The dos and don'ts of first dates

LIVIA GAMBLE
Last updated 09:47 12/08/2014
Date

MAKE IT COUNT: Yes, it's bound to be rather awkward, but at least a first date with someone only happens once.

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First dates are nerve-racking, but small talk can be worse. When an awkward silence hits, it's either head for the nearest exit or mention the weather.

For those that weren't born with the gift of the gab, unlike the weather, there are some topics you should reach for when you start to feel the pressure of a first date.

CONVERSATIONS YOU SHOULD HAVE

Talk about travel, not movies

A study by Richard Wiseman found that talking about movies gives you a less than 9 per cent chance of a second date. But talking about travel gave participants an 18 per cent chance of wanting to meet again. Wiseman says the reason for this is that men and women typically had very different movie tastes.

Throw the ball back in their court

Talking about yourself the entire date isn't ideal but staying quiet is just as bad. When your date asks you a question, give your two cents and redirect the conversation back to them. This should set up the foundations of a smooth conversation.

Share secrets

New York psychologist Arthur Aron came up with a set of questions to speed up the ''getting to you know you'' process. Questions include: Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Would you like to be famous? In what way? When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? More questions are here.

When in doubt, go for the controversial topic

Don't worry about rocking the boat. Instead of talking about the news, behavioural researcher Dan Ariely says dive straight in and ask something personally revealing, such as: how many relationships have they had?

Do you like beer?

According to OK Cupid's research, asking your date if they like the taste of beer will give you a good indication about whether they will have sex with you on the first date. Alternatively, asking if they like horror movies can reveal if they are looking for a long-term relationship.  

CONVERSATIONS YOU SHOULD STEER CLEAR OF

Don't over-compliment your date

''Why would someone like you be interested in someone like me when you can have anyone you want?''

Asking questions like this sends a message that you think very little of yourself. Therapist and life coach John D. Moore says: ''If you are continuously complimenting your first date about their personal appearance, it may come off that you are fishing for a compliment.''

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Don't knock back a compliment

If your date pays you a compliment, take it. Telling them it took you an hour to fit in your jeans can come across as self-sabotage. Don't be embarrassed; don't sabotage yourself, just say thank you.

Peel the cabbage, don't stab it

Contrary to Dan Ariely's advice about going for the revealing questions, according to dating website eHarmony, getting to know someone is a process that should be peeled one layer at a time. Rather than diving head-first into a deep and meaningful conversation, they suggest you take it easy.

Don't overshare

Don't use a first date as an opportunity to vent. According to eHarmony: ''Premature or exaggerated revelations are due more to boundary issues, unresolved pain, or self-centeredness than true intimacy.''

Don't get all clingy

Over-touching and planning your second date while the first is still happening can come across as clingy, Moore says.

''The bottom line is simple. Clingy is never attractive and can scare off a first date faster than bad breath,'' the therapist writes on his website.

''Live in the moment and let things unfold organically. If a kiss is supposed to take place, it will. If the two of you are supposed to hold hands, it will happen. Trust in yourself and just let it happen.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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