Before a first date, some people feel butterflies, some will be bubbly throughout the night, while others will lose their filter from nerves. Generally, the first date is a time to get to know the other person and see how two unique personalities get along. While you may be curious about a potential romantic partner, our readers have inquired about what questions should not be asked. Here are 10 inappropriate questions to avoid, and what to ask instead.
1. How much money do you make?
Instead of imposing on their financial life, consider asking: “Where did you go to high school? What did you do after graduation?”
2. Where do you see this relationship going?
Asking someone to become a fortune teller within seconds puts pressure on them. Try: “Why did you invite/accept my invite?”
3. What’s your plan for the next __ years?
Perhaps they don’t want to tell you about their life in depth, but asking them if they have any up-and-coming plans wouldn’t hurt. Try: “Do you have any exciting goals for the future?”
4. Do you want kids?
Like #2, this awkward question places undue pressure on your date and risks ruining the evening for everyone. Instead ask, “Do you have any siblings?”
5. What do you want to do today/tonight?
Whoever extended the invitation has the responsibility making plans for the date. If you want to be polite, try, “I have some ideas for today/tonight, but is there anything you’d like to do beforehand?”
6. What went wrong in your last relationship?
A question to ruin a first date. Asking this can bring up unwanted emotions of anger or sadness, so avoid this at all costs. Try, “Do you have any awkward first date stories? ” If you’re nervous about the response, try going first to make it into a topic to joke about.
7. Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?
Although politics are important, avoid interrogating or challenging someone about their views on a first date. If you want to know about a person’s political view, wait until the third or fourth date.
8. Do you like (or worse) love me?
This question is off limits for the first date. If you’re enjoying the date, express that, but not to this level. Instead, tell them that you’re enjoying the date and ask them if they want to get together for a second one.
9. Do you mind picking up the tab?
While many millennials opt for “going Dutch,” modern manners say that whoever extended the invitation is responsible for the bill. If one party insists on paying their own part or the whole bill, let them and don’t argue.
10. Will your parents like me?
This question is overwhelming and it’s too soon to ask. If you want to ask someone about their family, try “What are your parents/family like,” or “Where did you grow up?”
First dates can be intimidating. Asking the right questions can ease the experience. Avoid asking awkward 10 questions and instead be engaging.
Sharon Schweitzer and Esther Sanchez co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is an award-winning entrepreneur, cross-cultural trainer, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, onNat Geo People. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Esther Sanchez is a Spring 2018 Cross-Cultural Communication intern with Access to Culture. She is currently attending the University of Texas at Austin as a Journalism major and working to earn a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and a certificate in Computer Science. She plans to use these skills to tell stories through virtual reality from around the world. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.