12 Tips For A Great First Date Conversation

Updated May 29, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

First dates are a crucial step that can make or break your chances with someone. First dates can range from fodder for future embarrassing stories to the start of a loving, long-term relationship. An awkward first date can be discouraging, but a great first date can make you feel like you're on top of the world.

First dates can be nerve-wracking: We’re here to help

Many elements go into shaping a great first date-from the chemistry between you and your date to the location where it takes place. There is no guidebook of first date rules, but we've several tips for keeping the conversation going during a first date to at least calm down the emotion and go forward from experiencing some first date jitter. Initial communication is one of the most crucial building blocks for a potential relationship, so these first date tips are some of the most helpful advice you can use when you're sitting across from your date.

First date conversation tips

If the conversation grinds to a halt, it can be extremely awkward, leaving both of you looking in different directions for an escape. Learning ways to keep the first date conversation going can prevent these momentum-killing moments. The following tips will help during these times and more.

Don't try to hide your nerves

Few people feel completely cool and when they go on a first date. Even if you consider yourself confident, it's normal to feel some jitters, especially before and at the beginning of the date. There's no reason to hide these feelings. Doing so may cause you to be even more self-conscious, leading to nervous rambling or clamming up.

Instead, be open about the fact that you're a little nervous. Chances are your date is feeling the same way. Being truthful about how you feel can help you both relax a little, which makes conversation easier.

Get to know your date better

One rule of conversation to remember is that people usually enjoy talking about themselves and their interests slightly more than listening. If your conversation on your first date begins to slow down, instead of trying to impress them with your latest accomplishment at work or your encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel trivia, ask your date questions. What do they do at work? Where did they go to college? What's their favorite type of cuisine?

These questions will help you know your date better, gauge your compatibility, and give you a springboard for further topics if you have things in common. Ask them about their family, their friends, and their hobbies. If you've spoken through text or online, mention conversation topics you've already talked about. You can also look up conversation starters beforehand, so you have some questions ready ahead of time. 

Be a good listener

One of the most crucial tips for first date success is to use active listening skills. This skill involves staying setting your own agenda aside and listening to your date with interest and respect. Make eye contact and watch your body language so the other person knows that you're open to what they have to say. Some people become so busy composing a witty response or interesting anecdote in their heads that they don't listen to what their date is saying. When you ask a question and then ignore the answer, it gives the impression that you don't care about what your date has to say. That decreases the chance of a second date.

Instead, make an effort to focus on what your date has to say genuinely. You want to show them, "I'm interested in getting to know you." Questions dating experts suggest always revolve around this. If you two have a solid connection, you'll find yourself responding organically. This proves the importance of good listening for dating.

Getty/Luis Alvarez

Aim for an equal give-and-take

Of course, you don't want your date to feel like they're under interrogation. Conversations on the first date should involve an equal amount of “give and take”. Use what they say and build upon it, which will allow a comfortable flow between the two of you. Don't overthink the flow of the conversation but do monitor things to ensure you're both speaking up. According to research, you should aim for an even back and forth to have a dynamic, rewarding conversation.

Be positive, but not phony

Positivity is a very attractive quality in a potential love interest that is shown in research to make a first date great. Approach the conversation with a positive perspective and avoid ranting about negative things as much as you can. For example, if the discussion turns to movies, don't go on about the bad traits of a movie you hated.

However, it's also important not to be phony. You want to be yourself, not to play a role, especially if the date leads to something more in the future. Don't pretend to be something you're not or to like something that you don't just appeal to your date.

Brush up on your current events

If it's been a while since you've skimmed the headlines, it's a good idea to reacquaint yourself with current events. Take some time to flip through reputable online news sources. This will give you an arsenal of topics to talk about if you hit a wall.

Unless you're sure that your political and social beliefs align, use caution when delving into controversial or political topics, especially during a first date. Even if you do hold similar beliefs, it can be easy to get carried away when discussing these subjects.

