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Dating Disasters Getting You Down? Try These Hacks For The Perfect First Date Conversation

By Somdutta Mazumder

Updated - Dec. 23, 2019 15 min read

Suffice it to say, evolutionary psychologists have long agreed upon the criticality of the mating process. From covert displays of strength as Neanderthals in the Stone Age to selecting the best selfies for Tinder as Millenials in the 21st Century, we have certainly come a long way. However, ignoring the nuances, the foundation of dating (or mating) remains the same as it was 2,50,000 years back. We aim to attract. Sounds easy, right? Ask anybody who is actively looking for THE one and your question will be met with a big, fat, NO

 

Most of the times, you don't meet the right person. Sometimes, you do but they don't feel the same way. Yet other times (if you are particularly unlucky), you meet the perfect person and both of you share mutual romantic interest but somehow, the date ends up spiralling into a horrific nightmare. You manage to put them off (you charmer, you!), offend them, annoy them or just bore them.

No, don't panic yet. The fact that you are on this page, and trying to do some research on your own, is the first step towards combating the afore-mentioned problems and ensuring your date goes favourably. The next step would be to thoroughly read this guide on best conversation tips for a first date!

 

1. Invest Time In Planning

Let's get real. Considering the fact that you're looking for conversation tips on the world wide web, this upcoming date has to be, at least, a tad bit important. Like any other important event in your life, one preemptive strategy for ensuring smooth sailing is to engage in meticulous planning. The devil is in the details, so pay close attention to the date, the time, the place and the plan. Ideally, you should pick a day during the weekend so your date isn't day-dreaming about Excel while you speak. Select a time comfortable for both, and leave room for some flexibility. Depending upon the personalities of you and your date, pick a spot and devise a plan that complements your interests and preferences

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

2. Remember Their Name 

Seems obvious, doesn't it? However, if you are anywhere near as scatter-brained as me, this might seem like a challenging feat. One of my worst habits is asking someone what their name is, then promptly forgetting to hear what their name is. This is followed by panicked attempts at getting them to repeat their name without asking directly, before things get awkward. In other words, don't be me. Pay attention when they introduce themselves and repeat the word in your head like you're reciting the Hanuman Chalisa, to make sure you don't end up forgetting it. However, if due to reasons unknown to mankind, your short-term memory is severely compromised, there is a trick to get them to tell you their name. Ask them what their name means. *sly smirk* You can also ask how they spell their name, but if it turns out to be something generic like Rohan or Lisa, you will end up seeming dim-witted

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

 

3. Compliment Their Best Feature At First Glance 

Please notice the words "at first glance". This refers to features which are completely overt, such as eyes, or hair, or outfit. Go for compliments that are genuine, yet a tad impersonal. I mean come on, unless you've known each other for a while, you can't really tell someone you are meeting for the first time, that they have a phenomenal personality or that their ambition is contagious. For one thing, they are probably going to respond with, "how the hell do you know that". For another, you don't want to appear desperate to please, now do ya? 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

4. Don't Be Afraid To Admit That You're Nervous 

Pre first date anxiety happens to the best of us. Even if you are not hyperventilating in a corner, feeling slightly jittery is but a natural response. And bearing in mind, there isn't much you can do about it at that moment (anybody got some Xanax?), it's best to own up to it. Be honest, and tell them that you're feeling nervous. In all likelihood, they are as well, and the fact that you admitted it first will be considered endearing. It can also be a cute ice-breaker and help dissipate some of the awkwardness. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

 

5. Keep It Light

Not to be Captain Obvious here, but it is your first date with this person. Initiating a conversation about Palestine (does anybody for real know what's happening there? asking for a friend), or Camus' Absurdism or the pitfalls of modern society, can go downhill real quick. To put it another way, avoid topics which are heavy-duty or "deep". If this is your first proper interaction with the individual, there is no way to gauge what their opinions might be, or if they even find the topic remotely intriguing. So in order to avoid any mishaps, keep the conversation light, engage in playful banter and add a generous helping of humour

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6. Ask Plenty Of Questions

The primary reason both of you are on a date together is so that you familiarise yourself with each other. You want to get to know them and understand their worldview. Thus, it stands to reason that you ask them plenty of relevant questions at appropriate junctures. Be careful while phrasing your questions. You want them to feel comfortable enough to open up to you instead of receding back into their own bubble. Lastly, do not ask random questions just for the sake of it. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

7. Express Interest In Their Stories 

If you manage to ask all the right questions, chances are your date will soon be sharing about their life events relatively openly. Now, listen, the next part is VERY important. While your date is speaking, remember to APPEAR INTERESTED. Ask them follow-up questions, and give them cues to continue talking such as nudging questions or the nod of your head. Make sure your reactions are congruent to what your date is expressing. For instance, do not start laughing hysterically when your date is talking about his/her dead dog. In addition to coming off as rude and insensitive, you will likely end up on their "I would rather slowly burn to death than talk to this person again" list. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

