I’ve often compared first dates to job interviews. If it’s a job you want, your ultimate goal is to make a great first impression so that you can get hired. Dating is the same way. The first date is the time for you to sell yourself so that, if you find the other person attractive and interesting, you can get more dates. You want to show the other person your best side: attractive and valuable, while also being authentic and genuine, so you find out if the person you’re with shares your values.
It’s a tough balance. The key is to be your best, attractive self, sticking to your values, while avoiding showing too many of your faults.
It may seem like you’re being somewhat fake, but the first date is when you put your best foot forward. Once that person falls for you and sees a lot of your good side, he or she will be more accepting of your struggles, foibles, and bad habits. It’s just simple realism. It’s like how you don’t tell all your bad work habits when you go into an interview, but focus on your best traits.
One way to impress your date is to keep the conversation high value. Bad conversations typically involve oversharing, rambling conversation, and unnecessary tangents. You can stop that by steering the conversation in the right direction. With that in mind, here are 4 conversation topics to avoid on a first date.
Your Relationship History
Everyone has a relationship past. We’ve all dated jerks, crazies, and losers at one point. It’s called being human and most people you meet on a date will understand and accept this. However, no one wants to hear the gritty details about your past relationships on a first date.
First, if you talk about an ex a lot, everyone knows that it means you’re not over that person. Yes, this even applies to complaining about your ex. If your date is a functioning, emotionally healthy person he or she will see your ex talk as what it is: unnecessary drama and a sign you haven’t truly moved on.
Second, when people go on dates, their goal is to focus on rapport building and searching for a one-on-one connection. You wouldn’t invite your mom to your first date (at least I hope not!). Talking about an ex or exes has a similar result: you’re inserting another person into the date. The only difference is that your third wheel isn’t physically present.
Your Negative Past
I went on a date once where the girl told me she had been on 20 first dates, with no second dates, and I was her 21st. Then she proceeded to tell me about how multiple bad decisions she had made recently. Needless to say, I became number 22 after that, and some other poor guy had to hear about me.
It’s likely your life hasn’t been all roses. We all have struggled to one degree or another, some of us more than others. Our pasts make us who we are and hopefully they’ve made us stronger. But, there is a time and place for sharing that sensitive information…and the first date isn’t one of them.
The first date is a time to build rapport and establish mutual attraction. If you share too much of a negative history, you risk coming across as creepy or un-dateable. I’m not saying you want to hide this information. Just save it for when you’ve built more rapport and you both are more comfortable with each other. Once your date falls for you, he or she will be much more likely to accept your troubled or questionable past. Besides, you don’t owe your date your life story in the beginning.
Are you a part of the Trump Resistance? Maybe you support Hillary…for prison. We live in a very polarized political time and it’s spilled over into dating. Many on the hard right and hard left refuse to date someone on the opposite side. And, that’s a fair choice. But, for many people, politics only plays a marginal role in their life. And, it’s a topic they’d rather avoid at first. Even people who are interested in politics may want a break from it during dates.
If you are extremely political and will only date someone on your side of the spectrum, then it’s important to establish that quickly. No sense wasting each other’s time. On the other hand, if you are willing to date someone who disagrees with you, just remember that political discussions can quickly turn nasty. And, first dates are best spent in more fun, light conversations.
Low Value Topics
When you’re on a first date, you want to keep to conversation topics “high value.” Talk about subjects that reflect your best, most attractive self. You probably have a good idea of what is valuable to others and what isn’t. Topics people typically enjoy are: fun stories, general humor, success, accomplishment, fitness, etc. People typically don’t enjoy talking about boring things, failure, negativity, drama, and weird stuff.
For example, you can talk about your recently completed half-marathon and how you volunteer at the homeless shelter. You don’t want to talk about how you were recently disciplined at work for watching dirty videos, or you and your buddies’ recent tobacco spitting contest.
Again, you’re not being fake or lying. You’re just focusing on the side of you that will impress your date and make it a fun time. We all have quirks and oddities. Unless those are absolutely essential to your existence, save them for later. Quirks that can be deal-breakers on the first date can become “endearing” later on.
So, if you want to have a successful first date, steer clear of these four topics. Let your best self shine through and show your date your best side.