SEX & WOMEN

Eliminate The Awkward Silence – 6 Interesting Conversations Starters

  • BY MARKHAM HEID
    1 / 7 BY MARKHAM HEID

    A quiet dinner at home can be romantic. Or at the very least, a good opportunity for quality time with your partner. That is, unless “quiet” actually means “silent.” 

    Clearly, if your dinner-table silences spring from anger or resentment, those are issues you probably need professional help to address, says psychotherapist Mel Schwartz, L.C.S.W., author of The Art of Intimacy. But if you just can’t think of anything interesting to talk about, here are six ways to invigorate your dinnertime conversations.

    photography by Thinkstock

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  • 1. NO "HOW WAS YOUR DAY".
    2 / 7 1. NO "HOW WAS YOUR DAY".

    It’s easy to run out of conversation topics if you’re both just rehashing what you did during the day. But when you ask about emotions—how she felt after meeting with a new client, or if she’s stressed about an upcoming deadline—you’ll open up a door to all the stuff that really matters, Schwartz says. “The key is to really listen and inquire,” he adds. “A lot of people don’t try hard enough to do either of those things.”

    Related: Use Your Mouth, And Talk Your Way To A Better Relationship

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  • 2. TURN ON SOME TUNES.
    3 / 7 2. TURN ON SOME TUNES.

    Music improves your mood and makes you more sociable, shows research from Japan. It also fires up your brain’s limbic system, which is important for forming emotional connections, the same study found. The key: Put on something you and your partner both enjoy. If you’re not into the music, it may not have these conversation-stoking effects.

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  • 3. ALWAYS ASK "IS IT ME?"
    4 / 7 3. ALWAYS ASK "IS IT ME?"

    You could spend a whole dinner in silence if you sense something’s pissing off your partner, Schwartz says. But don’t assume it’s you she’s mad at. Instead, just go ahead and ask. 

    “Often times it’s not even about you, and she may be waiting for you to ask her what’s bothering her before opening up about it,” Schwartz says. 

    If you don’t ask, not only will she feel like you don’t care, but you might end up feeling pissed or resentful yourself because you feel she’s punishing you for something you did, Schwartz explains. Avoid all that wordless negativity and ask her what’s up.

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  • 4. HIDE YOUR PHONES.
    5 / 7 4. HIDE YOUR PHONES.

    Don’t just mute them—stash them out of sight. Even seeing a smartphone has the power to make you feel distant or disconnected from your spouse, suggests a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 

    That study found feelings of relationship quality, trust, and empathy plummet by as low as 35 percent when couples have their phones in view during meaningful conversations. The study authors say seeing your phone may remind you of your social networks, and those thoughts distance you from your partner.

    Besides, you should consider powering down anyway. Botched dinner conversation is just one of the many ways in which your phone is ruining your life.

    Related: WATCH: How Your Phone Hurts Your Brain, Even When It’s Off

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  • 5. TALK ABOUT YOUR LACK OF STUFF TO TALK ABOUT
    6 / 7 5. TALK ABOUT YOUR LACK OF STUFF TO TALK ABOUT

    Maybe this is too metaphysical for you. But Schwartz suggests saying to your partner, “I’m struggling to find stuff to talk about with your right now. Do you feel the same way?” It’s a genuine, honest question, and one “that could lead to a hell of a conversation,” Schwartz says.

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  • 6. BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE.
    7 / 7 6. BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE.

    Some silences come from one spouse’s reliance on the other to share her feelings, relate all the details of her day, and basically do all the heavy lifting, says Suzanne Phillips, Psy. D., a psychologist and author of Healing Together. If you’re not willing to open up yourself about the stuff you find fascinating, don’t expect her to either. 

    Schwartz recommends talking about something that made you stop and wonder, or a thought-provoking article. (Like this article! Congratulations, you’re prepared for tonight’s meal.)

    Related: Dinner Date At Home – A Guide

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