On the most basic level, dates offer an opportunity to get to know each other — to test the waters and see if there's a connection before deciding if there's potential for something more. The exciting part is that you have endless things to learn and share — not just the basics, like where you grew up and what you do for work, but also the deeper facets of your passions and goals in life. So, needless to say, it can be kind of a bummer if your date only talks about themselves. How are you supposed to evaluate whether or not there's a spark, let alone any common ground, if the convo is totally one-sided? Fortunately, experts say there are some super simple — and subtle — ways to redirect the conversation so you can finally get a word in.
While you may be quick to assume your date is just self-centered, experts agree that there can be other possible reasons for this behavior.
"When a date spends more time talking and trying to be interesting instead of listening, it's a clear sign that they're either self-absorbed, nervous, or trying too hard to impress you," says Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships. "Either way, it's a turn-off."
Nerves are obviously super common in the early stages of dating someone new. Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, notes that when someone's feeling anxious, they might feel the need to fill every single gap or lull of conversation to avoid awkward silences — and can easily get carried away talking about themselves.
Fran Greene, LCSWR, dating coach, and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, advises giving them the benefit of the doubt if this is the first date — and assuming they've either just got some jitters or really want you to like them.
"In a caring, kind way, you can ask your date, 'Are you feeling nervous at all right now?' If your date says yes and asks why, you can say matter of factly, 'Sometimes, when I'm nervous, I talk a mile a minute.' That might trigger your date to say, 'Wow, I didn't even know I was talking so much.'"
Even if you don't think it's nerves driving this behavior, experts say it's totally acceptable to interject during a one-sided conversation.
"It's a great way to reset the conversation flow because if they aren't interested in a dialogue and continue to perform as a monologue, you might as well cut the date short and wish them well," explains Spira.
Trombetti proposes knocking your date off their game by offering to tell them something no one knows about you, and inviting them to do the same. Or, Greene says any of the following statements could also be an effective way to redirect the convo.
- “Oh wow, something similar happened to me. Would you like to hear about it?"
- “That’s interesting. It reminds me of this one time…”
- “You know, I’d love to tell you about my (family, job, vacation, etc.)"
- "So, what are you most curious about me?"
- “All right, now it’s your turn to ask me any questions you’d like."
"There's also nothing wrong with a more direct approach," adds Trombetti.
So, if your date isn't taking a subtler hint, Greene recommends saying something along the lines of, "It's been fun hearing about you, but the date is almost over, and I’d really like you to get to know me, too," or "Not sure if you realize it, but you have been doing all of the talking — what if we shift gears now?"
The key to pulling off this approach, according to Trombetti, may be adding a bit of flirtation or humor to your delivery. For instance, you could just say, "You must need a break from talking — here, let me take over." It's clear, confident, and just a little bit sassy.
If you try one or more of these strategies but your date still isn't giving you an opportunity to talk, Trombetti says there's nothing wrong with promptly ending the date.
"You can still do it kindly by saying you don't think you're a good match," she tells Elite Daily.
If they ask why, and you genuinely feel compelled to share, then you can say the conversation felt a bit one-sided. However, Trombetti notes that you are in no way obligated to share this, and in fact, it may be a waste of emotional energy if you've already lost interest in this person.
"You aren't on the date to teach this person how to be a better dater," she explains.
You might also decide to give your date a second chance if you really like them, and suspect their incessant talking about themselves stems from nerves or an attempt to impress you. However, experts say that if they continue dominating the conversation on date number two, that's usually a red flag that they're more interested in making themselves look good than they are in learning more about you.
It can certainly be disappointing, frustrating, and downright hurtful when your date isn't giving you an opportunity to talk. Your date may not mean to steamroll you, and in fact, their nonstop talking about themselves may be rooted in a sincere desire to win you over. That said, you have a right to feel heard — and a date who's truly deserving of your attention will not only acknowledge that but be eager to hear what you have to say.
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker
Fran Greene, dating coach
Julie Spira, dating expert