We all know that first dates are the ultimate relationship chess match. Men and women take their turns making verbal moves -- with the hopes that nobody's going to get rooked. But the truth is that first dates, very often, can be pretty far from the truth, with men and women acting as spinmeisters who do what they can to put their best faces (and personalities) forward. The stats certainly tell us that many people lie on first dates (35 percent of men say they lie about their income, and 35 percent of men also say they lie about their willingness to commit). But if the goal is to determine whether the two of you may be a good match, then part of the process is not just detecting the lies, but also knowing the best things to say-and avoiding the worst. Do that and you'll be well on your way to being the kind of person who will engage, interest, and intrigue your across-the-table mate.
Say This: What do you do for fun?
Not That: What's your job like?
Standard question, sure. But it's one that will elicit a standard answer-good people, I like what I do, blah blah blah. While most will certainly get the employment issue covered, the conversation will be more engaging-and you'll be more appealing-if you try to home in on those outside interests. Certainly skydiving, poodle rescue, or soup kitchens have got to be more interesting than conference calls and Power Points.
Say This: You look fantastic
Not That: Good to see you
It may very well be good to see her, but that greeting is about as vanilla as a McDonald's shake. Instead, it's all about conveying enthusiasm-without having stalker sirens go off. No need for standing ovations, but a simple compliment sets the tone. The tactic isn't just for men to use on women, but can be especially effective in the reverse.
Say This: Got any cool summer trips lined up?
Not That: What do you want to do with your life?
If you sound like you're an HR executive, he's going to feel like a candidate for the position you have open at the moment-boyfriend and potential husband. No matter how much he may dig you, he doesn't want to feel like he's part of some master scheme of how you see your life progressing. He won't mind talking about future plans along the way, as long as your questions revolve around you or around him-not some grand plan.
Say This: How's next Thursday?
Not That: Up to anything interesting this weekend? Want to meet up again soon?
Why be coy? Leave the game-playing for computer solitaire, and you'll come off as confident (and more appealing) by being unafraid to take the initiative. Plus, you'll strike the perfect balance-appearing like you have a busy schedule, but also eager to try a second date. This works especially well for women saying it to men, because men are so used to feeling like they have to make the first, second, and third moves before a relationship gets its bearings.
Say This: Where you headed for vacation? What's on your iPod? Read any good blogs lately?
Not That: Can you believe Sanjaya made it that far?
Current events, pop culture, and hair-boy's shaky voice all make for great conversation-starters-and of course, they can show that you're worldly, smart, and interested in other things besides your own life. But soon after talking about the world at large, you need to find a way to bring it back to the world of your dinner companion.