You’ve swiped your way to a first date and now comes the hard part: proving you’re interesting even when you’re not hiding behind a screen. It’s one thing to craft an engaging profile when you have hours to perfect it; it’s another to be engaging on the fly.
How do you come off as calm, collected, cool, and compelling in real-time? Science offers these 3 strategies for nailing the first date conversation.
#1 Talk About Travel
A study by Richard Wiseman found that a beloved topic for first date talk isn’t as effective as you might think. When talking about movies, less than 9% of participating pairs wanted to meet up again. After a chat about travel, on the other hand, that number doubled to 18%.
Men and women tend to have strongly different tastes in film. Forty-nine percent of men in the study liked action films compared to just 18% of women, and 29% of women liked musicals, compared to only 4% of men. Participants who talked about movies ended up arguing, while those who talked about travel shared stories of memorable holidays and fantisized about dream destinations. The latter makes people feel good, and consequently appear more attractive to one another.
#2 Be Open To Intimacy
Intimacy is an obvious requirement for a budding relationship, but research shows just how powerful it really is. Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, devised an ingenious method for creating lightning-fast intimacy with couples who have just met. In an hour or less, he sparked intimacy levels that typically take weeks, months, or years to form.
Aron accelerated the getting-to-know-you process using a set of thirty-six questions that encourage deep dialogue. At the end of his experiment, the intensity of participating partners’ bonds was rated as closer than the closest relationship in the lives of 30% of similar students. And that was after only 45 minutes. Sharing emotional, personal information proved to be a potent way to kindle feelings of connection.
#3 Don’t Fear The Controversial
Traditional dating advice cautions against including controversial subjects, like religion and politics, in first date conversation. Research from Dan Ariely paints a different picture.
Ariely’s experiment found that interesting, personally revealing, and potentially contentious questions (like “Do you have any STDs?” and “Have you ever broken someone’s heart?”) created much livelier conversations than playing it safe.
When you’re afraid to rock the boat, your conversations aren’t just dull – they’re also inadequate tools for assessing the potential for long-term compatibility. Embracing controversial questions made everyone happier with the interaction at the end of Ariely’s study.