22 questions you should ask before agreeing to go on a Tinder, Bumble, Match, Hinge or Plenty of Fish date
These questions will help you get to know your match much better before a first date
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In 2023, it’s fair to say that most people who are looking for love will have at least tried dating apps. In fact, online dating providers are expected to have reached 441 million active users worldwide by the end of 2023, according to Statista's Digital Market Insights.
There’s so many dating apps and websites to choose from for people who want to find a relationship, from free platforms like Tinder and Plenty of Fish (or POF as it is known as by its users), to paid-for platforms like Match.com and eHarmony. They each have their own approach to dating; Bumble for example requires women to speak first and conversations to be started within 24 hours of a match being made and Hinge asks users to take a personality quiz, but the goal is the same for each one - to find a catch.
Once users have found a potential partner, the conversation begins and they then decide if you want to meet their match in real life and go on a date. But, with so many potential prospects at daters’ fingertips, it’s common for people to be talking to multiple suitors at once in an effort to determine who would be the most compatible with them. But, just how do people know who would be the best person? While a big part of dating comes down to chemistry, and people won’t know whether they share that until they do meet, asking certain questions before you take your chats from on the phone to in-person could help prevent anyone’s time being wasted or heartbreak further down the line.
NationalWorld has spoken to five dating experts for their advice on the questions daters should be asking of their potential matches to discover how well they are likely to get on, both in the short-term and long-term. So, no matter what your dating app or website of choice, read on to find out all the questions you should be asking before agreeing to a real life date from your online match.
What type of relationship are you looking for?
Dating is so diverse and people who use apps and online dating sites are looking for different things - from casual hook ups to open relationships to marriage - so it’s important that you understand early on if a person wants the same thing from a relationship as you do, internationally certified matchmaker and relationship coach Alex Mellor-Brook told NationalWorld.
What are your deal breakers?
Everyone has things that they cannot compromise on so, to save any tricky situations in the future, you need to find out if there is anything about your matches’ life or what they want from their future that you will never get on board with, and vice versa, according to Mellor-Brook, who is also a dating expert at dating agency Select Personal Introductions.
What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
Exploring your potential partner's life goals and aspirations is crucial to avoid future conflicts and heartache, says Mellor-Brook. When two individuals have vastly different plans it can be a recipe for disaster further down the road, the tension can become unbearable and relationships can ultimately end as a result.
A difference in aspirations, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship will not work, it all depends on what the specific circumstances are. Mellor-Brook added: “Open communication about your dreams, expectations, and hopes for the future is key to a fulfilling relationship. At times, it may also involve compromising and making sacrifices to support your partner and build a harmonious relationship”. But, if your goals are too different then this is a strong indication that your connection may not have any longevity. Speaking to NationalWorld, sex and relationship therapist Rhian Kivits said: “If you aspire to travel or make a million pounds, and they tell you that they just want to settle down in a two up two down, then you'll instantly know that you're not a match.”
Have you got, or do you want, children and do you want to get married?
These are two big questions to ask, but they are extremely important, according to Kivits. This is because choices around marriage and children are two of the biggest you will make in life and so, whatever your views are, a potential partner’s views must align with yours because these aren’t circumstances that can really be compromised on. Not agreeing on these two significant topics could cause a lot of pain and heartache so it’s best to know as early as possible if you do not agree before any true feelings can develop and hearts are then broken.
How long has it been since your last relationship?
Asking this question can help to give you an idea of where a person stands emotionally, says Mellor-Brook. “If they’ve only just split from a previous partner they may be raw with anger, fear, frustration, sadness and confusion and could therefore be going onto dating apps looking for an answer to an unexpected situation”. But, be mindful that everyone heals at different paces so ask them other questions - like the ones below - in addition to determine their readiness for a relationship.
Why did your last relationship end?
How someone speaks about their previous partners can actually be very revealing about them, advises Kivits. “If this question triggers a tirade of insults about their toxic ex or a sob story about how they were dumped, you may begin to wonder whether they're carrying a lot of emotional baggage and it could be a sign that they're not ready for a relationship.”
How long have you been using dating apps and online sites?
If someone has been using dating apps for a while it's important to consider why, says Mellor-Brook. “They could be a self-saboteur and someone who stops themselves from getting too far into a relationship for various reasons, such as fear of commitment or self-doubt. They could also be a serial dater, who enjoys the thrill of the chase but doesn't want to commit to anything serious”. But, try not to be judgemental as it's also possible that they're looking for a serious relationship but they've just been unlucky in the past.
Are you dating anyone else at the moment?
This could be an uncomfortable question to ask, but it reveals exactly what position the other person is in. As we’ve already said, it’s common for daters to be speaking to more than one person at once in the initial stages, so don’t necessarily panic too much or judge too harshly if they say yes, but it’s good to be clear about this so you can make informed decisions. Kivits says: “if they're already seeing other people for second and third dates, albeit casually, and this feels uncomfortable for you then it's totally okay not to proceed. You may feel like this makes dating seem like a competition or you may wonder whether they'll have the capacity to focus on exploring a connection with you. This may also be a sign that things could get complicated.”
What are your boundaries?
