Conversation is an art form. The simplest advice is to ask questions… and actually listen to the answers. Nothing says "I'm an a---- " quite like gazing absentmindedly at some hottie shooting pool in the back of the bar while your date tells you how she ate her lunch in the bathroom during high school. You're on a date, which means that your date gets your exclusive attention for the evening - letting your eyes wander to other people, to your watch, or to a text that just came in tells your date that they're less important to you than how many minutes have passed since you last took a sip of beer. Do we have your attention? Good. Now, here's how to talk to your date.
- You can't ask just any old question, however. For example, don't ask a question just so you'll get to give your own answer ("Oh, what did I get on my SATs? Well, funny you should ask, I scored a perfect 1600!") And there is such a thing as a stupid question on a first date. If you ask "Where do you see yourself in five years?" or "If you could be any kind of tree/animal/Burger King entree, what kind would you be?" your date will assume you read a book about what to ask on a first date - or, worse, they'll feel like they're on a job interview.
- We'd also advise avoiding religion on a first date, as in, "Tell me all your thoughts on God…" or "You're pro-life, right?" Finally, if you ask "What kind of car do you drive?" or any other "subtle" questions aimed at determining your date's net worth, your date will, we guarantee, always see through you.
- We can't believe we have to say this, but it's not a good idea to talk about your ex on your first date (you'd be surprised…). Seriously, nothing good can come of this… ever. If your ex was the greatest thing since sliced bread, you'll make your date feel inferior, and f your ex was crazier than Norman Bates, you'll make your date feel superior to the point of questioning why they are socializing with the likes of you.
- Safe topics of first-date conversation include your date's job, past travels, where they grew up, how they grew up, recent movies/books/TV, and the role of irony in T-shirt slogans. Compliment, compliment, compliment (but no more than three times in a night). If you are on the receiving end of a compliment, always take it gracefully.
- And finally, readers, do not make s--- up. Except for your SAT score. Feel free to lie about that.
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This column also appeared in print in Metro