15 questions to ask on a first date to check your compatibility and foster connection
- One key goal of a first date is learning whether you have enough compatibility for a second date.
- Questions about their pets, travel, childhood, or their daily routine can reveal key similarities.
- Leave space for banter and natural conversation, and ask follow-up questions to show your interest.
First dates offer the chance to get to know a person better and assess your romantic compatibility.
One of the best ways to get to know your date better? Ask the right questions that can help reveal their personality, interests, values, and goals.
Asking questions, especially follow-up questions to their responses, also shows that you're interested in what your date has to say and may even make your date like you more, says relationship coach Julie Teffeteller.
With all that in mind, here are 15 questions to keep in your back pocket that just may land you a second date.
1. What's something you want to learn or wish you were better at?
"This question helps you understand what hobby your date is currently interested in without asking them to brag or sell themselves, which doesn't always feel comfortable," says Jodie Milton, a relationship and intimacy coach at Practical Intimacy. "It also shows their willingness to be humble and admit their limitations, which shows self-awareness and emotional intelligence."
Who knows? You might even discover you're trying to sharpen the same skill. For example, if you and your date are both aiming to improve your golf swing or learn a new language, that unlocks an endeavor you can work on together should you continue seeing each other.
2. What does a typical day in your life look like?
Learning about someone's daily routine tells you a lot about their lifestyle, says Teffeteller.
This one question can reveal whether your date is an early bird or night owl, what their work schedule looks like, and how they spend their leisure time — all of which can be helpful in determining whether or not your lives would merge smoothly.
3. Did you play any sports growing up or do you play any now?
Matchmaker and relationship expert Maureen Tara Nelson recommends asking this question because it can shed light on their physical activity levels, how competitive they are, and whether they're a team player — elements that can also play a role in your relationship.
Even if they don't play sports, you can use this question to segue into whether they watch any pro sports, or if they're active in other ways. You're ideally looking for common ground, like a local team you both root for, or a type of exercise you both enjoy.
4. What would you do with your time if money was no object?
For some people, work pays the bills but it doesn't necessarily reflect what they truly care about. That's why matchmaker Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, says this question may be more telling than simply asking your date about their career.
"You'll get them to open up about their passions, hopes, and dreams," she says.
This kind of question will also provide an opportunity to learn what makes your date's eyes light up — and that can, in turn, lead to more lively and exciting conversation.
5. What was the last show you binge-watched?
This is a great icebreaker to start out with early in the date, according to Milton, because it's fun and light. You may even bond over a show you both love.
Whether your date recently watched a true-crime documentary, psychological drama, or quirky comedy, their answer can tell you a lot about what kind of content piques their interest.
That, of course, is good info to know for the future — for instance, when making plans for a movie night in.
6. If you could pick a theme song to play any time you enter a room, what would it be and why?
"On the surface, this might just seem like a silly way of seeing if you have similar music interests, but the real value in this question is finding out how they see themselves," says Teffeteller.
A 2006 study found that music is the most common topic strangers cover when getting acquainted and that people can form accurate impressions about others' personalities based on their music preferences.
While this question could certainly reveal a shared passion for country or pop-punk music, the overall mood, message, and energy of the song they pick could also tell you a bit about their overall character.
7. How do you like to spend your weekends?
Since you'll likely be spending much of your free time with your prospective future partner, Trombetti says it's important to know what your date likes to do when they're not working.
Do they like to keep busy with social events and other activities? Or do they need a day or two to unwind and recharge at home?
"This question can also tell you whether or not you're at the same stage in life and looking for the same things," says Milton.
If they're all about partying on a Friday night, but you're looking to settle down, for instance, this key information might highlight incompatibility.
8. What's the wildest thing you've ever done?
There are two reasons why Teffeteller suggests this question for first dates. First, their response can give you a sense of how adventurous or daring your date is. Second, it usually leads to a highly entertaining story.
A 2014 survey found that 71% of adults consider a sense of adventure to be an attractive trait in a potential partner. So, swapping stories about some fearless experiences may just ignite that sought-after spark.
9. What odd talent do you have?
Whether your date knows how to play an octobass, is a talented impressionist, or can perform an impressive moonwalk, learning a bit more about their unusual skills is a surefire way to inspire some laughter, which is a key benefit for bonding.
In fact, a small 2015 study of single college students found that the more a pair laughed together, the more likely they were to be interested in each other.
"With this question, you can get a sense of whether or not they take themselves too seriously while also learning something unique and interesting about them," says Milton.
This question can also create the opportunity to practice getting vulnerable with each other.
10. What were you like as a kid?
In asking this question, you're bound to get lots of valuable insight into how their personality evolved into who they are today.
For example, if they were a voracious reader and had one loyal best friend, they're probably more introverted. On the other hand, if they enjoyed having adventures with lots of friends outside all the time, they may be more of an extrovert.
Knowing whether someone is an introvert or extrovert can help you understand whether you enjoy spending time and energy on the same things, or not, which may be a key point of compatibility.
11. What causes or charities are most important to you right now?
A 2020 study found that both younger and older participants rated other people as more attractive if they volunteered.
This question not only helps you to get a sense of whether or not giving back is a priority for them, but also sheds light on the specific issues that your date cares most about, says Milton — whether that includes climate change, healthcare reform, animal rights, mental health awareness, or the homelessness crisis.
12. What's the last thing you read?
Learning what books or articles your date has been reading can tell you a lot about their general interests and values, says Tumminia.
For instance, if they read an online newspaper every morning, you'll know that staying on top of world events is important to them. Or, if they recently finished a memoir by a famous artist, that could lead to a discussion about their fascination with that particular person's work.
In addition to sharing your latest reads, you might also consider recommending some books to each other. That way, you'll have a topic to discuss next time you meet up.
13. What's your favorite travel spot and why?
This is one of the best questions you can ask on a first date, says Trombetti, because travel is a topic that's non-controversial, fun to discuss, and offers the opportunity to share unique and interesting personal experiences.
A study described in "Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things," found that 18% of people want to go out again when they talk about travel, compared to just 9% who discussed movies.
14. Are you a dog person or cat person (and do you have any pets)?
A 2015 study found that 35% percent of women and 26% of men have been more attracted to someone just because they owned a pet. On the flip side, 75% of the women and 54% of the men said they wouldn't date someone who didn't like pets.
Pet ownership can also say a lot about whether or not someone is responsible or has caretaking or nurturing instincts — which is part of the reason why Nelson highly recommends tackling this topic.
Plus, if you both happen to have cats or dogs, you can plan a playdate with your fur babies down the line.
15. What are you looking for right now?
As scary as it might feel to ask your date about their intentions, Tumminia says she always advises bringing this up on a first date to ensure you're on the same page.
If you're looking for a committed, monogamous relationship but your date wants to keep things casual, you might need to take a step back and consider whether or not they can meet your emotional needs right now.
Alternatively, if you discover you're both open to the idea of a serious relationship, then you're likely to feel more comfortable bringing up the topic of commitment and exclusivity further down the line as you progress.
Either way, having this information early on can help you decide whether or not you want to take this potential relationship any further.
There are countless questions you can pose on a first date to learn more about someone's priorities, personality, and passions.
No matter which questions you pose, remember that asking follow-up questions is key to showing your date you're genuinely interested in them.
Remember, you don't want your date to feel like they're at a job interview, says Trombetti, so rather than sticking to a pre-planned script, allow some room for banter and commenting on what's happening around you during the experience.
One final tip: Aim to start off with light, fun questions before you get into meatier topics.
"Pay attention to your date's body language and other non-verbal cues when you ask these questions. If it ever seems that more personal questions are making your date uncomfortable, pull back and shine the spotlight back on yourself by answering your own questions or sharing an interesting story from your own life," says Milton.
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