How to avoid awkward silences on a first date

If there’s one thing we all dread happening on a first date (apart from them bringing their mum along), it’s a halt in conversation. A long, awkward silence that you can’t pull back from. Read on for a few tricks to fill in the blanks on your date.

Once the main subjects have been got out of the way (where are you from, what do you do), it’s possible to draw a blank. Everybody is a little awkward on a first date, trying to show their best side like they’re selling themselves in a job interview. Of course, you can simply laugh at the way it took all of three seconds of silence for your cheeks to go purple and bond through the mutual embarrassment. Alternatively, there are a few things you can do to avoid your worst enemy: the dreaded silence.

Current affairs

Surely not more Brexit chat! Well that’s up to you, but it must be said that the news is a rich vein of conversation starters, ready to be mined. It could be wise to avoid the controversial topics to begin with, after all, your mother always said never to talk about religion or politics at the dinner table, but the right headline could really set your tongues a-wagging, for example: “did you hear they did surgery on a grape?!”

If the silence endures: Get out your phone and read your latest news bulletin out loud.

The setting

Searching for something to fill the silence is like going fishing. So fish with your eyes and have a look around for some inspiration. The waiter is fair game for some observation (don’t worry, he will never know) or indeed the bread basket could lead to a good chinwag about saucy old Paul Hollywood. If there’s a cute dog in sight, you’re golden – everyone can talk about animals. If you’re date is taking place al fresco, why not look up to the stars and share some astronomical anecdotes? You are both doing your best to keep the conversation flowing, so your date will certainly forgive you the odd whacky comment.

If the silence endures: Go for a stroll to change the scene.

How was your day?

When meeting someone for the first time, we tend ask them big questions about their life story, but discussion of their more recent history, as in earlier that day, can prove more spontaneous, and be informative about your beau. You can find clues about their lifestyle and routine, and you never know, these banal details could become relevant if one day you end up sharing your daily life with this person. In any case, day-to-day life can be a fruitful topic of conversation in itself.

If the silence endures: If their day turns out to have been pretty lame, ask them what they are up to tomorrow.

Trivia

If you get stuck in a conversational cul-de-sac, whipping out a random fact could be your escape. Here are three pieces of trivia you can have for free… the Statue of Liberty’s nose is 1.37 metres long, the first text message was sent in 1992, and the Hawaiian alphabet contains only thirteen letters. A sudden change in topic can liven the mood, and a game of “did you know that..?” could provide a couple of laughs.

If the silence endures: If they don’t find your fact so fun, switch straight to your views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The second drink

Or perhaps the third. If the silence persists and you’re starting to panic (what to say? What to do? Did I offend them in some way?) the question “Shall we get another drink?” is just the ticket. In the short term, it fills the silence and gives you some time to think of what to say next. It can also reveal your partner’s intentions. If they say no to another drink, then it’s time for the old “oh boy would you look at the time, I’d better be off”. If they say yes, you’re good to go; they are obviously aware of the silences too, but they are nothing to worry about. After all, as an ex once said to me, true love is when you can sit in silence together without being embarrassed.

If the silence endures: Drink number ten, anyone? (Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health).

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