What Should I Talk About On a First Date?


How many times have we been on a date and leave feeling like we don’t actually know the other person at all? Sometimes I feel that I’ve monopolized the conversation and other times, my date hasn’t appeared even remotely interested in what I have to say. Have you ever been out with someone and could only get monosyllabic answers from them?

I’ve been guilty of this one.

Last week, I was preparing for a date, and Verily magazine posted this rather timely article on “The other-centered date”. It got me thinking of ways to put my date at ease by asking questions and listening, but without seeming like I’m interrogating or avoiding talking about myself.

A date can often seem more like a high-pressure interview than a relaxed get together, which doesn’t make anyone comfortable. Of course, we are dating to find out if someone is a good match and will make a good spouse and parent. However, there are ways to ask questions that help you get a better idea of who your date really is without firing questions at them. Sometimes just keeping a conversation alive can be a lot of work, and this is why you should always have a plan.

When I was getting my Master’s degree in Library Science, we had whole classes on “The Reference Interview.” We learned that it is actually very difficult for most people to put their ideas and information searches into questions and as librarians, we would have to ask leading questions to try to understand what our patrons really wanted from us. Often, we would have in-class exercises where we would enact hypothetical scenes from a library and think up questions that couldn’t possibly have a yes or no answer. While we all thought this was silly at the time, I use hints from these Reference Interview classes daily at work, and now I’ve realized how helpful they can be on a date.

When you ask questions to find out more about a date, what sort of answers are you getting? One syllable? Five minutes? Temperaments aside, very often the questions are too easy to answer or aren’t thought-provoking enough to elicit a thorough answer. I am a textbook melancholic/phlegmatic introvertif there’s a way to answer a question with as few words as possible, I’ll do it. My way around this possible conversation killer is to ask questions that require some thought and might fire up a new track to a conversation. Here are some suggestions:

1. Ask your date about siblings.

2. If you find out that he has nephews and nieces, compare notes on how you each spend time with the little ones. (I teach mine piano and talk a lot of baseball.)

3. If you talk about travel, ask your date what his favorite city is and why.

4. What places does he or she recommend you visit? (I love Granada because of all the history and culture that formed it.)

5. Don’t just ask what someone does for a living. Find out why they chose that career path, what they enjoy, what they’d like to change.

Not every date is going to be a winner. A date might talk about himself so much that there’s no need to even think about a question to ask. However, having a game plan is a good mental exercise and a great thing to fall back on if the date isn’t going well. Think of some topics that you are able to converse about easily and come up with ways that you could ask a question to really find out who this person is. Sometimes the answers will give us important insight into a person’s character.

Your date has four nephews but doesn’t really like children so he rarely sees them? Your date coaches baseball and babysits his niece? Your date doesn’t have a job and isn’t looking for one because he really doesn’t like anything? Your date loves his job and is working with upper management on a new project that will make him happier?

Remember that a yes or no answer isn’t always going to show us the true character of a person. If we really want to find out about others, we have to make a sincere effort to ask the right questions and be willing to listen to the full answer.



  1. Alma-1040981 August 12, 2014 Reply

    Les, it was good to read how you managed your first date – by praying to the Holy Spirit! Gives me an idea how to do it if & when I go to that step.
    Also like the idea of encountering Christ in that person. Should think more about this, thanks!

  2. Lisa-1099581 August 8, 2014 Reply

    It is difficult to know when you are talking too much or too little. Went to a ball game it took 3 hours to get to and three hours back he spoke very little. I thought to myself he probably thought my mouth ran like a magpie but what do you do when the other person says one word answers

  3. Marie-624967 July 21, 2014 Reply

    Omg you guys are great

  4. Consuelo-1111046 July 17, 2014 Reply


  5. Consuelo-1111046 July 17, 2014 Reply

    OK I am new not only in dating but with the site don’t know where to start or much about computers. Little old fashioned. Have been on three day and because have to use cell phone and calls coming in I am totally lost. Help lady in distress

  6. Elvira J. July 16, 2014 Reply

    Les, I agree praying and asking the Holy Spirit is best for any relationship.

  7. Barbara-670130 July 16, 2014 Reply

    You wrote beautiful words and your experience sounded lovely.

