Gillian Rowe says...
It’s only natural to feel nervous on a first date; part of the nerves will probably centre around, ‘What am I going to say?’. It’s something we all worry about, so don’t forget your date will be feeling equally discombobulated. Rather than hiding your nerves by being too formal in the way you talk (which might come across as cold and aloof) admitting that you’re nervous is absolutely fine and will show your vulnerability and authenticity.
Give a little lee-way for your date too. If they start talking for too long about something you might find boring (possibly about their journey to the date, or the car they’re renovating), they may well be doing so for fear of awkward gaps in the conversation. Nerves can make the most articulate of us gabble sometimes.
Conquer first date nerves
Equally, don’t feel you need to tell your whole life story on the first meeting. A little allure never hurt anyone; your partner may feel overwhelmed with too much information. The last thing you want is for them to spend the journey home trying to remember all your grandchildren’s names.
Talk about past relationships if the topic comes up, but avoid too much ex-talk at this stage – you may give the impression that your past love is still very much part of your life now. This can be tricky if your partner has died as they will still hold a very important place in your heart, and anyone you meet romantically will have to acknowledge that as part of who you are. But keep information to a minimum - at the moment. There’s plenty of time further down the line to get to know each other’s stories, as and when you feel it’s appropriate. However, if you are asked questions about your past, always tells the truth, if you want to get off on the right footing.
Keep topics broad – if you’re around the same age, finding out if you have a similar taste in music is a good opener. What was the first record they bought, or concert attended? Does they have a love of the outdoors; where did they go last on holiday; have they seen the latest TV thriller that everyone is talking about? These general questions will give you a flavour of what he’s interested in but will also help you both relax so you can get more of a sense of whether you have a connection and a similar sense of humour.
And above all, be yourself. It’s easy to find yourself agreeing with someone else for the sake of a comfortable couple of hours together, but one of the joys of meeting up with someone when we are older is we generally feel more comfortable in our own skin and don’t feel the need to adapt to others so readily. Let your date see the real you and enjoy every minute of it!
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Carlton Boyce says...
As I’m in the throes of internet dating myself, I took the opportunity to ask a variety of women for their views on what constitutes a bad first-date conversation. The results won’t come as much of a surprise: monopolising the conversation by boasting or rambling on about your ex isn’t likely to endear you to the date of your dreams.
The key is to ask open questions - and listen to the answers. Of course, it’s fine to chip in with your own experiences, but a conversation is a two-way process and if she hasn’t said anything for a while then you’re probably talking too much.
Try asking her what makes her happy, or the last time she belly laughed, or where she calls home. Take it slowly and don’t be in a hurry; you need to concentrate rather than just keeping schtum until you can ask the next question. Being relaxed is important and if you’re rushing through a list of questions it’ll seem more like an interview than a date!
Endearments like ‘love’ and ‘darling’ aren’t appropriate, either; it’s not the 1970s anymore. And innuendo rarely works among two strangers, so try to keep your inner Sid James under control, won’t you?
Don’t be afraid of awkward silences. If the conversation falters, why not slip in a sincere compliment? If you’re anything like me you’ll be agonising as to when to say it, so a lull gives you the perfect opportunity. Keep it light though; you don’t want to scare her away.
How to give a sincere compliment
Sometimes it all comes together and you find the conversation flows so easily that you’re the last to leave. In a situation like that, the only thing to say is “I’ve had a fabulous time; do you fancy doing it again?”