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A man and woman face each other across a table at a downtown bistro, looking nervous and awkward. There is a stiff formality to the way they sit—no slouching. It remains to be seen if it will pick up speed, gain altitude, and soar skyward . Sometimes they lead to burning love; sometimes they go down in flames. All the observable and obvious clues: They are nicely groomed—stylish, but not overdone. As would-be romances go, this plane is very slow to leave the gate and get onto the runway. or if it will lose engine power and sit on the tarmac indefinitely. It’s true that first dates can be one of the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-producing situations in our society. The process begins by providing lots of space for the full expression of information and asking follow-up questions to further draw out the one talking. With those thoughts in mind, now it’s time to think about specific first date questions. Either way, it’s exciting to be able to get to know another human being and get a peek into his or her world. Great communication starts with being genuinely interested in the individual you’re with and paying close attention to what he/she says. The two pick at their dinner salads, staring down at the leafy mound before them. Finally, one of them tries to grease the wheels of conversation. Some people consider themselves skilled communicators because they can talk endlessly.
Think of conversation as a tennis match in which the players lob the ball back and forth. They ask personal or sensitive questions that put the other person on the defensive. If feeling inhibited is a problem for some people, others go to the opposite extreme: they use a date as an opportunity to purge and vent.
Should the relationship evolve, there will be plenty of time to get into weighty topics. When a person reveals too much too soon, it can give a false sense of intimacy.
In reality, premature or exaggerated revelations are due more to boundary issues, unresolved pain, or self-centeredness than true intimacy. Maybe your first date questions will lead you to discover that this person is your soul mate—or maybe not.
What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?
They scan the room, menu, and table setting, only occasionally making eye contact. The key to having a positive experience is relaxed conversation, and that can be helped along with some well-chosen first-date questions.
Biggest clue of all: The salad course is punctuated by strained silence and forced small talk. Before we get to those, let’s review a few general guidelines for dating discourse: Listen as much or more than you talk.