Ah, first dates.
A time of awkwardness, nervousness, excitement, and a couple of pre-date drinks to reduce the former three.
When you’ve reached your 30’s as I have, you’ve probably been around the block once or twice and have a good sense of the subjects you should touch on and ones that are best avoided. At least, if you’ve gone on enough first dates as I have (#uglycry).
If you don’t, well, I have a couple of handy acronyms for you to keep in mind as you embark on what could be a beautiful, lasting relationship! That is, if you avoid the following first-date no-no’s:
Don’t Talk About R.A.P.E.
Appropriately so. First dates are great for positive, lighthearted banter, and are usually not the best time to dive into deeply personal or touchy subjects. Let’s review the four worst offenders:
- Nice to finally meet you! So, tell me about your deeply held, personal beliefs.
- Hi, I’m Sarah! I’m a firm believer in <X>. How about you?
- Do you really believe that there is an <X, Y, Z> out there?
- Let’s discuss Leviticus 21:17.
- The Torah says that…
Let me preface this by saying there’s a right and a wrong time to discuss personal beliefs. Deeply personal subjects like spirituality are best explored at a later time, such as the fifth date, when you’ve at least learned a few more superficial details about the other person and are ready to go deeper (and bare your soul a bit more, so to speak.)
Immediately jumping onto your pulpit and sermonizing before your date has even grabbed his soy latte is just awkward.
- So, how much do you make? A ballpark estimate is fine.
- I feel like I make more money than you. Do I?
- What would you say the total value of your assets are?
- I’m really struggling to make ends meet in today’s modern, consumerist environment. How about you?
- Let’s talk about your inheritance.
Before you go on a first date with someone you probably have a general idea of what the other person does for a living (it’s usually one of the first things you ask when you’re just starting to talk!) It’s only natural to explore what they do in between the hours of nine to five.
That being said, going so far as to talk about finances over a drink is weird and rude, and could make you look like a gold digger (are you?)
If you’re really curious, do some market research on their career and position afterwards.
- Where do you fall on the political spectrum?
- How are you? What are your views on controversial subjects such as LGBT rights, abortion, and immigration?
- Who did you vote for? Why? Why didn’t you vote for <X> instead?
Admittedly, this is a gray area since politics and current events are somewhat hopelessly entangled in each other these days.
Just remember, if you do approach the political realm, keep it light. These things tend to get heated very quickly, and before you know it, your charming first date may go nuclear.
- I know I shouldn’t talk about this, but I was in this terrible relationship…
- I just broke up with my ex and I’m still picking myself up off the floor. Nice to meet you, though.
- Oh, you like badminton? That’s really interesting. You know, I really can’t stand how often I see my ex…
- I’m so over my ex, I sleep with someone new each week. That’s how over her I am.
This is a no-brainer! By the time you’ve hit your 30’s, you probably have enough articles in the baggage department to outfit a family of four. Or an entire airport. Whatever the case, the first date is not the time to reopen old wounds. Save it for your therapist.
The one exception to this would be if a past relationship was a key factor in some other interesting point you’re making and would be strange to leave out, such as, “I moved here because…” or “I got interested in this because…” Just keep it fleeting and don’t dwell on it.
Do Talk About F.O.R.D.
Here’s what you should remember! In the spirit of keeping first dates light and breezy, these are easy subjects which lead into (hopefully) long, pleasant conversations:
- Where do your parents live?
- How many siblings do you have?
- Where did you grow up?
So many possibilities and avenues to take. Just leave your family drama out of it. Nobody wants to hear about how you won’t talk to your sister anymore because she’s a backstabbing bitch.
- What do you do for a living?
- What does a day in your life look like?
- What got you interested in that field?
- Where do you see yourself going in a few years?
Occupation is easy for most people to talk about and helps you get to know someone’s personality, likes, and dislikes. Just don’t turn it into a weird job interview and don’t dwell too long on the technical details of your career. You might think your latest Q4 earnings results are fascinating, but your date may not.
- What do you like to do in your off-time?
- What are some of your hobbies?
Everybody loves recreation! Which is why it’s so easy to talk about. Unless the person is a workaholic or has no life, in which case, you’re doing yourself a favor by weeding them out early. Getting to know what someone enjoys doing when they’re not getting paid is the easiest way to determine if there’s compatibility and chemistry (and gives some great ideas for future dates as well).
- Where do you see yourself in the future?
- Did you make any New Years resolutions? (Tip: don’t say this in July)
No, this is not your opportunity to frantically ask your date if they want children as soon as you shake their hand. It’s an opportunity for you, though, to get a sense of where your date sees themselves in the future, and a potential for a deeper, more meaningful conversation than your views on the current weather in <insert city here>.
So there you have it! By following the F.O.R.D. model, you’ll have more than enough to talk about. So happy dating, you little lovebird, you.