I think the most stressful thing about dating is what to talk about on the date, how to make sure the conversation keeps flowing and avoid any awkward pauses or silences without making conversing feel too forced.

Dating can sometimes feel like a very inorganic way to get to know someone, that sounds like a strange concept but a date is essentially a set up situation. You aren’t getting to know someone in a laid back causal comfortable way like being in the same friendship circle, or working at the same office. In those situations you can generate social interactions over a period of time that can help you get to know someone better before asking them out. It’s especially difficult to navigate these days with abundance of online dating and social media. But if its someone you don’t already know to some extent (so someone you met on a night out and they took your number, or you have been set up on a blind date, or you met them on tinder) going out on a date is the is the only way you can get to know someone enough to decide if you want to peruse a relationship with them.

There is an immense amount of pressure for anyone in that situation, you instinctively want people to like you and it’s easy to feel that fear about saying or doing the wrong thing and accidentally embarrassing yourself. This can lead to you not really being yourself, or clamming up and your mind going completely blank when you are asked a question. It can cause you to try too hard to make good impression so you end up coming on too strong or yapping a mile a minute and have that awful verbal diarrhoea that some people get when they are nervous.

Below are 6 ways to help you with the Art of a Great Date Conversation, and help fight that first date pressure.

1. Show genuine interest in the person

Ask them questions about themselves to bring them into conversation. Strive to learn more about the other person but try not to interrogate them. Making eye contact is a wonderful way of doing this, it creates a focus for you and for them. Its’s also a really great way to flirt as its universally seen as a sign of attraction. Ladies give those peepers a few blinks every 5-10 seconds with a sharp look down (maybe at your drink or your hand) then straight up at them again directly into their eyeline. These are purposeful actions that can seem subtle and show a guy you are interetsed in him. There is a reason why ‘batting your eyelashes’ is a well-used phrase!

2. Ask purposeful questions

Meaningful questions elicit meaningful answers. If you ask the right questions the conversation will flow. ‘’What drives you in life, what are your current goals, what inspired you to make this change or take this job’’. If you get someone that is shy or not good at small talk it can be hard to draw them out of themselved, but asking questions around what they like to do can help identify what they enjoy and feel passionate about. This can lead to them opening up more especially when they have a subject they can talk about freely…. Although If they start talking about sharing a bed with their mum at age 35 then maybe it’s time to nip to the ladies and pop that window out of the pane!!

3. Focus on the positives

Opt for positive conversational topics not negative ones. Don’t use the date as an opportunity to vent that your boss in an arsehole or that you hate your family. No one wants to hang out with someone that always complaining about everything or always on an intense rant about their latest conspiracy theory. Try and find positive and funny points about the things you talk about, you want the conversations to be light but interesting.

4. Share the talking 50/50

Don’t dominate or hold the conversation, it’s important to listen to them as well as asking questions. Let them speak but share your thoughts and stories as well, just don’t get into a trap of one up man-ship where each person tries to outdo one another with their hilarious stories or who has met the most celebrities. It’s a date not a competition, and if he wanted a pissing contest he could have hung out with the lads!

5. Respect don’t judge, impose or criticize

So I made a joke about running out on the date, and it is just that, a joke! Unless you feel your safety is at risk, please don’t walk out on someone on a date. You may find that throughout the course of the evening you don’t like them enough to keep seeing them, but don’t be mean about it. There isn’t anything beneficial to you or them by being cruel, so see it through and kindly let the down. You will always find people that don’t share the same opinions as you, even the people you date or have relationships with. Of course, should these ideals be completely conflicting then its probably not going to work out, but if they like a bit to tomato sauce with their steak and you like a Chasseur, don’t be a snob and judge them for it.

6. Put the person in their best light

Compliment them and make them look good but try to be authentic about it. This can be quite difficult to do as you don’t want to come across as false, it’s not easy to pick things up that you can compliment someone about when you don’t really know then all that well. But it can be something really simple, for example, if they are telling you a story about themselves try and find something admirable about that. ‘’Oh, that was a really kind thing to do’’, or ‘’that was hilarious where did you come up with that idea, it’s great’’
This is the most important and crucial part of a successful date if you can get it right. The ability to make someone feel good about themselves by giving them a genuine compliment or saying things that build up their persona in front of you, is a key interaction skill in that can apply to every situation. It not only shows them you like them and you think highly of them, its shows that them the kind of person your are. Forget everything you have ever heard about ‘treat them mean keep them keen’ because the only people that respond to that kind of treatment are those without any self-worth – and these are not the kind of people you want to attract.

Remember that you aren’t compatible with everyone you go on a date with, no date should ever be a bad just a learning experience. It might feel like you seem to go on a constant string of dates and it can get you down and make you feel a bit depressed but look at it this way, the more you go on the better you will get at it so use that as a positive spin and take something away from each date you go on. It doesn’t mean you should have a different date every night of the week but don’t forgot the most forgotten reason to date…..enjoying yourself! Relax, have a good time, and just see this as an oppertunity to meet someone new, eat some good food or see that Sci-Fi film you have been dying to watch but none of your girlfriends are intersted in seeing it.

Sometimes we spend so much time focused in our ultimate goal of dating, to find the love of your life, and we forgot to enjoy the journey along the way.