10 Essential Things To Talk About on a First Date

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What are the most relevant conversation starters for a first date? What should you ask on a first date? And what sort of things should you talk about on a first date, to better guide your conversation as a whole? Got a lot of questions when it comes to first date best practices? Feeling unsure or confused? Then here’s 10 essential things to talk about on a first date, as a key starting point.

Just remember – a first date shouldn’t feel like an interview. It shouldn’t be one person asking all of the questions and the other simply answering… or solely talking about themselves! It should be a two way thing. (Unless of course, it’s a case of “you like him more than he likes you.” Gah!)

So with each of these topics, try to interact further by sharing your own stories / thoughts / experiences. You don’t have to wait for your date to ask the questions back. You can drop comments in, to relate to them, and keep the conversation going and flowing naturally…

If they then ask you a further question about something – THEN you expand and go into more depth… But never ask questions just so you can share the answers yourself! It’s all about getting the balance right, you see?

So use these first date conversation starters to find out more about your date, and encourage them to want to find out more about you too.

See, you should already have asked some different dating app questions and built a strong base. But speaking in person allows a person to expand in more detail. So on the first date – bring it back to that, then build it up and up.

first date conversation starters

10 Essential Things To Talk About on a First Date

So, what are these essential things to talk about on a first date then? Well, let’s get stuck in, shall we? Here’s your tick list of the top first date topics and conversation starters!

The Basics

First up, let’s start with the basic first date conversation topics that you should cover… But can still cover in an interesting way!

See, it’s not about picking up on the restaurant or asking if they “come here often?” Instead, you can get a little more creative than that, by talking about things like…

1) Background

A great way to find out who a person really is, and what makes them, them, is to understand their background and where they come from. It’s one of the fundamental first date topics!

  • Where did they grow up?
  • What was it like? (Best things and worst things?)
  • What are their family like?
  • Are they close with their family?

Remember – you can ask any of these questions casually, in a non-intrusive way; instead, coming across as genuinely interested. (Which I assume you really are!)

You just have to be perceptive of their responses and what they are or aren’t comfortable with speaking about… Then see how deep it goes and flows.

A great way to ease into background based first date questions, is to say something like:

“Have you lived here long? Did you grow up around here, then?”

Now, like we said, it may be that some of these things have already cropped up when speaking on dating apps, but that’s only a good thing if you can acknowledge it and build on it, as you can then show you really listened and remembered the things they said.

tips for first dates

2) Work

Now I know what you’re thinking… Work… Really?! That’s an essential first date topic?! But yes, yes it is. After all – works takes up such a large part of your life!

This doesn’t have to mean you spend the whole date making it work related – talking about what’s on, how you spend your day, or the mind-numbingly-boring office antics. No, no, no.

Instead, you want to use this topic to learn MORE about your date, as a person. In fact, hearing how they talk about work can be really quite insightful.

  • Are they passionate about what they do?
  • Did they work hard to get into it?
  • Are they in a job they DON’T love, and yet are still staying?

From this you can gather: what’s the deal with their work situation? What does it tell you about them? And how does that align with you?

See, touching on what you each do for a living is naturally, very standard first date topic. In fact, if you DIDN’T know what your date did for work, that would be kind of strange too…

So it’s good to take an interest regardless. But when you do – use it to its full potential, as that’s when it becomes a really juicy and interesting thing to talk about on a first date!

3) Free Time

Next up, we’ve got to add ‘free time’ into the list of essential things to talk about on a first date, but please oh please, don’t ask: “So what hobbies do you have?”

Phrase it in a different way… Any other way! It’s not an interview, after all, like we said!

Instead, ask specific questions relating to hobbies, interests and free time. For instance:

“Are you into sport then?” “Do you like reading?” “Are you big on music?” That kind of thing!

By asking specific questions, you indirectly find out the answer to what they do in their free time, and understand where their interests lie, without sounding like you’re simply reading through a set list of standard questions to ask on a first date!… Which they’re likely to get all the time.

You can also better tie this into your hobbies and interests, sharing what you do, without putting any set “hobby” labels on it.

Remember – first dates should be fun, and feel fun, as opposed to repetitive. Talking of which…

First date conversation topics

4) Preferences

Another of our favourite things to talk about on a first date, is ‘preferences’, because it’s just so vast and broad… There’s so much you can ask within this category, whilst still keeping it fun!

