What Topics Are Best Avoided on a First Date?

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June 27 2014 7:41 AM

What Should You Talk About on a First Date?

Date.
Save the discussions on religion or politics for later.

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This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Ian Morgan:

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A first date is not the time to hash out the deep, existential viewpoints. This should be obvious. Sadly, our world is cluttered with facts that should be obvious but all too often are not. What is less obvious is that you should not go into a first date with the idea that you will end up in bed. Hey, if it happens, good for you, but don't "expect" it.

Related to this is that you should never put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable. This applies both to areas of conversation as well as physical situations. If the conversation veers toward something you would rather not discuss, assuming that it's a reasonable thing to not want to discuss, then gently move the conversation away from it. (If you, for some strange reason, cannot discuss, say, Disney movies without crying your eyes out and calling out to your mother, then perhaps you have issues to deal with prior to dating.) If gentle persuasion doesn't work, you are allowed to say that you don't want to discuss this topic at this time.

A first date isn't about picking out baby names or wedding colors or even discussing religion and politics. It's about ensuring that the two of you are compatible in the most basic of situations.

Well, I suppose I should answer your question. What "should" anyone talk about on a date? Far be it from me to tell you what you "should" do under any circumstances regardless of you inviting us to do just that. I would strongly recommend that you ask open-ended questions that encourage a back and forth. Don't ask yes or no questions.

Don't feel daunted. It may go better than you could possibly imagine.

* * *

Answer by Cyndi Perlman Fink:

I don't think it's about what you say on a first date. I think it's about what you feel, see, smell, sense, and observe while you're on that first date that directs the flow of conversation.

We know when we meet someone with whom we feel comfortable and with whom the conversation just flows. It feels natural, and it doesn't require a script. It can't be practiced, and when it does arrive, you know. You know the difference between dreading the next space of empty conversation or not even thinking about it because when it works, it just works.

What are you supposed to talk about on a first date? Don't expect that the other person wants to be grilled by someone who comes off sounding like a state's attorney prosecuting a criminal.

  • How many children do you want?
  • Do you believe in God?
  • How soon do you want to get married?
  • How long do spend in the bathroom in the morning?
  • What are your political views?
  • Where do you stand on the Second Amendment?

No, no, no. No one wants to be interrogated because he or she might feel that if he or she gives a wrong answer, it's off with his or her head!

My husband and I have been married for 42 years, and I can assure you that he never asked me any of those questions on our first date and yet, when he dropped me off, I'm sure that he had the answers to the ones that were important to him.

I had answers to the ones that mattered to me, because we spent the night laughing, and I knew he was smart, cute, a gentleman, sweet—someone I wanted to see again, and  when I met his family, I would know exactly who they were because they were going to be a lot like mine.

I learned all these things by talking to him and laughing with him for more than six hours, but we never had a list of questions.

We talked about movies we liked, books we liked, places we'd been that we loved, what school had been like, and lots of little things that we shared.

We shared funny stories and family history and places that we both understood even though we'd never seen those places together.

What do you talk about on a first date? Whatever comes naturally. And please, don't interrogate your poor date. How about: I've really been looking forward to this night. I hope you have, too.

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