Don't linger on past relationships

Another essential first date rule is not to focus on past relationships. In the early days of seeing someone, especially the first few dates, it's best to keep any mention of exes to a minimum. Even if you recently left a long-term relationship, talking about it on the first date can give the impression that you're still hung up on your ex or that you're not interested in the person you're on the date with.

Even if you're at a restaurant you and your ex had previously eaten before or watching the sequel to a movie you saw with your ex, don't mention it. Likewise, please don't ask your date about their past relationships. Keep your attention on the present moment.  Research has suggested that bringing up your ex is one of the worst things you can do on a first date.

Be honest

While a first date is meant to be a casual time to get to know someone new, there's usually some possibility of it developing into more. As such, you want to be honest about who you are and what you want. Don't say you're looking for something casual if you want a committed relationship. That's just setting both of you up for disappointment.

It's also important not to exaggerate your accomplishments to impress your date. Sure, you can talk yourself up a bit, but don't fib. Whether it's your job position or places you've traveled, the truth will come out eventually, and any lies you're caught telling will cast a shadow on your trustworthiness. Excessive boasting can also make you look conceited. Be proud of what you've accomplished but also practice humility.

Keep an open mind

You may have a list somewhere of all the desirable qualities you want in the perfect mate. In reality, perfect doesn't exist. You may fall for someone the exact opposite of the idealized image you have in your head. If the conversation takes an unexpected turn, or they bring up a subject you're not familiar with, go with the flow. If they express a love for a genre of music, you're not crazy about or a hobby that would bore you to tears, don't let it be a deal-breaker. You may find you found a new interest from being open to someone else’s. 

Ask open-ended questions

Questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" usually don't lead to many conversations. Instead, try to ask open-ended questions that have the potential to inspire a deeper dialogue. Broader questions are better than specific ones. For example, "I love this song! What kind of music are you into?" or "Have you worked on any interesting projects recently?"

Turn the silence around

First dates can be nerve-wracking: We’re here to help

If you've run through all the conversation topics you can think of, and your conversation has been on a roll, only to smash into the dreaded wall of awkward silence, use the opportunity to be positive. Pay a compliment about your date's appearance. Be specific. Or make a self-deprecating joke (don't overuse this tactic, or you may come off as insecure). These methods can break the tension and get the conversation flowing again.

Get a feel for what they're looking for

A first date is like a job interview or a test run (sometimes more stressful). You don't want to delve too deeply or give the impression that you're coming on too strong. But you want to get a feel for whether they're looking for something casual or a long-term commitment and what their plans look like.

These tips can help you have a satisfying and engaging conversation if you and your date are a good fit. 

Getting professional advice

Have you been on countless first dates without any success? Are you facing fears, insecurity, or anxiety regarding your love life? You're not the only one. Many people are struggling with finding someone they truly connect with. Rejection, loneliness, and unhealthy relationships can leave scars that take time and attention to heal. You may have also left a long-term relationship and are not confident with reentering the dating scene. With the right approach, you can come out of these difficult situations a stronger and more resilient person.

A therapist can help you understand the different aspects of yourself that are keeping you from feeling comfortable in meeting new people or starting a relationship. If your discomfort is based in nervousness or insecurity, working with a therapist can also boost your confidence as you grow to understand your thoughts and emotions. Taking the time to discuss your fears or nerves about dating with a therapist can also lead to more success in future romantic endeavors.

If you are having a difficult time finding a therapist in-person, know that online therapy is a highly beneficial option. You can meet with your therapist in the comfort of your own home and at a time most convenient for you. You also can feel confident in knowing that research supports the effectiveness and convenience of online therapy. Recent studies have shown that people find online therapy to be preferable over in-person therapy due to its’ availability, comfort level, and cost-effectiveness.


Regain.us offers individual and couples counseling to help you make the most out of your relationships. Our expert counselors can help you sort out any negative thoughts or behaviors that are getting in the way of you having a successful, happy love life. Click here to get matched with a counselor.

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