What Not To Say on a First Date

How to Nail Your Communication Style On Date Numero Uno

The first date might be your only chance to make a good impression on a girl, and while you don’t want to be overthinking everything you say and do, you can go into with some intentions about communicating. Everyone has slightly different communications styles, but there are some generally considered good and bad ways to do it when you’re in the process of first getting to know someone. Here are tips to keep in mind on the first date.

Ask questions, but don’t interrogate.

Most people probably aren’t trying to come across that they’re interrogating, but you might be surprised at how often it happens. The subtle differences in asking and demanding answers is the difference between an open and natural flowing conversation and someone shutting down and being slightly defensive about their privacy. If it feels like you’re interviewing someone, that’s not correct.

Sure, you want to ask them questions, of course you do. But the questions should be coming from a curious place in the moment, not a pre selected group of questions that she will either provide a pass or fail answer to. There’s definitely a balance to find here, because if you’re particularly shy you might want to think about topics ahead of time to fall back on if you get thrown off in the moment. But the more you can stay in the moment and build the conversation off what is already happening, the better off you’ll be.

The key to this is actually listening. If you aren’t taking in what she’s saying you might jump from one topic to the next, but if you actually hear her talking about where she grew up maybe you’ll become interested in the fact that she mentioned her many siblings and inquire about that.

Imagine how jarring it might be to be in the midst of telling someone about your beloved dog and then they suddenly ask what your five-year plan is. Your first internal response would probably be like “WTF? Why would they ask me that,” because there’s no flow. Did something you say trigger that question? How did they make that jump? And then you’re in your head and confused for no reason. Don’t do that to your dates!

You’ll get a lot more out of a conversation and form a faster bond with someone if you’re having a naturally flowing conversation, even if it means that you get home after the date and you realize that you didn’t find out where she went to college. Those details will naturally emerge on the next date, or the following date after that…dates that you locked in because you seemed so interesting and interested the first time around.

Respect her boundaries.

Some people are open books, and other people are not. If you approach a topic that she seems to shy away from you don’t need to press it at that moment, even if you’re very curious. It’s probably not that she’s trying to hide anything from you, but maybe she’s seen how that topic could quickly lead towards another topic that she’s not ready to discuss, like an ex or something serious that she went through.

When you pay attention to subtle body language you can usual tell if someone gets uncomfortable for a moment, but ideally they’ll quickly move past it because no one’s trying to corner them or anything. To get some perspective on this you can think back to moments where you tried to change the subject in a conversation and why you did it. Maybe you were worried about appearing inadequate even though the topic wasn’t all that serious, or there was something more important that you felt like you wanted to move on to.

As a personal example, I can recall a recent moment where a guy asked me about the work I had left to do that day. The answer was a little boring in my eyes, and I’d never intended to censor myself but I sort of blabbered through the explanation because I got in my head for a second and started judging myself. (This wasn’t even a first date it was more like a 12th date.) Looking back it might have even seemed like I was even hiding something, as our conversations are generally open and straightforward and he wouldn’t know why the question threw me for a millisecond. If he even noticed that is, it was a subtle moment and over in a flash. My point is, in the moment I didn’t know even know what I was thinking I just sort of steered things in another direction, and now feel a little silly about it. He didn’t push it, and I’m aware that I don’t actually need to hide, so now I won’t. We learn as we go!

Be mindful of your story matching.

Now when you’re having a conversation and someone tells you a story, it’s natural to be reminded of a story of your own if you’ve done something similar. That’s great, you have things in common. However some people have a tendency to story match in a way that comes off as one-upping…and the last thing you want to be doing with your date is competing with her.

The conversation should be collaborative rather than have a competitive edge, so maybe before you launch into your story about you respond about hers or mention that you’ve had a similar experience but then go into asking her more questions about her before you head into that direction. There should be a back and forth in the conversation as you learn about one another, but not so fast that it’s like flip flopping all over the place because you’re trying to get a word in before it’s too late or something.

Skip the pontificating.

Pontification is making your point in a way that’s totally matter of fact, but when it’s based on opinion or something else subjective. It’s great to have opinions, but you don’t yet know what her opinions are, and you don’t want to come across as rigid and closed off to other opinions or ideas. It’s easy to come off as abrasive when you’re pontification, which can make people feel defensive even if you’re not trying to attack them. Your idea might be right for you but there’s always the reality that someone else might else a very differing point of view, and if they feel like you aren’t open to hearing any they’ll be less likely to open up to you.

Say she mentions that she almost went to law school and you say something about how luckily she didn’t because “lawyers are terrible people” or something. That’s not a fact and it shouldn’t be stated as one. That of course could still offend her, maybe both of her parents are lawyers.

You might believe even that opinion to some extent, but you also know that many lawyers are great people who go great work with good intentions. There isn’t one version of anything out there, so you don’t want to act like you’re most closed minded than you are to come across as dominant in a conversation. You can totally have opinions without pontificating. Instead of cursing the field maybe you ask her about her experiences and what she thinks about it. Perhaps the reason that she got out of it was because she actually shares some of your ideas about it. But create the space for her to feel comfortable telling you that by being receptive and interested in her opinions as well as yours.

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