Best First Date Conversation Topics

first date conversation

My friend accidentally sent a sip of Coke up her nasal passage. She was laughing too hard at Jeremy’s story.

I bet you’ve had some lively conversations like this.

Think about the most fun you ever had with a group of friends. Chances are, you and your friends stumbled into some lively conversation topics. Maybe something that got you all laughing.

Or maybe it was happy news a friend shared. Whatever the case, your conversation topics were a part of what made the interaction a bonding experience.

Today I want to tell you about a weird psychological research study.

Psychologists were trying to study the power of subconscious mental associations. It’s a well known fact that our mind notices things outside our conscious awareness.

But the question was, “Can this be used on purpose to influence people?”

Psychologists gave research subjects lists of words that seemed random. But all the words had a very subtle connection.

For example, one was, “foam, horse, and shell.” (Can you guess what these words have in common?)

Most people don’t consciously notice an association. But sophisticated research methods have revealed that your mind becomes primed to think of the sea when exposed to these three words as a group.

(The connection is sea foam, seahorse, and seashell…all containing the word “sea”).

Anyway, the psychologists used this “priming effect” to get research subjects to unconsciously think about old people (using a different set of words but same idea). Afterward, they secretly timed how long it took the participants to walk down a hallway to another room.

Those who were exposed to “old people” words unconsciously adopted a slower pace of movement. Those exposed to other mental associations walked faster.

Now, I’m setting a bad example. Never launch into a story about a research study on a date (unless you are both Ph.D. students with a common interest or something).

The reason I bring up this research study is because I want you to recognize something important. Your date will unconsciously associate YOU with whatever topics you discuss on a date with him.

first date conversationHis experience of you is very limited at first. First impressions are formed quickly, based primarily on how he feels in your presence. But the effect is still there even after years of spending time together.

So here’s my advice. Tap into peak life experiences.

A peak life experience is a fun adventure, a moment of happiness upon getting a new job, or a great vacation that he will never forget. It’s any memory that pulls up a well of positive emotions.

It’s easy to ask bland questions about his work and how many siblings he grew up with. But those topics will not generate the kind of feelings you want him to associate with being in your presence.

Don’t interview your date about facts. You can always come back to learning the details about him later. But don’t start there. Instead, start with spontaneous, fun conversations. Start by tapping into his memories in search of peak life experiences.

If you’d like to see a whole list of topics men love to talk about, we have training material available on our website focused on that, plus common things women talk about that turn men off.

Talk to you soon!

James Bauer


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51 thoughts on “Best First Date Conversation Topics

  1. Smucs said:

    Thanks for the helpful tips James. I’m going on a first date tonight, and now I know the questions I shall ask.

      • Susan Bowcock said:

        Really appreciate the tips You are giving and starting to understand a good connection with a man who is interested and this is a beautiful experience for me and herein lies my security good communication between the two of us You both have to be active in the zone.Really I believe that this is a gift given by The Lord with His Blessing.

      • Monica Trevino said:

        I never really knew that i had to read through articles to be taught how to speak to a man on a date i have not even read this article and i feel like I don’t need to read it because it makes me feel like I”m dumb. maybe after posting this I will read it. I have always been good at speaking to men on dates because i just be myself and just pick a topic to talk about and take it from there. Or if it’s going smooth i don”t have any problems with communicating with my date. I really like to go on a date with someone that i am interested in and no set ups. I have to really like the person to go out on a date I also have to be attracted to that person and I really like all the attention on my date. (His undivided attention.) He has to have a nice Auroa about him and no bad vibes because i can feel the bad in someone I truly can. I just have that intuition and I follow it. He has to be lovable and we have to get along. So if something isn’t right I just won’t date him.

      • Monica Trevino said:

        Well i just read the article and it was similar to what i look for in a date, when I am seriously interested in him. I was like amazed at what i was reading because it is like the exact same thing that i desire in a man on a date. Thank you very much.

  2. Hi James, I get it. Even though I didn’t persue the relationship more then he did I can still recognize that I wasn’t able to pull back and give him space to persue me since I only saw him once or twice a month I was always there when he wanted to see me.

  3. Patricia said:

    I am 60 yrs old and lost my husband to cancer four and a half years ago. I have never really been a ‘playful’ person, even when I was a child. I was always too grown up for my age, largely due to my alcoholic father and controlling and insecure mother, I think. It seems that most of the men on the dating sites want women who love to play! Is that all men think about (besides sex of course, lol), and do you think there’s any hope for me finding someone to spend my senior years with?

