Talking is the name of the game during a first date. You need to have strong conversational skills to get to date number two. Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed in the conversation department. Sometimes we stick our foot in our mouth, talk incessantly about everything and nothing, and/or say things we wish we could take back.
Have you ever been amped up to spend time with someone who had a lot of potential, only to get too comfortable, too soon, and scare this person away with too much personal information? Or maybe you had (or thought you had) an amazing first date, but the second date never happened? If you can relate to these experiences, perhaps you need to rethink your first date conversation topics.
Here’s a friendly reminder of the things you should probably steer clear of while getting your chit-chat on during a first date:
Stop Talking About…
- Me, Myself, and I
It’s important to talk about yourself on a first date, letting your date know who you are and what you’re all about. It’s also important that you let your date talk about himself/herself too. First dates are like ping pong matches, where the conversation goes back and forth. Make sure it’s not like a one-sided soccer game, where you just run with the ball until the whistle blows at the end of the match.
According to Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D., a San Diego-based sociologist and sexologist, talking about yourself the entire time is very common in today’s dating game. “While it’s great to share your passions, make sure you’re also taking the time to get to know their passions and interests too.” And skip topics they have no interest in: According to a Match survey, about 75 percent of people believe having similar activities and interests is crucial to wanting a second date.
- Your Insecurities
“Are you sure I look OK?”
“Can you tell I have a huge zit right here?”
“I’m sure you like blondes more.”
We all know confidence is one of the sexiest traits, so never put your date in the awkward position of having to incessantly bolster your self-esteem, warns Chicago-based relationship therapist, Laura Berman, LCSW, Ph.D., author of Quantum Love. Not only does it shine a bright light on your (nonexistent) “flaws,” but it also forces your date to constantly reassure you, she adds. Less than 10 percent people in the Match survey were down with a date who has low self-confidence. Fake it ’til you make it with these 19 tips to boost your confidence.
- Work Drama
“You might think that your coworker cheating with your boss is hot gossip, but I promise it will bore your date to tears,” Berman says. “Gossip is almost always tiring after a while, but especially if you don’t know the people involved.” Instead, talk about what you like at work or, if you hate your job, about what you want to do instead and the steps you’re taking to get there. Both sexes consider passion and ambition two of the sexiest traits in a partner, according to a survey. You heard it here: Work ethic is hot.
- How Much Your Former Significant Other Sucks
“I actually don’t think it’s bad to talk about exes on a first date, because it gives you insight into what someone is like after a breakup—whether they’re bitter and blaming or can take responsibility,” Gunsaullus says. But, it becomes a problem if you start talking excessively about your significant other, particularly in a negative way.
This is especially true if you’ve been through a divorce, which is typically a lot messier than other breakups. “Discussing the details of your divorce makes you look uncouth, and it forces the other person to hear private details they probably would rather avoid on a first date,” Berman says. All you really need to say is that you have been single/divorced for X months or years and are just starting to date again.
- Explicit Details About Your Sex Life
“If you’re interested in getting to know each other better, talking vulnerably about a topic like sex can create a false sense of intimacy and trust with someone whose character and values you don’t really know yet,” Gunsaullus says. However, if you’re open to it and feel comfortable, “I’m all for talking about sex on a first date—and it can be really hot,” she adds. Know that it will probably put the idea that you’re ready to go home at the end of dinner in his/her head—so be conscious of what you’re insinuating.
- Your Emotional Instability
First, let’s be clear: There is no shame or embarrassment in mental health problems. But serious issues, past or present, are better off saved for a later conversation. That vulnerability is something that should unfold as you build a connection with someone, Gunsaullus says. Being so exposed so quickly can come off as emotional immaturity or a lack of boundaries, she warns. A better plan: Talk about anything else that showcases your personality. Be yourself and let him/her see if they can love your special brand of “crazy.”
- Other Dates You’re Going On
When you meet on an app, it’s implied that you’re probably dating other people, but you don’t need to give your date a play-by-play of your craziest escapades. “This comes up all the time, because people seek camaraderie as they navigate the dating frenzy. But you don’t want them to feel insecure knowing they are up against a ton of competition to win your heart,” says sex and relationship therapist Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Columbia University. If dating comes up, just say you’re having fun and leave the “define the relationship” conversation for a later date, Steinberg says.
- Family Drama
Save that drama for your mama! Your date doesn’t need to hear that your brother isn’t speaking to your mom because of that big blowout at Christmas, or that your Uncle Jim is a bit of a perv. Save these not-so-precious family moments for another (and much later) date.
- Your Rough Relationship History
Telling someone you’ve had back luck with relationships may seem innocent and honest. And sure, you may have been dealt a few bad hands that were out of your control. But like it or not, you are the common denominator in all those relationships, Steinberg points out. Most right-minded people won’t bet on a losing horse, so don’t present yourself that way.