8. Do Not Be Intrusive 

If your date chooses to refrain from elaborating on a particular thing he/she happened to mention or refuses to answer your question on the grounds that he/she doesn't want to, leave it be. Do not let your curiosity get the best of you and end up making your date uncomfortable. Do not prod into his/her personal matters (especially if they clearly don't like it) or act nosey. Don't try to manipulate them into revealing more information than what they are willing to share. And for the sake of the sanity of everybody involved, do NOT tell them "I shared my story na, you also have to now" *crazy eyes*

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

9. Do NOT Over-Share

When talking about yourself, avoid going over-board and divulging personal information. This is a person you are going on a first date with and not someone offering free therapy. In addition, intimacy is a bit-by-bit process and not a goal you can achieve overnight. Match their sharing pace. If they open up about topic A, speak about your own experience with topic A instead on presenting them with a monologue on topic A, B, C and D. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

10. Avoid Controversial Topics

There are certain topics, which are bound to generate controversy and possibly lead to arguments. To gain an understanding of conversation topics you should steer clear of on the first date, check THIS out. 

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11. Establish Common Ground

Opposites attract, but similarity establishes more intimate relationships. Shared interests, concerns, hobbies and goals set the stage for engaging discussions and resultant comfort. Try to examine the commonalities between the two of you. Are you both doting dog parents? Do you both dislike North-Indian food? Are you both eagerly waiting for the new season of that Netflix show? If the procured answer is positive, an entire world of new topics you can discuss will open up.

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

12. Don't Forget Your Manners

Manners maketh man. Or woman, or person. Basically what I am trying to say is, be sure to treat the other person with courtesy and kindness, always. Never underestimate the power of a simple "Please", "Thank You", or "Excuse Me". You can be as goofy as you'd like to be but at the end of the day, be mindful of basic etiquettes. Dress appropriately, pause while talking, do NOT consistently use your phone during the date, and please, just please, shut your mouth while you chew. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

13. Don't Lie Or Engage In Boasting

Yeah, I know you want to impress your date. We wouldn't be here otherwise, would we? However, during your ambitious endeavours to make a good impression, it is important to be mindful of one little thing...REALITY! Do not create outrageously (or even moderately for that matter) fabricated stories related to the things you do, own or know. This includes people (yeah, no "tu jaanta nahi hai mera baap kaun hai" moments). Nobody likes arrogance, especially when it is feigned. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

14. Don't Start Competing

If your date is telling you about the craziest thing he/she has ever done, or the European country they backpacked through, do not view it as a challenge. It is not, I repeat, it is NOT an invitation for you to one-up them. You don't have to interject to talk about how you have gone to much more places or done way wilder things. Instead of being dazzled by your worldliness, they are likely to feel insecure about the implied insufficiency of their own experiences. And that's not a feeling anybody wants to experience recurrently. Let alone at the hands of their prospective beau. In other words, you can say goodbye to the chances of a second date. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

15. Avoid Complaining Too Much 

Nobody likes a whiner. If your date asks you about your job, that is not an opportunity for you to unload years of pent up frustration and drone on about how much you hate your boss. Don't be the person who nitpicks over every single element in their immediate environment, starting from how the temperature is set too low and stretching beyond the dreaded texture of the napkin you are holding. Broadly speaking, most people tend to be drawn to those who are vibrant and content. By complaining too much you might present yourself as an extremely critical person, which can potentially scare your date away. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

16. Display Contagious Optimism

Speaking of keeping unnecessary negativity at bay, I would recommend for you to embody and project cheery optimism. Yes, even if you feel like there are some metaphorical dark clouds looming over your head. Speak positively about the place you are at. Tell your date that you are glad they could take out time to meet you. Even if there is a mishap, for instance, your waiter brings you the wrong kind of pizza, brush it off by saying something like, "Hey, this one has mushrooms! I love mushrooms!" When you project yourself as someone who is capable of looking at the positive side of things, trust me, you are kicking up your attractiveness level by a few notches. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

17. Think Twice Before Engaging In Self-deprecating/ Dark/ Nihilistic Humour 

Our generation is particularly infamous for a dark sense of humour. If someone tells us that they want to die, instead of expressing concern for their well-being, we tend to reply with a prompt "same".  Some of us have also mastered the art of self-deprecating humour, i.e,  cracking jokes at the cost of our own self.  I get it, we are progressively realising that the world is a bleary, dark place and humour is the most legal way of coping with this knowledge. However, not everybody has a penchant for macabre humour and your date might just fall in this category. Your obscure jokes may be viewed as suicidal ideation and your self-deprecating humour may be thought of as stemming from poor self-esteem. So, yeah. If your date tells you that you are looking well, fight off the urge to reply with, "thanks, its the depression!"

