“Little girls should be seen and not heard” – oh, if only first dates were that simple. You know that you can’t sit there in silence the whole time (and nor would you want to), but you’re also terrified of being a nervous chatterbox. How much talk is too much? And what should you say to make him want to see you again? If it helps, he probably wants to hear more or less the same things that you do – a bit of wit, some interested questions and not too much interrupting. Here are a few things that’ll help you win some first-date conversation brownie points.
1. “Hello! You look nice.” Confident, self-assured, friendly. It doesn’t take much more than that to impress a man. Look him straight in the eye and tell him he looks nice, and the nerves that he’s been fighting all day will immediately start to subside. It’s not only women who want to look good on a first date. He probably changed outfits five times before he left the house, so reassure him that he made the right choice and you’ll be off to a flying start. Your confidence also sets a positive tone for the evening.
2. “What are you drinking?” Men on dates are torn between two strong financial instincts. The first is the provider instinct: he wants you to think he’s loaded, because it makes him feel manly. The second is the tightwad instinct: he wants free stuff, especially free beer. Buy him a beer, offer to go halves on dinner, then tell him he can pay for the cab.
3. “What are you working on at the moment?” Men tend to value themselves in terms of their work, so get him talking about it and respond encouragingly. Be an active listener – look at him as he talks and prompt him to tell you more about the bits that interest you. By making him feel good about himself, he’ll think you’re fantastic company even if you’ve only uttered a few sentences.
4. “Oh I’ve been there too, loved it. Where did you stay?” Sharing travel anecdotes is a cornerstone of grown-up date talk. It shows that you’re experienced, independent and interesting. But resist the temptation to dwell on your own anecdotes, at least until a couple of dates down the line. Let him chat about his own travel stories, hint that you’ve got some similar tales of your own, and then put the spotlight back on him, because the one person any man finds most interesting is himself. Again, be an active listener rather than a silent starer. He wants to know that he can talk about his work, his travels and his music collection without getting a blank look in return.
5. “I’ve got the DVD box set of that!” Men love women who have good tastes, which is to say women who have the same tastes as them. DVD box sets are also a very important item in the dating game. They enable you to spend all weekend in bed together without having to talk or have sex the whole time.
6. “Fancy a curry?” We don’t need to explain this one. Try not to get it down your top. Down your cleavage is fine.
7. A joke that makes him laugh
It’s not just girls who look for a GSOH. A woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously (or seem to) is immediately attractive to men, and if she can make him laugh she earns extra points for being the kind of girl he can show off down the pub.
8. Laughing at his jokes If you can make him laugh but he can’t make you laugh, you have failed. He wants a girl who’s funny, but he certainly doesn’t want a girl who’s funnier than he is. Men love women who laugh at their jokes even more than they love women who can put their ankles behind their ears.
9. “I really didn’t want to start liking anyone. Damn you.”
This is a nicely non-needy way of telling him that you like him. He’ll like the idea that you’re too independent to want to go out with anyone, but that he’s so awesome he weakened your defences. Psychologists call this kind of thing “selective playing hard to get,” because you’re playing hard to get with everyone except him. Your choosiness is a huge turn-on for his ego.
10. “I love what I do.” All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, right? All play and no work doesn’t do much for her, either. Your job is an important part of your identity, and men respect women who have passions and ambitions. If you love your job and you’re full of hopes and dreams, don’t feel pressured into playing it down for a man who doesn’t understand your passion.
11. “Do you fancy going on somewhere? A mate of mine is DJing at this club.” Decisiveness is sexy, and so is having mates who are DJs at clubs where you can get him in on the guestlist. Plus, suggesting that you “go on somewhere” will make him think the date is going well.
12. “I’ve had a brilliant time. You are fantastic. I’m off home now.” Of course, he’s not getting lucky tonight – and that’s fine by him, though he may not realise it right at that moment. Ultimately, he will be more more excited by your decisive independence. First dates are a lot of pressure, and sometimes the last thing he wants is the added pressure of sex with someone he really likes. Let him go home, then text him in a couple of days to say hello.