    • James Bauer said:

      Patricia,
      You can never be too old or too responsible for love. What did your husband enjoy about your relationship? What did the two of you do together? Ponder those things and you will see it was not all play. There are many ways to build companionship and love into routines of work and responsible actions that do not fit the category of “play.”

    • TLB said:

      Patricia,

      I have found that on most of those dating sites, “play” is a euphemism that men commonly use for sex.

    • Susan said:

      Patricia, I’m 63 years old and have just fallen in love for the last time (to quote a James Garner film). You’re never too far down the path to find someone who’s willing to walk with you.

      • James Bauer said:

        That’s a neat quote.

  4. Dear James ~. Is there ANY HOPE for a relationship here? After we met we emailed a bit. Then I gave him my phone#. I had a cold, was afraid he was coming on too strong and didn’t answer his several calls. Have seen him a couple of times for ‘coffee’. He now ignores my emails so all communication has stopped (3 weeks). Stefne

    • James Bauer said:

      There is always hope for those who choose to embrace it. However, your situation has far too little information for me to provide you a realistic answer based on experience. Sorry I could not be more helpful in this case. You might wait for three weeks (to avoid seeming too needy) and then try a different communication method (like a phone call) just to say hi.

      • Ok, so what am I going to talk about since he is ignoring my several (!) emails? He’s the silent type ? Stefne

  5. lilah Pena said:

    All the emails have been helpful in many ways however I still need so advise see my ex and I are not together and im the 1 that left him we have been off and on for 8yrs and my children call him dad he is 5yrs younger than me and I do want him back and from the things he texts it sounds like he does as well my problem lies in the fact that I don’t want a man who is going to disrespect me by looking at pictures of women with little to no clothes on or even worse porn plus he friends other women on Facebook and talks to them im not even a friend of his on Facebook I find the things he looks at discriminating to women and get automatically turned off to him im ready to throw in the towel so to speak cuz I really don’t know what else to do any help would be greatly appreciated I love him but I love me more and am not willing to settle

    • James Bauer said:

      My opinion is that you should pursue someone else. You wish the man you have a history with would act differently. I understand, but what is best for you now is to let go of that wish and face the choice before you. I think you should move on if you have openly expressed your dissatisfaction with these behaviors before.

  6. Lesego Toto said:

    Thanx James
    I realy learn a lot,I have one problem with the guy am dating now,he is always on phone sometimes he ignore mi calls,what should I do?

    • James Bauer said:

      If he is the kind of person that lives on the phone, that means he has to ignore a lot of calls all day long. That is probably just his habit for dealing with most “call waiting” calls. I would not worry about it.

    • Monica Trevino said:

      I never really knew that i had to read through articles to be taught how to speak to a man on a date i have not even read this article and i feel like I don’t need to read it because it makes me feel like I”m dumb. maybe after posting this I will read it. I have always been good at speaking to men on dates because i just be myself and just pick a topic to talk about and take it from there. Or if it’s going smooth i don”t have any problems with communicating with my date. I really like to go on a date with someone that i am interested in and no set ups. I have to really like the person to go out on a date I also have to be attracted to that person and I really like all the attention on my date. (His undivided attention.) He has to have a nice Auroa about him and no bad vibes because i can feel the bad in someone I truly can. I just have that intuition and I follow it. He has to be lovable and we have to get along. So if something isn’t right I just won’t date him.

  7. Mac said:

    James, I am with a man right now who has huge communication issues. We’ve been dating exclusively for 3 years. He talks about day to day stuff but never shares deeper feelings. We also rarely go on dates together or spend quality time together. And when we do its always my suggestion. Ive tried to get him to open up but end up sounding whiny in his eyes and then we fight. I pull back from him in the hopes that he will initiate us getting together. He doesnt. I happened to read text messages of his (purely accidental – no snooping involved) from another woman he dated 25 yrs ago. She called him baby and asked how things were going with me. He said im “drama.” Ive never been drama. But I do try to get him to share with me and he doesn’t. I also let him know that we need more quality time together and would appreciate him initiating it. But I feel like he can obviously open up to this other woman. I asked him to let her know that their talks are inappropriate. He said he did but she still calls and texts him. Im starting not to trust him. I dont understand how he can have this relationship with her. I dont share my feelings about him with my ex-boyfriends. How do I get him to open up, initiate quality time and stop talking to this other woman?

