- Asking someone, "How was your day?" can help determine if they have a positive or negative attitude.
- The question "Do you like your job?" can reveal whether the person is about to make a big change in their life.
- Being too careful in one's communication on a first date could backfire in some cases because no one can completely control how someone responds.
There aren’t hard and fast rules about what makes a good or bad first date question. Research has shown that the most effective communication style in relationships is a flexible one. The examples below are intended to stimulate your own ideas, rather than be interpreted as rules.
The key goals of a first date are to:
- see if you have a connection
- find out if you and your date have any major areas of incompatibility
Humans are wired so that once we start to develop an emotional attachment, it's hard to break away from it. Find out early if there are reasons that “making it work” will be fraught.
Ideas for First Date Questions
Select just a few of these questions, rather than attempt to ask them all on the same date.
1. What sort of vacations do you like to take?
Why: Different vacation preferences or amounts of vacation time can be a major source of ongoing incompatibility—for example, if one person likes to take very long trips and the other person has a more standard idea (or amount) of vacation time.
2. How was your day?
Why: This question helps establish if your date has a positive or negative attitude. If asking this question leads to five solid minutes of them complaining, it's possible that the person tends to see the glass as half empty.
On the other hand, if anything out of the ordinary has happened that might be affecting your date’s mood, it’s good to factor this in.
3. Tell me about your friends.
Why: When you enter a relationship with someone, you’re also entering a relationship with their friends. Plus, it’s nice to give your date an opportunity to answer a question that isn't directly about them.
4. Are you a dog person, a cat person, or neither?
Why: If one of you doesn't like pets and the other has three dogs, that's likely to be a problem.
5. What do you like to do in your free time?
Why: This helps you find out the person's preferences. It may also help you establish if the person has any free time in the first place, or if they're a workaholic.
6. Is there anything you're really passionate about?
Why: Does the person have strong feelings? Or are they more easygoing, tending to have milder feelings about most things?
7. Do you like your job?
Why: Is the person about to make any major life changes—for example, leave their job to go back to school? What's their attitude to their work? Do they see it as a calling, a vocation, or are they primarily motivated by climbing the career ladder?
8. Are you a morning or a night person?
Why: This is primarily relevant if you're either an extreme night or an extreme morning person.
9. Would you like a bite of my dish?
Why: This question shows you’re open to sharing. On a first date, go for a friendly rather than intimate tone when asking this question.
10. Is it too noisy in here for you?
Why: This shows you're considerate of other people's comfort. Don’t be afraid to change plans if you arrive at a restaurant and find it’s too noisy for a good conversation.
11. Who do you live with?
Why: Whether they still live with their parents or they live with 10 roommates, their answer will tell you something about how they like to live.
12. Are you close to your family?
Why: Are they very involved with their family of origin? Is this something that appeals to you or not? Is their family intrusive? Do they have a lot of family conflict?
14. Is there anything you don't eat?
Why: This helps you plan future dates, but may also give you an opportunity to choose not to pursue dating someone who has very incompatible food preferences from you.
15. Do you smoke/drink/do drugs?
Why: You likely have a preference one way or the other.
16. Do you collect anything?
Why: Do they spend a lot of money or time collecting something?
17. How do you feel about... [insert a thing you're really passionate about]?
Why: If there's something you're really passionate about—gaming, for example—do they respect it?
18. Have you seen any good movies or TV shows lately?
Why: This will tell you about your date’s preferences. On top of that, it can indicate whether they're someone who tends to reflect on experiences and can talk about their thoughts.
19. Have you been to any good restaurants recently?
Why: This tells you something about whether they seek out new experiences.
20. What are your thoughts about the upcoming election (any upcoming election)?
Why: The main point here is not to jump to assumptions about your date's politics. If you jump to an assumption that they have the same politics as you, they might feel too awkward to say that their politics are different.
21. Are you dating anyone else at the moment?
Why: If your date is exploring a relationship with someone else, you might decide that you want to push pause at the end of your first date, while offering them the opportunity to get back in touch with you if the other relationship doesn’t work out. Especially in the age of internet dating, people sometimes meet multiple people they’re interested in around the same time.
To take some of the pressure off during first dates, remind yourself:
- You each have 50 percent of the responsibility for how the conversation flows.
- You can only control how someone reacts to you to a limited extent. If you try to be too careful with what you say, this is likely to backfire.
The answers to the above questions aren't necessarily deal breakers. However, it's good to know what you're getting yourself in for before you start to get attached to someone.