Think all first dates are different? Well, tell me if this story sounds familiar to you:

“What do you like to do for fun?” he asked. I sat there for what felt like minutes, but was actually just a few awkward seconds, trying to think of things that wouldn’t sound silly or mundane. I finally answered, “Hangout with my friends, watch TV, and um, try new restaurants. Oh, and catch a concert or a comedy show.” Whew, I thought, nailed that one. I sounded hip and popular, right?

“What about you?” I asked in return. He immediately answered, “Same, but I also like getting outdoors. I belong to a softball league and an ultimate Frisbee league. And I volunteer with Jewish Big Pals, so I try and take out the boy I’ve been mentoring a few times a month.” I answered, “How cool! That’s very mensch-like of you,” but inside, I was cringing. I was impressed and ashamed at the same time. This guy sounded really awesome, but he was also making me feel inadequate. We sat there quietly for a few moments before I finally asked where he grew up.

The Real Truth

The woman in that story above? She actually sits at home about five nights a week watching more TV than she would like to admit to herself, while snacking on food she shouldn’t be eating since she doesn’t get to the gym as often as she wants. She simultaneously scrolls through Facebook, making sure other people aren’t out having a good time without her. When she’s done with that, it’s on to perusing JDate to see if there is anyone interesting online to instant message with.

As for the guy? He hasn’t played softball in a year, but still gets league emails, which makes him feel a sense of belonging. He got hurt two months ago at his first ultimate Frisbee game, so now he just goes to drink beer and cheer on his friends from the sidelines. He is a Big Pal and, although he texts with the boy and his mother to make plans, they really only see each other once a month at most. He also spends most nights at home watching TV and checking out his social media accounts. But he has a canned answer ready for this question because he knows it’s not totally a lie and it sounds impressive.

Dreaded First Date Questions

Since nobody really answers truthfully to “What do you like to do for fun?,” why do we even bother asking the question? People hate it, yet it’s one of the first questions we ask on a first date. That, along with “Are you close to your family?” or “Why are you still single?” are nothing but eye roll-inducing, and most answers are versions of the same not-the-whole-truth answer: “Yes I’m close to my Mom/Dad/siblings,” or “Because I haven’t met the right person yet,” respectively. They are questions used to fill the silence on a date and, ideally, hopefully, to lead to conversation.

Dating is hard, and first dates can be scary; I get that. Being armed with these go-to general questions is helpful when there’s an awkward silence. However, no one likes being on the receiving end, frantically trying to think of answers that you haven’t heard before. The truth is that we all have pretty much the same answers to these questions (and that’s okay), yet we put this pressure on ourselves to reinvent the wheel when we respond to them.

Changing It Up

On your next first date, make a pledge not to ask the questions you don’t like to answer. Instead, try asking more specific questions that will lead to interesting responses that actually tell you a little more about the person you’re meeting. Here are some examples:

  • What TV shows do you watch?
  • How do you stay physically active?
  • What concerts have you seen lately?
  • Do you do any volunteer work?
  • What was your childhood like?

If you’re asked any of those broad and boring questions the next time you go out, try to have a cutesy or sarcastic response ready (“My whole life is fun, how do I summarize?”). Just make sure to follow it up with a laughter so they know you’re joking!

You may also be interested in 5 Yiddish Terms For Describing A First Date

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