From the U.S.: I’ve started dating someone recently and I’ve realized that we are fairly bad at it since we can’t really seem to get into very personal topics. We met through a mutual friend almost a year ago, starting chatting on social media a few months ago and texting. Even though in the beginning personal topics were discussed, we’ve talked mostly about non-personal stuff, which I was okay with since I wanted to save them for face to face discussions. Last time we were out by ourselves, nothing happened, it just left me with a strange feeling. Also I’m now leaving it up to him to propose going somewhere, will see if it happens. Next time we have the opportunity to talk, what questions should I ask or what should I talk about? How do we get into personal conversation and avoid or at least reduce irrelevant garbage? Thank you.

A: Thank you for writing. What you are calling “irrelevant” talk is often a way that people start to get to know each other. Although you did some chatting on line, you and this guy are now getting to know each other up close and personal. It’s not at all unusual for people in the early stages of relationships to stick to conversations about the weather, sports and current events.

As they get more comfortable, they start to ask follow-up questions that move into more personal matters. For example: When talking about sports, they might ask when the other person first got involved with the sport, whether they played on any team as a kid or what makes the person so excited about it. The answers to such questions can segue into childhood memories, information about friends, and more information about what the person enjoys and why.

If you are interested in this guy, I don’t understand why you are leaving it up to him to make the next move. You can make the opportunity to talk by suggesting an activity that lends itself to conversation. Go on a hike or walk or just to go for coffee. Then take the initiative to gently move the conversation to things that are a bit more personal. People generally do like to talk about themselves. If you ask a few questions that show genuine interest in his life, chances are he will respond positively. If he doesn’t, that may give you the information you need to decide if you want to continue to pursue the relationship.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie