There are loads of articles out there telling you what topics to avoid on a first date, but I’m here to tell you to do the exact opposite. Here are some things you absolutely have to bring up on a first date.
1. Their most recent ex.
Most people will tell you to steer clear of talking about exes like you’d avoid discussing your grandma’s colonoscopy, but trust me, this is an absolutely essential topic. Why? Think about it—when you go for a job interview they always ask you about your previous job. Well, a date is kinda like an interview and how well someone’s last relationship went (or didn’t go) will give you a pretty good idea of how they might be if you shack up with them. And if they avoid the topic entirely or just say their ex was a psycho who they’d rather forget about (Big. Red. Flag) then you’ve still learned some useful information.
2. What they think their most attractive quality is.
In general, people are very comfortable talking about their “story”: where they’re from, what they do, family and friends, etc. But if you really want to find out what someone is like (and isn’t that the whole point of a date?) ask them to talk themselves up. What do they think is great about them? Now this might seem weird but if they can’t find one good thing to say about themselves then that might mean they have a poor relationship with themselves, and if they have a poor relationship with themselves then they’ll probably have a poor relationship with you. I’m not saying you should immediately run for the hills if they hesitate for more than two seconds with this question, but you’re trying to get a more complete picture of the person than where they work and where they went to school.
3. Their relationship with their family.
Ask them about their family life. These are the people who shaped, molded, raised, and quite literally created the person who is sitting in front of you. Our familial situations have a massive impact on our later lives, so getting the lay of the land early on is essential to truly getting to know someone. If it turns out they had a terrible childhood then be sympathetic and sensitive. If their childhood was like the Brady Bunch then have a good laugh and bask in the mirror-neuron glow of those golden memories.
4. Discuss your passions.
It doesn’t matter if it’s model airplanes or death metal or learning how to tie knots, talk about your passions. Don’t worry about it being too “controversial” or “divisive”: If you’re extremely political or extremely religious, then don’t hold it back! Let your passions shine through! People are more attractive when they talk about what they are excited about. No one wants to be around a beige killjoy robot who couldn’t get excited if his life depended on it. Whatever is closest to your heart, no matter how weird or niche or downright dorky, talk about it. The other person will know who they are dealing with and you’ll get a much better idea if the two of you vibe or not.
5. Ask about their hopes and dreams.
You’re not gonna start picking baby names before you’ve even shared your first entrée, but getting an idea of the other person’s hopes and dreams will really help you to see where they are in life. Whether you are looking for someone to eventually share the Sunday paper with or someone who’ll help you conquer K2, hearing them talk about what they want from life will help you gauge what they’ll eventually want from you.
6. Your own ex/family/hopes/dreams.
Lead the way. Show that you’re comfortable talking about exes and family, even though the conventional wisdom tells you otherwise. Show that you’ve got nothing to hide, and the other person will feel much more willing to open up themselves. I’m not saying you need to tell all your secrets (full disclosure to relative strangers is another red flag), but it’s good to show that you are a communicator. Communication is the foundation of any good relationship.
7. Play the question game.
A friend of mine likes to play this game on dates: Each person can ask any question they like, no matter how personal or strange, and the other person has to answer it. If you do this playfully, it’s a great way to turbo-charge the connection on any first date. You get to ask about some silly or curious thing, you get to show your playful side (maybe your sexy side too), and you both undress (metaphorically, of course) a little bit. Both of you take a step closer and all of a sudden you don’t feel like two people meeting for the first time. You might even get that wonderful feeling that you’ve known each other for years.