For a first date, the venue and what you wear need some careful consideration – but so do the topics of conversation. You might need help in manoeuvring around some of the potential hazards.
“Well, if you ask me, tax breaks and subsidies need to be addressed more square-on in the government’s new policies …” You might be politically aware, and you might expect the same of a partner, but it’s probably better not to expound at length on your political thoughts. You’re here to get to know each other, not to discuss the redistribution of wealth or military engagement in conflict zones. There is always a possibility that your date might not find politics especially interesting - or maybe just doesn’t share your views.
Trap 2: Your ex
“That’s funny - you hold your knife just like my old boyfriend. He was a prizewinning horseman and had a fantastic singing voice. And he was a great cook too ...” This is the kind of thing that’s better left unsaid. Though you can talk about what you are looking for in a relationship, long discourses about the previous man or woman in your life suggest that you haven’t quite got over that relationship. And making comparisons with your date really isn’t a good move. Instead, be clear about the fact that you are looking for a potential new relationship.
Trap 3: Money
“My strategy is to invest against the trend - that’s why I made money when the market crashed. And if you want to know something about tax loopholes …” Whatever your financial status, talking about money in general - and your money in particular, is not a suitable topic for conversation on a first date, unless it’s very much in passing. You’re looking for love, not a tax adviser. Many people don’t really enjoy talking about money, and you don’t want to be judged on how much money you have - or don’t have.
Trap 4: Niggles
“The service here is terrible … The beer’s flat, the steak’s tough … and they’ve forgotten the mustard.” This isn’t the kind of conversation that’s destined to make your date feel comfortable. Even if you’re used to better things than vinegary wine and soggy pasta, just stay calm and don’t spoil the mood for yourself or for your date - otherwise you could seem like a real grouch. And let’s face it, if the two of you end up celebrating your golden anniversary one day, you will be able to recall the terrible waiter with amusement …
Trap 5: Talking shop
“A lot of people don’t know this, but pipe couplings for pneumatic winding systems are generally produced in Asian countries without double-welded neck flanges …” Even if your colleagues at work are full of praise for your specialist knowledge, your date might not find it so impressive. Of course, if you’re feeling a bit unsure of yourself, it’s nice to put yourself on familiar terrain, but you could risk blinding your date with science, or possibly just boring him or her - so gauge the entertainment value of your insider knowledge with care.
Trap No 6: Sex
“What I really like best in bed is …” Stop! This is not subject matter for a first date. Even if sex plays a very important place in your relationships, it’s better to soft-pedal it as subject matter when you’re just getting to know someone - unless you want your date to think that you’re looking for a one-night stand. People have widely divergent views on how to discuss sexual matters and you don’t want your date to feel uncomfortable or under any kind of pressure.
Trap No 7: Nasty remarks
“I met one woman who was so overweight that she had two smaller women orbiting her.” There’s no need to explain why that comment is out of order. Even if you are tempted to make ironic capital out of a previous experience - and out of someone who isn’t there - don’t do it on a first date. Even if you are just gently amused by what you’re saying, it could be interpreted as something more deeply cynical, and that would end up as an own goal for you. And let’s face it, if you are going to make (hopefully affectionate) mocking remarks about someone, it’s only really fun if the other person knows the person you’re talking about.
Trap 8: Cars/Shoes
Whether you have a bit of a thing about electronically optimised suction pumps and overhead camshafts or about your Manolo Blahniks, it’s probably better to keep them out of the conversation. Like it or not, men and women still seem to be defined by their attitudes to cars, football and computers, or shoes, make-up and hair. Even if you turn out to be ideally suited to each other, there will be certain topics that remain male or female territory, so you’d better get used to the idea now!
Trap 9: Children
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I’d like to get pregnant in the next six months … My biological clock is ticking.” If a woman says something like this, it can make a man feel uncomfortably pressured. Of course, if - as a woman or as man - you’d really like a child, you should say so, but you should take a realistic view on it - a first date is not the time to make categorical statements on such an important issue. You can mention that children figure in your plans for the future, but leave deeper discussions on the subject for another day.
Trap 10: Health
“I’ve got this mole on the back of my neck and I seem to have put on weight recently. Can you tell?” If you’re not feeling at your best and you’ve got an important date, it’s probably best not to go into your symptoms in detail, or it could seem as though you are full of pains and woes. If you’ve strained your back or you’ve become more sensitive to changes in the weather, the other person just might not want to hear about it. Of course, if you have some serious health issues, you would probably prefer not to hide them, but on a first date it’s probably best to put the emphasis on lighter topics.
And finally … The weather
If you consider yourself a bit of an expert on the weather, then you are never going to be wanting for subject matter for conversation, because - as we all know - it’s something on which everybody has an opinion. So if the conversation gets a bit sticky, just point at the sky and, if appropriate, curse the heavens. Don’t be surprised if your date suddenly decides you are soulmates. And don’t forget to send us a photo from the wedding - come rain or come shine.