No matter how you swing it, first dates are always awkward. You’re both trying to show only your good sides but, inevitably, someone gets food stuck in their teeth or drinks a little too much or tells a joke that falls flat. No doubt, first dates (and figuring out what to talk about on a date) top the list of things that people hate about dating, right up there with the fact that online dating has made it so you have to go on way more of them than you used to in order to find someone you click with.
But there are ways to ease the pain. First dates will never not be a little awkward but they can be slightly less painful. The key to better first dates lies in the preparation, so I turned to an expert for help. Michael Bruch is the founder of a new dating app called Willow that’s basically the opposite of Tinder. Instead of asking you to make a snap judgment about people based on looks, Willow is based on asking and answering questions. Each new user comes up with three questions of their own and then browses other people’s answers to see who catches their eye. People’s pictures aren’t revealed until after you’ve decided you want to talk to them.
Needless to say, Bruch knows a lot about conversation starters and ice breakers. I asked him to share his top tips for how to make a first date less awkward. Ready to make it to the second date?
1. Work some silly questions into your repartee.
"Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers?" "What Drake lyric best describes your life right now?" “These kinds of questions break the ice in a really fun, light hearted way that people seem to like,” Bruch said.
2. Make sure your questions can actually lead to a discussion.
“Ask questions to start discussions, not simply get answers. It's important to keep things from feeling like an interview. If you keep this in mind, you'll probably get the answers you're looking for anyway. “
3. Save the personal stuff for later.
“The order in which you ask questions matters. If the first thing if you ask is too personal, you'll set yourself back. However, if you spend a few hours talking to the other person before asking personal questions, they're likely to feel more comfortable around you and open up.”
4. Contextualize and pay attention.
“If you know the person you are going on a date with is interested in x, or enjoys doing y, build conversations around that!”
5. Slip those deal breakers in subtly.
“Have certain deal breakers that are extremely important to you? Make sure to slip those in to conversation without being too imposing.”