Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Thoughts

The other day a good friend of mine, Ben, called me to tell me about a date he'd been on over the weekend. He had been looking forward to going out with this girl, but things hadn't gone as he'd hoped and he wanted my opinion about the date.

After hearing his story, I was curious what you guys would think, so with his permission, I'll tell you a little bit about it.

Ben met his date, Amber, two weeks ago through a mutual friend, Jack. They had been planning on going on a double date, but the day before the date, Jack found out he had to go out of town. Ben debated about what to do at that point, but figured he still wanted to get to know Amber so he'd see if she wanted to go out with just him. She said yes.

Ben's goal for the date was as follows: get to know her a little bit, and have fun. Amber's goal for the date was: ask Ben the most personal questions possible to find out if they should get married on their second date (that's the way it felt to Ben, anyway).

 Here's a sample of her questions (and I quote):

1. "Starting from oldest to youngest, what do you think is the opinion of each of your siblings about you?

2. "Who do you trust most in this world, and why?"

And so on and so forth. She was so intense that the date started to feel like an interview. Ben felt the whole thing was really weird, and though he answered all of her questions, he felt a little uncomfortable since he barely knew her.

I could see where he was coming from. Here's what I expect from a first date:

Have fun.
Get to know each other in a light, easy going way.
No deeply personal questions.
Try not to make the other person feel uncomfortable.
Enjoy each other's company.

I think that pretty much sums it up. (I wait till the second date to ask questions like, "how many kids should we have?" and "what are some of the things you like best about me, in alphabetical order?) For me the first date is about getting comfortable with each other and having a good time. I'm not saying that's the "right" way to do a first date, it's just what I prefer.

What about you? How would you feel if you were asked the questions Amber asked Ben on their date? Do you like to dive right in, or take your time?

Happy Wednesday!


Katherine said...

Awwwwwwwwkkkkwardddd!! Those are some seriously weird questions for a first date. Or a second or third date. I agree with your first date expectations. It should be fun and casual!! Too much pressure is SO not cool. Girls like that give the rest of us a bad name. (Bon Jovi had it right.)

AE Jones said...

Hmm - great thoughts. I have been asked similar questions on first dates. The questions surprised me a little, to be sure, but I answered them. I was surprised to get into such deep conversation so quickly. I didn't mind it - but I didn't feel like it helped anything at all. I still didn't know where he was from by the end of the date because he was too focused on "what the best and worst attributes my ex-boyfriends had." Kind of weird. I guess it depends on what people's definitions of "deep questions" are... because everyone could be different on when they ask them. Great post... great blog.

Elizabeth Downie said...

I totally agree, everyone's personal questions are different. That's a good point. What might mean nothing to one person could be something I don't want to talk about on a first date! haha!

For me, there has to be a level of trust established before I'll really start talking about personal things. Once I get comfortable with the person though (which could happen by the second date), it doesn't take me too long to start opening up about myself.

TheSinglesWard said...

What's the over-under on Amber doing a thorough pre-date google/facebook analysis? I'd put money on it.

Fei said...

Just so we're clear, there's nothing wrong with asking personal questions on a first date.

I love asking personal questions, and it's particularly important to me because I like being open and allowing others to be as close to me as possible in a short amount of time - and enjoy that in other people too.

The uncomfortable thing about the date wasn't the questions ask, but *how* they were presented.

Asking personal questions that you are personally curious about is a good connecting tool, and can be engaging and interactive. But rattling off a prepared list is not only forced and awkward, it's also terribly selfish. My guess is that she's just not much of a talented conversationalist, so she was a little over-prepared.

I know they tell you not to talk too much about yourself on a date, because supposedly people love talking about themselves - and if you want to get to know them, you ask questions to get *them* talkin, so they can feel like they had a great time. That's only half true. She should've shared a little bit more about herself with him too, more than just her list of questions.

I think it wouldn't have been as awkward if he came home feeling like it was a 2 way exchanged, instead of question-raped like he was.

Elizabeth Downie said...

I think you're probably right, Fei, that the way she asked made the questions feel like an interview.

I don't mind talking about my family on a first date, but I'd be more comfortable with a question like, "so how many kids are in your family?" Which could lead to "who are you closest with?" I think questions like that are perfectly appropriate. Followed by the other person sharing about themselves, like you said.

