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What to Talk About on a First Date

A couple who found what to talk about on a first date, cheersing on the beach.

Going on a first date is a lot like going on a job interview. You aren’t quite sure what’s going to be asked, what’s expected, or how the other person feels about you. And then there’s another big question—What are you going to talk about? Conversation flows easily for some people, but for others, it’s can be tough. Especially if you’re nervous.

So to help you head into your first date with some fun and meaningful topics to discuss, here are a few tips about what to talk about on a first date that will lead to a great conversation:

1. Avoid talking about your ex.
It’s absolutely tempting to talk about exes and past relationships. You’re on a date with someone that might be your partner in the near future; it’s natural to equate that to relationships you’ve experienced recently or in the past. On a first date, however, it’s inappropriate and slightly off putting to talk about your ex, how you feel about them, or what you’ve experienced in former relationships. Think about first dates like a nice, chill time to get to know another person without placing all of the caveats about your past relationships on a new person.

2. Talk about life experiences. 
Dating isn’t everything! Focusing on your past dating experience isn’t necessarily the best topic for a first date, but general life experience is great. Where have you traveled? Where would you like to go? What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done? Tell your date about the most memorable experience from the past year of your life. Anything that focuses on life experience and not a highly specific category (work, dating, school) is a great subject. You can really start to get to know a person based on what thrills them.

3. Don’t focus on yourself.
There are two people on your date, but if you’re a nervous person who tends to focus on yourself instead of asking questions, you may not make the best first impression. Instead of leading with “I do this for work,” find out about the person you are on a date with. There’s a reason you wanted to meet the person you are on a date with—so, if you’re nervous, take the pressure off yourself by focusing on getting to know the other person. It’s absolutely fine to talk about yourself when asked, but don’t focus on yourself the whole time. 

4. Talk about where you live.
Assuming you’re on a date with a person who lives in the general vicinity, talking about your town or city is a great way to get to know them. It’s also a very safe bet as far as conversation goes. What’s your favorite restaurant? Where do you spend your time? What’s the best place for happy hour? By talking about your current location, you can get to know what your date enjoys doing in their free time and also get to know a bit more about their past. You’ll naturally learn how long they’ve lived there, where they grew up, what motivated them to move to where you both live, etc. It’s a nice commonality and an easy topic that can turn into a good conversation.

5. Avoid discussing money.
Jobs are a great topic for a first date. Not because they’re necessarily fascinating, but because they are inevitable. Most people spend something like eight hours a day doing something that earns them money. Jobs are okay to discuss, but delving deep into someone’s financial status should be avoided on the first date. Discussing student loan debt or how much someone has left on their nice car is best saved for later.

6. Talk about your free time.
Someone’s job is important, but sometimes jobs are viewed more as something we have to have, and not something we choose. Finding out what someone likes to do for fun is a really interesting—and entertaining—topic. Maybe your date likes to hike, or enjoys wine tasting, or watches a ton of television. Maybe your date does all three of those things. “What do you do for fun?” is a tough question for some people, but phrasing it in an interesting way may yield better results. “What would you do if you had unlimited funds?” or, “What makes you the happiest?”

First dates can be memorable, but they can also fall flat. It’s hard to decide which way a first date will go, but the one thing in your control is the conversation. There are some great conversation topics to explore on your next first date. Try some of these out and see where it goes. You may be surprised by what you learn. 

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