First Date Tips: Good And Bad Topics of Conversation

first date tips

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Although they can be hopeful, exciting and fun, let’s be honest, first dates can consist of massive moments of awkward silence. For example, feeling like you have food between your teeth, wondering if he is noticing your nervousness, regretting your choice in what you wore, thinking you said something really stupid and wishing you could take it back, and the worst one, trying to think of what the heck you should talk about! Here are some first date tips in regards to good and bad topics.


1. Bad topic: Politics.

The first of my first date tips is that politics is not first date stuff! People get really sensitive and offended if the person they are with doesn’t share their political views.

Good topic: What’s in the news.

If you aren’t already watching the news and reading it online, please start. I think it’s healthy to be informed and knowledgeable. By knowing the news, you are also setting an example for your kids. Additionally, I think watching the news greatly affects a person’s gratitude in their own life, and makes personal problems seem a lot more manageable. And, those good news stories are inspiring. Those are the ones that stick with me.

But as it pertains to dating and first dates, knowing what’s going on really does make a person more attractive and interesting. Talking about the news (other than politics) sparks interesting, thoughtful conversation. I know you are busy, but you can get caught up on world news if you invest even 15 minutes a day getting some news.


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2. Bad topic: Old relationships.

Just like your date doesn’t want to hear about your ex, no one wants to hear about an old boyfriend you still miss dearly, or the one who got away. That just tells your first date that you aren’t over him, or that you are bitter or angry still. I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel those things, just don’t share them on a first date.

Good topic: Kids or family.

Your date went out for dinner with you to get to know YOU, and the best way he or she can do that is to hear you talk about your kids or your family, the people you are closest to. I always like to watch a man’s expression when he talks about his kids. That tells me everything I need to know about what kind of father and person he is. Or, one time I was dating this guy and he talked about how “stupid” his mother was. I RAN the other way, seriously.


3. Bad topic: Your job (if you are unhappy).

I think there are two types of people. Those who go to their jobs only to bring home a paycheck, and those who truly have passion for what they do. If you are the former, keep your job description brief and instead talk about your hobbies and/or interests outside of the office. By the way, I have nothing against people who work for a paycheck. I’m not judging. I’m just saying, whatever you talk about with your date, talk about it with passion and happiness, versus “My boss is an asshole.”

If you don’t have a job right now (or are looking into going back to work), that’s perfectly understandable, but if you are on a date, don’t play the victim. Instead, talk about what kinds of jobs you are looking for, and what you are aiming to do professionally.

Good topic: hobbies, interests, passions, travel.

Let’s say you just got back from Spain, or you have a trip planned to China. Or, you just started doing Pilates and you love it! (That’s what I would talk about if I had a first date tonight.) Or, you are learning Spanish. First dates are all about figuring out if you want to have a relationship with this person. And so much of that comes down to having things in common. So, tell your date what turns you on!


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4. Bad topic: Sex.

It’s just in bad taste to start talking about sex on a first date. It just is.

Good topic: Love.

You might disagree with me, but I think it’s okay to talk about love and relationships, and what you think makes a good one. Get it on the table! Tell your date what you want and don’t want. I’m not saying to tell your date you want to be married within the year, but saying, “I’m really looking to fall in love,” or “I would like to be married again someday” aren’t forbidden. Use your best judgment, but be honest. Chances are, your date wants that too. And if he/she doesn’t, then it might not be the best fit, so why not find out now?


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More first date tips:

Another one of my dating tips is: don’t talk about why you got divorced for more than a few minutes. Why? Because your date might be going through his or her own divorce, and is probably viewing dating as refreshing. The last thing he or she wants to do is relive your divorce, hear your complaining and analyze what your ex spouse might or might not be thinking and feeling.


In closing, of all the first date tips I can give, the best one is to just be yourself. Be authentic. BUT, be YOUR BEST self. Offer your date the things you love about yourself: your passion, your heart, your humor, perhaps. Leave any negative energy at home tonight!

Like this article? Check out, “Dating After Divorce at 50; What to Wear, What To Say and Other Tips”

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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    2 Responses to “First Date Tips: Good And Bad Topics of Conversation”

    1. Rebekah

      Thank you so much for this blog! I have been through a divorce & I had so much anger & resentment towards my ex-husband, that I didn’t even think straight. I have started the healing & letting go of some of the anger & even though I grieve from time to time, I feel better. It feels lonely & I have gone through so much in the past 1 1/2 years to last me a long time. I am ready to smile, move on & live. Thanks again


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