Need inspiration for what to talk about on a first date? 11 fail-safe topics experts use themselves

As search for what to discuss on a first date rises by 600% year on year.

What to talk about on a first date
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Deciding what to talk about on a first date is no mean feat - indeed, the term "what to talk about on a first date" is at a breakout on Google, with thousands wondering what the best questions to ask really are. 

Sure, you may have spent hours perfecting your profile with our expert dating profile tips, but when it comes to the first IRL date, you might be feeling apprehensive. Know this: dating anxiety is pretty standard, but with our expert-led first date tips and dating advice for women, you're in good hands. 

Remember: "Nerves before a first date are natural - try to think of it as spending some time with another human being and seeing if you connect", shares Sacha Karia, co-founder of the new video-only dating app, The Sauce. "If you don't, don't worry about it. Bad happenings make good stories." 

To save that from happening, though, we've asked three relationship experts to share eleven fail-safe conversation points that'll make any first date stress-free. Don't miss our explainers on what to wear on a first date, while you're here. 

What to talk about on a first date: 11 fail-safe topics

First, a date shouldn't feel like an interview, explains Emma Clark, the other co-founder of The Sauce.

"Once your date opens up, try and stick to that topic for a while - explore it, rather than running through a list of rapid-fire questions or talking over them when they answer. Remember to listen," she advises.

1. Find out what their philosophy on life is

Sounds simple, isn't - but will be a good starting point for establishing whether you have enough in common to book a second date in, share the experts.

"I've never really been one for small talk, and after this year in isolation we're all looking for real connection. So your first port of call should be to finding out what their philosophy on life is - asking them what their beliefs are, what their passions are, how they enjoy spending their time, and how they see themselves," shares Karia.

2. Get uncomfortable conversations out of the way

For some of us, uncomfortable conversations are essential - yet, for others, it'll be the last thing you want to talk about, shares relationship expert Charly Lester.

She reckons that it's better to get those uncomfortable conversations out of the way now and suffer the awkward silence, rather than find out later down the line that you're incompatible in a significant way. Think about it - if you see the world completely differently or have different morals, it'll likely lead to problems further down the line. 

3. Ask about where they grew up

And where they live. Do they love the area, do they have dreams of moving abroad or living elsewhere? This is a great conversation starter and will only lead to more topics of conversation, all three experts reckon. 

What to talk about on a first date: A wave in the ocean

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Ask about their family

Do they have a big or small family? Are they in touch and are they close? You might be surprised by common ground here, or even open up the conversation to discuss your family dynamic, too.

5. Ask about their friends

Similarly, asking in about their close friendships might be a good conversation starter. You never know, you may even uncover some friends in common.

What to talk about on a first date: Three women in underwear

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Ask about their job

"What did - and do - they want to do when they grow up?," asks Clark. While a job doesn't always give away much about a person, it can be a good insight into their aspirations.

7. Ask about their house, and their living situation

Do they live with friends or family? Are they close to you location wise, and are they planning on moving soon? Don't bombard them with questions, but it's good to get a feel for where they'd like to spend their life.

What to talk about on a first date: A woman in a hammock

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. Ask about their hobbies

And try to find common ground here. Do they love sport - are they into running, cycling or weight training? Do they like live music, theatre shows or art exhibitions?

You'll likely have something in common here, and even if you don't, hearing someone speak passionately about a hobby is always quite interesting.

9. Ask about how their last year has been

Recent stats from Inner Circle found that over half of the single people they surveyed feel that their flirting game took a hit because of the pandemic.

"Many may feel their social skills are rusty or their confidence has nosedived - so expecting yourself to effortlessly turn on the charm may be a tall order," Lester continues.

10. And check in on how they're feeling - honestly

This one's important. "Get real with each other," recommends Lester. "Perhaps you’re not feeling your best self at the moment - and you may not be alone there," she says.

If you are feeling anxious on your date, the relationship expert recommends being open about it. "Worried you’ve forgotten how to flirt? Tell them," she advises. "It doesn’t have to be a heavy chat – but it could help break the ice and enable you to build a more honest connection. If the stats are anything to go by, your date may be feeling the same way,"

11. When the conversation isn't flowing? Find an activity

Finally, give yourself some credit - first dates can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. "Flirty banter may not flow effortlessly," shares Lester. "We’ve been interacting behind screens for so long, it may take some time to get your groove back IRL."

That in mind, she recommends finding an activity for your dates. She reckons it'll take the pressure off the conversation and add some variety so that those sparks can fly. Why not read our guides to the best rooftop bars in Londonoutdoor swimming pools, or best hiking routes in the UK? Fun dates if you ask us.

What to talk about on a first date never looked so simple.

Most importantly - don't worry if it doesn't go to plan

Things not going so well? Don't sweat it. "Chances are, you'll be able to fill the silence on a first date purely by picking up on something they've said, relating it to an anecdote or commenting on it in some way," shares Karia.

Also important to note here - there's no shame in ending a date early, they stress. "If you run out of things to say and you're not clicking, chances are they're probably feeling the same. Bow out early and politely - you don't even need to create a made up pet and some kind of emergency," stresses Clark.

They advise this: when they offer to get the next round simply say 'thank you, but I think I'm good... shall we get the bill?'. Anyone worth their salt should get the message, they share.

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.

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