Scott recently posted on a comment from Elspeth on how a man came off as “interview-y” when getting to know a woman and on date.
As someone with a decent amount of personal experience in the matter of vetting, there is some general wisdom in doing this. I posted a list of questions quite a few years ago that I’ve used to vet, and you gotta keep in mind no one really likes being interrogated.
- Have fun. Getting to know someone shouldn’t be a bore or an interview. This is generally also why I prefer activity dates as opposed to sitting down and eating.
- Start with the her, not her history. Get to know who she is now first. Then delve into the past, and see how it has affected her in the present. No one, not even you, wants to be judged on their past without someone knowing who you are now. All of us make mistakes, to some degree or another.
- General conservation. Don’t throw out questions one after the other. That’s an interview. You throw in a question here and there interspersed with general conversation. If you’re talking about your family, you can throw in a transition to an “interview” question about family. An example of this would be you’re chatting about your background and how you were raised (e.g. the past), then you can throw in a question about how she would like to raise her family, if and when (e.g. the future). As you can see, talking about your past can be transitioned to a question about how she sees the future playing out.
- Framing. Sometimes throwing out questions is fine like the past-to-future type of conservation on how she would raise her family. However, value statements and stories are good too. For instance, if we were talking about family, you could comment on something that worked effectively for your parents when they were raising you. That allows her to transition the conversation to how her parents raised her, how she wants to raise her kids, or see if she’s interested in knowing more about you.
- Ask about current events. There’s so much feminism, divorce, sex change, homosexuality, and so on prevalent in the media nowadays that it’s not hard to solicit an opinion (not even in the form of a question) on how you can learn about her values. One way to do this is to just go along the lines of… “Oh, did you hear the story on the news about ___?” […] “No? Well, it was about ___ and so and so things happened. It’s crazy.” Then she will usually want to insert her opinion on such and such matter and it can lead to a discussion about said topic.
- Generally speaking, going with the list that I wrote in the link above, you want to start with less intimate topics and work toward there. Delving into family divorce history on a first date is generally not a wise idea.
These are all good examples of how to lead a conversation well to where it doesn’t seem like an interview.
I personally like starting with her hopes and dreams, her relationship with God, what she values, and who she wants to be in the future. You can tell a lot about someone and their identity (in Christ or not in Christ) from these few things. Also, pretty easy to throw some teasing around too.
It takes practice to pull off effectively, but it also teaches you how to be a good conversationalist and lead the interaction the way you want.