First dates can be challenging—especially when it comes to conversation. You don’t want it to be forced, but you’ve probably already covered the basics via phone calls and emails. Where do you go from there? This handy guide provides some suggestions.
The Four Safest Topics
Guaranteed to provide safe landing, there’s plenty of room here to bring up non-challenging topics that nonetheless reveal a little bit more about you to your date.
- Food: When you’re stuck for conversation on a dinner date, you can always look down at your plate and find inspiration. If you’re having pizza, talk about the best pizza you ever had. For example, the best pizza I ever had was at North Beach Pizza in San Francisco back in 1991. This leads automatically into a conversation about San Francisco, other great cities, travel, and where you want to go someday. This is a non-threatening and something everyone can discuss. However, if you look down at your cheeseburger, it’s probably best to avoid the topic of the industrial meat industry, unless you want to hold back your date’s hair as she throws up after you explain in minute detail just what happened to the poor beast before it ended up on her plate.
- Movies: Discussing your favorite movies can be a great way to learn more about your date. There’s an old “Kids in the Hall” skit about a man on a date whose favorite film is Deliverance, specifically the “squeal like a pig!” scene. This is a big red flag to his date. Similarly, anyone whose favorite movie is something like The Sound of Music or Forrest Gump may not be the most sophisticated viewer—which might be just what you’re looking for. And if their favorite movie is The Matrix, do not, under any circumstances, accept a blue or red pill from them.
- Food in Movies: You can combine the previous topic with this one and discuss the Best Movies about Food or, more specifically, how when you were a child all you really wanted was to live in Willy Wonka’s factory. Or, you can go for the Trifecta and combine food, movies, and the weather, for the ultimate non-threatening topic: “There’s nothing I enjoy more than cuddling up on a rainy day to watch “Twilight” with a nice grilled cheese sandwich.” Your date will immediately know a lot about you: namely, that you’re boring.
- Saturday Night Live: This show has been on since God was a boy, so you can probably mine it for topics relevant to whatever generation you and your date belong to. Remember with burning shame and awkwardness the Dick Ebersol years? Lament the loss of Tina Fey? There’s pretty much something for everyone to latch onto here, and chances are good that if you end up singing “Dick in a Box” together, you’re a match made in heaven.
The Four Most Dangerous Topics
Think of these subjects as a minefield, and you’re a blindfolded soldier trying to make it across the field without getting blown up. It’s not going to work:
- Your Family: Sure, you understand your family’s quirks, but do you want to scare off your new paramour right away by telling them that your father changes price tags at stores because “these stores make billions every year, they won’t even notice”? Not if you want this person to stick around. Remember, stories about your family make your date think not only about whether or not to get involved with you, but also wonder if he wants to get involved with your family, too. All you need to say is this: “I had a very happy childhood. I love and respect my family.” Repeat until you start believing it, so it won’t technically be a lie.
- Your Ex: I know you want to talk about how that rat bastard or total bitch cheated on you and then acted like it was no big deal and probably your fault anyway. DO NOT DO THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. First, do you really want your new person-of-interest to think that anyone could cheat on someone as charming and attractive as you? Of course not. So keep it classy. Simply say that your ex was a good person but you weren’t right for each other. Later, when your new person-of-interest cheats on you, you can bring it up–preferably while yelling and throwing things.
- Suicide and Terminal Illness: Everyone has bad days when they wish that the great big game of life would just end already. But unless you’re a Goth on a Goth Date, suicide is a topic best left for later, when you break up. Then you can really use it to your advantage, especially if paired with Guilt, Shame, and Blackmail. In all seriousness, though, the best reason to not bring up dark subjects like suicide, terminal illness, or child abuse is that you do not yet know what your date has experienced. They may be dealing with PTSD, so you’re automatically going to either make your date sad or make them think you’re an insensitive jerk.
- Genocide: According to Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies, also known just as Godwin’s Law, at some point in every online conversation, someone will compare something or someone to Nazism or Hitler. The result if you do this on a date is the same as it is on the Internet: the conversation stops. It’s a serious and unpleasant subject, and there will be time enough to talk about it all kinds of serious and unpleasant subjects when your relationship gets serious and unpleasant.
One final caveat: Any subject can become dangerous if you dominate the conversation and insist that your opinion is the only appropriate one. In that case, the only conversations you’ll have in the future will be with your imaginary friend Mr. Shivers, which is probably the best for everyone concerned. Except Mr. Shivers.Header image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Body image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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