There is a delicate balance to strike when you first start dating someone. You need to know certain key information to determine whether or not you want to start a relationship with them, but you don’t want to come on too strong or sound clinical in your approach to romance. Here are the essential questions you need to ask and why they’re important:

1. What type of relationship are you looking for?

There is nothing nosy about this question. Both of you should be on the same page about where you’d like to be in six months. Good relationships often come down to timing. Even if someone seems perfect for you in every way, you will never have a fulfilling relationship with them if they want something casual and you’re looking for a long-term commitment.

2. Tell me about your longest relationship.

Most people only ask about a person’s most recent relationship, even though there’s no reason to assume that it was the most important relationship they’ve had or the most indicative of what they’re like as a partner. Their longest partnership, however, will tell you a lot about the type of partner they might be and what they believe commitment looks like.

3. When did your last relationship end?

It takes time to heal after a breakup, especially when it marked the end of a long relationship. A person might think they’re completely over their ex, only to unconsciously display signs of lingering attachment. Asking when their last relationship ended will give you a sense of their emotional availability. The longer it’s been, the less likely they are to be hung up on an ex.

4. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

If you’ve just started dating, you may not know what the other person is like in a group setting. Extroverts and introverts can make very happy couples, but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. Maybe you’re the kind of introvert who loves observing and being entertained and would therefore thrive with an extrovert for a partner. But maybe you’re the kind of introvert who needs to be around other introverts to feel calm and centered. Knowing the level of social engagement your partner needs will help you predict what a life with them would be like.

5. Why did your last relationship end?

Okay, so this one’s a little nosy, but sometimes you need to ask hard questions to get the necessary information. Even if they give you a vague, possibly bs answer, you’ll still get to hear how they talk about their ex. Being negative and hyperbolic about an ex is a big red flag. If they say, “My last relationship ended because my ex is a psycho,” you should seriously consider ending the date then and there.

6. What are you looking for in a partner?

Now is the time to figure out if you’re a good match. Just because you’re attracted to each other and share similar interests does not mean you’re right for each other. Some people want a partner who is kind, supportive, settled in their career, and interested in building a home together. Others want a partner who is exciting, adventurous, flexible, and independent. No matter how much you like each other, you need to be what the other person is looking for.

7. Tell me about your job.

An open-ended question about a person’s career is not only a good way to find out the specifics of what they do, but also a sneaky way to learn how they feel about it. If they start their answer with a big sigh or an eye roll, they’ll have told you all you need to know without saying a word. The more vague the question, the more authentic the answer will be.

8. Which current events have captured your attention lately?

You may think that the latest election results are the biggest news story in the world, only to discover that the person you’re going out with is glued to the most recent developments in climate science. It goes without saying that there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world at any given moment, and what each person chooses to focus on reveals a lot about their values and interests.

9. What does your ideal weekend look like?

If you become a couple, you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Having interests and hobbies that mix well is essential. If one of you likes to have leisurely weekends with your partner and the other has a rigorous amateur basketball schedule, you probably won’t be happy in the long run. Learning what each of you enjoys doing will give you a sense of how well your lifestyles fit together.

10. Why did you want to go on a date with me?

This one makes it sound like you’re fishing for compliments, but when you let the person know that you want the real answer (apart from how gorgeous you are), you might learn some useful information. Their answer could reveal how they perceive you, whether rightly or wrongly. It might reveal their values (do they only talk about your physical attributes?) or the fact that going out with you was kind of random. Either way, it’s good to know where you stand.

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