    • James Bauer said:

      Watch for an invitation to go through my course on communication with men. It addresses many of the very issues you bring up here in your question. I will email you about it within the next few weeks.

      In the meantime, this is a perfect question for a private advice consultation. It’s a little deeper than what I have time to get into in a blog comment. You can access the private relationship coaching here. It’s email-based responses to your questions.

  8. pam said:

    Thank you for the helpful e mails. I am really starting to see things in a different perspective. .

    • James Bauer said:

      You’re welcome, Pam. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

      • Ann said:

        Dear James,
        Thank you for your work and help! I learn. It is very difficult for me to understand your good advices. I am a social worker. I hope i can change myself. Thank you!

  9. sandy said:

    My boyfriend of 9 yrs. recently broke up with me. There was no warning and this has caught me off guard. He says he wants to be alone and doesn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. We got along great, still had an active and satisfying sex life. He was acting fine a month ago. He said his feelings have changed the last couple of month, he says he still has feelings for me but they’ve changed. He also said he was fine with me seeing other guys, that hurt the most because you don’t want someone you love to be with someone else. I am so confused. Do you think he’ll come back and regret his decision?

    • James Bauer said:

      Oh, Sandy…I am very sorry for the heartache you are experiencing right now. He may not understand the shifting nature of that “in love” feeling. Over a 9-year period, formal commitment (usually marriage) prevents people from thinking they need to bail the first time the in love feeling wanes for a bit. The feeling will most likely come back.

      In a marriage couples fall in and out of love with each other over and over. Many couples do still have that “in love” feeling for many decades without interruption (based on survey research and brain scans comparing new-love couples with those married 23 years). But it’s normal to have a period where your emotions shift for one reason or another. Maybe he needs someone (other than you) in his life to explain that to him and talk with him about what he is giving up.

      James

      • sandy said:

        God Bless you for all of your wonderful and strengthening words. I have already learned so much from you and your words give me strength and hope for the future.

      • Hadassah said:

        That’s great, James. I had wondered that too, and tried to explain that to the man I love when he pulled back from me and began looking for other women, telling me he wanted to find that one “spark” again, that we used to have. I told him I don’t always feel in love with him, but in the moments I don’t, I choose to love, and I know that’s how a great marriage works, and the sparks come back around again. It’s so validating to see you teach that, thanks!

    • caroline said:

      Hi sandy.
      If you have had a good relationship there is a chance that he will reconsider. I think once you have let him know how you are upset, you miss him etc, which I feel you would have you must, or rather i should write i think because it is only a thought after all….you must let go. Give the impression that you are ok without him. Even happy, as much as possible. Become a actress even if it is killing you inside. After all begging him back will probably not work, he’ll need to feel or see you can survive without him. Humans want what is out of reach

  10. Sana said:

    hi james,
    I m sana. i m from india. i m in a serious relationship with a guy named Shubham for last 10 months. i love him a lot and i know he loves me too.But there is a problem now. we are not able to meet veryoften. In the beggining we both met in intervals of a week or two because i was living in the city for studies but then i went home.Till then everything was awesome. After that we were in a long distance relationship for 5 months but than i came to bangalore..where he is doing graduation. But then also i m not able to meet him that much because of my own reasons. we meet occasionally and we talk for an hour or two in phone everyday or every other day. Since i hv come to banglore i have started feeling different. The love thing, the spark in our love seems to be vanished. i want to be with him forever but always end up fighting with him for not taking my call or not replying my mail. you tell me what should i do to make our relationship stronger. i ll be going to his college to meet him on sunday. please reply before that so i can do what i need to! thankyou!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Sana. You have identified a pattern behind the problem. He fails to be responsive and this triggers your anger. If he is not responding due to indifference or lack of hope for this long-distance relationship, you have a right to know that. If his lack of responding is due to a different perspective on what is needed or normal to make a partner feel happy and loved, that is something worth discovering too. For that reason, I suggest you remove yourself from the feelings of hurt (within yourself) as much as possible and become a student of his thought process. See if you can ask how he perceives these situations without getting caught up in showing him how much he has hurt you. Then perhaps you will see the truth of the situation and know which way to proceed.

