It is normal to get nervous on the first date, especially if you are the type to come up with good first date ideas. It is also normal to not know what to say. When this happens, it can lead to a very uncomfortable experience. Coming unprepared for anything can make anyone nervous, and when you are too nervous to think or relax, the only thing you may be wanting at that moment is to leave.

While leaving may have its benefits, it also robs you of a chance to deal with those nerves so that you aren’t afraid of them the next time you come unprepared to something, like a good first date. Here are some ideas on how to start the conversation.

1. Try getting to know the other person by asking them about their day or even about a recent positive experience they had.

This will allow the conversation to flow a little bit easier and for both of you to get a feel for each other on whether or not you connect. Notice body language as well, since most of the communication can be found in body language alone. This will cue you in on whether or not your date enjoys your company or not, and whether to talk about something else.

2. Try making your date laugh, but be careful of pickup lines.

Making your date genuinely laugh and feel comfortable around you can be a real bonus on any first date. However, you don’t want to force this. Many people assume that popular pickup lines work for everyone, but they don’t. Instead, try to find jokes that seem to fit the situation and individual.

This means that you should be trying to find out what sense of humor your date has, and that means that you must practice your active listening skills. Notice what your date finds naturally funny. Maybe your date likes puns or has a weird sense of humor. Whatever it is, try to spot it out as quickly as you can. This can be yet another way to start the conversation.

3. Talk about your boundaries.

This is as simple as saying what you prefer, from how you prefer your future dates to be like to whether or not you are the type that wants to settle down someday. Boundaries set the foundation for a healthy relationship early on, so be careful of not having any boundaries since you may get hurt more easily that way.

Boundaries are helpful as you navigate through life and figure out what you like and where you want to go. Perhaps you might want to go on another date with whoever you are with, or perhaps not. It is all up to what your boundaries are, and only you can set those to be whatever you need them to be. Also, feel free to change your boundaries once they no longer serve your needs or the needs of others, if you are the type to put others above yourself.

4. Ask each other conversation starter questions if nothing else comes to mind.

This will allow both of you to pick and choose which questions to ask each other and which to dive more in depth. By asking each other questions in this way, you have more time to think about what you want to say, and neither of you will feel too much pressure to open up if both of you are doing so together. This will also show both of you how well you work together and how well you can conquer tough times together. The more comfortable you are, the better.

5. If you are running out of ideas on what to talk about, try doing an activity together and talk about the activity after the date.

By staying active, it allows for the two of you to keep the pressure off while the date begins so that you can just get used to being around each other. While you may or may not be having a good time, at least you can think about what to say after the date, like what you liked and/or disliked about the activity. From then on, at least the conversation got started somehow. This strategy may work well for those who are shy or for those who prefer not to talk as much.

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