Dating isn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, it can sometimes feel more like a desperate dash through a field of landmines. Follow these 13 conversation tips to avoid treading on triggers and successfully navigate future first dates.
1. The Drunken Details
While stories about your party days may be fun to rehash with your old college friends, take it from us: they’re not nearly as amusing to someone who doesn’t know you. Play it safe and skip the tales of drunken debauchery.
2. Work Woes
Save the whining about your annoying coworker for your weekly telephone conversation with your mother. Even if he’s just like Dwight from The Office. It is important to listen attentively as well, it will be much appreciated.
3. Dating Casualties
Everyone has stories about bad dates. Some of them are even funny. But go on and on about your bad dates long enough, and the problem eventually begins to seem like it’s more about you than the dates. Not to mention: the person across the table may well be wondering if the way they slurp spaghetti will also become first date fodder.
4. Spare the Tragedy
We get it: there’s a lot of bad stuff going down in the world right now and sometimes it helps to talk about it. Now is not that time.
5. There’s No Time Like the Present
While dwelling on the past has its downsides, focusing on the future is also a disaster. No matter how much of an instant connection you feel like you have, the odds are high that you’ll walk out the door and never see each other again. In other words, pass on making plus-one plans for your cousin’s wedding next May. Plus, staying in the present will really help you focus completely on you date and make a better impression.
6. And Speaking of the Future…
There’s no word quite as terrifying on a first date as the “M” word. Unless you’re actively trying to scare off your date, refrain from even so much as mentioning your best friend’s upcoming nuptials lest you come off as too eager or — even worse — desperate.
7. Gag on Gossip
Gossiping obsessively can make you seem just as obsessive and shallow. While trading tales with your best friend can be therapeutic, it’s unlikely to impress on a date.
8. Lose the Religion
Whether you’re a believer or a non-believer, religion can be a controversial subject. Your dating goals are drinks and pleasant conversation, not resolution to the question of whether God exists.
9. Political Suicide
Strong opinions in general are risky on a first date, and politics almost always elicit debate. There’s plenty of time to talk politics later, but if you absolutely must know whether your date leans left or right, check for bumper stickers on your way out.
10. Money Matters
While money, money, money must be funny to ABBA, it’s no laughing matter on a first date.
11. Dietary Restrictions
Most people these days have dietary restrictions — from nut allergies to gluten intolerance — but spending too much time dwelling on what do and don’t eat can make your dining partner feel invisible.
Not to mention: just say the words “lactose intolerance” and all your date hears is “diarrhea.”
12. Family Matters
While talking about family may seem like harmless territory, you never know what’s dwelling under the surface: why risk dredging up the buried emotions of a 9-year-old who just learned about his parents’ impending divorce? Also, if you are dating a single mom, feel free to talk about the children, but don’t go too deep into the question why she is single, there will be plenty of time to talk about that.
13. All Your Exes
Very few people enter a relationship free of baggage, but the key is keeping the contents tucked securely away.
In other words, don’t air your romantic dirty laundry lest your date catch a whiff of something that stinks.