info about his Father. But you do care about his reaction to your question about his Father. Does he talk about his Dad with Anger? Love? Impatience?
- For every question that you ask, be prepared to provide an answer yourself.
- Ask the question, and better yet, a follow up question, seeking a more substantive answer. Ex: "So you like comedies. What do you think of Seth Rogan?" or, "What's was it like being the middle child in such a large family? "
- Goofy questions ("What's in your fridge?") are fun, but use them sparingly.
- Conversely, weighty topics ("Where do you see yourself in ten years?") can drag down a conversation if that's all you talk about.
We don't advocate slavishly following this list of topics (though some people inevitably will). This is just a list of suggestions; use them as needed.
1. "Do you have any brothers and sisters?"
An obvious question, but one that many people forget to ask. Everyone relishes talking about their family--whether in good terms or bad. Ask follow up questions based on the answers. "Did you like being an only child, or did you dream about having siblings?"
2. "Any upcoming travel plans?"
Everyone has to travel somewhere, sometime. It doesn't have to be anywhere exotic. Even a trip to Cleveland can be conversation-worthy. Follow up: What's been your favorite destination, so far?
3. "Cool place! Been here before?"
Warning, though: this is strictly a first-question question. You won't get much mileage out of this, but it's a good one to start out with. Follow up: What are your favorite kinds of restaurants (or bars, or cafe's)?
You want someone who likes what they do, but you don't want a raging workaholic. This question is an easy topic for your date to discuss, and also gives great clues about their personality. If they go on for 30 minutes about their latest PowerPoint presentation to the Board, you can mark this person off your list. Unless this type of thing floats your boat.
5. "What do you like to do in your free time?"
This topic helps determine what your life with this person will be like, since free time is what they will be spending with you.
6. "What really makes you mad?"
Now we're cutting closer to the bone. Does social injustice or cruelty to animals make him mad? Political rhetoric? People who stand in the "15 Item Only" grocery line with 16 items?
7. "Your favorite movie?"
Don't place too much credence in this answer; it's more of a fun topic. If they love "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" and you hate it, it doesn't automatically mean that you won't get along. Conversely, liking the same movie can be a false indicator of compatibility. Follow up: Do you like Quentin Tarantino films?
8. "What's in your fridge right now?"
Another throwaway question, but fun. This topic doesn't need to go on for very long. Use your date's answers to follow up on a) the best thing they cook b)their busy schedule (if the fridge has half and half and a box of baking soda in it)
9. "What's your most cherished childhood memory?"
This one should provoke a warm response. Follow up: Tell me about growing up in Iowa.
10. "What's your biggest life goal right now?"
Definitely not a question to ask within the first ten minutes. Or even thirty. Ask this mid-point in your date.