So, what do we mean by ‘preferences’? Well – anything and everything.

  • Big spoon or little spoon?
  • Do you prefer nights in or nights out?
  • So what’s your go-to ‘food of indulgence’?!
  • Would you prefer to cook for someone or have someone cook for you?!

It’s kind of like this or that questions for couples or hypothetical questions even, except you’re using it to get to know your date better… And throwing in some different questions to keep it fun and exciting!

Now, although these are lighter first date questions, it can create great bonding opportunities, and the chance to discuss things further.

For example, let’s say – through one of these preferences questions – you discover a shared love of cooking. You don’t need to fire on through to the next question.

You’ve found a mutual interest so you can discuss that in more detail then as a first date topic in its own right. See, it’s basically a tool to create greater discussions and bounce off each other, faster and easier! Clever, huh? On this note…

Things To Talk About On a First Date

Stepping It Up

Our next section of first date conversation topics will help you dig a little deeper into your date. So, it’s a good idea to explore things like…

5) Characteristics

The goal when dating, is to get to know a person the best that you can to see how well you click.

It’s therefore unsurprising that topics that better uncover their characteristics should fall into the essential things to talk about on a first date! But what do we mean by this? Well…

You’ve already started to learn more about their preferences. You may then however, like to dig deeper…

  • How do they feel in certain situations?
  • What are they like in different places, with different people?
  • How would they describe themselves and how would others describe them?
  • What behaviours can you pick up on, and what does that say about them as a person?
  • What key characteristics can you gather from them?

You can mix these in with the lighter conversation topics, of course. And actually do so pretty naturally. For example:

Let’s say a preferences question revealed they preferred nights in to nights out. You’d then simply ask why this is, with something like…

“Oh really? Do you find you’re more of an introvert than an extrovert then? Like time out by yourself?”

Remember to also say things to relate to them, to make it easier for them to open up. This can be done by using phrases like: “I get that.” “I’m exactly the same.” “I can understand why.”

Of course – don’t be agreeable if you genuinely don’t agree. It’s not about trying to be exactly like someone if you’re not. But showing understanding and no judgement is vitally important to unlocking their true character and getting to know them on a deeper, more genuine level.

First date conversation topics

Things To Talk About On a First Date

We’re half way through the list, so let’s keep covering these essential first date topics…

6) Life Experiences

Life experiences… Now I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t that a little too heavy to talk about on a first date?!” Well actually, no!

Life experiences discussions can vary widely from funny & entertaining stories, to deep and heartfelt…

Different people will be comfortable opening up about different things, and you’ll find the conversation naturally heads in the direction they are comfortable with.

But to give you a few ideas, you may like to talk about things like:

  • What they were like when they were younger.
  • How they are now vs. how they were back then, and anything which changed them. (E.G. often you’ll find guys have their “wild times” but then grow out of it. Touching on things like this is an interesting first date discussion, that’s actually pretty easy to get into too!)
  • Travel experiences or adventures can also come into these discussions, which is light & fun!
  • Or you can go for the “heavier” things like – any hard times that have became a big part of their story and significantly shaped who they are today.

Just see where the conversation goes and flows, but be sure to cover some sort of life experiences as part of your first date conversation starters, as this becomes very insightful, indeed!

Talking of which, as we continue with these first date conversation topics, another one you can’t forget is…

first date conversation starters

7) Passions / Goals / Desires

Finding someone you can really bounce off and who’s on the same page as you, is one of the most exciting parts of dating!

So ask questions to find out what EXCITES them and where they’re looking to go; and see how well that aligns with you!

  • What do they want to do with their life?
  • What drives them? Excites them? Focuses them?!
  • Where is all of this coming from? What’s inspired them before? Or shaped this desire in them?
  • What are some of the things they want to do, achieve or experience?

It sounds like it may be a pretty heavy thing to talk about on a first date, but it’s absolutely not so long as you go into the conversation with the right tone…

Lead by sharing as opposed to interrogating, and have high energy during these discussions… Let your own excitement shine through and then seeing what you get back from them!

This is actually one of my favourite things to talk about on a first date, as it also shows – you CAN talk about the “bigger” things and have more meaningful conversations… Even on a first date!

