5 Topics To Talk About…

5 to bring up and 5 to avoid on your first post-divorce dates. Heed this to make a great impression.

By Chelsea Kaplan

f you’ve recently re-entered the dating pool, odds are your skills at making first-date conversation are a bit rusty. Unsure of whether topics like your ex, your kids or your divorce are safe or better kept under wraps? Let these seasoned divorced daters’ tips provide you with some road-tested first-date talking points.

First, the subjects that are safe to share:

Your interests and those of your date
“The whole point of a first date is to get to know the other person—what better way to do it than to discuss the things you enjoy doing, right? If he or she enjoys similar things, great—if not, at least
I always like to discuss where I grew up and ask my date where he did.
you’ll know soon when to cut your losses. If you’re not ready to reveal too much about yourself, why not let your date do all the talking? I always ask a lot of ‘So tell me about yourself, your job, where you’re from, etc.’ questions. I’ve never met a woman reluctant to talk about herself, and I always get a good sense of who she is.”
– Brad, 40, Austin, TX

Your job
“A topic that always comes up on a first date is what you do for a living. The topic can get a little dull, so I try to talk about how I got into my line of work and what I’d like to be doing career-wise in five or ten years. I like to ask the same questions of my date, too. I feel like going beyond a simple ‘This is what I do’ explanation makes it more interesting and fun to talk about.”
– Carson, 44, Denver, CO

Your feelings about the date activity
“Sometimes making conversation on the first date can be awkward because you’re not entirely comfortable opening up about yourself—especially if you haven’t dated in ages. If you’re nervous or unsure about how much of yourself you’re willing to share, focus your conversation on what you’re doing on the date. For example, if you’re at dinner, talk about what you think of the restaurant’s ambience, the food or the service. If you saw a movie, after it’s over, engage your date in a discussion about what you thought about it. Even though you’re not revealing personal stuff about yourself, in a roundabout way, you still will be and so will your date.”
– Maria, 39, Natick, MA

Where you’re from
“I always like to discuss where I grew up and ask my date where he did. I like to go beyond the whole “I’m from Cleveland” thing and talk about what my parents did, the kind of school I went to, the types of activities I did in school and in college, etc. I don’t go into so much detail that it’s boring, but I think it’s always interesting to let someone know a brief bit of your history and vice versa.”
– Sarah, 37, Orlando, FL

Your favorite movies, music and books
“I like to bring up what I call ‘lighter side’ topics, which means ones that don’t carry a lot of emotional weight. My favorites are movies I’ve recently seen that I love, books I recently read and loved or a great CD I recently bought and enjoyed. I like to see if my date agrees and if he has similar thoughts to share regarding his entertainment preferences. That usually opens up a discussion of our favorite movies or music, which I always think is a good indicator of someone’s personality.”
– Kara, 39, Baltimore, MD

And now, for the topics better left unmentioned:

Financial topics
“It’s never good to talk about your financial situation or the financials of your divorce—who got what, how much, how little, how stressed you are about it, etc. Not only is it no one’s business, but it’s just such a sensitive topic that you’ll probably make your date feel
Nothing makes you look worse than trashing your ex.
uncomfortable, not to mention suggesting that you’re all about money.”
– James, 36, New York, NY

Not getting along with your ex
“Nothing makes you look worse — or more bitter — than trashing your ex. Even if he or she is a terrible person, it just makes you seem like the person who’s difficult to get along with. Before you open up about this topic, make sure you’ve been on enough dates with the person that he or she will have a true sense of who you are and that you aren’t the ‘bad’ guy or gal.”
– Ashley, 33, Lexington, KY

Your children (to the exclusion of everything else)
“Of course, your kids are an important part of your life, but don’t focus on them too much. It’s never a good idea to not bring them up because you definitely want a sense of your date’s receptiveness to the fact that you’re a parent. However, remember that a date is ‘adult time.’ Let the conversation center on ‘adult’ topics centering around you and your date and not on your kids and their activities.”
– Amalia, 41, Charlotte, NC

Your strange family
“Granted, everyone has their family drama, but a first date isn’t the place to share it. It could freak out your date or scare him or her out of ever wanting to meet — or even become — part of your family. Plus, it doesn’t demonstrate a whole lot of loyalty or ability to maintain a sense of privacy.”
– Jenelle, 35, Beaumont, TX

How your date compares to your ex
“Good or bad, telling your date how he or she compares to your ex is never a good idea. Not only is it bad form, it’s never a good idea to judge against a bad experience. Instead, evaluate your date based on who the person is and not how he or she compares to your ex.”
– Marc, 47, San Jose, CA

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor at Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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