What to Talk About on a First Date So You Actually Get to Know Each Other

Updated 11/07/17
What to Talk About on a First Date
Cheetah Is the New Black

Do you remember the first date you ever went on? I do, and not because it was full of memorable moments that marked the beginning of a great romance. The part I remember most distinctly was running off to the bathroom to call all my friends until one of them finally picked up to tell me what in the world I should talk about next. Of course, I now understand that a date usually goes well if the chemistry is right and that my question-asking ability isn't the cure-all for an awkward match. But it would've helped to have some ideas up my sleeve to ease the lulls in conversation and have fun.

So if you're wondering what to talk about on a first date, we came up with some ideas to think about ahead of time so you don't have to rush off to the bathroom in a panic. We broke these conversation starters down into four categories, from the initial background information questions to ice-breakers, creative and out-of-the-box prompts, and lastly, a few examples on how to either keep the date going or gracefully put it to an end. And again, things will likely unfold smoothly on their own (or worst-case scenario, give you something to laugh about later), but should you need some guidance to keep handy in your pocket "just in case," bookmark this list of 34 things to talk about on a first date.

Start With the Basics

Even though it can be boring to ask the run-of-the-mill, interview-like questions, you have to start somewhere, and the basics aren't a bad place to do so. Once you know more about their background, you'll be able to gauge the rest of the conversation and where it will go. Keep in mind that you don't want to spend the whole time firing questions at them. So try to engage their responses with follow-up questions or offer pieces of information about yourself so it doesn't turn into an interrogation.

  • How do you spend your days?
  • Where did you grow up? Is it different from where you live now?
  • How long have you lived here? Are you liking it?
  • What were you interested in while you were in school?
  • What's your family like? Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
  • What do you like to do for fun? Any hobbies or passions?

Break the Ice

To try to understand their personality a little more, rather than just learning what they do for a living and where they come from, you can start to ask them little anecdotal questions that give you a different glimpse. Hopefully, this will lead to some banter or it will help you find out some overlapping interests, qualities, and preferences.

  • What are your favorite travel destinations, and why?
  • Do you like movies or TV shows better?
  • Have you gone to any cool exhibits or shows recently?
  • Are you a dog or a cat person?
  • Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  • When's your birthday?
  • What do you and your friends do for fun?
  • Do you like what you do? What's next? What's your dream job?
  • What's your perfect day?

Keep Things Interesting

Whether you dislike small talk or you want to learn more about your date aside from the standard information, consider getting more creative with your questions. You could end up finding out more about them than you expected, for better or for worse. And of course, only ask the questions you're interested in hearing about.

  • What are the little things that always make your day better?
  • If you could relive any day, what would it be?
  • Are you an idealist, a pessimist, or a realist?
  • If you could have dinner and drinks with any three people, dead or alive, who would it be?
  • What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
  • Have you done anything embarrassing lately? Let's hear about it.
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What's an accomplishment you're proud of?
  • What were the weirdest quirks and habits you had as a kid?
  • What item in your bedroom do you most represent or personify?
  • What one quality do you wish you had?

Continue or Call It

At this point in the date, once you've already gone over all of the background information and learned a little more about on another, you'll probably be feeling a little more comfortable (even if the date isn't a match made in heaven). But if it's going badly and you still feel really awkward or you aren't sure how to fill the silences, you could give it one more shot with an open question or you could subtly put things to an end. Likewise, if it's going really well, you could extend the date or end it on a positive note.

  • I'm looking for some new restaurants to try in the area for a work dinner next week. Do you have any suggestions?
  • Let's just call out the crickets. 
  • How's the rest of your workweek looking? Do you have any fun weekend plans?
  • I just finished my favorite TV show and need something new to watch. Have you watched anything good lately that you'd recommend?
  • I'm going to use the bathroom, I'll be right back.
  • I have a pretty long day tomorrow and need to be up early. Let's grab the check?
  • I didn't realize it was getting so late! I promised my roommate we'd grab dessert, so I should be heading back soon.
  • Should we get another round, or are you ready to split the bill?
  • There's a really cool bar around the corner. Want to switch scenes and check it out?

Do you have any go-to first date conversation starters? Share with us in the comments below.

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