      • Sana said:

        Thankyou James, i hope it works.
        but there is something more i wanted to ask you!
        in the beggining he used to share all his problems and everything with me but recently i got to know that he is not sharing things with me anymore. he just says that he doesn’t wanna talk to me about the problems. i know i can’t solve his problems but i can share them as i used to in the past. what should i do to make him share his things with me so i can understand his situation.
        i want to do this because recently i had a fight with him for being unresponsive and giving wrong reasons for that. but later i came to know that their was some serious problem with him. what to do?

      • sana said:

        please reply james

  11. lareine A said:

    Hey there,my boyfriend that I have been with for almost two years now in a long distance relationship. told me he needed a break,and that I could date other people, but he said he wouldn’t hold it against me when he came back, I only want him though.I ges it all started when I confronted him with the problems I noticed e.g we didn’t communicate like we used to,when we made plans they would just not work.he met with me 3 days later and started reminding me of our first date,the first time we met…. Then he told me some things I hadn’t changed e.g making decisions on my own,only thinking of myself in the relationship,then he told me to think about those things that’s when he told me about the break issue.I really love him and don’t wana lose him,would really appreciate it if you helped me out.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lareine. It sounds like you have established a good relationship that you are both willing to work on.

      Sometimes a rift in a relationship results in a stronger bond after that rift is healed. It’s kind of like the scar tissue on your skin where you were cut. It’s tougher than the skin was there before. But right now you’re going through the healing process.

      To me it is always good news when someone asks for what they want in a relationship (even when that means pointing out problems). It’s good news because it means he sees the relationship as something worth fighting for.

      Rather than just giving up and wandering away, he’s telling you what he wants in the relationship and suggesting a break. My guess is he is suggesting this break so that you will take his requests seriously and realize he’s not kidding around. So if you feel the relationship is worth fighting for, and his demands fit with your ideas of a good relationship, then tell him you accept.

      Tell him you accept the break and you accept the challenge to do better. Then set your own expectation for him to meet. Tell him you want to make the relationship the best it can be, and you’re willing to do so as long as he takes the initiative to pursue you again within a certain timeframe. Don’t tell him what the timeframe is or else it sounds like some kind of threat. Instead, leave it up to him to sweat a bit about how long he can let this break go on without risking that you might decide to go after someone else.

      James

  12. lareine A said:

    Thank you James your advice is really nice,and I appreciate the time…..its really nice to know some one is listening,and understands.and I am willing to work on it,I love Him. I keep looking foward to your E-mails,they are really inspiring 🙂

  13. Trish said:

    Hi James
    On my second date, he spoke a lot of his ex wife as to why they got divorced three years earlier. He loved her and provided really well for her financially while they were married yet she walked away to pursue her career in another country. They are still in telephonic contact. I asked him if he was still “burning the candle” for her and he said not at all, but he kept referring to her in one way or the other throughout the evening. He has called me subsequently and asked me out on another date this coming weekend. He is an awesome man and I am really keen on him but I am concerned that I may be second fiddle here. I would appreciate your feedback.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Trish. This is a sign of less than optimal social awareness or general social skills, but if you really like him and enjoy his company that’s not going to be a big problem. Some people feel a need to explain why they are looking for love at this point in their life. He may be one of those people, which might explain why he kept returning to the subject about his past.

      Also, some people are not as aware of the way they come across as they reflect on the things that are relevant to them rather than the things that are relevant to the person they’re speaking with. In some ways, he may still be processing what happened in his prior relationship, and that’s just because he is an open and honest person who speaks of the things that come to his mind rather than filtering them first. There is obviously good and bad in that. I think it would be helpful for you to continue your relationship with him and see how things unfold over the coming opportunities to interact further.

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        I agree with James. I think it is actually a good thing that he is being open and honest with you. Yes, a little bit inconsiderate and crass, but it shows he is an up-front sort of person. I imagine he is probably still hurting – it takes a long time to come to terms with a divorce, so be prepared that he may hold back a bit and need to heal. It doesn’t happen overnight after you sign the papers. It’s your job here now to not appear to be jealous and possessive, show him what a fun girl you are and how YOU can enrich his life now. His ex will always have a place in his heart – he would not be a caring, loving person if that was not so. Be thankful that he is not calling her all the horrid names under the sun, and saying he hates her. That really would be a huge red flag. No-one wants a man who is bitter and twisted about his wife after a divorce. (And I have come across a few – including my ex of nearly 40 years married!). I don’t think you need worry about the ex. But if he continues to keep bringing her name up all the time in the future, maybe you should quietly, kindly explain that, although you understand that he still thinks of her, it is upsetting you, and that you would rather he didn’t do it. In a way, it is better that he is being open and not hiding what is going on between them – at least you are then in the picture and not left wondering. Fore-warned is fore-armed. Only time will tell what he really feels about her. Just “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Best of luck!! Lorna

  14. Hi my ex married boyfriend want us to have affair after he broke up with me for 2 years and got married to the girl he cheated with.I don’t know what to think about this advise pls.

