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First Date Tips: What to Talk About and What Topics Are Taboo

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COUPLE EATING DINNER
George Marks via Getty Images

First dates aren't easy. They usually consist of moments of awkward silence, fear of having food between your teeth, wondering if he noticed your nervousness, thinking you said something really stupid and wishing you could take it back, and the worst one, trying to think of what the heck you should talk about!

On my recent Steve Harvey show appearance, where I gave divorce advice to two recently divorced women, I was asked to give some first date tips.

One of my tips was: Don't talk about why you got divorced for more than a few minutes. Why? Because your date might be going through his or her own divorce, and is probably viewing dating as refreshing. The last thing he or she wants to do is relive your divorce, hear your complaints and analyze what your ex spouse might or might not be thinking and feeling.

Besides not talking about your divorce, there are other topics of conversation you should stay away from on a first date. There are also some great topics that are perfect for a first date; topics that will spark intellectual, emotional and positive conversation, hopefully resulting in a second date!

1. Bad topic: Politics. Obamacare is not first date stuff! People get really sensitive and offended if the person they are with doesn't share their political views.

Good topic: What's in the news. If you aren't already watching the news and reading the paper, please start. Aside from the fact that it makes you a more intelligent person, that it's healthy to be informed and knowledgeable, and that you are setting an example for your kids, knowing what's going on really does make you more attractive and interesting to your date. Plus, it sparks interesting, thoughtful conversation. I know you are busy, but you can get caught up on world news if you invest even 15 minutes a day reading the paper or news online.

2. Bad topic: Old relationships. Just like your date doesn't want to hear about your ex, no one wants to hear about an old boyfriend you still miss dearly, or the one who got away.

Good topic: Kids or family. Your date went out for dinner with you to get to know YOU, and the best way he or she can do that is to hear you talk about your kids or your family, the people you are closest to. I always like to watch a man's expression when he talks about his kids. That tells me everything I need to know about what kind of father and person he is. Or, one time I was dating this guy and he talked about how "stupid" his mother was. I RAN the other way. Seriously.

3. Bad topic: Your job (if you are unhappy). I think there are two types of people. Those who go to their jobs only to bring home a paycheck, and those who truly have passion for what they do. If you are the former, keep your job description brief and instead talk about your hobbies and/or interests outside of the office. By the way, I have nothing against people who work for a paycheck. I'm not judging. I'm just saying, whatever you talk about with your date, talk about it with passion and happiness, versus "My boss is an a-hole."

Good topic: hobbies, interests, travel. Let's say you just got back from Spain, or you have a trip planned to China. Or, you just started doing yoga and you love it! (That's what I would talk about if I had a first date tonight.) Or, you are learning Spanish. First dates are all about figuring out if you want to have a relationship with this person. And so much of that comes down to having things in common. So, tell your date what turns you on!

4. Bad topic: Sex. It's just in bad taste to start talking about sex on a first date. It just is.

Good topic: Love. You might disagree with me, but I think it's okay to talk about love and relationships, and what you think makes a good one. Get it on the table! Tell your date what you want and don't want. I'm not saying to tell your date you want to be married within the year, but saying, "I'm really looking to fall in love," or "I would like to be married again someday," aren't forbidden. Use your best judgment, but be honest. Chances are, your date wants that too.

In closing, of all the first date tips I can give, the best one is to just be yourself. Be authentic. BUT, be YOUR BEST self. Offer your date the things you love about yourself; your passion, your heart, your humor, perhaps. Leave your divorce baggage at home tonight.

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!