Better Dating Through Genuine Curiosity

By on June 27, 2016
Wanna date?

Dating can be rough, and few things in life are worse than a bad date. I’ve sat through countless hours of conversation that didn’t interest me, only to go home knowing I wouldn’t call the guy and that I had just wasted my valuable time.


If you’re anything like me, aka single in 2016 with multiple dating profiles and a general desire to find romantic partnership, I imagine you’ve found yourself in similar bad date situations. That was the old me, though, and now I never go home after a date thinking it had been a waste.


Use this simple technique to transform the dating game into something (dare I say it) enjoyable:


Genuine Curiosity…


Conversations often fall flat because they stem from politeness and social etiquette. Instead, I want to invite you into conversations rooted in curiosity. Polite questions often have a flavour of either feigned interest or flat-out disinterest.


These questions are not inherently bad or wrong, but I’m suggesting that the intention behind them does matter when trying to fuel a conversation. Do you really care about what they do for work and how long they’ve been at that job, or are you just making small talk? What about when you ask what they have planned for the weekend, or how their day today was?


Again, they’re not bad questions, but check— are you genuinely curious to know the answer?


Starting a conversation by asking these kinds of questions doesn’t work, because it sets a tone of ‘tolerating‘.  If you start by asking a question you’re not interested in knowing the answer to, you’ll likely just be tolerating the conversation the entire time your date answers it.


Tolerating is inherently not fun, and can quickly turn from boredom to resentment. Coming from this frame, it’s no wonder that so many dates fall flat.
Instead, before asking a question, check with yourself, ‘Am I genuinely curious to know the answer to this?’ If so, ask it!


If not, maybe think of another question.


Luckily, humans are innately curious creatures. If a curiosity doesn’t naturally arise right away, give it a moment. It will, especially with practice. Remember that the person sitting across from you is like a whole different world. They have different memories and different dreams than you do. They have a different morning routine and a different sleepy-time ritual.


And likely, even though you’re both sitting at the same table in the same room, they’re  paying attention to different things in that moment than you are. Maybe you’re aware of the aesthetics of the room while they’re noticing the diversity of patrons. Or maybe you’ve got your eye on the quality of the conversation while they’re in their own head about something that happened at work that day. It’s worth checking out.



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One trick for deepening a conversation…


…is to follow-up to what your dates says by asking either, ‘What’s that like?’ or, ‘What do you mean by that?’ Maybe you ask, ‘How’s it going at work?’ and they say ‘Fine.’ The word ‘fine’ in-and-of-itself doesn’t give much information, but if you follow-up with, ‘What do you mean by fine?’ the conversation could easily start to pick up steam, as you discover more of the intricacies of their world.


I often follow-up like this twice in a row— going back to the ‘fine” example, if they then say, ‘The project I’ve been working on is going well but my boss is being a jerk about it,’ I might then say, ‘What’s that like?”’


Now not only do I get to hear that the project is going fine and that their boss is being a jerk about it, but I might also get to find out how that’s been for them. Instantly I’m more engaged, and I’m getting to know a deeper cut of who my date is.


Having this frame of genuine curiosity works on the receiving end too. Maybe my date asks me a question that, for one reason or another, I’m not interested in answering.


In this case, I might choose instead to tell my date that I don’t want to answer that (bonus points for also telling him/her why) and then follow up by telling them what question I would have rather been asked (and proceeding to answer it).


Of course, this is not a new concept…


Curiosity is something everyone has some experience with, but as we’ve grown up and had the opportunity to learn ‘social etiquette,’ curiosity often ends up taking a back seat.


Treat your dates as an opportunity to rediscover the childlike wonder that can come with genuine curiosity, and see how that shifts the trajectory of your time with this other person. I imagine you and your date will both be glad you did.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below!


(Melody is a Relational  Coach and a Slam Poet.  Check out her website, here.)
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About Melody Indigo Markel

Melody Indigo Markel is a relational coach from Boulder, CO. She both travels the country and serves on faculty at The Integral Center, helping to offer a variety of courses centered around human connection and relational intelligence. She believes nothing is sexier than exposing what’s true in the present moment.

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