Better Conversations – How to ask a date about their values
Once you start to move past the introductions and icebreakers, you’ll want to know someone more deeply – you’ll need to know about their values. Going beyond the superficial, these are the things that determine how someone really lives their life. Rather than ask outright about values, entering into a conversation about real choices and experiences can be revealing and feels more natural. Here are seven questions that help you ask a date about their values.
What’s your most important possession?
It may be that the honest answer to this question for many people is “my phone” – after all, it’s probably played a part in bringing you together with the person you’re now on a date with!
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find there are other things that matter too. Think about your own answer before you ask it and let your mind travel.
An album of baby photos. A piece of jewellery from a loved one. The trainers you finished your first race in. A voicemail from someone who isn’t around to leave a new message.
A simple object can tell a deep story about a life, so ask expecting to hear something personal, and be prepared to share too.
What big issue/s do you feel most strongly about?
With so much upheaval in the world, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and know where to direct your energies. An idea attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus sums it up well: the only constant is change!
With that in mind, the issues you feel strongly about may change regularly, depending on what you’ve seen on the news or recently read about.
Asking a date which issues mean the most to them might have a similar response. But it’s likely there will also be long term concerns that come to light.
Think about what matters to you. Maybe you’re a regular attender on protest marches and demos – talk about why the cause gets you out on the street. It could be faith-related – something about your own church or the church in other countries. It might be a local concern or a community project you put your heart into.
Share what fires and motivates you, and your date will likely do the same.
Have you ever volunteered?
Finding out how someone spends their time is a great way to understand more about their values. Where you invest your precious time matters, and volunteering means offering to spend that time for the benefit of others rather than yourself.
It’s very likely you get something from it too – new friendships, being part of something bigger, developing skills or gaining experience – so feel rewarded as you give.
You may not have money to donate to a cause or project, but where you offer your time indicates what you value. Ask a date about if they’ve given their time and be prepared to learn if you share the same interests – saving wildlife, planting trees, helping in a food bank – and develop the conversation from there.
What’s the last thing you saved up for?
Talking about money is important in a dating relationship, and this question can be an easy way into the topic.
It may be you haven’t had to save for anything since you were a child and it was the only way to guarantee getting that comic, pencil case or chocolate bar! If that’s the case, you can have a fun chat about why your eight-year-old you wasn’t going to be happy without it and the joy when you were finally able to take possession.
As a teenager or young adult maybe you put money away for a bike or your first car – what was it like when you finally took to the road? Had it been worth it?
For adults, it’s likely the saving up gets serious. A deposit for a house or flat, a new boiler or an impending bill.
It’s up to you how open you want to be about the details of your life and circumstances and when you feel comfortable to share, so pace yourself as you go into personal topics.
If you suddenly became very wealthy what would you do with your money?
The Bible says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. In other words, where we spend shows what matters to us!
You may not have been born into riches or acquired them along the path of life so far, but there may be a list of things you’d love to invest in or donate to if you did.
Asking this question open up an interesting conversation about values and dreams. What’s the first thing you’d do? Perhaps it’s practical – pay off your own debt or someone else’s, or get a car that doesn’t break down every winter!
Maybe it’s long term – a house or business that you see yourself holding onto for years. You may become philanthropic – finding good causes to donate to, or investing in your local area.
Asking this question can open up talk about deeper values.
Have you ever had a mentor?
Mentoring is all about investment. Choosing to learn from someone and have them invest their time, knowledge and skills in your life is a big step and can help shape your values. But it doesn’t have to be formal.
You may have had a grandparent who taught you valuable lessons about life, either through conversations or seeing their values in action. Maybe your parent’s work ethic inspired you and you learned by example.
Perhaps you had a favourite teacher who spotted your potential or steered you away from bad choices, or a neighbour who took time out to help you develop a skill or practice a sport.
As an adult, you may have sought out a professional coach to help you develop, or joined a peer network to share learning. Maybe it’s something you’ve always thought would be a good idea, but never got round to – be honest!
A good follow up question is to ask “Have you ever been a mentor?” Whose values have you helped to shape? Where have you invested your skills and time in others?
Ask the question and be prepared to reflect and learn.
What trait do you admire most in other people?
Asking about qualities in others takes the pressure off having to talk about yourself and keeps the conversation positive. So, have a think – what’s the one stand-out trait you notice and respect in others?
Kindness, loyalty, listening well – all things that help to make someone a good partner too! Perhaps you’re impressed by generosity and have stories of sacrificial giving to share.
It could be you’re most impressed by something practical. Being punctual or never missing a deadline. While these may not seem very deep at first glance, they could suggest an awareness of the importance of others’ time and a strong sense of responsibility.
Giving an insight into these traits often shines a light on what to expect from the person you’re talking to. As you go deeper into getting to know someone, enjoy learning about what they value and sharing what matters to you.
What questions have you found helpful when talking about your values?
Read the rest of the Better Conversations posts here.