  8. Les-1035305 July 14, 2014 Reply

    I had a great first date today! Finding things to talk about apparently was not an issue, because we spoke for almost 4 hours nonstop. I was just happy to be with her and to have the opportunity to meet her in person. I already had felt a connection with her from our previous chat sessions, so talking in person was simply an extension of the rapport that we already had. Before we met, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to be with us, to bless us, and to give us the words to get to know each other; and I also asked several close friends to pray the same. I approached our first date as an encounter with Christ — my seeing Christ in her and hopefully her seeing Christ in me. Whether or not we end up together doesn’t matter. The point is that we’re sharing sacred time together. It was awesome, by the way. She was just like I imagined her to be from our chat sessions. She’s very sweet and I could not imagine a more beautiful way to have spent my Sunday afternoon. It was like attending Mass a second time in the same day. I think that if you approach the first date from a perspective of joy and thanksgiving to God for the opportunity to meet this person you are about to meet, then the words will come easily.

    • Lilian-1112579 January 23, 2015 Reply

      You are perfectly right Les, inviting God to lead you is the best thing to do and he will put the words in your mouth.

  9. Dan-1002097 July 13, 2014 Reply

    There is only one way it makes sense to me that anyone would have a problem with how to talk to a first date, and that is because they have very little respect or regard for dating in general. A person who does not know how to converse pleasantly with a new date is probably not really ready to be dating at all. Certainly, it would be a bad thing for someone to be dating when his or her own opinion of the whole dating scene is that it is undignified, something regrettably shameful or insulting to be doing again after losing a relationship that was an important part self-image or self-respect. Then it would be hard for that person to talk about much of anything…the monosyllable syndrome. It would be better to process out those feelings some way other than by dating.

    And this danged “job interview” thing…I never, never look at a date as an “interview”, much less a “high-pressure” one. And clearly to me, none of the nice ladies with whom I’ve been lucky enough to have F2F dates view dating that way either. You’re meeting someone new…that’s it. Ladling on all this rock-filled luggage about “life-long partner”, “good spouse and parent”…good grief…just breathe in some of the fresh, light breeze, would ya’! At this point you’re both just stepping into the canoe to see if you both would like to go paddling it around a bit together…lighten up, People! 😉

    • Paul-58566 July 16, 2014 Reply

      One way to stop conversation is to start an opinion with “There is only one way it makes sense to me …”

      I might as well say. “I have no imagination for other perspectives and you would be insensible for thinking otherwise …”

      Conversation closed. Period. Exclamation point.

      other conversation killers.

      “You would have to be an idiot to think ….”

      “This is my area of expertise. There is nothing more I can learn here. It is my sacred space. Do not question me about it even to understand me better.”

      Laringitis. (Wink)

      • Dan-1002097 July 17, 2014 Reply

        Okay, okay, Paul. Laryngitis. Maybe the person has laryngitis. I hadn’t even thought of that. See, I’m not so shut of mind after all. 😉

        And, I did write “…makes sense to me.”, not just “…makes sense [period]”, although I’m not sure I see the same degree of amenableness in your own post (:wink: again)

    • Catherine-996317 July 16, 2014 Reply

      Some of your points are great-that a first date is meant to be enjoyed and not have a world of requirements weighing on it. We do at times get so darned serious that we forget to have fun!

      But while laughs win bonus points, it is also good to see if the person wants to be in the same canoe as you. There are many kinds of canoes. So finding out some basic attributes is a good thing, too.

      Dan, your naturalness with communicating is something not to be taken for granted. It is a gift from the Spirit that not everyone has. You are blessed!

      Others have different gifts, and dating can be scary for them. For example, those new to dating may need to learn good habits from the get-to. Those who have been in relationships that have resulted in hurt may be over-cautious. And those with characteristics like Asperger’s may truly not know how to answer in anything than one-syllable answers, much less what questions to ask.

      And, those of us who are the natural conversation starters sometimes just want a fresh look, to keep themselves conscious and respecting of other’s experiences. That’s why I read the article. Anything that will remind me of how to treat someone with genuine respect is good in my book.

Post a comment