The #1 Conversation Topic To Have If You Want Him To Ask You On A Second Date

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Are you chatting about the right things?

Many people think they know what they are looking for in a first date, and sometimes they are right. Sure, attractiveness is important, especially at the beginning of a relationship. That is why both parties arrive on a first date looking their best. Yet a first date involves both looking and listening.

Research by Marisa T. Cohen of 390 predominantly heterosexual survey respondents shed light on the perception of behavior on a first date. The results provide an interesting snapshot of what many couples are thinking as they size each other up on their first outing.

Cohen's findings indicated that women were more likely than men to use early behavior and verbal communication to gauge the level of perceived attraction from their date. Men, on the other hand, did not view these behaviors as indicating that their date was less attracted to them.

Women (more than men) preferred lively conversation starters, which Cohen suggests might indicate a preference for a man who can “take charge” of a date. Yet in terms of predicting whether there will be a second date, research reveals that conversation topics are important as well.

RELATED: If You Don't Do THESE 6 Things On A First Date, Don't Expect Another

Cohen's research found that on a first date, great first date conversation topics are one of the ways individuals gauge a date's level of interest from their date. In her study, men believed their dates found them attractive when they directed the conversation to the topic of sex, while women inferred attraction when their partner mentioned future plans.

Yet both sexes agreed on the most successful conversation topic: The woman.

Cohen's research showed that successful dates occurred when the woman was able to talk about herself. Both sexes reported establishing a connection when the woman had the floor, and a man could create a shared experience by commenting on what his date says. 

Prior research discovered the same thing. McFarland et al. studied romantic bonding through exploring interaction ritual theory within the context of heterosexual speed dating, revealing some interesting conclusions: Overall, interpersonal chemistry was highest when the women were the subjects of conversation and the men demonstrated an understanding of the women. The bonding occurred through reciprocal role coordination, in which the female was the focal point.

Men, once you understand this, you're sure to have an excellent first date. In addition to focusing on her, here are a few additional tips on what to talk about and what to avoid completely.

1. Refrain from a discussion about the past.

We likely do not need a study to tell us that a first date is not the venue to glorify or vilify past paramours. And yet it happens, frequently. 

Sometimes a prospective partner is on the rebound, sulking or stewing over a recent failed relationship that he or she cannot refrain from discussing. Other first daters intentionally discuss past flames, either in terms of quantity or quality, in an effort to boost their own standing and desirability. Research indicates that, whatever the motivation, discussing past relationships is not a winning strategy.

Cohen's study found that women viewed a partner discussing past relationships with them as a sign of disinterest — which corroborates the finding that women prefer date conversation to be focused on themselves. Yet you do not have to pepper a partner with questions to demonstrate interest or get them to open up further. To the contrary, the best rapport is built by joining their narrative.

2. Don't think of your date as a job interview.

Some individuals, particularly those who feel socially awkward, prepare for a first date by creating a mental (and sometimes even a printed) list of questions and conversation topics. Topics are fine, but specific questions, although necessary at times to break the ice or keep a conversation going, can detract from the experience of bonding.

McFarland et al. found a negative link between questions and bonding. In their study, women used questions as an attempt to revive lagging conversation, and men used questions when they had nothing better to add to the conversation. Successful dates, by contrast, consisted of high-energy shared narratives, with few questions. 

RELATED: 14 First Date Do's And Don'ts Guaranteed To Score You A Second Date

3. Use high-energy communication.

High-energy communication is linked to excitement. McFarland et al. found that mutual excitement was linked with interpersonal chemistry, yet was expressed differently by men and women. Women raise and vary their vocal pitch, while men increase the volume and laugh. 

Regarding conversation flow and great first date conversation topics, one unexpected finding was women's enhanced feeling of bonding with men who interrupted them. Upon further examination, however, the researchers determined that these interruptions were not to change the subject, but for the purpose of supporting what the women were saying and demonstrating understanding.

Such interruptions included expressing agreement, relaying similar experiences, or extending an idea the woman was voicing.

The Final Word: Chemistry Through Conversation

Successful relationships cannot continue to be solely focused on the woman. To the contrary, healthy relationships involve mutual admiration, respect, and attention. After the first date, however, listening remains as important if not more important than looking. 

As a courtship continues, chemistry through conversation continues to surpass the value of appearances alone and sparks mutual attraction through shared experience.

Check out the video below for the most important thing you need to know about going on dates:

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Wendy Patrick, JD, Ph.D., is a career prosecutor, author, and behavioral expert. She is the author of Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Ruthless People (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller Reading People (Random House). Find her at wendypatrickphd.com or @WendyPatrickPhD.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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