But attacking someone with personal questions just makes them really uncomfortable.

And I guess people have different comfort levels for sharing. Some like to tell a lot right at the beginning, and others like to build up to it. I think it's important to get a read on your date before you push them out of their comfort zone.

lizzie mc.- said...

Poor guy probably regrets making that a single date. But I've also learned that some people are NOT who you meet on the first date. Perhaps if there's nothing truly scary a second non-date... just hanging out with friends would be better.

On the other hand, you don't want to be going out with someone that has no goals for getting married. I've dated people that had no level of commitment. And as members we often assume that they would have similar goals.

Heather said...

I would feel interviewed too. Those questions don't exactly start up casual conversations, like - "What place would you most like to visit in the world......."

That's an acceptable first date question - in my opinion.

But if he likes Barbara Walters...then he should marry her on their next date.

Mark said...

Ben's experience sounds like most of the dates I went on at BYU.

Anonymous said...

I think we need Amber's side of the story.

We need you to contact Amber and see why she asked those questions, they seem very scripted? :)

Was she bored or truly interested? she sounds a little bored.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Anonymous, are you Amber? Haha

I can't contact her unfortunately because I don't know her. But those questions are exactly how Ben remembered them. And yes, they do seem scripted.

Sandy said...

maybe it's because i never had a date like that (maybe because i didn't go to byu), but i think i'd like it if a date went into weird, serious question territory. fun and casual first dates are all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to brush past that (it can get boring, after all) and see if you connect talking about more personal things. and if the questions are odd, that makes it even more interesting.

of course, tone and context are everything. if the intrusive questions and deep discussions feel really out of place/don't go with the flow of the date, then they're not appropriate. it sounds like this is what happened here. your friend signed up for fun and easy and the girl didn't get it.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that Amber interrogates her dates to deflect her own awkwardness. "Ask them stuff so they don't ask me first" kind of thing. It's equally possible that Amber just doesn't like fluff. At some point people stop caring about trivialities and really want to have some depth. Women, I think, are generally more comfortable with this than men.

That said, to me, these questions were inappropriate for the first date. But I'd answer them anyway, 'cause I'm that kind of person. It's only valid if Ben can turn around and ask equally challenging things of Amber. Tell Ben to decide if he wants a mate with depth or fluff, and act accordingly. Who knows, she may be a real gem.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Anonymous, I see what you're saying, but I disagree with the idea that if you're not asking prodding, deep questions on the first date, you're not deep.

Melanie said...

I think it completely depends on the people and the date. Sometimes first dates are more getting to know you type stuff. But if you already know the person, maybe you're ready to ask the deeper questions.

However, I don't think I'd like these questions ever. And I'd probably lie, even though my brothers genuinely like me.

D said...

Yeah... I don't think deep questions should be a total no-no on a first date but they should come naturally with the conversation and not be scripted.(Like you said you start with the simple questions like how many kids are in your family...and go from there.) Plus that first sibling question would take forever with a family like my husband's(8 kids) and those aren't unusual in the LDS community. It seems like she was scared of having nothing to say on a solo date with him and over- prepared.

Elizabeth Downie said...

I deleted a few comments that led to bad feelings. Please don't be offended if yours is one of the ones I deleted. Just didn't want any contention in here. Still love ya!

Christi said...

Oh, I'm offended alright.

Elizabeth Downie said...

I knew you would be, Christi. You are such a trouble maker!

Vaughn said...


I first want you to know that I, above all else value honesty, I also feel deeply that we all can't just go through life without a uttering a whisper or not leaving as much as an impression behind. I am pleased that you held your ground on an opinion that may have made you unpopular in the eyes of peers.
If I indeed I did offend, I apologize.

I mean that, and it is the honest truth.

I must admit though, I am unsure if you really do feel that way OR if the Devils Advocate is nothing new in your vocabulary.

Consider this my heart felt apology. I was completely uncalled for.

Anonymous said...

I mean, I was offended alright!

Liz said...

I like to start out light and ask questions like;
What's your SSN?
What's your bank account number?
What's your debit card PIN number?

Save the more personal info for later in the relationship.