I talk for a living. Okay, technically I sell software and digital engagement, but essentially I get paid to talk to new people and get them to feel like we have a positive relationship together. I’ve been doing this for years and am still paid for it, so I know I’m fairly good at it. So why do I worry so much about what I should and shouldn’t talk about on a first date?
Often, I’ve started with inane chatter, just to test the temperature of the other person. If it looks like they are genuinely interesting and interested then I’ll listen to them a lot and respond based on their words. I’ve got a fairly broad range of experiences to draw upon, so it’s rare that I’ve not got something to add or an anecdote to share based on their own topics.
After that, things often go a little bit meta. We start to talk about the act of dating. Sometimes this leads to slightly deeper conversations about how we’ve each got to the situation where we are dating, which is where I share a little bit of my own sorry back story and hope they don’t run for the hills. Other times we talk about the process of online dating itself and the worst dates we’ve been on.
Is that wrong? It’s worked okay so far, and removes the stigma of being single and online dating which many people seem to feel. It also gives us both a chance to share what we don’t like in a partner in a safe way; if they tell me about a guy who gets clingy and texts 30 times a day then I’ll know to keep it a little more at arms length, or if they mention that they had a date who only spoke about their ex then I’ll note that and keep all such mentions minimal (if they even exist).
I’ve generally avoid the obvious biggies – religion and politics – though have touched on sport and family. I’ve got a brilliantly Eastenders style family, with everything from divorced parents to siblings with children living in different countries to siblings living abroad after bad breakups to benefit street style siblings to one with an ex-partner we found out about when we saw them on Crimewatch (true story). I keep it all funny, but found it shows I’m open and gives them the chance to open up with me too.
The politics one is interesting, though, as until my divorce that was playing an ever bigger part of my life. I was/am a local Parish Councillor and was being courted to stand for election at District and perhaps County level (and it was even mentioned MP level a few times). That life really interests me; doing public good and making an actual difference to the world, but as it was one of the things my ex-wife didn’t want me to do I gave it all up.
Part of me would love to find someone to push me and support me through restarting that journey, but all too often I’ve found most people switch off as soon as they hear the word ‘politics’. I know that I should be aiming for perfect-for-me, and that would involve a comfort with politics, but I’m also realistic about what I can hope to attract. Not too many women with supermodel looks and 140+ IQs are also into politics – that Venn diagram has an exceedingly small crossover point.
If it comes up from her then I’ll know I need to step my game up so I secure a second date. For now, I’ll probably avoid bringing it up on the first date and stick to more common topics.
Or am I doing it wrong? Advice, as ever, very much appreciated!