Whoa, really? Aren’t there enough obstacles to get through....
What (not) to wear, where to go, what friend is gonna answer your 911...etc. Do we really need to add politics into the mix? Can’t we just stick with high-school nicknames and favorite stories about our pets?
Maybe for the first thirty minutes. But if you really want to make it to the second drink, or even a second date, reality has to set in at some point, right?
So, we at It’s Just Lunch® decided to poll this awkward topic out to the daters all over the country, to see how they felt about tackling politics while they’re figuring out if they even like the person across the table from them yet.
Surprisingly, almost an even percentage of women (21.4%) and men (19.6%) said that bringing up your favorite animal in the middle of cocktails is perfectly fine on a first date and was good way to connect on an intellectual level. They agreed again, nearly 36% across the board that broaching the subject was risky, however it could make for some good conversation. Only 15% of all those surveyed said talking about politics on a first date was absolutely taboo.
Our take? If you feel like taking a slight risk to find out more about your date, you could end up connecting on a much deeper level than you ever had before on a first date!
Whether you’re engaging in a lunch date, heading to an art gallery, going to a concert, or simply taking a stroll on a beautiful day, the point of a first date is to get to know someone and you can’t do that without conversation. There’s an old Buddhist saying about conversations called “Right Speech” that basically means the following: speak warmly, friendly, and gently and you can make friends and avoid war. For our purposes, we’ll extend it into use on first dates. According to our annual It’s Just Lunch dating survey, over a third of singles mentioned easy conversation as an important component of compatibility. So what does this mean? You can dress to the nines, exude physical attractiveness, and even share a similar outlook on life; but if you can’t carry a conversation and verbally express yourself, you’ll have a hard time getting that important second date.
If you struggle with conversation on the first date or simply aren’t sure what to say, there are several tips we can help you with in order to get you going. First: know your current events. You don’t need to dive into the details of politics or the intricacies of a celebrity’s private life, but having a cursory knowledge of what’s going on will help drive conversation. Remember, ignorance isn’t necessarily bliss. Second: ask open-ended questions. Avoid asking questions that may just have a yes or no answer. That said, third: remember something your date said and come back to it later on in the conversation if possible. Everyone loves a good listener; it means you’re interested in what they have to say. Fourth: throw a few jokes into the conversation if appropriate. But please, make sure they are clean and inoffensive. Finally, five: be positive. This is probably the most important element to a first date conversation. While self-deprecation can be cute, it’s rarely a turn-on or a chemistry builder. The majority of people react well to positive thinking, so roll with it.
So what are some good topics of conversation for a first date? There are lots of options, but generally speaking the vast majority of singles polled in our survey said “hobbies and interests” are among the easiest conversation topics to tackle. After that came travel, followed by family, movies, and food.
It’s easy to come up with ideas of what to talk about; however, what people often have problems doing is avoiding topics that shouldn’t be brought up in the first place. You’re best served by not bringing up any past conquests. In fact, the majority of respondents cited conversation along those lines as a major turn-off. You may also want to avoid talking about money, health problems, politics, and the future. Now, some may say it’s disingenuous not to bring up discussion topics like those on the first date. What if politics, religion, money, physical ailments, or even an ex plays a large role in your life? The difference between good conversation topics and bad conversation topics is simply, common ground. First dates are opportunities to meet people halfway and see what they are all about. Often times, the topics under the “avoid” column are there because they might alienate a date or are deeply personal. Remember the goal of a first date is to get to know someone and make them feel comfortable!
Now that you’re engaged in a brilliant conversation with your date, it’s time to inject a little flirtation into the mix. Why? Because while good conversation will help strength a bond between two people, flirtation can help enhance chemistry; besides, you don’t want to get stuck into the “friend zone”, especially on a first date.
So what signals can you give off that mean you’re interested? Simple. Pay undivided attention to your date. Almost 50% of It’s Just Lunch survey respondents mentioned this as being a surefire sign the date went well. This means big things like actively listening and engaging in the conversation and little things such as turning your cell phone off, or not being distracted by what’s going on around you. Remember, a little attention can go a long way. So ride that wave and make your partner feel special. If the date is going well, they’ll return the favor.
So what if you’re unemployed? In the economy, it’s a common theme—even among professionals. Well, we have good news and bad news:
The bad news first. While about 65% of men surveyed by It’s Just Lunch said they would have no problem going out on a date with a woman who was unemployed, women were far less amenable to the idea, with only 25% saying they would go out on a date with an unemployed man. In fact, 33% of women said they would rule out a date entirely with a guy who is unemployed, compared to only 8% of men.
As we mentioned before, both our male and female respondents suggest we still tend to seek more traditional roles, even when it’s being set up for a first date. Men don’t mind providing to a woman who is out of work, but women seek men who have the ability to do some of the providing—at least an equal share of it. Here’s where the good news comes in. About 42% of women said they would consider a date with an unemployed man, as long as he had a plan for getting back on track.
What’s the key? Unemployment shouldn’t disqualify you from dating, but remember to focus on your own life too. The dating market isn’t as tough as the job market, but for both—having a plan is the difference between finding a successful match and being left out in the cold.
When we aren’t eating, sleeping, playing, or working out, the vast majority of us are working. In fact, nowadays Americans work on average almost 8.6 hours per day, according to a 2010 survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even though we spend well over half of our waking lives at work, do we allow our careers to define who we are? More importantly, do we bring up our careers on a first date?
According to the majority of our respondents, the question of one’s career on the first date is an inevitable topic of discussion, with 53% of both men and women saying they feel comfortable about bringing up the subject. However, 32% of men and 26% of women said they would only mention their careers in passing, but avoid the details, at least on a first date.
So, do you bring up your career on a first date? Why not? Your career path is certainly a valuable insight in to who you are as a person. However, don’t let it dominate the entirety of the conversation. On the other hand, acting completely aloof about your career will make you seem a bit cagey.
Traditional Ideals or 21st Century Living?
Interestingly enough, men and women end up diverging when it comes to ideas about career paths, money, and unemployment or underemployment. Our survey uncovered a mix of attitudes between the sexes that suggested longstanding traditional thoughts about who should provide in a relationship, yet also demonstrate modern ideas about the “career-oriented couple.”
Consider this: do we want to date someone with similar professional aspirations in mind? For men, the concept split fairly evenly, with 49% saying they would like to date a woman on a similar track, and with 51% saying similarities in careers do not matter as much. For women, however, the stakes were slightly different. A clear majority of women (68%) said they prefer to date a man with similar career aspirations.
It’s even more interesting when it comes to the question of money. Women have a more egalitarian approach to the question of who earns what. While the majority of men, over 71%, wouldn’t care if they deduced their date made far less money than them, women were more split on the issue. About 22% said they wouldn’t care if they made more money than their date. Yet, 47% of women surveyed said it would be a bit of a concern to them and a further 24% said it presented a big concern.
In summary, when it comes to earning money in the 21st century world, there’s something to be said about being on equal footing. After all, we’re well past Mad Men and Downtown Abbey-era thoughts on employment.