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

18. Be Mindful Of Body Language 

If you are aiming for the perfect date, you might need more than just mere words to convey how psyched you are. Our body language relays a number of cues, which in turn communicate our prevailing feelings. If you are inconsistent with your non-verbal cues, your date might have a hard time figuring out if you are into him/her or just really enamoured by the pizza. Although certain physical movements will be largely based on your instincts, some ways in which you can project your enthusiasm include continually leaning in towards your date, keeping your body aligned and facing them, avoiding negative micro-expressions, gesticulating actively and smiling warmly. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

 

19. Maintain Eye Contact 

Body language experts scattered all over the globe have incessantly emphasised upon the significance of maintaining eye contact. If you are inept with your eye contact and continue to avert your gaze while your date is speaking, you are risking projecting yourself as uninterested, under-confident or dismissive. Studies have demonstrated that people who have a tendency to evade direct eye contact are usually perceived as less likeable. Thus, it stands to reason that while catering to your body language, make sure you maintain consistent and steady eye contact. However, this does not mean that you continue staring into his/her soul, unblinking and unmoving. Statistically, if you are speaking, maintain eye contact for about 50% of the time, and if you are listening, aim for a 70% eye contact. 

 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

20. Don't Be Obnoxious 

Keep it low-key. Your conversation with your date will not exactly be meaningful if the entire restaurant can hear you yelling. Avoid being loud or boisterous. Be considerate of your date's feelings and sentiments. You can be fiesty without coming across as arrogant or obnoxious. Do not disregard your date's opinions or perspectives and avoid being aggressive about your viewpoints no matter how strongly you might feel. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

 

21. Pay Close Attention To Their Reactions 

Act to react. Base your behaviours, words and overall demeanour on the vibes you get from your date. Match your date's reactions with appropriate and congruent actions. For instance, if you are criticising a popular TV show and your date proceeds to roll her eyes, scoff at you or in general look like he/she just bit on a lemon, perhaps backtracking and saying something like, "but I understand why people might be into it" could dissipate the tension. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

22. Agree to Disagree

All said and done, you and your date are two individuals who, in all probability, will not have the same opinions towards every subject. There will come a (or several) point(s) during the conversation, wherein you might find out that the person you are with, holds an entirely disparate view. You might be a heavy smoker, but your date abhors the habit of smoking. Or you might adore dogs but your date prefers cats. Whether substantial or completely inconsequential, choose to respect the difference in opinion and move on. After all, as Aristotle said, the mark of an educated man is the ability to entertain a thought without accepting it. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

23. Don't Be Wary Of Silence 

I will never understand why some people are particularly scared of the lull of silence during a date. Not every kind of silence is awkward. If you and your date are clearly enjoying yourselves, slipping into comfortable silence occassionally might further solidify the bond. Don't attempt to fill in every moment of silence with random words, as that will definitely create awkwardness. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

24. Don't Be Afraid To Speak Up 

So far, we have addressed how you can make your date feel comfortable and ensure things go smoothly. However, the points that have been put forth are based on one, underlying assumption, i.e, your date is good company. But what happens, if this turns out to be incorrect or partially correct. If you observe your date engaging in behaviours that are morally questionable or make you extremely uncomfortable, don't be afraid to put your foot down. If your date makes snide comments, puts you down or is rude to the people around you (especially the staff, BIG red flag), speak up, voice your opinion and walk away if the situation so demands. 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 

25. Don't Start Actively Planning The Next Date (Yet)

Alright, so the date exceeded your expectations. You and your date have seemingly managed to establish a connection and there is evident chemistry between the two of you. You can barely contain your excitement about what lies ahead? So what do you, start planning your wedding of course? No, that is not how it works. Do not get ahead of yourself. At the end of the date, you can go ahead and ask if he/she would like to see you again. If, by the miracle of God and our blog, he/she answers in affirmative, feel giddy inside and leave it be. Do not start actively chalking up a plan for your next date. You may agree on a tentative day, but restrict yourself from discussing the time, place, activity, dress code, timeline etc. You don't want to make your date regret their decision. 

 

Image Courtesy - Giphy

 


So now that we have reached the last bit of this guide on first date conversation tips, I can only hope that you found our suggestions helpful. However, this is a guide and not the Bible. Don't forget to bring your own unique personality to the table and pick up on your date's vibes. Here's hoping your next date is the one you've been waiting for all this while. 

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