How to Talk About Yourself on a Date
Confidence is Key
Congratulations! You’ve got yourself a date. Your look is on lock. You’re ready with a thoughtful take on why your favorite movie is Tommy Boy, and a working knowledge of how to navigate a wine list.
Now, are you ready to talk about yourself?
How you talk about yourself on a date in the early stages says a lot—and I don’t mean just the answers themselves (you’re from Indiana originally, and went to school in Colarado, yada yada). Because what you say and how you say it is about more than just the facts. While she’s listening, she’ll be doing some her own mental calculations, trying to figure out, “Who is this person and are we a fit?” And knowing that can be kind of nerve-wracking, right?!
Being authentic while also putting your best foot forward on a date isn’t always easy.
But you can do it! Ultimately, a woman wants to know you like yourself and the life you’ve created. Otherwise, why would she stick around to be a part of it?
Below, discover three pointers on how to talk about yourself on a date:
1) Pivot to the positive
On an early date, you’re both thinking: Is this someone I want to be around all the time? You don’t have to be constantly sunny and cheerful, of course, but it makes sense to project enthusiasm, rather than negativity.
For instance, one of the first things people talk about on dates is their jobs. So when a woman asks, “What do you do?” for the love of god, don’t answer with something womp womp-y like, “Are you ready for a nap?”
Ha ha ha, oh your career, the thing you spend a majority of your waking hours is so dull you feel compelled to warn a listener they’ll literally become catatonic if you talk about it? That’s so fun and sexy!
Wait, no. That is the opposite of sexy.
Should it really come as a surprise that if you find your own job to be stupidly boring, she’s going to wonder what that says about you?
Especially if she loves her job, or at the very least, doesn’t openly sh*t on it to someone she barely knows, then this date probably isn’t going to be followed with another.
After all, who wants to be around someone who thinks how they spend a majority of each waking day is a total snooze…and isn’t doing anything to change that?
Here’s what to do instead.
“I’m an actuary. It’s boring. I look at spreadsheets all day. Haha, but enough about me.”
“I calculate risk – it’s kind of like being a professional gambler, though my boss still won’t let me wear sunglasses in meetings. I know. We actually have these crazy statistical models that we use where we game out when and how people are going to die…”
How much more do you want to hang out with the second person? Personally, I would have so many questions about that crazy-morbid death model (namely, “Do you know when I’M going to die?!”).
Now, this doesn’t mean you should be fake.
What it means is that if you are the kind of person whose inclination is to always lead with the negative, you may want to do some soul-searching and reflect on why that is. It could be worth working on yourself to become the kind of person who leads with the positive! Maybe that’s through therapy, or journaling, or even some good old fashioned positive self talk in the mirror each morning.
There’s a huge difference between being humble (“I mean, I’m no hero just because I started a charity that teaches killer whales to read…”) and a bummer.
And look, if you think what you do is super-boring but also are totally fine with that, then say it and move on!
“My day job pays the bills, and it allows me to travel / volunteer / visit my family / whatever, which is great!”
And if you’re all, “But Megan, I should be able to be myself! If I hate my job/roommates/family, I should be able to say so.” And to that I say, totally. But there’s a difference between saying, “Yeah, my job/roommates/family is kind of the worst” and “My job is kind of the worst, and I’m looking for a new one. In the meantime, I’m finding a lot of happiness in my new puppy. Wanna see a picture?” See the difference?
Accentuate the positive in your life, and she’ll want to hear more about it.
2) Aim for back-and-forth banter
Here’s a secret: when women start asking you a lot of questions on a date, it’s not because you are the most interesting man in the entire world.
Nope, it’s actually because us ladies are emotional masochists who turn bad dates into de facto interviews when the other person’s not bothering to ask anything of us.
Some people (ahem, a lot of guys) have a tendency not to notice a conversation’s turned lopsided because everyone likes talking about themselves, but it’s a fine line and one you need to tune in to notice. If she’s asking you a string of questions about Madden, motorcycles, MMA, whatever it is you have expressed enthusiasm for, you’re not having a conversation anymore. You’re having an interview.
And spoiler, you’re not getting the job.
Because: you answering her question, talking more, her asking another question, you talking more…is not a conversation. If you’re talking at her, it’s not fun for her, and you just don’t notice because she’s too polite to slam her hand on the table, and scream, “HEY! ASK ME A QUESTION.”
That’s not to say you shouldn’t talk about your passions. You should! It’s just that you should just also be curious about hers. After all, you want to know if you have commonalities that could drive a connection.
For instance, maybe she’s not training for a marathon like you are, but she is super-committed to fitness. Boom! Something in common. By asking questions back, you can find out more about your mutual interests and if you two are a fit.
Also, if you notice that you haven’t asked her a question in awhile, don’t simply ask her last question back to her. Keep pushing the conversation forward. If she just asked you your favorite book, you could ask her the best book-to-movie adaptation she saw this year. Or if she were to write a book, what would it be about? These kind of “Yes, and” questions show that you’re engaged and interested in the conversation. Much better than lazily lobbing her question back at her.
And look, I get it. Dates can be nerve-wracking and feel a bit like an interview to begin with. It can feel simpler just to answer her questions and talk about what’s interesting to you. Fight that urge, or she might be eyeing the exits before the check comes.
If you’re doing all the talking, it’s not because you’re SO fascinating. It’s because you’re being boring.
3) Ration your vulnerability
Depending on how much you wear your heart on your sleeve (when it’s women, it’s called “being emotional”), this may be easy or difficult for you. When you’re vibing on a date, you may find yourself wanting to tell her all your secrets, fears, and dreams. But especially when it’s early days, it’s best to keep your emotional vomit in check.
In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown wrote about the importance of embracing vulnerability. That being vulnerable makes us human, and even strong.
She also talked about how some people use vulnerability as a defense mechanism, warding off intimacy by “floodlighting” others with their emotional baggage before the relationship has been built up with trust.
Here’s what Brown wrote:
“Sometimes we’re not even aware that we’re oversharing as armor. We can purge our vulnerability or our shame stories out of total desperation to be heard. We blurt out something that is causing us immense pain because we can’t bear the thought of holding it in for one more second. Our intentions may not be purging or blurting to armor ourselves or push others away, but that’s the exact outcome of our behaviors.“
Maybe you’ve been there. The other person gets that deer in headlights look, and you know you might have said too much, too soon.
Not to say you shouldn’t be honest, but maybe your first date isn’t the time to go all This Is Us on her with a serious sob story.
That’s not so hard, right? Stay positive. Be curious. Be patient.
And duh, look handsome!
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE ART OF CONVERSATION?