Thursday, 02 June 2011 12:51
You know it’s happened to you: You’re heading home from a first date, fairly pleased yet a little unsure about how it went. Then you stop short and suck in a breath, realizing you forgot to mention some interesting accomplishment or anecdote that would have gone over perfectly. Uh-oh; now you’re worried you didn’t say anything interesting. And you’re an interesting person!
Now, we’re not talking about bragging about your high-school hockey trophies or gabbing on endlessly about having “found yourself” in Paris. But there are certain things you can mention that will let you impress your date, without a doubt, and will add some heft to casual first-date small talk. Here are five topics to tackle and how to artfully bring them up.
1. Whatever you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s your love of art and culture. Or history. Or tropical bird-watching. Anything, in fact, except celebrities and what’s on TV. You want to show that you do things in your spare time that enrich you as a person, not just sit on the sofa with Us Weekly. And even if you and your date are both super into celebrity gossip, it’s hardly a unique trait to build a relationship on. Spend those early dates getting to know the important facts about each other; specifically, the passions that make each of you tick and distinguish you from the other single folk out there.
Sample segue: “I liked The Book of Eli because it got people talking about the Bible, which isn’t true of most popular movies! I’m one of those people who loves getting into a literary discussion of the Bible — how about you?”
2. Your domestic genius. It’s universally impressive to keep a stylish home, and it’s doubly impressive if you’re a great cook. “Cooking is one of my passions,” says James Humphrey, a public relations manager in New York. “I can go on for hours talking about how much I hate Emeril but think Lidia Bastianich is the bomb!” If you know how to make a great meal, it’s definitely worth mentioning on the first date — a little private at-home dinner party just might be in your future. Even mentioning how much you love to make crafty birthday gifts for friends or have fondue parties can reveal a little about your nesting talents.
Sample segue: “How’s that chicken stew you ordered? I got this amazing recipe last summer that I’ve customized by...”
3. Your family values. It can be a big plus to let your date know that your family is important to you, but that they don’t run your life. Share a story that describes your family in context (“We always played pranks on birthdays; I was a bit of a ringleader…”), but don’t go into anything that makes you sound bitter (“The man also known as my father”) or attached at the hip (“Oh, this sweater? My mom made me try on every one in the store!”).
Sample segue: “My parents and I couldn’t be more different — except when it comes to…”
4. Community service. If you’re active in community organizations that help people in any way, this is definitely something to bring up on a first date. Of course, bragging about giving lots of money to charities... well, that’s just showing off. But just mentioning that you do volunteer work — like delivering meals to homebound people, or even just hosting events for a local professional organization — shows a sense of humanity that’s an indisputable selling point.
Sample segue: “That neighborhood is really changing — I used to go there sometimes for [insert charity name] and it was on the dangerous side, but now it’s really improving!”
5. Your ability to laugh at yourself. This one’s less about saying one particular thing and more about having a lighthearted tone. “Everyone has faults, and to be able to laugh at them is charming,” says Humphrey. “It’s always great to give a funny story about something you did to embarrass yourself — like my going up to Eva Longoria at a TV event and mistaking her for someone else.” Your embarrassing moment doesn’t have to involve a celeb, of course; it should just be something that shows you’re a human with faults and that you can acknowledge those flaws without falling to pieces.
Sample segue: “I love my job and fortunately, I work with great people. They didn’t even make too much fun of me the time I…” Odds are, your date will find your self-deprecating humor charming.
(Stephen F. Milioti writes for New York, the New York Observer and Salon.)
By Stephen F. Milioti
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