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There is nothing more frustrating than going on a date and feeling like you’re the only one asking questions. It’s not that you want to talk about only yourself. It’s just that you like to feel pursued, and the person sitting across from you should want to get to know you, too.

I talk to so many women who become disenchanted after dates one, two, and even three went by without ever being asked to share a little something about themselves. “I know he had a great time,” they say. “But he didn’t seem interested at all in getting to know me.”

Here’s the thing—a guy will get up on his soap box for two reasons: narcissism or nerves. Narcissism can be detected via several different clues, but if your date is going on and on about himself, chances are that he is just nervous. The truth is, when guys are nervous about impressing you on a date, they often make the mistake of slipping into performance mode. The idea is that if they can show you how cool, funny, caring, and adventurous they are, then you will fall head over heels. They just don’t realize that what women find most attractive is a man who pursues them, who wants to discover them.

So, how do you inspire your nervous date to ask a few questions about you? Here are five helpful tricks.

01. Focus on putting him at ease.

As I said, nine times out of ten the reason your guy is taking a question and running with it—without any follow-up question for you—is likely because his nerves have gotten the better of him.

While women typically thrive in a one-on-one, face-to-face setting, men tend to prefer to converse side by side, without having to make eye contact and preferably while doing some other activity. Needless to say, your average fine dining experience does not put him in his element. So give your date a break!

If you’re sitting face-to-face, use positive and receptive body language to let him know that you are having a good time. Smile, lean in slightly, and let your shoulders roll toward him slightly in a kind of conspiratorial pose. This body language tells a guy that you are engaged and eager for conversation.

It also helps to lead with a playful softball question that affirms him and also invites him to ask you a follow-up question. Obviously you want to go with something authentic that comes to you at the time, but something like, “This place is great! Did I tell you I love Indian food?” or “How was your day? I hope it wasn’t as crazy as mine!” is a good place to start. This type of question invites him to answer and also gives him an easy follow-up question to get things going.

02. Volunteer something about yourself.

Some women, especially introverted personalities, are stubborn about not volunteering information unless invited. But after a question or two goes answered without any real reciprocation, or when a topic of conversation gets too quickly diverted back to your date, it can become necessary to take matters into your own hands.

If it’s looking like your opportunity to share is going to get usurped by a change of topic or a failure to reciprocate, go ahead and politely let him know that you have something to share. Jumping into the conversation with something like, “I have a story similar to that . . .” or “Can I tell you what I really liked about my trip to California?” isn’t as pushy as it may seem in your head, and it should set off a red flag in his brain that he needs to invite your thoughts into the conversation, too.

03. Sit in comfortable silence.

If you find that you always have the next question ready to go should a break in the conversation occur, well, stop it. Pauses in a conversation are natural, and they’re a great opportunity to let your date collect his thoughts and come up with a good question for you.

Rather than saving the day with yet another question for him, take a sip of wine, smile, take in your surroundings, and let him direct the conversation. Chances are he will think of something quickly, and you can let him know with your body language and facial expressions that you are delighted to be asked a question (for a change). The reward of your smile and candor might be just the encouragement he needs to ask you another one.

04. Give him a gentle nudge.

You know how “I don’t want to keep you on the phone too long” is actually code for “I really have to get off the phone now”? Well, here’s another one for you: “I feel bad that I’m peppering you with questions; I should let you eat” is code for “Time for you to ask me a few questions now.”

At first blush it may sound a little underhanded and perhaps a bit inauthentic, but sometimes a subtle, sugar-coated nudge is just what the Date Doctor ordered. Your guy may look down at his plate and realize that he has indeed been doing all the talking and be slightly embarrassed about it—and that’s OK.

05. Give him a second chance.

We all make first-date blunders: We talk too much, we get too nervous and clam up, or we say something really stupid. Thus is life. Rather than scratching a guy who struggles with reciprocation in conversation off your calendar, accept a second date and suggest a slightly different environment.

Ditch the traditional date format, and opt for a hike, ice cream cones on a front stoop (you can sit side by side that way), bowling, or anything else that combines leisurely activity with conversation. (We have tons of man-friendly date ideas here!) If he follows up with “Let’s hang out again soon,” (playing it cool per usual) counter with, “Sounds good, I love going hiking. Maybe we can do that next time.”

Sometimes a little encouragement from you will go a long way in making him feel at ease and, therefore, more engaged in getting to know you.

Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Miller