Let’s face it, first dates are tough. After you’ve finally figured out where you’re going to take her, what you’re going to wear, and what cologne to put on, you still have one tall order to fill: What are you going to talk about on the first date? This is where many women say most men come up short.
We asked 35 real women to tell us what men should know about first date conversation. This is what they said.
1. Make Eye Contact
During your first date conversation, maintaining good eye contact is crucial. This shows her that you are both paying attention and have nothing to hide. Pretend it’s like Star Trek and use your tractor beam on her, but don’t do the longing eyes googly moogly stuff. Your eye contact should be direct, but remember it’s not a staring contest.
“Eye contact is good, but keep your focus on my face. Do not stare at my chest. When I’m talking, I want to know you’re paying full attention. Don’t stare around the room and definitely don’t glance at your cell phone, even if your best friend just texted the score of the game.” – Gina
2. Be Confident
Another key to first date conversations is being confident. The same way dogs can smell fear, a woman can smell insecurity a mile away. Don’t think for a second they don’t know the difference between a cocky and confident man. You should project an air of quiet confidence at all times. If you’re insecure, stay home (or read 30 Tips to Help You Get Your Swagger Back).
“Your date will be just as nervous as you so don’t be shy…because if you’re both quiet the date will be even more uncomfortable.” – Geraldine
3. Follow the 40/60 Rule
There’s a reason why we were born with two ears and only one mouth and that’s because it’s harder and requires much more effort to be a good listener. Give her your full attention. Practice the 40/60 Rule. You should be talking 40% and listening 60% of the time. Two ways to show you are listening is to paraphrase and ask good follow-up questions. You don’t have to tell her your whole life story; just leave clues. If she is interested, she’ll ask you—let her play Nancy Drew.
“Don’t reveal too much during first date conversations. A little mystery is always appreciated.” – Sylvia
“While a date is about getting to know someone, too many ‘I’s’ comes off as self-centered. Instead, ask ‘Do you’ or ‘Have you,’ wait for response and then add your two cents.” – Pearl
“Don’t brag about your Benz, your money, your house, or your $500 jeans. Unless the girl is a money-hungry hussie, all that superficial crap is not impressive. It’s more irritating than anything.” – Ella Mei
4. Tell Her What You Are Passionate About
When we talk about things we are truly passionate about, there is almost always a certain type of energy or excitement we exude. Tell her about what makes you tick, what gets you going, the projects you are involved with and how much fun you have doing it.
“I wouldn’t have said yes to the first date if I didn’t already think he was cute. On the first date, what I’m really looking for is for him to show me he has some fire under the hood.” – Kelli
5. Make Her Laugh
They say humor is the shortest distance between two people. Heed this advice and make her laugh so hard the pasta noodle comes out her nose. If you can make her laugh at least 5 times during the date, you’re halfway home.
“It’s good to be funny, so make jokes, but don’t be too schtick-y. I would avoid overly sexual jokes, or anything that could be seen as racist or sexist (at least until you get to know her better).” – Emily
“I’ll be honest, if a guy can make me laugh on a first date, there will definitely be a second.” – Patricia
6. Show Her Your Carmen Sandiego Side
Travel is always a great first date conversation piece. Talk about where you’ve been, what you learned, what you saw, and where you want to go next. If you’ve done your job, she’ll be picturing herself with you on that next trip. Oh and if you’ve never really left the shire all that much–shame on you!
“Nothing interests me more than a guy that is well-traveled. It shows he is willing to step out and see new things. It’s boring when a guy says ‘Oh, I don’t leave the city much’ or ‘I’ve only been to LA and Vegas.’” – Gina
7. Concentrate on Me Too’s
Concentrate on trying to say “me too.” If she says she loves reality shows, you should say me too! (provided that you do like them). This can be done with movies, TV shows, music, books, hobbies and practically anything. The key here is to try to find things that you are both interested in and you’ll find that things get easier from there.
“Relate to her on the same favorite movie or type of movie you like and analyze them with her. Challenge her on what she thought about the ending.” – Mira
“Shoot for something meaningful–not too deep as it will scare her, but meaty enough to have a real exchange about–but also quirky.” – Dominique
8. Show Her You’re Plugged In
Talk about what’s current. You don’t have to know about all the latest celeb gossip or be up on all the current events (chances are she’s not either). But do notice what’s current with her. Maybe she got a new haircut since the last time you saw her at so and so’s party. Or maybe tell her again what caught your eye about her in the first place. Let her know that you notice her (women love that stuff).
“Give her a compliment or make a comment on something you know she specifically wore for the date. It could be an article of clothing, her hair, shoes, or something decorative like a bracelet. Noticing the little details of the effort she’s made goes a long way.” – Lory
9. Don’t Say We Unless You Mean Wii
Even if the date is going really well don’t jump the gun and talk about future plans together. This will only get you more dates with your PS3 or Xbox. Sure it might work with some women, but majority of the time it scares them off. This is definitely a first date conversation no-no.
“Don’t assume a second date is a given or start saying ‘we this’ and ‘we that.’ Take it slow because you don’t want to come on too strong, too soon.” – Danica
10. Don’t Just Be Yourself, Be You-nique
I know you were waiting to hear “Just Be Yourself,” but you are not going to get that stock answer here. Just be yourself is an old standby answer that everyone will tell you because it’s easy to say and also requires almost no effort. If you are truly into this woman, I challenge you to go above and beyond your usual table talk and be You-nique. Standout! Being you-nique is all about being interesting. Talk about things she’s probably never heard of before. Make her feel like she’s never met anyone else like you. If you follow this last tip just right, I can assure you she’ll be raving to all of her friends about you and calling you for the second date.
I’d like to thank all the women who submitted their tips on first date conversations. I truly had a lot of fun writing this piece.