We all have boundaries, and if you inadvertently cross enough of the ones put in place by your potential partner then your new connection will be over extremely quickly. To avoid this, it’s always best to ask a person what their boundaries are and be respectful of them, advises Mellor-Brook, even if they may not make much sense to you. For example, some people don’t want to share their social media accounts until they feel they know someone better or only want to meet for a certain amount of time during the first date. If you aren’t comfortable abiding by a person’s boundaries then they’re unlikely to be the person for you anyway. Equally, stick to your boundaries, and realise that anyone who tries to push them isn’t being respectful of you and that wouldn’t be a good start to a relationship.
How do you prefer to communicate and how often?
Everyone prefers to communicate in different ways, says Mellor-Brook; some love to text, some prefer to speak on the phone and some like to share via their social media channels. In addition, there are people who will respond to messages almost instantly while others may take a few hours or even days to reply. If you understand how a person likes to communicate early on then this can prevent any unintended offence being caused later down the line, and you can also decide if you can accept someone’s chosen communication patterns or not.
Can I hear your voice and/or see your face?
Most dating platforms have an option to be able to send a voice message now, so you don’t have to worry about giving out your phone number if you’re not comfortable doing so. Sending a voice note, or even doing a video call, before the date can help to build more of a personal connection with someone, Katie McNamara, who is the host and creator of a dating podcast, Single Sounds, told NationalWorld. This also might alleviate some of those first date nerves and, from a safety perspective, can confirm that a person is who they say they are too.
What do you do for a living?
This is a very basic question, but knowing the answer to this is important because a person’s occupation is an integral part of their life. It also helps you to understand what their usual routine looks like, according to McNamara, and therefore indicates whether or not you could have synergy. This question will also help you understand more about their skills and talents, says Kivits. “If they're in sales, they’ll be a good talker and target driven or if they're a plumber then they're the more practical type, for example.”
What are your interests and hobbies?
This is an easy question to ask but it will help you to find some common ground to get a conversation started or keep it going, says McNamara, and it is also helpful in starting to determine if you are compatible with a person.
What makes you want to go on a date with me?
As you’re trying to figure out if you think someone could be compatible with you they will also be deciding if they think you may be compatible with them, so asking this question will give you an insight into what they are thinking. What you think of their answer depends on what you are looking for. Kivits says “physical attraction is important, for example, but if they're more focused on your appearance than on your personality and values then their motivation might be superficial or more about sex” - and you can then decide if that’s what you want.
Can you tell me about your friends and family?
Connections with friends and family are fundamental in everyone’s life, so asking this question will help you understand more about someone’s personal life, their social circle and their family background. Kivits advises that any similarities indicate someone could compliment you well, but differences may reveal that someone may not be a good fit.
What's the most important thing to you in a relationship?
Contrary to popular belief, dating is not only about finding someone who is similar to you, says relationship psychotherapist Dipti Tait, instead you and your partner can be opposite people but must have common values and a shared belief in something that’s important to both of you and this is the glue that will hold you together. It is asking this question, therefore, that will reveal if you and your match share these common values and beliefs that could unite you in the longer-term.
Are there any qualities or traits that you find attractive or unattractive in a partner?
Everyone is looking for something specific in a potential partner, so asking a match directly what they want - and don’t want - is a quick way of determining if you may be the one for them or not. Put simply, if they give traits that you know you possess then the signs are looking promising, but if they say they are looking for something you know you cannot provide then you can be honest with them. This question, recommended by Tait, therefore stops time being wasted on both sides.
What makes you unique?
This question, proposed to NationalWorld by relationship psychologist Mairéad Molloy, is essentially asking someone to sell themselves to you - without it being too overwhelming or serious. It’s a way of asking them to give you their best traits also so you can determine if these are what you want in a partner.
What are some random fun facts about you?
Asking this question shows that you are curious and interested in your match, according to Molloy, and their answer could also provide topics for further conversation. It’s also an engaging way of finding out more things about the person without it seeming as though you are interviewing them, and may reveal further qualities or traits that you find appealing or unappealing.
How do you handle disagreements with a partner?
Unfortunately, disagreements will occur at some point in even the healthiest of relationships so, while it may feel awkward to ask this question upfront, it’s good to know how someone deals with conflict as early as possible to avoid any shocks or painful situations later on. Tait advises that it is a good idea to also ask “do you talk things out, or are you more of a ‘let's take a break and cool off’ kind of person?” as this will help you discover if you have the same approach to difficulties or not, and therefore how likely you are to be able to resolve issues well together.
If you had a free day to decide exactly what you wanted to do, what would you do?
This is a fun way of asking someone what they like to do in their free time, suggested by Tait. If you think the things they would choose to do sound interesting and exciting then it highlights that you may enjoy spending time together if you were to become a couple, but equally if their idea of a perfect day is your worst nightmare then it could reveal that you may not be compatible. It’s worth remembering, however, that you don’t have to share everything with your partner and it’s also perfectly acceptable to have your own separate interests.
Where would you suggest we meet and what would you like to do on our first date?
Everyone has different expectations from a date, so this question can help you to determine what someone else wants but also set out your expectations too. “This will help you determine whether you share the same ideas about how you'll spend time together”, Kivits says. “If they want to take you on an outdoor adventure, but you're a dinner and drinks kind of person, you may feel like you're not going to gel.”
For your safety, all experts who have spoken to NationalWorld agree that you should always meet someone you have met online in a public place for the first date.