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Speed dating can be an intense experience: You’re meeting a bunch of different people at once, with a limited time to ask them questions about themselves, all the while trying to vet these strangers to see which ones are more compatible with your heart. It can be overwhelming to determine which questions to ask your potential matches; you want to build a connection with someone, but how deep can you go with so little time?

“Since you only have a limited amount of time to get to know someone during a speed dating round, I’d try to keep things simple,” intimacy expert Kiana Reeves tells me. While speed dating might feel daunting, Reeves says it’s key to go into the experience with an open mind, and to not set high expectations for yourself or anyone you might meet. “If you go into the event feeling curious and open, you’re much less likely to leave feeling disappointed,” she says. “Don’t sweat it if there is a missed connection or two—not everyone there will be your cup of tea, and that’s fine.”

What questions to ask

Reeves says it’s perfectly okay to ask a few basic questions to start off (“what do you do,” etc.). But since you’re on the clock, she recommends quickly launching into more memorable and telling questions that play into some of your own passions or things you truly want to know about them, like “what’s next on your travel bucket list?”, “how would your friends describe you?”, “what’s the most inspiring thing you’ve done lately?” or “how would you spend your ideal Sunday morning?”

According to Chantal Landreville, certified love and relationship expert, and author of Raise Your Love Signal: A Guide to Attracting and Keeping the Love of Your Life, her top five questions to ask would be:

  • What books have you read that changed your life?

  • What are five core values you would like to pass on to your children? 

  • What would your friends say about you?

  • Growing up, who had the greatest influence on you and why?

  • What did you learn from your past relationship(s) and how did you grow from it? 

As for why, Landreville says, “These questions provide great insights on the person’s values, growth, and their overall outlook on life. The answers will provide a lot of information in a short amount of time, and be an efficient way to gauge your compatibility. By asking these kinds of quality questions, it can also show the depth and quality of the person in front of you.”

Avoid asking these questions

“Don’t ask anything too personal, controversial, or philosophical (after all, we’re here to keep things a bit light since you’re just meeting for the first time), or questions that could take a while for them to formulate an answer to (again, you’re on the lock),” Reeves recommends. “Since you’re essentially meeting a stranger, start slow and simple before divulging details about past relationships, family drama, or major plans for the future.”

As for her list of which questions not to ask, Landreville recommends not asking the following:

  • How much do you make at your job?

  • Why are you still single?

  • What’s your ex like?

  • Have you ever cheated on someone? 

  • Do you want to get married and have kids?

“It’s important to stay away from closed questions that are answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as well as anything that involves financial, religious and political views,” Landreville says. “The goal of speed dating is to establish a connection and get a feel for basic compatibility. Asking respectful, light-hearted questions allows both participants to gauge your interests without making anyone feel awkward.”

Another good reminder when it comes to speed dating is to listen. “We can often get bogged down by what we’re saying, how we’re responding, what we look like or how we come across,” Reeves says. “But remember that displaying active listening and responsive body language is a huge piece of the puzzle for any first meet-up.”

Ultimately, when it comes to leaving a good first impression, Reeves says the best thing you can do is the simplest: Try to be yourself and show them who you actually are. “It can be difficult to feel fully comfortable in these environments, especially if you’re trying speed dating for the first time, so you can lean into that,” she explains. “Showing a bit of humanity and even acknowledging things that can make you nervous is totally okay.”

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