Even though many of us dread first dates, they’re actually pretty important. First impressions are everything, and it’s also your chance to find out if the person you’re interested in could possibly fit into your life. But figuring out what to ask someone the first time you go out can be really tough. How deep of a question is too deep? What if you bore them with the usual stuff, like questions about their job and family? Fortunately, that’s where the pros come in.
To get the best idea of what questions you should ask on a first date, we talked to two relationship experts from the Lifetime show Married at First Sight — relationship coach Dr. Rachel DeAlto, and Dr. Jessica Griffin, who worked on MAFS as well as The Seven-Year Switch.
“When on a first date, it’s important to balance between keeping things light [and] gathering the data you need in order to decide whether or not this individual may be viable relationship material, assuming that’s what you want,” Dr. Griffin told us. “Many experts are going to tell you to avoid the following: religion, politics, finances, or talking about past relationships. However, assuming that you are able to receive their answers with an open mind I think it’s reasonable to ask about these topics.”
Whether you want to take a deep dive in head first or keep things light, here’s what the experts think is most important.
Anything about your priorities and values
This is a broad topic, but it also gives you room to decide how far you want to go with these questions. Do you want to find out what their morals and religious views are, or would you rather ask about their work/life balance? Either way, their answers can be huge in telling you who they are.
“I think the most important thing to ask on a first date are questions about priorities and values. And it doesn’t have to be a serious series of questions, but more questions like ‘what do you like to do, how do you spend your time, what makes you happy?'” DeAlto told us. “True compatibility comes from a matching of values mixed with chemistry. We often focus so much on where do you see yourself in one, five, 10 years, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle.”
Ask them if they make their bed every morning
Let’s be honest — most of us can be a little lazy, but if you are a neat freak and would prefer to date someone who feels the same (or the opposite), this could be pretty important… and it says a lot more about your date than how they like to keep their bed.
“How they respond tells you a lot about their need to have order and organization as well as level of discipline and, sometimes, rigidity,” Dr. Griffin said, adding that it’s also good to find out whether they’re a morning person or not and how long it takes them to get ready in the morning, since that can help you determine if they’re high maintenance or not.
Ask them how they spend their weekends
Dr. Griffin said that finding out how they like to spend their days off — as well as what their typical work day looks like — will help you find out about their interests, priorities, and how they like to socialize, which are all important to know in deciding if you’re compatible or not (or if your social lives will be).
Ask about their family and childhood
Asking about this stuff is pretty basic when it comes to first dates, but the answers to these questions can also be revealing. Dr. Griffin advised asking about who they’re closest to just to get a little information on the relationships in their lives. As for their childhood, “This will likely give you clues about how their past may have informed their present as well as engaging them in stories about growing up,” she said.
Ask about their regrets
“By sharing regrets, embarrassing moments, or even shameful experiences, the other person becomes more vulnerable and this is a way to build intimacy in the very beginning stages of a relationship,” Dr. Griffin said, and that kind of intimacy can be key in building a lasting relationship.
Ask what their dreams are for five years from now
“If you could wave a magic wand and have your life exactly the way you wanted, what would it look like five years from now?” Dr. Griffin suggested. “This is a therapist’s million-dollar question — helps us to identify goals, and their answer will help flesh out what their priorities are at the current moment (e.g. career, family, finances, location) as well as whether they are able to think through goals and objectives for their lives.”
And if all else fails, ask about their very worst date.
“Unless their answer is ‘this date,’ this can usually lead to comic relief and a shared laugh or two,” she said. “Just be prepared to describe your worst date, too.”
And laughing with someone? An awesome way to see if you have the same sense of humor, which is also important.
Hopefully these questions will give you plenty of material to work with next time you find yourself on a first date — and who knows? Maybe they could help you find the person of your dreams.