First Date Fodder
If nothing else, at least you’ll avoid awkward silence.
By Bri Griffith, Carlow University
If you’re like me, when on a first date, your nerves kick in like crazy because you don’t want the experience to suck.
Thoughts run laps in your mind, while one important question captures your attention: “What the hell are we going to talk about?” What everyone wants to avoid, at all costs, is uncomfortable silence—struggling to find something (anything) to talk about. You don’t want to sit in an awkward, unenjoyable space, just waiting for the check to come so you can go home and avoid thinking about what just happened.
Don’t stress, because I have some conversation topics and ideas that’ll surely help you while on a first date. Here are 7 things you can incorporate into conversation with your date to prevent unpleasant tension and discussions that don’t seem to flow.
1. Open-ended Questions
Questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” don’t always allow the conversation to flourish. Instead, I suggest asking open-ended questions, because the uncertainty of the answers can definitely fuel excitement, and also make your date think.
Ask them something like, “If you could trade lives with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be and why?” Ask them what they’re most afraid of, and see if they say something deep like “death,” or if they keep the mood playful and say something like “paper cuts.”
A great question to ask your date is “What would you do with one million dollars?” You’ll definitely have a better sense of where their priorities lie, depending on how they answer. You really can’t go wrong with open-ended questions, unless for some reason your date refuses to answer them.
2. TV Shows
Maybe you and your date share a favorite TV show—the ultimate conversation game changer. I love “The Walking Dead,” and I live to discuss character theories and relationships. If you both love the same show, you can totally binge-watch together on Netflix.
There are a number of shows still producing new content, including “Shameless,” and “Game of Thrones.” If you’re not watching the same shows, avoid spoilers, and catch up (if you want) so you know what all the hype’s about.
3. Their Studies
I can talk about poetry all day and not feel an ounce of regret. If you’re on a date with another student, ask them about their major(s) and minor(s), or school in general if you don’t attend the same university. Every school is different, and what they’re experiencing might seem foreign to you.
Talk about the clubs you’re in, or if you play any sports; make it known you’d love to have them come watch you play sometime. Chances are, your date is studying something they’re passionate about, and it’s never a bad idea to ask them about their work/future endeavors.
4. Where They Live
“What do you like most about living in Pittsburgh?” I tend to ask most everyone this question, because the answers are always different. I personally love Pittsburgh because the city is a literary goldmine. If your date says they love a specific place, hold onto that, and mention going there sometime in the future.
When you live somewhere, you’re familiar with what’s around you, and have a lot to share with others as a result. Expose your date to what you love about your city—take them to a museum, or introduce them to unique food(s). Besides, everyone loves food.
5. Embarrassing Stories
On a first date, my best advice is to get some of the weird shit out of the way. Remind whoever you’re with that you’re a person who, like most everyone else, has spent a fair amount of time feeling embarrassed.
When I was a tiny person graduating kindergarten, the ceremony was gradually coming to an end, and my dad decided to (instead of taking a family photo) yank my newly loose tooth out of my mouth. (Keep in mind, I still have no clue why he did this.) So there’s me, sobbing uncontrollably, and my mom crawling around the auditorium floor looking for my tooth. I think the word “embarrassing” captures the moment perfectly.
Ask them to share a story with you, and I guarantee any lingering feelings of discomfort will disappear with laughter. And if your date can’t laugh at themselves, you know who not to go out with again.
6. Guilty Pleasures
If your date likes reality TV shows like “Real World” or “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” remind them nobody’s perfect, and you have guilty pleasures too. Maybe you drink 5 cups of coffee a day (I know I’m not the only one), or you inhale cookies like a vacuum when you see them. In addition to sharing embarrassing stories, talking about odd habits, or things you’re (almost) ashamed to like is a great way to get to know the person you’re with.
You can also talk about strange things you’re not a fan of. I hate onions with a fiery burning passion, and I don’t like sitting in booths at restaurants (I wait for tables if necessary). The only thing better than being a weirdo is sharing your weirdness with someone who’s not completely turned off.
I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t love music. Ask your date about their favorite artists or bands, and if they enjoy going to concerts. Their music taste will say a lot about them.
For example, I’ve gone to Vans Warped Tour the past 6 years—I like my music loud, and I tend to crowd surf. Maybe your date is a fan of country music, so you know never to hand them the aux. cord (I’m kidding). If you end up liking who you’re with enough to go out again, future dates may include concert tickets, which is great.
Also, who doesn’t love new music? Maybe your date will give you some cool new songs to listen to. One of my best friends loves Kpop, and I wouldn’t have listened to Korean music without her wonderful suggestion. When on a first date, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Keep your mind open, and hopefully everything will turn out okay. If not, you have a cool new embarrassing story to share with your next date.