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Online Dates: 17 Tips to Talk about All the Right Things

online date tips

If you’re headed out for an online date, one of the biggest problems you’ll face is not having anything to talk about. Here are 17 remedies.

One of the most important things that determines whether you had a good date or not is the conversation. You can’t just rely on body language and visual cues; you have to communicate by telling stories, asking questions, and expressing your opinions.

If you want to get to know your date better, you have to learn how to keep the conversation flowing. Even people who can’t hear or speak know that they need to communicate in order to be understood, which is why they have their own language. No matter how tongue tied you think you’ll be, that’s no excuse not to at least come up with a few conversation starters for your online match.

Online conversations vs. real-life conversations

Talking to a date you met online is not that different from conversing with someone you met in real life. The only difference is that you have less information about your online match than you do with someone you met at school, work, or any other place you frequent.

When you agree to go out with someone you know from your social circle or community, you have the means to find out about them through your common friends and acquaintances. Knowing their real name is also an advantage–something that a lot of online daters fail to realize.

When you date someone you met online, your perception of them relies on your initial conversation online, the contents of their profile, or your first conversation when you finally talked to each other in person. If you don’t put any effort into engaging them, you won’t learn anything about them.

It might seem like a lot of work, but that’s what makes it so fun. You have more to look forward to when you talk to someone you don’t know. Their experiences are different from yours, which means that you can share and learn from what they have been through. [Read: 14 important dos and don’ts of online dating]

How can you start the conversation?

You’re lucky if you end up with a talkative person who can keep the conversation going all throughout the date. If not, you and your date might end up staring at your plates until the check comes. That’s not exactly how you want to start a relationship, is it?

If you want your date to go off without a hitch, you need to start preparing yourself. Learn how to talk to people, and make the conversation matter. If you’ve never tried it, then this is the perfect time to learn how.

#1 Ask yourself what you’d want to know about your date. You won’t know what to talk about if you don’t know what it is you want to discuss. What are the things that you’d like to know about the person you’re seeing? Remember them, and bring them up when you get the chance.

#2 Prepare the questions you want to ask. If you’re not good at winging it during conversations, it’s best to have a list of questions you want to ask. You can determine whether it’s appropriate or not, so you won’t need to think twice when you find an opportunity to ask.

#3 Watch out for cues. Always be aware of when and how you should talk about a certain topic. If your date is not yet done talking, don’t interrupt. Listen to learn, and reply to empathize.

#4 It’s okay to go first. You don’t have to wait for your date to start the conversation. Go ahead and tell them what you’re thinking.

#5 Always ask open-ended questions. Ask a question that requires an explanation. People are more likely to warm up to you when they’re given a chance to talk about themselves. [Read: 40 questions to ask your date to have a great conversation]

#6 Follow up with another question if they don’t ask anything. Don’t let the conversation end when the topic ends; ask another question, or tell your date a new story.

#7 Nip your awkward silences in the bud. Silence that lasts more than two seconds can become unbearable. Bring up another topic or ask a new question. Help each other out by not letting your connection fizzle out before it’s even begun. [Read: How to keep a conversation going with the opposite sex]

What can you talk about?

First date conversations start out with the usual questions, such as, “How was your day? How was work? How’ve you been?” It shows that you’re interested, as well as polite. But what comes after the usual greetings and questions? Where do you start?

#1 Tell a story. You can talk about your day at work, your weekend with your friends, or your last vacation. No matter what you decide to open up about, make sure it’s positive and interesting or relevant to your date.

#2 Tell a funny story. When the opportunity presents itself, tell your date a funny story that they can relate to. Nothing’s more attractive than a person with a sense of humor.

#3 Mention something interesting. Make sure you have an interesting bit of information in your back pocket. It could be a quirky news report or a fun fact related to something that happened on your date. Whatever it is, make sure it piques your date’s interest. [Read: 20 ways to perfect that first date conversation]

#4 Ask them about their hobbies. Rather than starting the conversation with something about yourself, ask your date about the things they like doing. Talking about hobbies and interests opens up the conversation to many possibilities.

#5 Ask them why they tried online dating. Of course you’re going to ask that. It’s not inappropriate, and it’s fair game. They’re probably wondering the same thing about you. Bonus points if the answer’s honest and juicy at the same time.

#6 Share a secret. It doesn’t have to be a jaw-dropping secret. It just needs to be something personal that’s not common knowledge. Studies say that sharing secrets can bring people closer together.

#7 Talk about traveling. Studies also say that people who talk about traveling end up on second dates. Traveling is a pleasant and safe topic that can lead the conversation in different directions. Whether you want to ask where your date has traveled to or where they want to go, talking about different locations is always interesting and insightful.

#8 Mention something about their profile. Your online dating profile is a treasure trove of conversation starters. When you’re done talking about one item on their profile, you can just bring up something else that you found interesting.

#9 Tell them something personal about yourself. You don’t need to tell your date your life story. Tell them about your first day in college or how you and your siblings spend time together. Anything that gives them a glimpse of your life outside of your date can be an eye-opening experience for both of you.

#10 Urge them to do something that they’ve never done. Ask them about a fun activity that they wish they’d done, but have never worked up the courage to do. It can even be an opportunity for you to set your next date.

[Read: 20 signs of attraction in the first conversation]

Once you and your online match are at ease with each other, you won’t need to worry about having to think of ways to start your conversations. Just remember that talking is second nature to us human beings. What you say and how you interact is what helps you create relationships and lasting connections.

