How to break the ice on a date (and be fun and creative)
A. Rules for icebreakers
1. Everyone’s a winner!
The most important rule for an icebreaker is that you both have fun. It’s important to avoid questions that are too revealing or too confrontational. This is the kind of activity where you win just by participating, so don’t have high expectations for this exercise.
It’s just a short time at the beginning of a date where are you try to relax get as you get to know each other a little better and trust each other a little bit. The purpose of the Icebreaker is to make it the rest of the date more comfortable. Show your date that you are both confident and fun.
2. Don’t worry about getting the perfect questions or answers.
Sometimes people become overly focused on getting the questions right. Don’t end up in a situation where the person who’s asking the question becomes something of a prosecutor trying to draw out the right answers. Nor allow a situation where the person answering the questions could take on the role of a defendant.
While it is natural that people will try to come up with an answer that will either make themselves look good or please the person is asking the question, a good Icebreaker session will have both people relaxed and having fun. Being necessarily completely honest and transparent is not as essential as having fun.
3. Listen first, then share.
In almost all the conversations, you’ll be more successful if you ask a question and you listen for their answer before you give your own answer. Although it is a good idea by your manner and tone of voice to indicate if you are expecting an earnest or clever answer. Just make sure you don’t end up doing all the talking. Your goal should be to begin a time of mutual sharing.
If both people come prepared, you can alternate with each person asking an icebreaker question in turn. But if you are the more active conversation participant and the other person’s a little bit more passive, you can take the lead and ask all the questions as long as the other person seems to be happy to play along with you.
4. Avoid negative feelings of anger, fear, guilt, shame, and pain.
There are many icebreakers that will lead to very powerful discussions but they often lead to negative feelings what will put a chill on your date experience, even if both people agree on the answer. So, avoid questions about politics, past relationships, and traumatic experiences. Remember that most people go on a date to get away from their everyday concerns and don’t want to relay it with somebody there just starting to date.
5. Use new information to improve your date.
While we can’t always learn new things during an icebreaker, sometimes you can put the information you learn to good use. If someone tells you that they hate to eat beef, then make it a point order any beef on your date and definitely don’t invite them to a famous steakhouse in the future. In the same way, if they talked about liking roses, then on the way home you could make a quick stop a give her a single rose to celebrate your date. Feel free to improvise in fun and creative ways.
B. Sample icebreakers
1. What’s the worst/best meal you’ve ever eaten?
The goal of this question is to understand the variety of experiences that your date has had. If they announce that their favorite meal is a foreign dish they may have some interesting foreign experiences that you can ask about as a follow-up. If they have a favorite meal that is a very “common” answer, such as a McDonald’s Happy Meal, then you know that’s what they are most comfortable with the simple basics and tradition.
Whatever the answer, it reveals both a person’s life story and elements of their personality. Some people avoid transparency by offering clever answers rather than straight ones. But that too is revealing. There’s no right or wrong here so just use this information to understand the person you’re dealing with.
2. If you had a talk show on TV, who would be your first guest?
This question will reveal if people like to have controversial discussions or friendly engagements. Also, it shows how easily the can come up with the names of interesting/famous people. The actual persons that they choose are not important except for what it reveals about the answerer. You can ask follow-up questions such as who do you think would be the most popular with the audience?
3. What would you like to be famous for?
This question will reveal something of a person’s desires and aspirations. Obviously, very few people will ever become famous, but we would prefer to be famous for something good about ourselves. If someone wants to be famously bad, that is a significant admission.
Ones desire for fame could be in the realm of fantasy like a being famous basketball player, when we’re actually quite poor at basketball. Or we could reveal a trait that is very important to us but doesn’t get recognized by the world, such as becoming a famous conflict negotiator for people who are unhappy at work and thinking about shooting their coworkers.
4. Paper, scissors, rock: which one are you?
This is a cute question. Everybody is familiar with the game “paper, scissors, rock” but you should extend this question into why they identify more with paper or scissors or Rock.
A person who identifies with paper may emphasize the fact that paper covers things, paper makes things smoother, and paper can represent packaging that making things appear better than they really are.
Whereas scissors can refer to cutting through to the essentials, getting to the real important matters or even just the piercing penetrating power of using scissors to cut through the red tape and get things done.
And rock, of course, can represent the immovability, the unchangeability, and the stability of a person who wants to imagine themselves as being immovable and reliable. Note that some people cannot settle on a single answer and have multipart, conditional choices. That too reveals much about their inner state.
5. Who would be the worst superhero for you to date?
Superheroes are really hot right now. Almost everybody is watching the latest superhero movies. And so an excellent topic is to bring up superheroes. But discussing which one is the strongest or the most powerful is a little bit too nerdy. Instead, consider the which superheroes would be the best date and which ones would be pretty bad. You can learn a lot about the kind of date your partner wants just by listening.
