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Dating Advice #41 - Conversation Freeze-Up

May 8, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Dating chit-chat is not his strong point. How do you generate good talk when the mouth runs dry?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I would like to know if you have any suggestions on what to chat about when on a date. Sometimes I feel as if there is nothing left to talk about, like my brain freezes up and I can't think of anything, although I know there are lots of topics. Any suggestions?


Dear Richard,

Here's a few suggestions about how to develop conversation when you are out on a date.

1. Whether you are at a park, restaurant or theater, pay attention to your surroundings. Look at the architecture, the floral arrangements, interior design and decorations. Talk about those things you find attractive, or comment on the background music. Ask your date what she thinks. This can lead to a discussion about tastes in art, architecture or music, appreciation of flowers or museums either of you might have visited, decorating tastes, etc.

2. Pick up on something that your date may have mentioned about her work, hobbies, teachers, travels, etc. -- and expand it into a topic of conversation. "Oh, you play the harp? Why did you choose such an unusual instrument? Who taught you? Was it hard to learn? How do you transport it? What type of music are you able to play on the harp? How do you feel when you play?"

Remember that being a good listener and showing that you are interested in others is even more important than your ability to talk about yourself.

We suggest that you enlist the help of a friend to help practice these techniques. Have an imaginary conversation and practice identifying subjects from your "date's" conversation as well as from your surroundings to turn into topics of discussion. Then, practice what you might say and the questions you might ask. Try to phrase the questions to find out more about your date's perceptions, feelings, thoughts and opinions. During the practices, you can also express your own reactions, so that the conversation flows from one person to another.

You and your friend may feel a little foolish doing this exercise, but it will definitely help you improve your conversational skills and will prevent you from feeling foolish on a date. As you build on these skills, you'll find that your conversations become easier, have more depth, and are more revealing and rewarding.

If you'd like to see a list of specific topics of discussion, check out the article "14 Topics to Talk About on a Date" at

Rosie & Sherry


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