Acing a first date: The 5 phases of first date questions

couple on first date

Let’s face it, first dates can be nerve racking. You’ve found someone who’s caught your attention online and you want your connection to be enhanced when you meet for the first time. In order to help your date run as smoothly as possible we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 first date questions to combat the nerves and let attraction prevail.

According to The Washington Post, who analyzed data from a Stanford University and University of California in Santa Barbara study about successful dates, both men and women feel more connected to their date when they indicate sincere and candid opinions. The study showed that men felt less connected to a woman when she gave vague answers to questions and indicated that responses like ‘kind of’ and ‘maybe’ were a huge put off. Surprisingly, the data revealed that women felt more connected to men when they were interrupted by them because it demonstrated that the man was actually paying attention to what they were saying.

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This suggests then, that a successful first date comes from a true connection between individuals portraying honest and clear opinions to one another. In order to enable this connection, what to talk about on a first date is fundamental. Here are the top 10 first date questions to help you on your way, we have split them into two types of questions; 5 questions to establish the personality fundamentals of your date and 5 questions to discover some interesting anecdotes about one another.

So who will you be spending that all important first date with? How does the matchmaking process work?


PHASE ONE: The first contact – establishing the personality fundamentals

1. Ask something personal

EliteSingles Psychologist Salama Marine explains, “My little trick is to pick something unusual or funny from your date’s profile. Start by asking about that! Firstly, your date will be pleased that you remember a tiny, personal detail about them, and secondly, it’s a good way to start a conversation, and show that you’re really interested in them as a person.“ This then, is the perfect ice breaker. If you spotted something original in your date’s profile, begin the conversation with that and it’s likely to calm any nerves you both might have and enable the conversation to flow more naturally.

2. What do you love most about your job?

What to talk about on a first date sometimes means covering the basics, and of course one of the classic first date questions is finding out what you both do for a living. A typical opener to the dating ritual; establishing your date’s career is unavoidable. Why not give this conversation a more interesting twist by asking them specifically what makes them love their job? As a result, you will receive a much more personal, thoughtful response which may inspire a more natural and stimulating conversation away from the mundane reciting of their daily routine.

3. Where has been your favorite place to live?

Finding out where someone has lived can reveal a lot about what kind of person they are. While many find someone who is widely travelled very attractive (in fact it came out as the most sought after quality in the opposite sex in a recent EliteSingles members survey of attractive hobbies), others enjoy their home comforts and seek those who do too. Establishing what interests your date through this question will indicate your compatibility and undoubtedly reveal an interesting story or two.

PHASE TWO: Making your way through your first drink

1. What tickles you?

According to a research article on the significance of laughter on Psychology Today, ‘[laughter] is a hidden language that we all speak. Laughter bonds us through humor and play.’ This sentiment was corroborated by a poll of EliteSingles members, in which 67% of women chose laughter as the most important factor of a successful first date. Similarly, 40% of men have the same expectation. It is evident then, that individuals look for laughter in a partner. On a first date, find out what tickles them and then you’ll get a sense of their character and how they work. This will also lighten the mood and take some of the pressure off typical to first dates.

2. What do you like to do when you’re not working?

This is one of the classic first date questions but very important to establish whether you and your date are actually compatible. Mainly because if the two of you do end up hitting it off and you’re spending most your non-working time together, you need have activities that you both enjoy doing together. This question quickly establishes your date’s priorities – do they spend most their free time with their friends or family? Do they have pets which they spend with and what kind of regular hobbies do they have? There’s only one way to find out. Hopefully their priorities are in line with yours!

3. Are you an outdoorsy person?

Establishing whether your date has a passion for the great outdoors is another one of those first date questions designed to check – subtly – how well their lifestyle might be compatible with yours. Quality time spent on a mountain trek or epic cycling adventure is only ‘quality’ if you’re both interested in it. As a result, it’s good to cover this ground early on, before your partner wants to embark on a sunrise hike while you want to slob out on the sofa.

PHASE THREE: Midway through the date, you’re starting to relax and can discover the more interesting anecdotes

1. What was the scariest moment of your life?

Why not get to know your date a bit more intimately by discovering what scares them. Sharing tales that you don’t usually reveal is also a great way to understand someone’s character and create a bond between the two of you. Perhaps in this circumstance, you should consider sharing your own story first, thus making your date feel comfortable and at ease about revealing their own vulnerabilities and get you moving away from the forced small talk, common to dating culture.

