As entertaining as we may find it to watch first dates happen in the movies or on our favorite TV shows, we sometimes want to skip out on dealing with them in our own lives. Let's be real: First dates are awkward. They make us sweat and get weird around food, and we end up worrying about things that would never normally cross our mind (why do my hands smell like that?!). Once in a blue moon, you might have a first date that's total dynamite, but we don't expect that to be the norm — it's usually more like a trip to the dentist. But that doesn't mean that what goes on during a first date can't be important.
Experts say there are two areas that matter most when you're dating: the intrapersonal and the interpersonal. The former refers to your own personal beliefs, your interests, and your ambitions, while the latter is all about the interaction between the two of you. You've got to have some kind of intrapersonal similarities for the date to go well, and you definitely have to hit a home run in the interpersonal department, which can also be described as having "sparks fly" between you.
Although there's no one-size-fits-all manual to consult when you're getting ready for the first date, there are certainly a few loose guidelines that can help you get the most out of the experience. There are the obvious suggestions, like be warm and friendly, ask questions, and be yourself, but there are also some more complicated issues. You've got to plan ahead for these, because you don't want to waste your time — no matter how cute your date looks when they show up to the bar.
Here are seven things you should definitely bring up on the first date:
1. What Their Values And Beliefs Are
This may sound like a huge topic to tackle on a first date, but it's manageable. More importantly, it's necessary. But you don't have to come right out and say, "Hey, what moral codes do you hold most dear?" Instead of treating it like an interview, talk about your own values and gently encourage your date to join in on the conversation. Find out what their political beliefs are, whether they're religious, what kind of work-life balance they aim for. See if they align with yours. The good news is, studies show that the more controversial topics you talk about on your first date, the more likely you are to get to round two — so don't hold back.
Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., founder and editor of the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and International Journal of Philosophical Practice, wrote in Psychology Today, "There needs to be at least some core basic values that hold the relationship together." Without this basic foundation, you won't have a leg to stand on — so if you found that you have no values in common, there's no need to waste your time with a second date.
2. What Their Career And Financial Goals Are
Work isn't everything, but it certainly makes up a big part of our lives. Whether the cutie across the table from you on this date is really career-driven and loves to work long hours, or would rather work the minimal amount and live a more relaxed lifestyle, you'd better find out. One isn't necessarily better than the other, but one is better for you — so you have to know where they stand, in order to see if it matches your own goals.
This also might be a good window into finding out how important money is to them, which is key in relationships — money issues are one of the top reasons couples split up. If you have different views on the subject of cash and the role it plays in happiness, it's better to find out sooner rather than later.
3. Where They Like To Travel
Interestingly, 19 percent of people who talked about traveling on their first date went out a second time shortly thereafter (compared to the 9 percent of people who spoke instead about their favorite movies). Experts say that focusing on which parts of the globe you've been to, or would like to go to, helps you connect better and get to know each other in a smooth way.
Besides, you can learn a lot about a person by what their travel ambitions are. If one of you is really into roughing it on a trip, while the other one is all about luxury, maybe you're not as great of a fit as you'd like to be. Two people who have similar travel interests are more likely to share other interests as well.
4. What Their Family Is Like
You shouldn't judge someone by their background. But knowing what kind of family they've got, and what their relationship is like with this family, gives you a solid sense of their life. Start with the simple questions, like where they grew up, how many brothers and sisters they have, whether they keep in close contact with their parents, etc. If the date is going well, they'll probably start opening up about all that just from these easy prompts. Even observing the way they talk about their relatives can give you a good idea of their emotional maturity, and whether you have similar ideas about the role family should play in your life.
5. Whether They're Into Marriage Or Having Children
By now, you probably have some pretty strong opinions on the whole marriage and kids thing. Even if you don't, though, you need to see what your date thinks, because they could want the complete opposite of what you want, and it wouldn't be any fun coming to terms with that a few months down the line. That doesn't mean you have ask them straight up how many children they want to have and what their names will be, though. Rather, ease into the topic by bringing it up in passing, and then see what they have to say.
6. What Their Hobbies And Interests Are
How you spend your time says a lot about who you are as a person, so if what you like to do in your free time doesn't match at all with theirs, it might be time to wave the incompatibility flag and call it a day. You don't have to have all the same passions, but it helps to have some kind of an overlap. For example, imagine if you're the kind of person who's averse to the cold, yet your super cute date is an avid snowboarder who wants a ski-resort-loving partner by his side? Maybe not a match made in heaven.
7. What Their Friends Are Like
The way you and your SO get along with each other's friends is indicative of how healthy your relationship is. Therefore, before you jump into a relationship with someone, you may want to pry into who constitutes their crew of friends. It helps to know who the friends are and what they like to do together. As soon as it starts to sound like stuff you and your own friends would like to do, that's a pretty good sign that you could go the distance. After all, it's all about feeling comfortable with one another and getting to the point where you could effortlessly fit into each other's lives.
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