First dates are nerve-wracking — that’s something everyone can agree on, right? And in the age of internet dating, even though you can find out a lot of information about someone online, for better or worse, you never really get a feel for a person until you meet them. And of course, that is just the beginning! If you’re unsure of the best way to get to know a potential lover from the get-go, there are some good questions to ask on the first date that might help to figure out if you’re compatible.
“A simple question can lead to a conversation that takes its own course, with little effort from either of you,” Dr. Carissa Coulston, a clinical psychologist, and the main author of relationship articles for The Eternity Rose, tells Bustle. For the sake of nurturing an initial conversation, keep things to the basics at first. “Helpful and neutral questions revolve around work or career interests, hobbies, sport, music and family — these are typically non-contentious.”
And what you might want to avoid? Coulston says generally to steer to left of asking about ex-relationships, or probing into any problems that your date might have briefly referred to, like issues they had with their parents when they were a child.
“Of course, these more personal topics can be discussed between the two of you down the track if your relationship should progress,” Coulston says.
Ultimately, you can talk about whatever you want, and you might have much easier and deeper conversations on some first dates than on others. Below, a few experts shed light on some good initial questions that can give you a peak into a person.
1. Are You Close With Your Family?
“Getting the scoop on their family life will tell you a lot about them,” Michael Kaye, global communications manager at OkCupid, tells Bustle. This is not something to be overly-judged, of course, since everyone comes from different walks of life. Maybe they consider their friends their true family, maybe they grew up mostly with a family friend. What you are really asking about is the close connections in their life.
“You should definitely ask about their family to see what kind of relationship they have with them,” Kaye says. “On OkCupid, 84% of women and 79% of men say they’re close to their family, and a majority of people say it’s important their families get along with each other.”
A lot can be revealed when someone talks about their family! Not that it’s anything to judge harshly, by any means, people come from all walks of life — but a first date is the perfect time to ask questions that will help you realize the potential a relationship has, and the way your date relates to the people close to them.
2. Where Do You Lean Politically?
We are in trying times, politically, my friends. Perhaps the compatibility of political views means more to some than others, but it can get you going on a whole lot of topics fast.
If you’re going on a date, you should be prepared to ask about the other person’s political views, Kaye says. It is important to people right off the bat.
“Among OkCupid users, 84% of people want to discuss politics with their partner, and 58% of people prefer their date share the same political beliefs as them,” says Kaye.
While politics play a roll in everything from education and media to entertainment and pop-culture, it has made its way into the dating world as well.
3. What’s Your Best Friend Like? Do You Have One?
“Have you ever heard the saying that we are a culmination of the five people we spend most of our time with? Getting to know your date’s closest friendships will give you a decent ideas as to what type of person they are,” Shank says. “If your date’s best friends sound like a rowdy crowd, your date likely falls into that category as well. If your date’s best friends spend most of their time gaming, likely your date falls into that category too.”
Not to mention, it’s just nice to know what kind of people they surround themselves with, and how they feel about maintaining relationships.
4. What Makes You Proud About Your Life?
Maybe this question will make your date a little sheepish. Or, on the other hand, maybe they will really go off on a monologue about their achievements. Either way, it’s a cool introduction to the kinds of things they focus on and what is important to them.
“This is one of my favorite questions to ask friends, family, and dates,” Shank says. “This is a great question to get to know someone on a bit of a deeper level.”
This question tells a lot about a person. Your date may have something superficial they tell you, or they may have something pretty cool and miraculous to say, Shank says. Either way, it’s a win-win question.
5. What Are You Looking For?
Trust, this doesn’t have to be an interrogation. You can even casually ask what brought them to the dating site you might have met on, or if they go on dates often.
“[Ask them] what kind of relationship they are looking for and where will you might stand in their mind [as a potential partner, etc.],” Dr. Fran Walfish, a child, couple and family psychotherapist in private practice in Beverly Hills, California, tells us.
They should be willing to acknowledge their wishes, hopes, and desires about wanting a casual, committed, rebound, or serious relationship, Walfish says.
“If they are unwilling to open up about this, it is a definite red flag,” Walfish says.
6. Don’t Forget To Also Go For Light And Fun Questions
Then, of course, don’t forget to just keep things light and ask all the fun or funny stuff, too. What shows do you watch? Where have you traveled? What is a typical day like for you? What was the most played song on your Spotify last year?
Whatever it is, getting to know someone can take time. So try to balance going with your gut with giving people some time and a bit of a chance. Everyone gets nervous on first dates, so keeping the conversation on a roll is a great way to make it easier.
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