Going on a first date (and making yourself obvious with that bouquet of flowers) can be as nerve-wracking as crossing a minefield. It’s hard not to worry about everything that might go wrong. What if you say something that sinks the entire evening? Or worse, what if neither of you has anything to say at all?

If you try to think of a first date as a fact-finding mission and not as an audition, you’ll have more fun. Work on finding out as much about your date as you can. Since most people enjoy talking about themselves, this should put your date at ease as well.

Wine Tasting

Obviously, choice of dating venue helps a lot in developing an atmosphere that is more relaxed, laid back and open communication. Here are some topics that are fun, safe, and might help you and your date find some common ground:

  • Favorite Night Spots. Talk about the place you’re meeting and other places in town you like.
  • Music and Movies. Everyone has seen a movie or listened to music. This topic will give you ideas for your next date, as well.
  • Family. Brothers and sisters usually bring up positive feelings, but if not, that’s interesting too.
  • Exercise and Working Out. This topic might not be a great one if your date is obviously out of shape, but most people enjoy talking about their workout routines.
  • Travel. Asking about your date’s last vacation trip (hopefully, not with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend) will evoke happy memories and associations.
  • How Did You Get Here? Ask how they came to live in your area. Work? Family? Whether your date has lived in town for a lifetime or just arrived, there’s a story to tell.
  • Pets. Pets make us seem likable. Talk about your pet if you have one, and your date will be sure to chime in if he or she has one too.
  • What Drives You Nuts? This topic is best if you can keep it humorous and don’t lapse into complaining. What are your date’s pet peeves? Make sure you have your own to share.
  • Work. Play this one carefully. Some people love their work and want to talk about it, while other don’t. If you bring it up, be ready to switch topics if you get a bad reaction.
  • Other Customers. It can be fun to speculate about other people in the restaurant or bar. What is that couple fighting about? Why is that man alone?

Remember, though, you don’t want to sound like you’re working from a script but you don’t want to discuss topics that are sensitive and are better off tackled at next sessions. As soon as the conversation takes off on its own, forget your list of topics and follow the thread wherever it leads.