What are the factors that make a great first date? Mutual attraction? High levels of flirting? Perhaps even physical intimacy? According to a new survey, good conversation is the biggest indicator of a great first date.
In fact, the survey released in February this year found that daters are twice as likely to go on a second date if you focus on good conversation rather than on physical intimacy.
These findings feature in Hinge’s 2023 LGBTQIA+ date report which surveyed the dating habits of 14,000 queer people.
The majority of respondents (88%) said they considered a date to be successful if they had good conversation, as establishing positive communication habits was considered a green flag for daters.
“First dates are all about creating connections and great conversation is essential to establish that bond,” Hinge’s love and connection export Moe Ari Brown says.
“Whether you’re looking for someone who makes you laugh, turns you on, or gets you thinking, you can tell a lot about your date from your conversation alone.”
Brown explains that this is because the foundation of most successful relationships is built on positive communication habits, which is why it’s so important to find your conversational match.
The most popular thing daters want to talk about? Intentions. This is because 75% of they survey’s respondents said they are looking to find a life partner, and only 36% would go on a second date with someone with unclear intentions.
“In a world full of uncertainty, the last thing daters want is confusion about their relationships, so it’s important to be upfront about your intentions before a date. This helps a potential partner understand if you share goals and values,” Brown adds.
Moe Ari Brown’s top tips for good conversation on a first date
Practice active listening by being present and curious.
Make eye contact.
Remove distractions by taking your phone off the table.
Use positive body language such as smiling and nodding.
Reflect on what your date is saying by summarising their statements.
Avoid small talk and start an honest conversation.
When it comes to actually making conversation, Brown says nerves are normal – but to remember your date is probably feeling the same way.
“Anxiety can often surface when you’re feeling nervous about the possibility of rejection – or it can be a sign of excitement about the possibility of a future together! But either way, feeling prepared can help settle any first-date butterflies,” they say.
“If you’ve met online, you might’ve already covered the go-to first date questions like ‘What do you do for work?’ and ‘Do you have any pets?’ so have a couple of other questions up your sleeve.”
Some questions Brown suggests asking include: “Where do you see yourself living one day?”, “What’s your favourite holiday you’ve ever been on?” and asking about their favourite films, music or TV shows.
“Some of the best conversation-starters for a date can be hypotheticals,” Brown adds. “If you could only choose five ingredients to cook with for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Which three public figures would you invite to a dinner party and why? What does your perfect day look like?
“Ultimately, the best questions are intentional. Ask things you actually want to know about them and are excited to learn about them.”
If you can tell that your date is a bit shy, Brown suggests giving them a compliment to put them at ease.
“Couple that with active listening and great body language – smile, nod, make eye contact and be engaged with what they’re saying,” they continue.
“People often feel more comfortable when they’re talking about something they know well – and on a date, that might be themselves. Asking questions about their life and interests can be a great way to help them relax and encourage them to open up.”
If your date is feeling particularly shy or nervous, Brown says they might be worried about matching your energy, and they don’t want to be too quiet or too forward.
“It can also work really well to take the lead a little bit more,” they add. “Share anecdotes about your own life experiences so they can take cues from your levels of openness, tone and body language.”
Watch: Relationship expert who went on 150 first dates before finding love has set up an app to help couples stay together