Dating alert: Whether your date does or doesn’t ask you questions about yourself and your overall life means a lot. This issue is one of those you may not think about often, but taking a moment to reflect on it is important. When we think about whether your date asks enough questions, we are really asking this: How much do they show interest in me? If someone is truly interested in getting to know the real you, they need to ask questions about you and your life; if they don’t, they are showing you that the specifics of who you are aren’t actually that important. Maybe they just want to be with “someone” and aren’t terribly picky about whom that person will be; maybe they are narcissistic and want the focus to be on them. No matter how you twist it, a date who doesn’t ask enough questions about you and your life is a very, very bad sign. Speaking of signs, if it were one that appeared on the side of a road, it would clearly read “Danger Ahead.”
I couldn’t count the number of therapy clients I’ve had in my private practice who shared a dating experience that turned them off because of this specific issue. One example, in particular, comes to mind. My client, Caroline, went for dinner with a new guy, and she did the usual thing most people do on a date. She started asking him questions to get to know him better. Why did she ask questions about him and his life? She had a healthy curiosity about who he was and she wanted to connect with him. Not long into their dinner, she found herself asking and listening, but soon realized he wasn’t asking doing any of the asking back. At first, she felt a little insulted. Was he not interested? Was he thinking her personality was a turn-off?
After reflecting on the issue a bit more, she noticed that her feelings changed to frustration. Would it be so hard for him to ask her about her life? She wondered what this meant once she got home, and she felt sad as she reflected on the date and got ready for bed later that night.
To all of the men and women dating, please remember to think about the feelings of the person you’re on a date with. You must work to show your date that you are not so wrapped up in yourself or so riddled with anxiety that you can’t perform simple appropriate dating behaviors, including asking questions. You have to ask your date questions so that you can figure out if the two of you are compatible, and you owe them the respect of showing interest because they took the time out of their day to meet with you.
Asking your date questions shouldn’t be that difficult. You don’t need to go through a laundry list of first-grader questions (“What’s your favorite animal?”) but you should ask a few questions that will establish a connection. Ask your date about his or her family (do they live close or far away?) or about what kinds of things he or she likes to do when they’re not working.
Whether your date asks you questions is a critical litmus test on the path to finding an appropriate partner. Asking the other person questions shows the ability to give and take, as well as the ability to establish intimacy. If you find yourself on a date where your date is only talking about himself or herself and has not asked you enough questions about yourself, address it in the moment. Make a joke and smile, and try saying this: “Ok, do you have any questions for me? I don’t want to feel like I’m conducting an interview!” Sometimes calling people out on their behavior in a friendly, non-threatening way can help them see what they’re doing and they can then redirect their behavior.
Make sure to put one simple question on your silent checklist on your next date: How easily did they ask me questions and show interest and curiosity about my life? You will be more likely to find a good partner if you approach dating with this level of care and consciousness, always asking yourself whether your most basic emotional needs for attention are being met.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.