Friday, October 17, 2014

Senior Dating: First date conversations

On Life and Love After 60

By Thomas P. Blake                      October 17, 2014

What do you talk about on the first few dates?

What the heck do you talk about on the first few dates? This sounds like a question from our junior high school days. But, it turns out that it is more of an issue for singles age 50-plus than one would expect.

The question came up this week when one of my deli customers, who is also a friend, told me she has had three dates with a man she met online. She said “He seems nice, but there are a couple of questions I want to ask you.”

She wanted to know if it is normal for a guy to mention his ex’s name at least 50 times in the first three dates. She said she has been reluctant to mention this to him, not wanting to hurt his feelings while the relationship is in its infancy.

Her second question: “And, when I am making a comment, before I have finished with my point, he interrupts and will start on an entirely new subject. Is that normal as well?”

I told her that maybe the guy is just nervous, and doesn’t know what else to talk about. Or, perhaps he is a poor conversationalist and/or too into himself. In either case, he just doesn’t “get it.” I suggested that soon, if she wants to continue dating him, she needs to point out these idiosyncrasies to him.

So, what do you talk about, or not talk about, on the first few dates? From what I’ve learned as a columnist, you don’t talk (or write about) religion or politics. It amazes me when people come up to me and start going off on one political party or the other, or one religion or the other, without having any idea what my political or religious preferences are. They just assume that everybody must think the way they do.

Because I own a deli, where the “customer is always right,” I don’t challenge them; I just keep my mouth shut and say, “What type of bread do you want with your sandwich.”

I think the best suggestion regarding what to talk about on early dates is to try to find out, by asking questions of the person, where he or she grew up, and what their hobbies and interests are. Of course, you may be opening the door for your date to go on and on about their dog, cat, parrot, or horse and how they let their animals sleep in the same bed (well, maybe not the horse or parrot).

The most important advice is to try to focus on the positives in life. With such terrible worldwide news these days, it’s easy to get into discussions that focus on all of the negatives the media bombards us with. It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about those things, it’s just that we shouldn’t constantly dwell on the negative.

Try to be considerate of the other person and have empathy for how he might be feeling. Don’t judge too soon. In my deli friend’s case, perhaps once she’s had a conversation with him, he might turn out to be a good match for her.

On early dates, being a good listener is important. Don’t dominate the discussion just because you are so wonderful. This point makes me think of my old friend George Mair, who has passed on. George used to live in Hollywood before moving to Dana Point years ago. He told a story of one of his women friends who had a first date with an actor.

The actor dominated the discussion telling George’s friend all of the wonderful things about himself. She couldn’t get a word in. And finally, he said to the woman, “So, enough about me.”

She thought, “Oh, how nice, I will get to tell him a little about what I like.” Before she could get a word in, the actor started right in again, “What did you like about my last movie?”

They never went out again.

The last piece of advice regarding early-date conversations is to just be yourself, which makes me think of a verse from “Just The Way You Are,” a Billy Joel song from The Stranger album in 1977.

“I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.”

What do you talk about on the first few dates?

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