  15. Sizi said:

    Hi, my boyfriend & I have been together for 2yrs. Now my question is hw can I help him to open up, he doesnt involve me much especially when he has a problem I hv to find out myself through his mother. The problem is we have a child now.

  16. Susan Bowcock said:

    I really liked the advise on him opening up with issues which impinge on the new relationship or at least hit a nerve and I really think that it is just best to go with the flow here and see what he does for you rather than what he is saying no?

    • James Bauer said:

      I think you hit on two bits of wisdom here. Actions speak louder than words. And going with the flow usually brings the best results.

  17. Emotions said:

    I am seeing a guy who claims he doesn’t want a relationship but we talk a lot almost daily. We see each other alot. Hes very caring and affectionate. He tells me things about his life..work..family…but Recently he brought up his ex coming into town and wanting to hang out with him. That made me furious and told him I couldn’t see him anymore. My abusive ex called my phone a few times when I was with him. So I feel he was just trying to make me jealous by bringing up his ex.. If he doesn’t see me in that way why does he show me so much emotions. I really have a hard time telling if its a game or if he really does feel more for me. He doesn’t want us to stop talking and seem really sad I wanted to end things. Its like we love each other but he wants me to admit i do. Is this a special man or he’s just a really bad user? Why can’t I figure men out! When guys say they don’t want a relationship most times is this true?

    • James Bauer said:

      You have a relationship. But people mean different things when they use that term.

      What you feel is real. If he loves talking with you, that’s real. If he feels sad at the thought of losing you, that’s real. That’s a part of your relationship, which is also real.

      But what he terms “a relationship” is something different. It’s a promise. A commitment. An agreement not to change certain things about the way you relate to each other. He apparently doesn’t want that agreement in the current phase of his life.

      If you do, then your job gets a bit complicated. You have to find out if he might eventually be ready for a committed relationship. And if he says he doesn’t foresee that desire as being likely anytime soon, then you must take your best guess about whether he might change his mind. You have to guess whether his desires might change if you stick with him and continue to build something positive and rewarding for both of you.

      James

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Emotions, You don’t say how long you have been together with this man, and how old you both are. These things make a huge difference to the situation and any advice anyone will give you. If you are of child-bearing age and want a family, and feel that time is running out for you, then that will be of huge importance to you to want to get things moving onto a different level. But if that is not an issue, then there is no real “rush” to get him to commit to you. Why not just relax, sit back and enjoy what you do have with him, rather than worrying about it all and getting anxious. I believe James did an article about this – how being anxious and forcing a man to commit can make him jumpy and anxious, too, and back off, as he doesnt see you as the fun-loving girl you were any more – just hard work and anxst. He may have been badly hurt in the past and be afraid to get hurt again. I think sometimes we women forget that men have emotions, too – they are just as hung up as we are, sometimes, but do not want to show it, in case we think they are weak. Just be patient, stay calm, keep smiling, be happy, enjoy his company, have fun, and, if it is still early days in your relatonship, let things unfold naturally. And, most importantly, make sure you do not put your own life on hold while you are waiting for him to “come round”. Keep your friends and interests going, then if it does not work out, you will still have a life of your own. Best wishes. Love, Lorna

  18. Rose said:

    James,

    Thanks so much for the many advises that you have shared so far. I have learnt alot and now I am wondering whether I needed a second round partner.
    I am a widow at 61. Since that I have met someone who is married but lives with his wife and three kids, but at the same time wants to share his life with me rather than his wife. We normally meets for lunch or dinners, but most of the time he goes back to his family. Beginning this year, I told him that I wanted to have someone who is free and wants to share their life with me permanently, so have refused to answer his.calls, texts and emails. My only problem now is finding the right man for me.

    Rose.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Rose. Generally speaking, relationships are going to be more satisfying if you build them on a solid foundation that is supported by other people in your social circles. It’s hard to accomplish that kind of support given the context of the relationship you described with this man.

      My personal opinion is that you deserve better. If you make it your sincere goal, I am certain you can find someone who is free and ready to fully invest in living a fun and joyful second half of life with you.

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