For many singles who are actively looking, first dates can feel like a necessary evil to finding "The One." You may go into a first date thinking, this should be easy, I'm just getting to know this person, no big deal. But once the date starts progressing and you realize that you kind of actually like this person, the anxiety over whether or not they like you enough to want to see you again can kick in. So what do you need to do on a first date in order to get a second one? According to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, asking questions is the key to landing a second date.
Researchers from the Harvard Business School conducted three studies to see how asking questions, which they call an "understudied conversational behavior," can play a role in likability. In other words, can asking questions make you more likable? They put together three speed-dating sessions where they analyzed the behaviors of 100 men and women who were told to get to know each other through four minute dates. Afterwards, participants were asked to state who they'd want to see again. All conversations were recorded, as well as how many questions were asked per date.
People in general asked an average of 10 questions per date. But those who asked at least 15 were more likely to get that second date. "Speed daters who ask more follow-up questions ... are more likely to elicit agreement for second dates," they wrote in the study.
While it may seem like an obvious thing to do, researchers found that many people don't like asking a lot of questions because they're either unsure of what to ask or they're worried about coming off as rude. But showing genuine interest in someone can make them warm up to you and make them want to see you again. If you struggle with knowing what to ask, don't worry. Here are some questions dating coaches suggest:
1How Was Your Day?
The ultimate number one rule for conversation on first dates is to keep it as light as possible. "Even if you're super intense, try to ease the other side into you," Keren Eldad, certified Love Attraction coach and the founder of With Enthusiasm Coaching, tells Bustle. "Asking about their day will reveal a lot."
For instance, they might discuss what they do, a hobby they did, or if they're a sharer, an issue they're dealing with. "They may even disclose very little, which is also telling," Eldad says. "Let them answer at will, and enjoy seeing this first one unfold."
2Where Are You From?
People love to tell their story, and where are you from opens the floor for the abbreviated bio, Eldad says. So, let them share and follow that flow with more questions, based on what they tell you. "This is the kind of question that sometimes leads to a personal detail," she says. "If there's a spark, touch them lightly on the hand, keep the eye contact going, and enjoy the sparks." It's a simple question, but it works.
3What Are You Looking For?
"No, that is not a trick question," Eldad says. "You're dating, they're dating, and if you are interested in something real, ask this question." Desperation only comes from a place of "lack," she says. So if you're coming from a place of strength and an understanding of what you want, be confident and see if there's an actual opening for a relationship here.
However, if you're not ready for this kind of dialogue on date one, that's fine. Stick with hobbies and replace this with, "What do you like to do?"
4Who Are You Rooting For?
"One thing singles feel is that no one wants to feel like they are on an interview or therapy sessions," Stef Safran, Chicago's Introductionista and owner of Stef and the City tells Bustle. "People want the conversation to flow naturally and be excited about learning about the person."
So if your date is at a sports bar, for example, and a game is on or you're both from a huge sports town, talk about it. Make it a point of conversation. Asking about casual topics like activities and interests keeps things light and can help you find common interests.
5Is There Something You Would Like To Try That You Haven't Done Before On A Date?
After asking about hobbies, dating coach Amira Celon suggests following up with this question. "Asking this creates a bonding experience and makes a potential second date exciting and something to look forward to," Celon says. Plus, it's a pretty confident question and shows that you're definitely interested in seeing them again.
6What's The Most Exciting Thing That Happened To You In College?
"I always tell my clients to ask questions that get your date to tell a story or share an experience rather than something that could be answered in short form," Damona Hoffman, Certified Dating Coach and host of A Question of Love and #BlackLove on FYI TV, tells Bustle. For instance, instead of asking, "What did you major in?", try pulling a fun story from them by asking about a memorable or embarrassing moment.
Overall, most experts agree that first date questions should be light and open enough so you can take turns telling each other stories. First dates can be awkward, sure, but if you keep asking questions and show a genuine interest towards the person you're out with, you might find that the awkwardness has left and great conversation has taken its place.