10 Questions to Ask on a First Date

Traditional first dates were weird enough before the age of smartphones, dating apps, and (*shudder*) Tinder, but now the logistics are even more complicated and the conversations even harder to manage. What are you supposed to talk about when you’ve never met but have been messaging on an app for two weeks? What do you ask when you have stalked someone thoroughly on Facebook but you don’t want to come off like you’ve thoroughly stalked them on Facebook? How do you impress someone while also getting to know them in this fast-paced, on-to-the-net, hook-up culture? Lord knows I’m still trying to figure it out, but here are some solid questions—both tried-and-true and a little more creative—to help navigate your next first (or any, really) date experience:

1. What’s been your favorite travel experience?

Finding out where your date has traveled can say a lot about their personality and the overall cultural experiences that have shaped their world views. You’ll also get a sense of how adventurous or timid they are when it comes to trying new things and exploring new places. This question can easily open into a longer, more expansive conversation full of memories and hilarious stories, and about where you’d both like to travel in the future.

2. What Spotify/Pandora/Apple Music radio station do you listen to the most?

This is more specific than the typical “What kind of music do you listen to?” kind of question, so you’ll get a better idea of their music tastes. I’ve found that music is such an important aspect in getting to know someone, as well as in the relationship as a whole, too. You really don’t want to get stuck on a long road trip with a person who loves classic hard rock when you’re really more of an alterna-folk girl.

3. What’s your hometown like?

Asking someone where they’re from is a classic, go-to question, but getting them to describe it will give you a much better sense of how they feel about their roots. Some people may get the warm and fuzzies when thinking about home, but others would rather die than go back—knowing how they feel may reveal a lot about what’s made them who they are today.

4. Are you a night-owl or an early-bird?

You may not usually think to ask this, but someone’s sleeping patterns can reveal a lot about a person! Not only will you find out if your sleep schedules would be in synch, but you’ll get a hint when during the day they are the most creative or productive.

5. What’s your favorite Harry Potter book/movie?

This question is vitally important because you’ll find out whether or not they love Harry Potter. Enough said.

6. Do you have any siblings?

You know what they say about only-child syndrome….but in all seriousness, knowing how big a family they come from, whether they have brothers or sisters, and how close they are to these siblings is very telling. Plus, you’ll know how many people you might have to impress in the future!

7. Do you like to go out on the weekends?

What you’re really asking is how much they like to drink, or if they drink at all. I’ve found that having a similar partying style to the person I’m interested in dating is really important. You don’t want to feel like you’re being judged for drinking and dancing all night if that’s what you and your friends like to do, and you also don’t want someone who always gets sloppy drunk when you just want to have a casual beer—not being balanced and compatible in this area can cause a lot of unnecessary friction.

8. What do you like to read?

Again, a basic, common question for first dates, but it’s all about how you phrase it. I’ve found that asking about specific titles or authors isn’t very useful because chances are I haven’t heard of them and it can be hard to initially connect over. But, if you ask more about the type of reading material they prefer—novels, poetry, news, nonfiction, essays, magazines, digital vs. print—you’ll get a better sense of what you might have in common, reading-wise.

9. Do you have any pets?

If you have allergies, this could be vitally important. Otherwise, it’s just nice to know what kind of furry or scaly creatures you’ll find at their apartment. It’s always fun to hear someone talk about a pet they love, and this questions will invariably lead to hilarious story sharing. If they show disdain for a certain kind of animal or pets in general, this could be an issue depending on your own pets and opinions, and something that could end up being a major keystone of what you have in common or not.

10. What was your coming-out experience like?

Obviously, a large number of first dates are non-heterosexual, and as Courtney Hartnett, a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, puts it, “It's such a universal gay/lesbian experience, and I think it's a good way to get to know someone and what they've been through. In terms of family acceptance, my coming out wasn't a good one, and if the woman I'm on a date with has had a similarly poor experience (I once went on a few dates with a woman who had a family member try to perform an exorcism to make her straightI wish I was making this up!), it seems to work as a bonding experience. I don't mean to make it sound like I treat all my first dates like free therapy, thougheveryone seems to have a quick, funny way of communicating what it was like coming out, and it's not necessarily something that dominates the conversation.” The question may come up more naturally through conversation versus an actual question, but either way it could be a touchstone of commonality for the first date.

Feature image: Matthew Henry/ VIA Unsplash.