Have you ever been on a date where awkward silences ruled the roost? Time seemed to slow to a crawl, and you wanted to scratch your eyes out in frustration and awkwardness! This is especially so during the first few dates, when you don’t know each other well enough, but want to try and get to know each other, only to lapse into an awkward silence. Ugh! It’s one of the worst things that could happen on a date.
Obviously, you want the date to be perfect, but you can’t stop overthinking and over-analyzing every little thing you want to say or do. You don’t know if he’ll be intimidated if you talk politics. You don’t know if she’ll take it the wrong way if you admit to being religious. It’s this overthinking and over-analyzing that can land you in awkward silences.
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When you imagine a first date, it always seems to present a rosy picture in your head – seamless banter, endless chatter, instant connection, a perfect romantic date, that ends with the two of you taking a moonlit stroll, and a kiss to end things right. However, this is hardly the case in most first dates. After all, we are all humans, and awkward silences are almost inevitable, especially when you’re just now getting to know someone new, and have no idea what is right and what is wrong, with regards to the other person.
How to avoid awkward silences
The next you’re on a first date, or even a second date, where you can’t help but feel put on the spot and want to squirm and fidget in discomfort, you need to make the herculean effort to fill in the blanks. How? Here are a few tips that will help you tide over these awkward silences:
1. Avoid controversial topics.
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You may want to avoid controversial topics on the first date. In fact, make that the first few dates, really. Controversial topics include religious leanings, stance on abortion, politics, global warming, climate change, feminism, and even the financial system. These are topics of conversation you need to bring out later, once you’ve got to know each other better.
In general, it’s best to steer clear of topics that may lead you or the other person to take a firm stance opposing the other. Although, in general, debates are healthy and are rather interesting, they are not the first topics of choice for the first few dates. It adds unnecessary pressure to an already stressed situation. If you and the other person do make it past the first few dates and into a relationship, that’s when you can bring out these controversial topics and debate the merits of feminism, while sipping cocktails at your place! By this point, you both would have gotten to know each other a bit better, and you have a bit more information about the other to understand where they’re coming from.
However, despite trying to keep controversial topics at bay, if you do happen to land on one and you notice that it’s making your date uncomfortable, then you can always steer the conversation to an innocuous topic as a distraction. To diffuse the awkward silence, you could crack a joke that is situation-appropriate. There’s nothing like finding humor in a tense situation.
2. Steer clear of the past.
You may be curious to know about your date’s previous relationship, why it failed, what may have happened, or even why they might not be interested in bringing up their family. But don’t, not unless they bring it up on their own. Just like the previous point, this too needs to be avoided because you don’t know each other well enough to speak freely and openly about these sensitive topics. Sure enough, bringing up these will inevitably end in awkward pauses and uncomfortable silences.
One sure way to steer the conversation away from such delicate topics is to turn the spotlight on yourself. If you have no issues bringing up those same ‘delicate’ topics, go ahead and talk. Again, you don’t have to reveal every last nuance or hitch that your relationship experiences; you can keep to happy memories and experiences, instead of focusing on the not-so-good parts. These always bring a smile to anyone’s face.
3. Admit the awkwardness of the silence.
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Honesty is great, especially in such situations where you’ve both lapsed into an awkward silence, not knowing how to diffuse it or get past it and land on an even keel. Admitting and acknowledging the awkwardness sometimes does the trick. It may sound counterproductive, but it’s not. However, be sure to follow that admission with a new topic of conversation, something even totally unrelated and innocuous to what just happened. That’s the way to diffuse an uncomfortably awkward silence.
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4. Bring up friends and siblings.
When you feel as if you’ve been put on the spot with nothing to talk about, bring up siblings and friends. This is a safe and interesting topic of conversation because most people feel comfortable talking about the people they’re close to. Plus, it’s a non-threatening topic. Anecdotes where your siblings and/or friends have played a stellar role, or that time you went sky diving with your college buddies, or attending a party where your sibling got so drunk they passed out – anything interesting and amusing is fair game here. You just need to flip through the pages of your memory and talk about fascinating stories.
This is a safe topic for another reason – once you start sharing interesting memories, it makes you relatable and intriguing, making it obvious that you enjoy life and the myriad things that happen every day. That is one sure way to banish the awkward silence that has descended, eh?
5. Travel pursuits.
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Traveling is one of the most common and fascinating aspects of a person’s life. Bringing up the places you’ve traveled to, wish to travel to, and what you experienced in your travels, is a surefire way to shove the awkward silence aside. Not just your interest in traveling, but your date’s interest as well. Ask them about their own traveling experiences, what they found most inspiring, what experience they cherish and hold dear, and so on.
You can even narrate funny/weird things that you experienced while traveling. That’s sure to evoke laughter. Whether it’s trying fried frog legs for the first time, or hanging off a rope above a cliff, you can talk pretty much endlessly when it comes to travel adventures – past, present, and future.
6. Ask about their achievements.
Most people love to talk about themselves, their achievements, their triumphs, and their successes. It’s also a sense of pride that lets people talk about things that got them to where they are, what made them into the person they are today. Whether your date is highly accomplished or not, they will have something to say about their work, their passions, their interests, their aspirations, their goals – at least on the surface level.
Remember that achievements and accomplishments need not be restricted to just their work and/or career. They can hate their career, but might be super good at something else. Try to probe and find out about it, so that you’ll know what kind of a person they are. When you’re trying to probe as much as you can with leading questions, you won’t be sitting uncomfortably in an awkward silence, no?
7. Weekend activities.
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What does your date do during the weekends? This is one sure way to diffuse an awkward silence, for this is a neutral and non-threatening topic that will give you an insight into what your date likes and dislikes. Whether they hike, climb rocks, salsa dance, or cook, or sketch cartoons in their leisure time, it’s pretty much a never-ending topic to explore, if you only know how to keep up the conversation.
Learning about this about your date will give you plenty of information about your date’s character, and will also give you a chance to showcase yours. It’s also a fallback topic when again if you find yourself descending into an awkward silence.
8. Indulge in an activity.
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If you can’t think of anything to say to diffuse the awkward silence, then you can at least do something. Not only will doing something together help diffuse the suddenly descended tension and awkwardness, it will also help lead the situation into something interesting and conversation-worthy.
It could be as simple as asking your date to dance with you if you’re at a restaurant or bar, where there’s music on, or suggesting a stroll, or even going to a different place for dessert. When you change the setting of the date, it takes the awkwardness away and will help you draw inspiration from your surroundings for newer topics of conversation.
These are some solid tips on how to avoid awkward silences during a date that actually work. However, despite giving it your best shot, you can’t seem to get out of the awkward spot you’ve been put into, then maybe it’s time you realized that it wasn’t meant to be and move on. Sometimes you just can’t seem to connect with your date, on any level. That’s when you have to let it go.
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