How to Start a Conversation With a Potential Romantic Partner

by Sheri Oz
You may be shy but determined to start a conversation.

You may be shy but determined to start a conversation.

When someone sparks your interest romantically, it may be hard to start up a conversation. Some people seem to have a knack for it, but you don’t know how to get over your hesitation. You want to make a good impression and open the door to exploring the possibility of a relationship. There are some pointers you can keep in mind to help you make that first move.

Be yourself. You hear this all the time. But there is research to back it up; a study published in the October 2012 issue of “Social Psychological and Personality Science” found that if someone’s first impression of you reflects who you really are, then any relationship that develops is more likely to last. Although this study was done on students in class, it is probably true for romantic relationships as well. In other words, although you want to make a good impression, make sure you don’t misrepresent yourself when you start a conversation.

Focus on the other person. When you trying to think of smart things to say or interesting questions to ask, you are self-absorbed. Research published in the October 2010 issue of “Social Psychological and Personality Science” comparing awkward and smooth speed dating conversations revealed that those whose partners had positive experiences were focused on their potential romantic partners rather than on themselves.

Relax. On his website SucceedSocially.com, social worker Chris MacLeod suggests that you act politely but also informally, much as you would behave with friendly acquaintances. This will help you think of a casual, context-appropriate way to open a conversation. For example, you might ask, “Do you know either of the competitors in the tennis match?” or “Do you know how long the break is before the next lecture?”

Respond warmly to what the other person says. You are likely to be more successful when you respond in a way that shows you are enjoying the conversation. Laughing at appropriate moments or asking questions based on what the other person says are both examples of being attentive and responsive to your conversation partner.

Disclose some personal information. A study published in the "Proceedings of the Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media" in 2010 found that couples made a better transition from online to in-person dating when they felt they knew the person because of having shared personal information. This was more important than physical attractiveness in keeping the relationship going. When you start a conversation with the person you are interested in, share something about yourself.

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