Things To Talk About On a First Date


There’s a few more first date conversation starters I don’t want you to miss! These include…

8) Dating Life

Now this first date topic may surprise you a little. You may be thinking, “But I thought talking about other people was a no-go?!”

And yes, you’re right. We’re not saying that you need to quiz your date about the past people he / she has dated and their feelings towards these people. No, no, no. Absolutely not.

BUT – talking about dating life and dating experiences as a whole; in a light, fun and relatable way, can be great for connecting you!

See, dating can be tough. Especially in 2023. There’s more challenges with dating today, than there – arguably ever has been! But that’s why it’s good to talk about it…

It makes you REAL, honest and open. And you can make the conversations pretty humorous too!

See there’s plenty of light, fun, and also interesting questions about dating, that you can ask on a first date, without things getting too personal or turning into a massive, negative rant!

So swat up on the best questions to ask about dating and come up with your own that you can then throw into those first date conversations!

  • “Been single long?”
  • “Do you get nervous going on dates?”
  • “Got any disastrous dating stories then?!”
  • “What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt since being single?!”
  • “What do you like most and least about single life?”

You see, there’s plenty to choose from… (To mention just a few!)

First date topics

9) Dating YOU!

Dating can be confusing. Especially early on. You can have all kinds of questions running through your head like: Did they enjoy that date? Did it go well? What should I now text after a first date? Does he / she want to see me again?

And hey – you still want to keep that anticipation and excitement. You don’t want to throw all your cards on the table, especially early days. BUT (and this is a big but!) you can show how you feel by talking – lightly – about the two of you on a first date.

So you could drop in ideas for future things you’d love to do with them. (If it’s going well of course!) For instance, let’s say you both love outdoor activities. You could mention one of your favourite hikes that you “have to show him one day” and gage his enthusiasm from his response.

Or let’s say you’re getting good vibes from a guy, and want to see if he thinks so too. You could then drop in something like: “well, this is not a bad date, is it, hey?!” The key with this is to do it lightly and jokingly first, almost like you’re flirting by teasing… Then see how they respond.

As in most cases, your date is wanting to know how you feel about too, and is likely to say something back like: “No, I’ve actually had a really great time. Have you?” And then you get a more serious answer, without the conversation having to go any deeper than that.

You see? So I hope this shows, there’s actually many things you can talk about on the first date… And things you may not expect would be suitable for a first date. But if you go about it in the right way – you can actually “get away with” most things!

When it comes to things to talk about on a first date, it’s better to make your conversation fun, interesting and DIFFERENT. As that’s how you break the repetitiveness of dating, and keep it a positive, exciting experience each time!

conversation ideas for first dates

Final First Date Topics Tips

This leads us onto the final note for first date topics. See, when it comes to what to talk about on a first date, you have have the general list of ideas, but ultimately…

10) Shape The Conversation Around THEM

Each first date should be unique and different. After all – everyone is different!

So maybe you noticed things before you went on the date that you wanted to talk about. Or maybe the conversation starts to flow and you can pick up own the things they say, bounce off what they say, and build on their conversation starters.

Everyone enjoys speaking about different things and can naturally talk about different things, better and with more ease. So if the conversation IS flowing, don’t worry too much about “what to talk about on a first date” and instead, let it continue to flow naturally and see what comes.

Because sure, you may have your key qualifying questions. But in most cases, you can drop these into any conversation. So if it’s going well on it’s own, let it continue to flow naturally, without having to bring your “tick list” out!

Practice active listening – really focusing on trying to understand what they’re saying, rather than feeling like you need to get through a set list of things to talk about on a first date!

Prep is great, but being flexible and focusing on YOUR DATE, and who they are, is always the best way!

That’s All For This One

So there we have it – 10 essential things to talk about on a first date, to help direct your conversation and form a stronger connection from the get go.

Remember, you don’t have to cover each and every one of these things, in a lot of detail. And if you miss one or two at the start, you don’t need to panic.

Practice makes perfect and it’s simply about getting into the habit of touching on these kind of topics whenever you go into a first date… Which will come easier and more naturally, as time goes on.

So get stuck in, get excited and GOOD LUCK!

Wishing you all the best.


Things To Talk About On a First Date
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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