2. What’s on your bucket list?

If you’re not particularly keen on steering the conversation towards awkward moments past, why not instead look to the future and find out what your date’s passionate about doing before they die. It is one of the more interesting classic first date questions and enables you a good insight into your date and what matters to them. Not only can you then focus the conversation on each other’s genuine passions, but you might just stumble across a mutual interest in something that you could potentially do together.

3. What’s your happiest memory?

According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to win friends and influence people, ‘To be interesting, be interested.’ The question of your happiest memory is a good example of a way in which to create a feeling of intimacy between you and your date as well as lifting some of the pressure of a date atmosphere and enabling a softer side to come through. It is a great opportunity to discover more about your date’s past and also reveal a more sensitive side; ultimately making the conversation more interesting.

PHASE FOUR: Securing the second date

1. What do you like to eat?

These days, food can be a deal breaker when it comes to relationships. While more and more people opt into the healthy, gluten-free, vegan lifestyle, others maintain the timeless love for a well cooked steak and glass of red wine. For some individuals this is not an issue but for others, disagreements on food can send instant alarm bells ringing. It’s probably best to establish this early on, before your choice of restaurant for your next date turns into a disastrous anecdote you tell your friends at the bar.

2. Are you a dog lover or a cat lover?

Another potential deal breaker and a favorite when it comes to first date questions; discovering if your date is a cat or a dog person is an early sign of your compatibility. People form a tight bond with their pets and connecting new partners with them can be challenging. Preempt any doubts by establishing early on whether your date is the type to have a cat sleeping at the end of the bed or has an insufferable allergy. If you’re both animal lovers and have pets, it might be a great second date suggestion.

3. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

This question is great because it works in two ways. It not only establishes what your date usually spends their weekends doing but is also a good opportunity for them to invite you along to something or make plans with you. Some people are quick to introduce their dates to friends and an event of some sort can take the pressure off the second date. Alternatively, they may suggest a one- on-one meal or drink which would also be great. Either way this question is a pretty solid way of securing a second date.

PHASE FIVE: Post first date questions

1. Ask yourself: Was there chemistry?

It’s very important that after a date you ask yourself very honestly how it went and what your feelings towards the other person are. Often it’s pretty straightforward – you either have chemistry with someone or you don’t. Even if you haven’t fallen head over heels, you know if you could develop feelings for this person and decipher if they are partner material. If so, set up a second date and let the romance blossom. If not, it may be best to be honest and say that it was lovely to meet them but you’re not sure there was much romantic spark. Most likely either way, they’ll feel the same

2. Message to her: Did you get home safely?

Chivalry is not dead and most women really appreciate a man asking if they got home safely after their date. It’s considerate and thoughtful and indicates to your date that you’re thinking about them. This also suggests that you enjoyed yourself on your date.

3. Message to them: Do you want to go to (insert film/exhibition/restaurant) sometime?

The best follow up post date question is picking up on something you spoke about on the date and suggesting that the two of you do it together for the second date. For example if you discussed a new gallery opening or film with your favorite actor in it, it’s the perfect second date suggestion. This not only secures your next meeting but also shows that you really listened to what your date was saying and want to follow it up.

Looking for inspiration? Try our Fun Date Ideas

These ten first date questions have been split so that you can establish your date’s fundamental personality and standpoints as well as some more personal anecdotes and witty stories about themselves. As the ‘Stanford University and University of California in Santa Barbara study about successful dates’ suggests, a genuine connection on a date is formed through honest, interesting opinions and these questions provide a platform for this. They combine the right mix of light-heartedness and learning to provide a good image of your date’s character, lifestyle and ambitions, subsequently indicating your compatibility. While it is useful to prepare a little in advance for a first date in order to enhance your confidence, it is also important to trust your instincts and let the conversation flow in its natural direction. Create an environment where you can really get to know one another and you’ll never be stuck for what to talk about on a first date again.

EliteSingles First Date Survey 2013
EliteSingles Hobbies Survey 2015

About the author: Charlotte Bridge

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