8 Basic Things To Say On A First Date If You're Literally Frozen With Fear

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"In a world full of swipes, one brave woman must follow through and sit down face-to-face with a total stranger." That's my log line for the movie 2017: A Date Odyssey. Other working titles include Close Encounters of The Date Kind, Raiders of The Lost Date, Dating Apocalypse Now... but I digress. (Please eye roll me; I'm eye rolling me.) No matter how many dates you've been on, a first date can be nerve-wracking. PSA: Talking is hard. You might have many things to say on a date, but what if they are all terrible?

On the other hand, you might have precisely nothing to say on a first date, and you might say something like, "My teeth are really sensitive today." (Yes, that's a line of dialogue pulled from life experience. My life rules.) Or, there might be a blip of silence, and you race to fill it and suddenly forget English and let out something like "ummmbut where grow up you?"

On the apps, you have your date's Tokyo pics, alma mater, and LOL-worthy bio as fodder for conversation, but IRL it can be hard just to muster the words "old" and "fashioned" together. (Props on that strong first date drink order.) Plus, small talk is weird when you've probably already Googled each other.

The really great news: You can pretty much say anything. Unlike a rom com, you do not have a script that you have to stick to on a date, and words will eventually come out of your mouth. I'm just here to add a little directorial flavor for those moments when you consider bringing up the weather. Andddd action:

1. What's Your Favorite Restaurant In [Current Location]?

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QUESTIONS ARE KEY. Everyone loves talking about themselves, so ask someone for their opinion on something. (Gee, aren't all of us humans monsters!?) You could ask about their favorite bar, concert venue, drink, whatever. Conversation will flow easily, because if you are on a date with a curious cutie, they'll ask about your top five as well.

2. I Really Like Your Shirt

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Even if you realize you are not trying to eff three seconds into the date, rather than allowing a moment of silence to sit awkwardly, just say something nice. A compliment, even a disingenuous one, never hurt literally anyone's feelings. Get Pavlovian with it: As soon as you feel a silence, QUICK, give a compliment. It will put you both at ease, and maybe they'll compliment you too?

3. Have You Done Much Traveling?

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I personally like to ask people "Where's the next place on your list, if you could travel anywhere?" but that might feel a little too textbook (scripted) for your liking. You could also try, "Where's your favorite place in the world?" Again, people love talking about where they've been, so Carmen San Diego this date up.

4. Where Did You Grow Up Again?

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I added "again," because you know your date's hometown was probably on their profile and it's 2017, so I'm just assuming you met on an app. Maybe don't follow with, "Would you raise kids there?" or maybe do if you're really hitting it off. I would guess that this line of conversation buys you about three to five minutes on an awkward date.

5. Do You Watch Stranger Things?

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BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. Actually, I'm not as big of a fan of the show as some others, but literally everyone is talking about it all of the time, so your date will probably either gush about it, or have some particular/annoying reason for not checking it out. Worst case, you end up talking about Winona Ryder for a while.

6. Tell Me About Your Job

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Yes, this is super boring, but also, do you really know what someone does all day if they are a "management consultant"? No, right? Get curious. Of course, if you're out with a coroner, skip this topic... just saying.

7. Have You Ever Broken A Bone?

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True, this could very obviously seem like a question you pulled out of a TV show or movie or article like say, I don't know, this one, but it's a question that comes with a guaranteed story. Other excellent random Qs include: Would you rather be a narwhal or an eagle? What's your biggest pet peeve about your apartment? Etc.

8. Tell Me About Your Best Friend

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Again, this is a little more audacious if you're struggling to come up with a topic on the spot, but I love finding out how a date vibes with their friends. Answers to this question can be super telling. Added bonus: Find out if your date is a sociopath who replies "I don't like making friends" sooner than later!

There you have it. Dates are scary, but a few edits to these scripted lines and you are good to go. If it makes you feel better, I also get pretty scared before first dates, and I am in the midst of an experiment for a podcast called 51 First Dates — I really love the riffs on movie titles, sorry — in which I am legitimately going on 51 dates. If I can do 51, you can do one. Remember, you can always Say Anything. Anddddd scene.

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