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What do you talk about on a date?

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How to settle in, settle down, and remain interesting

Getting conversation going on a first date is not usually a problem. If you have asked a girl out and she said yes, you probably know enough about her to make conversation that lasts through at least the drive to the restaurant. Small talk is perfectly fine. Talking about your respective jobs, and the joys, comforts, frustrations, and aspirations related to them, is an easy and effective means of burning off the nervous tension. The same goes for discussions about the weather, past dates, and other odds and ends. Don’t think you’re tanking just because you can’t get off the subject of your long morning and evening commutes.

Favorite films, music, books, television programs, and other cultural phenomena are also good first date material. If you can move on to them by the time the main course is served, then you are doing well. These are trivia that will give her some insight into who you are, and more importantly will settle you both down and into the date.

However, you might need to move into more serious territory if the situation warrants. I would be remiss if I did not take time to advise two kinds of people on how to handle a first date: those men interested in politics and those interested in religious questions.

Given the state of the country at the moment, it is impossible to avoid the subject of politics if you have a deep interest in the subject. It would be the most grievous error for you to pretend that political difference will have no bearing on your dating life. You may as well make it known from the start what your politics are, and try to ascertain what your date believes in. I do not say that political opposites can’t date; only that each person should make it known where they stand before things go any further. It is better to clear the air now rather than risk embarrassing and awkward scenes in the future.

The same goes for religion. If you are a non-believer, then you should find some way of making that known. You don’t want to go on seeing a girl, liking her, and eventually meeting her parents only to be asked what church you go to. Imagine the tension and difficulty that will result from your response.

Many people believe that these things can wait; that such intense and divisive matters should not be brought up on a first date. This is only true if you don’t care much about them. But if you are passionate about your politics and passionate about your religion or non-religion, then you should discuss them on the first date. You need not browbeat the girl with arguments and propositions. Bringing up the topics in a mild and natural way will suffice.

Hobbies, including outdoor and adventure sports, also make good first date conversation material. More and more people are taking up skating, rock climbing, and canoeing as pastimes. Cooking, wine tasting, and arts and crafts also enjoy popular success among young urban professionals. You may have a particular hobby that is not well known. You should not shy away from discussing it with your date; it will likely get her to talk about her own interests.

The bottom line is to stay interesting. That is your most important goal on a first date.

About Christopher Reid

Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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