Better Conversations – 6 simple questions to learn about a date’s personal relationships
During the dating process it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every meaningful question and conversation about relationships should relate to romantic relationships. In fact, learning how someone interacts with and treats other people in their life can be revealing – and a lot less pressure! Rather than jump in with direct questions about previous relationships and hopes for future romance, why not ask instead about other connections – and of course, be prepared to answer similar questions too!
Here are six simple questions to learn about a date’s personal relationships, of all kinds.
What do you first notice about someone when you meet for the first time?
When you meet in person it’s likely you’ll have given some thought at least to how you appear – your clothes, hair and overall style. But is this the first thing someone will notice about you? Not necessarily!
Asking this question on a date is likely to direct the answer back to you – what did they first notice when you walked into the room? Unless you’ve fallen into a puddle on your way or forgotten to fasten a zip, what’s probably most noticeable about you will be something more general.
It might just be your mood. Were you smiling? Looking nervous? Late and flustered? Or it could be your interactions with others. Were you polite to people you passed? Did you say thank you to someone holding the door for you?
The impression you give – whether you seem open to getting to know someone, or bored before you’ve even sat down, relaxed and comfortable in your own skin or impatient and on edge – can set the tone for the conversation.
So, listen carefully to the answer if you ask this question – what lies beneath could hint at what matters in a future relationship.
How did your best friend become your best friend?
What better way to talk about lasting relationships than to jump into the subject of an enduring love – your BFF! Not only will there be endless tales of the adventures you’ve shared, you’ll also be sharing stories about your past through the lens of someone who knows you very well. Someone who has seen the good and bad, and still loves you.
Whether you met at school, at church or work, through a hobby or in an unexpected way, sharing how you bonded and grew your friendship will give a great insight into what it’s like to know you long term.
And, if you eventually introduce your best friend to your date you’ll have laid the groundwork for an easy conversation.
How do you prefer to sort out disagreements?
Psychologists say everyone has a preferred way of dealing with conflict. What can be tricky, especially when getting to know someone, is resolving an issue when you don’t know how the other person is likely to react.
Digging into previous situations can help to shed light on how you prefer to manage difficult conversations – or how you wish you did!
When you first meet someone bringing up something you’re not happy about can feel very awkward, so having a conversation about past experiences or a hypothetical situation like someone being habitually late or stealing the chips from your plate can be helpful!
Is there anyone you regret losing touch with?
Life can take us in unexpected directions, and it’s easy to believe we’ll stay in contact with the people who mean most to us, no matter what. But that isn’t always the case.
Losing touch with someone doesn’t have to be dramatic – more likely, it’s a forgotten birthday, a broken phone, a change of job or location. Never quite getting around to meeting up and then time passes.
Taking a moment to reflect it might be surprising who comes to mind. Maybe going back to your school days, and giggling at the back of class. Or someone who made your days at a tough job much brighter. Perhaps a family member who took a different view on a difficult situation, and you weren’t able to find a way back to good terms.
A note of caution if the answer is a now-ended relationship. There could be unfinished emotional work to do, and now might not be the best time to start something new.
What’s the best thing about being friends with you?
Here’s a question designed to let you boast a little about your best qualities – your thoughtfulness, consideration and loyalty. But use a little more imagination. What do you bring to your friendships that’s unique to you?
Perhaps you always have perfect ideas for birthday gifts, or know the ideal spot for a sunny day out. Maybe you’re a great person to call in a crisis or someone who will turn up to get stuck in when there’s work to be done.
Instead of falling back on standard descriptions, think of some real life examples. The surprise birthday party you organised, the care rota for a friend coming home from hospital, the treasure hunt you created for a stag or hen party.
Your answers will give clues about what it’s like to be important to you and how you make a special effort to express that.
What story would your best man / chief bridesmaid tell about you on your wedding day?
You may not want to bring up marriage in conversation in the dating stages – even if it is a very indirect way. But an imaginary scenario that brings to mind a precious occasion and the memories of closest friends shared with a gathering of loved ones is bound to evoke a special story.
It may be – and wedding speeches are known for this – an embarrassing tale you’d rather forget! Or maybe it’s a story of generosity, bravery or loyalty.
But whatever comes to mind, enjoy reliving and sharing something that shows your date more about you, and see where the conversation goes from there.
Read more of the Better Conversations posts here.