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Danielle Anne
Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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4 thoughts on “Online Dates: 17 Tips to Talk about All the Right Things”

  1. What now says:

    Be as funny as you can, as often as you can throughout your profile and in the messages you send. Girls love to laugh, and so they love funny guys. If you read 100 girls’ profiles, you’ll see some variation of the phrase, “I love to laugh” or “I love a good sense of humor” about 700 times. Humor is like a social aphrodisiac. Be funny as much as you possibly can, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, try not to sound like you’re trying too hard. Make an active effort to not try too hard. It’s hard to put into words guys who are obviously trying too hard; it’s one of those things you can only call out when you see it. But I’m sure you’ve seen it before. Don’t sound like you’re trying too hard. Never describe your qualities. Rather, demonstrate your qualities. What does that mean? It means don’t use adjectives or broad, vague descriptors like, “I’m funny” or “I’m adventurous” or anything that literally any other guy could say. Those are descriptions, and they are meaningless, because anybody can say them. The alternative is to demonstrate/illustrate/show your sense of humor or your sense of adventure with a funny joke, witty line, or story about something adventurous you did. Don’t just say you’re funny; BE funny. So instead of, “I have a good sense of humor,” you should say something like, “If George Carlin and Mitch Hedberg had a love child, I would be the result. Minus the whole drug addiction thing from Hedberg.” Or, instead of saying, “I like adventure,” you should say something like, “I went sky diving last month. This year I’m training to climb Mount McKinley.” Or whatever you do that’s adventurous. I don’t even know if you think you are funny or adventurous. These are just examples. Bottom line is: any guy can describe qualities, but only a handful of guys can paint the picture of those qualities. Girls are going to like the latter guy better every time. Be concise. This goes for your profile and your messages, unless you think you’re REALLY REALLY REALLY interesting and funny. The reason is, girls are browsing hundreds of profiles and getting anywhere from 10 to 90 messages a day (not an exaggeration). They don’t have the time or patience to read a novel length snore-fest from some guy on the internet who they have absolutely no investment in. Therefore, your goal should be to be short, sweet, and to the point–that goes for both profiles and messages. You want to make maximum impact with minimal words. DO NOT get wordy (unless you’re awesome and know for a fact you are enthralling with your words). If you’ve written something, chances are you need to cut it in half, and even then it’ll be too long. That’s actually an exercise writers do to improve–they write, then they cut it in half. Concision is key. Demonstrate that you’re decisive, purposeful, and have passion in life. Aside from humor, these are the hot-button qualities girls find attractive in guys. “Decisive” means you shouldn’t be throwing out contradictory phrases, regardless of how true they are, that try to cover a bunch of qualities. For example, a lot of people say something along the lines of, “I like to go out and have fun, but I also like to stay in and chill.” There are so many problems with that line. 1) It’s more boring than watching paint dry. 2) It’s unoriginal; everybody says it. 3) It sounds like you’re writing for a horoscope. 4) It doesn’t actively demonstrate decisiveness, and 5) it demonstrates the opposite of decisiveness. #4 and #5 are really the point of the example. So you want to choose one–“go out” or “chill.” You may like a bunch of things. You probably do like to go out and stay in equally as much. But you sound decisive and passionate when you pick the one you like best and state that one. So that phrase should be changed to something more like, “Life is short, so I’d almost always rather go out and meet new people, ask homeless guys for money, or play match-maker in a retirement home.” (See how I threw some humor in there for good measure? Because if it wasn’t clear, GIRLS LOVE FUNNY.) Oh and most importantly…Those are just a few tips.

  2. Darla says:

    I had absolutely no idea that online dating is so much different from the real-life one. The most striking difference for me was the fact that I imagined him a bit too Prince Charming-ly when in reality he was just an ordinary guy who looks good on Instagram pictures with filters hahaha 😀 Anyway he was cute and then I found out that he really had problems with expressing his thoughts. He was quiet (maybe too shy), but he didn’t end his sentences and somehow was stuck halfway through a story. With keyboards it’s much easier, but in real life… No, no. That was the first and last time I dated online.

  3. try says:

    Online dating has a lot to do with luck. PoF doesn’t have the best reputation for online dating sites, and the reasons you have stated is why I deleted my profile. I went to OKC instead. Online dating is a lot like dating in person, you’ll get rejected a lot but if you’re really attractive you’ll get more dates. You just have to work on making yourself as presentable as possible. The rest really comes down to luck, seeing if you can find the right person that you click with. I’ve had lots of friends that have used OKC that I can come with two extreme examples: Friend A went on dates 4-5 times a week for quite a while, could never find anyone he clicked with and eventually stopped. Eventually met a girl through a friend of his and they are now dating. Friend B messaged two girls, went out on a date with her and they have been dating ever since. Point is you might get lucky or you may not. The point is it’s a way to try to supplement your dating life.

  4. tough luck says:

    Don’t take a cell phone picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror. I didn’t know guys actually do this. It’s fucking ridiculous. Girls agree. Only post good pictures of yourself. What’s “good?” Preferably pictures that have a positive vibe, pictures in which you’re smiling, having fun, or where you’re in a social setting (around other people and it looks like everybody is having a good time). Girls like guys who have “social proof.” You demonstrate social proof by showing people having a good time around you. Nobody likes a boring loner. It’s okay to post a picture of yourself alone, but only if it makes sense — like a head shot that you didn’t take yourself — one that was cropped from another picture, or maybe taken professionally. Never post a picture you took of yourself unless it’s really really funny or demonstrates a good part of your personality. Girls hate it when guys post self-taken pictures. Seriously.

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