Let’s face it: First dates can be nerve-wracking. From wondering if you’re dressed for success to navigating that first-date awkwardness (Do we kiss? Do we shake hands?), the pressure is real.
But don’t let that get in the way of a potentially successful date. All you need is some first-date conversation starters to help you navigate the dialogue like a pro and avoid those pesky awkward silences. We’ve put together a list of the 12 best conversation topics for dates so that all you have to do is sit back, relax, and let the convo flow.
Our first rule of thumb is to avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions, as these can essentially end the conversation after one word. The questions we’ve listed here are open ended and give both of you the chance to share as much or as little as you want. Read on for our tips!
1. What is your favorite book/movie/food/TV show/band?
Basic questions about likes and dislikes are great first-date conversation starters. Maybe you’ve both recently finished a season finale and have some serious thoughts about how the show ended. Or perhaps you both come to find out that you attended the same concert two years ago in your city. Finding instant connections about the small things can help you warm up to each other, and it provides a lot of ground to cover.
Even if you don’t share the same likes and dislikes or experiences, you can get an immediate sense of your date’s interests and at least have several things to talk about if the date isn’t going great.
2. Where did you grow up? Do you see yourself staying in this town?
On a first date, questions about where the person grew up are likely to get them to open up about certain foundational touchstones. After all, where someone grows up can help shape their perspectives as an adult.
This conversation can lead naturally to a discussion about where they would see themselves living in the future. Couples often debate about cities, suburbs, or long-distance moves, so your date’s answer can reveal a lot. While geographic location certainly shouldn’t deter you from dating someone, it’s helpful to keep your priorities in mind. If staying in your city or moving away from it isn’t part of the other person’s plan, make a note of it.
3. Do you have any interesting childhood memories?
It’s always fascinating to uncover how someone was as a child, how they grew up, or stand-out memories that they have. Listening to what they remember from their childhood is eye-opening, and it also gives you a peek at your date’s connection to their family.
Childhood is a good conversation topic for dates because you can learn about their background, siblings (if any), and roots, giving you a chance to see their personality with more context and understanding. Plus, it’s fun to swap silly childhood tales.
4. What is something that most people wouldn’t guess about you?
This first-date conversation starter one-ups the “tell me about yourself” question and helps the other person think of something specific. This question is an excellent icebreaker on a first date because each person still has the freedom to choose what they share. They can choose something lighthearted and funny or something deeply personal, depending on how comfortable they feel. Sharing secrets or small quirks fosters a more profound sense of intimacy in couples, so don’t overlook the power of this question on your first date.
5. What is your ideal vacation?
Finding someone who you can travel with without wanting to pull your hair out is hard to find. If you’re a super-planner, you might need someone who is like you or at least can understand your need for a little organization. If you prefer vacations where you can truly relax and not worry about getting up at 7 a.m. to start the day, that’s important to remember. This first-date conversation topic helps you learn what is most appealing to your date: a relaxing, all-expenses-paid resort or a trip filled with long hikes and exploration? Compatible travel hunger can stoke future excitement.
6. What brings you the most joy in life?
This question is good for gauging if your passions align. What does your date value the most? Their kids, their relationships, their career, or something else? See if what you value matches their answer.
But just because your answers might not be the same doesn’t mean that you have competing values or that you won’t be a good fit for each other. There is always give and take in a romantic relationship, and this first-date conversation starter helps you understand what might be involved in that dynamic.
7. What do you wish you were better at?
Whether it relates to a particular job, a hobby, or life in general, this conversation topic for dates reveals the person’s ambition. It also demonstrates their humility and capacity to be open about their own personal life development.
If it feels comfortable to talk about, there is an opportunity here to transition into areas to work on in relationships, like being on time, communicating, and so on. But this could be saved for a later date when you know each other a little bit better.
8. What are you most afraid of?
While the answer to this question might be “spiders” or “getting stuck in an elevator,” there’s also room to be vulnerable and provide a serious, more life-related response. Learning about each other’s anxieties can help you connect on a deeper level and understand any signs of insecurities and the person’s behaviors and thought processes—all important things to be aware of and empathize with in any romantic relationship.
9. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Your date’s morning routine or sleep timeline preference may reveal more of their lifestyle and personality type. This is a nice, light conversation starter for dating because you can get an idea of their typical day. But we should say here that early morning or late night preferences shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Couples can and should work with each other to give the other person room to tackle each day as they see fit.
10. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Finding out about someone’s hobbies is one of the best ways to see if your interests align, so make sure to incorporate this first-date conversation starter. Maybe your date has hobbies that you’ve been interested in learning, or perhaps you find that you both love to go hiking, play video games, or go to rock concerts. It’s fun to learn these parts of someone else, and hopefully you’ll find where your interests overlap. Plus, shared interests is one sign of chemistry after a first date.
11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
When it comes to dating conversation topics, nothing’s better than getting on the same page about priorities in dating, careers, and just life in general. With this question, you can learn if your date prefers casual dating vs. a serious relationship, what their career ambitions are, if they envision having kids, where they see themselves living, and so on.
Keep your deal breakers in mind as they answer. If something doesn’t quite align with your priorities, consider bringing it up right then and there. It’s better to communicate what you need before investing more time and effort in something that might not be the best fit.
12. What’s a risk that you’ve taken in your life?
Risks can be big or small, like moving to a different country without knowing the language or going paragliding with your best friend. Learning about your date’s level of comfort with taking risks can give you insights into their personality. Plus, you’ll probably hear a really great story.
Get on the path to first-date success
First dates can be “make it or break it.” Make sure that you’re prepped for success (or at least minimal awkward silences) with these first-date conversation starters.