How to Avoid Awkward Silence On The First Date

Not all dates are going to be home runs, but ideally, we should be able to get through basic conversations smoothly enough to give us a fighting chance. However, when the conversation slows and an awkward silence descends, there’s still a way to keep things from going downhill quickly. Here are some ways to avoid those lulls and have a better dating experience.

  1. Connect over your shared interests. One of the best ways to start a conversation that will keep flowing is to talk about something the person actually cares about. You might not know what they like yet, but most people like talking about themselves,  so you keep your questions focused on them. Once you discover something they’re into, like Stranger Things (it is 2022, after all!), cooking, or football, try to engage them on the topic. You can’t have an awkward silence if you tap into something they’re passionate about (or something you’re both passionate about, which is even better).
  2. Think back to earlier subjects. If you can feel that the conversation is about to hit a wall, you can always backtrack a few minutes and pick up with another topic you might have veered from. While you’re guaranteed to stay stuck in an awkward silence if you legitimately feel like the conversation has dried up, you may realize that there were some other questions you had about something they mentioned earlier.
  3. Relax. You can’t always stop the nerves from flowing, but keep in mind that this is another human you’re talking to, not a Greek god or goddess. The more relaxed you can remain, the more likely your conversation will just flow as usual. It’s only a first date. There’s nothing life or death about the situation, so stop worrying about experiencing an awkward silence and just go with the flow.
  4. Skip the negativity. Sometimes as a filler, people have a tendency to complain or start ranting about something they hate. But when you’re just getting to know someone, starting a conversation in a negative tone can get a little awkward if they’re not interested in joining your complaining party. Things can get pretty awkward quickly if all you’re doing is moaning and they’re just sitting there in silence, like, “WTF?”
  5. Summarize what they say. If you aren’t sure where to steer a conversation, repeat what they said back to them in so many words. This will show them that you’re interested and have been paying attention to what they’ve been saying, and it might also spark another thought they have to add. That being said, this is a conversational tactic you should use sparingly. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up looking like a weirdo.
  6. Put your phone away. One way to keep a conversation flowing is to eliminate distractions. You might be listening, but if he doesn’t think you are, it’s unlikely that he’ll keep sharing profound thoughts while you stare at Instagram. It’s no wonder you might experience awkward silence if most of your date is spent scrolling down your social media feeds on opposite sides of the table.

More ways to avoid that dreaded awkward silence on your dates

  1. Don’t act like you’re an HR officer conducting an interview. Firing off questions at people one after the other doesn’t usually encourage good conversation because the other person starts to feel like they’ve been put on the spot. If you fall into this and realize in because an awkward silence has started to creep in, circle back to adding something about yourself or asking them to tell you more about something they already mentioned.
  2. Say something about the place you’re at. If you meet at a bar or restaurant, it should be pretty easy to throw in some comments about the place if you run out of things to say. It might seem pretty dry to make chit-chat about the setting of your date, but if it’s a place you’ve always wanted to try before or somewhere you’ve been told is famous for their cocktails or BBQ burgers or whatever, mention it.
  3. Don’t worry that you’re going to say something stupid. Awkward silence comes from, the absence of talking, not loads of it. You’re usually better off just talking instead of overthinking and accepting that some of your questions or statements might be a little silly. If they’re the right person for you, they’ll notice you’re just a little nervous and cut you some slack.
  4. Ask them questions that you’re legitimately interested in knowing the answers to. People can usually tell whether you care about what you’re saying or not, so even if it seems a bit off the wall, to ask them about their childhood pets, where they went to school, what their favorite book is, etc. Don’t make conversation for the sake of it. Actually make it engaging and something you’re engaged in.
  5. Don’t freak out if awkward silence does occur. If there is a moment of awkward silence, who cares? Stay calm and take a look around you as opposed to freaking out and staring at the person. After all, it’s pretty common, especially when you barely know the other person. It’ll pass and, if things work out between you, it’s something you’ll look back on and laugh.
  6. Actually listen to what they’re saying. If you’re in your head and trying to figure out something to say, you probably aren’t really listening to the other person, which is actually the only thing that you should be doing. The silence is going to be pretty awkward if they ask you a question that you can’t answer because you didn’t hear it while you were too busy overthinking things. Breathe!
  7. Flash them a smile. Silence only becomes awkward when you start judging it, so instead of fearing the moment, use a break from talking to flash them your pearly whites and let them know how much fun you’re having. This might even lead to a fit of laughter, eliminating all awkwardness altogether.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog ThatsRandomKate.blogspot.com