Success on a first date is mainly down to the words that come out of your mouth. Body language is important and physical chemistry really matters, but neither of those things will get you far if you’re irritating or boring. You don’t need a Stephen Fry-sized arsenal of witty anecdotes – good dating-talk is more about making a connection and being an attentive listener. Read on to find out what sort of first-date chatter will get you a second date.
1. “No worries, I’ll be here”
If your date calls to say she’s running late, be a gent about it. Don’t make her feel more stressed than she is already (you don’t want her to be stressed when she arrives, believe me). She’s only late because she’s spent all afternoon trying to make herself look good for you, anyway. Reassure her that you’re happy waiting, and make sure that she sees you reading something cool when she arrives. (Say, a novel by Henry James, rather than Top Gear magazine.) When she arrives, don’t make any mention of her lateness. Instead, move immediately to #2.
2. “Wow. You look lovely.”
It’s the hint of surprise that makes this compliment work. Deliver it as soon as she says hello, so that it sounds sincere and unplanned (would we ever suggest that you plan such a thing?). Your date will turn immediately from a bag of nerves into a delighted, confident flirt.
3. “What would you like to drink? They’ve got some mad-sounding cocktails here”
You’d be foolish to expect her to go halves on drinks or dinner on a first date. If you do, she’ll assume that you don’t fancy her. So dig into your pocket and treat her. If she really likes you, she’ll want to pay next time. Cocktails are fun and flirty drinks, not least because everyone knows that they get you drunk quicker than anything else. By suggesting a cocktail, you’re essentially saying: “You’re gorgeous, let’s get trashed together on girly pink booze. They’re six quid a pop but you’re worth it.”
4. “I have to confess, I was a bit nervous about this evening.”
This confession works wonders in the context of a confident, easy-flowing conversation. If you’re obviously nervous, drawing attention to it will just make you both feel awkward, but when a self-assured man admits that he had the first-date jitters it’s very seductive. First, it suggests to his date that he’s keen to impress her – which she’ll find deliciously flattering. What’s more, it taps into every woman’s desire to know what men are thinking and feeling. A man who’s not afraid to say that he’s nervous is likely to be in touch with his emotions, and it may even be the sign of a man who’s willing to discuss issues in a relationship. Women are wise creatures, and they know the value of emotional honesty.
5. “You have a lovely voice. I could listen to you all night.”
It’s erring on the schmaltzy, but this is a very effective compliment. The compliments that women really love to hear are the quirky ones that aren’t solely focused on their physical appearance, and this is a great example. It’s also an invitation for her to keep on talking, which will delight any woman who’s scared that all men thinks she talks too much.
6. Laughing at her jokes
Men often claim that women can’t be funny, so the sound of you laughing at your date’s witty comments will be music to her ears. Besides, never underestimate the power of a shared sense of humour. Not for nothing is ‘GSOH’ the biggest cliché in the history of dating.
7. “I’ve got company at the moment.”
She’ll be very happy if you give a polite brush-off to a passing friend, a phone call or an old pal working behind the bar. The point is to make her feel like the most important person in your world for that evening. It’ll fill her with confidence and give your flirtatious intentions a boost. By contrast, if your phone rings and you start chatting into it, she’ll feel rejected and humiliated, and it’ll be very hard to get the evening back on track.
8. “Who’d be in your ideal festival line-up?”
Open-ended questions like this help to develop the conversation and move it forward. By inviting her to talk about her music tastes, you’re making her feel interesting (much more important than making her think you’re interesting) and it gives you plenty of information to memorise for future reference. If you really want to capitalise on it, make her a mixture and bring it along on your second date.
9. “Ahh, I love that song”
Respond positively to her tastes, and she’ll feel flattered and enthusiastic. The worst thing you can do is dismiss her taste as rubbish – in music, films, clothes or whatever – because she really won’t want to spend any more time in your company. Of course you shouldn’t pretend to share all her tastes if you don’t, but keep your disagreements to a minimum on a first date. “I prefer…” is fine; “Oh God how can you like that?” is not.
10. “That thing you said earlier…”
Early on in your date, commit a few of her comments to memory and refer back to them later. She’ll be delighted that you’re so tuned into what she’s been saying.
11. “That sounds delicious. I’ll have the same.”
Many women are quite self-conscious about food, so reassure her that her taste is excellent by ordering the same meal as her. Don’t make fun of her if she wants the dressing on the side or requests some other menu change – you’ll just come across as bitchy. And don’t flirt with the waitress.
12. “I’m full, but the desserts do sound nice. We could share?”
Dessert is a minefield, because she doesn’t want you to think that she’s fussy or greedy. Relieve her of this dilemma by ordering a dessert between you, then allowing her to eat as much or as little as she wants. Don’t even think about commenting on how much she’s had.
13. “I can’t believe the evening’s gone so quickly. What are you doing on Wednesday?”