More than just a hello
Anyone who’s been on a dating app knows that saying ‘Hello!’, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘How are you?’ doesn’t cut it any more. There’s something about the anonymity of a dating app that makes people rather difficult to impress when starting a conversation. And yet, when we speak to each other in person, the traditional, ‘Hi!’ followed by your name seems to be the most popular form of introducing oneself across the world.
Whether you’re meeting someone at a cafe or swiping right and talking on a dating app, the first impression you make is important if you want to keep making more impressions. Here are a few conversation starters that will give you the edge in a world full of ‘Hey, sup!?’
Before we go ahead
Don’t be creepy. This should be obvious to most people, but it isn’t. Sending creepy messages, especially sexually explicit ones, under the idea of being ‘confident’ is a stupid move. You will be blocked. In case of the explicit messages, in person or online, they are a form of sexual abuse, so you’re not only being creepy but breaking the law. Don’t be that guy or girl. Trust your conscience when it tells you to delete the words you’ve just written. Also, and I cannot stress this enough. No. Unwanted. Nudes. Ever. Just. No. This is not a discussion. Unless you’re sexting with someone and there are a specific conversation and verbal (or rather textual) consent, don’t go around sending nudes. It’s like flashing someone in public. You’d get arrested for the latter. You would also get arrested for the former if the person pursues a case. Dick pics are an awful conversation starter.
Having gotten that out of our way, let’s move on to what we can actually say or do when starting a conversation.
A confident ‘Hello’
Saying ‘Hi’ can work even today, if you’re confident while doing so. Following it up with an introduction and question about the other person works even better.
Don’t be an entitled douchebag though. There’s a difference between being confident and being pompous.
Complimenting still works
Surprise, surprise! The clichéd complimenting to get a conversation started still works. You just need to know what more to say, once the other person has smiled and said thank you. If all you’ve got is an appreciative line, then you’re inviting awkward silence to come and sit with you in the conversation and awkward silences kill conversations. Make sure you have a follow-up ready before you tell him or her about how amazing their hair is.
Now conversations aren’t always first-time happenings. They can be had on a first date. In a case where you’re on that first awkward date, try these few things to get them talking going.
So where did you study?
Sounds boring, I know, but this one is an opening to the university days for most people. The nostalgic time that people remember fondly usually puts people at ease and that’s what you want people to feel on a date – at ease.
What kind of food do you like?
The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. This is a cliché. It is also true. Talking about food is something that will be common for most of us. We all eat food. Books, movies, music can still be places where people won’t find any common ground. But food? We all eat it. Most of us like it. Some of us are passionate about it. A few of us are obsessed with it. No matter what level of obsession your date has with food, you’ll not get the answer, ‘oh I don’t really eat food’ from them. Ask them about books or films, they could very well say ‘I don’t really read/watch films.’
So where did you grow up?
May sound like an odd question, but we very rarely get asked about our childhood in our day-to-day conversations. People tend to not be very consciously guarded when talking about their childhood. Talking about our past, especially our childhood, makes us relive our stories, and we tend to tell our lives to the other person like a story.
This question has the power to cut out the peripheral bullshit in a conversation and go to the intimate stuff that actually matters.
Ask a hypothetical question
Asking a hypothetical question, a fun one which will make the person use their imagination can work to kick-start a conversation. You can ask about their ideal dinner party guests, celebrity crushes, what they would want to do if they didn’t have to work, what holiday would they want to take, a movie casting they’d want to change. There are a million of these kinds of questions and you can get creative with them. You can ask meaningful philosophical questions such as ‘What would you be doing if you had all the money and resources in the world?’ or a pop culture-based question such as ‘What celebrity dead or alive would you go on a date with?’ The fun aspect of this question can start off the conversation on a positive note and you don’t have to worry about having a boring beginning.
A word about humour
I don’t suggest humour or banter as a conversation starter, because both these things require a certain level of comfort and can go either way in a conversation. Unless you want the beginning to be off-putting, going over the top with the jokes can look like you’re trying too hard, so there’s nothing wrong with being funny; just pace it like a conversation and not a stand-up routine and you should be fine.