C. Personality icebreakers (based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)
1. Which usually makes you more tired, being alone or being in a group?
If you get tired of being when you are alone, you are probably an extroverted person (E) and if you are more tired of being in a group then you are likely to be an introvert (I). If you discover that your date is extroverted then they will enjoy different activities than if your date is introverted, so learning these things can really help you plan for better dates.
Extroverts get more energy when they are with other people, but being alone tends to drain them. Likewise, introverts get energy by doing things alone or in small groups of friends and being in crowds drains their energy.
2. Do you tend to focus on the big picture or the details?
If your date tends to focus on the big picture, then they use their intuition (N) more than they use their senses (S) when gathering information and analyzing information. A person who’s big on intuition care much about ideas, concepts and things that you can’t directly perceive with your senses, such as relationships.
On the other hand, many people prefer to focus on the details. They prefer to see the individual trees rather than the forest. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator calls that sensing. If a person is focused on sensing, they care a lot about the information of what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Intuitives and Sensors can have very different dating expectations and experiences from each other, so its good to know which type your date is.
3. Which decision process is easier for you: using reasoning and logic or feelings and values?
If your date focuses on reasoning and logic to make important decisions, then they are classified as a thinker (T). These people are very rational and tend to be a bit more reserved emotionally. They also tend to be a bit impersonal at times.
If a person emphasizes feelings and values (F), then they are likely to be more emotionally responsive as well as being concerned that they make their decisions based on values rather than logic If you can identify how your date makes decisions, then you can understand better where they are coming from and package your ideas in a way they can appreciate, whether it’s more rational or more value-based.
4. Do you tend to change your mind a lot or stick with your decisions?
Some people, sometimes called “Perceivers” (P) don’t like to be pinned down to any one decision they like to reserve the right to change their minds and they often do go back and forth vacillating between positions. Perceivers often find it difficult to identify themselves on a personality test; there’s always just many caveats they wish to include. Ironically, the inability to label themselves shows that this label fits.
Other people, sometimes called “Judgers” (J) are more likely to make a decision quickly and they stick to it even after the information shows that it’s not the best decision. They tend to stick with it anyway. Judgers usually find it easier to take a personality test like this.
5. Which are you more likely to do: preserve your energy and be introspective or spend your energy and show off?
This is an offshoot of the Myers-Briggs type indicator which investigates people’s energy levels. Some people are much more introverted and they prefer to reserve their energy. Some people call them lazy, others call them thinkers. On the other hand, some people are much more high-energy; they prefer to play hard and work hard, using energy and everything they do. It can sometimes create conflicts if you and your date are opposites in terms of energy. A good date will match the energy level of the couple dating.
6. Do you prefer to take in as much information about a subject as possible or learn a little bit and then pass it around to others?
Regarding information, some people are really not comfortable unless they can master a subject. They are driven to know as much about a topic as they can, though they may not share much about what they have learned with others. Sometimes an icebreaker can reveal your date’s hidden wells of knowledge.
On the other hand, other people are willing to learn just a few things and then quickly reach out to others to share what they’ve learned. Their knowledge base is a bit more shallow than the first group but their willingness to share what they learned and help others is much stronger. This is why some people love to study the menu at a restaurant, while others love to tell people what the restaurant’s best dish is.
D. Following up the personality icebreakers
1. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator
If you’d like to learn more about the Myers-Briggs type indicator you can look at the following website such as Personality Page at http://www.personalitypage.com. Personality tests are hardly in the realm of science, they’re mostly self-chosen descriptions, so don’t worry if a description doesn’t really seem to match you.
Here are the basics four choices of every personality:
Extroverted (E) or Introverted (I)
Intuitive (N) or Sensing (S)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
That leads to 16 differing variations:
ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP,
INFJ, INFP, INTJ, INTP,
ESTP, ESTJ, ESFP, ESFJ,
ENFP, ENFJ, ENTP, ENTJ
2. Figuring out someone’s type on the sly
Even though this is not a professional analysis, you can get a better understanding of someone’s personality as they answer these questions. Not everyone is familiar with the Myers-Briggs type indicator, so it’s possible they could be innocently answering these questions for the first time and they don’t know that there is a deeper purpose to these questions. In that case, you might surreptitiously figure out what their personality is and use that as a basis to figure out if you want to continue dating that person or the manner in which you can achieve your best dates.
3. Making a game of it
The goal of an icebreaker is to have fun and learn something about each other. Thus, another approach is to use the answers that both of you give and look them up online to see what is your exact personality. If you find out that you are classified as an ESTJ, you may find that you strongly agree with that or you may find that it seems way off. A lot of people are surprised how accurately this description seems to match them and this way it can be sort of like a game you play together.
4. Don’t take it too seriously
This kind of Icebreaker is not designed to be a formal analysis tool so don’t trust too much anything you learn in an icebreaker about yourself or about your date. It’s not completely useless, it’s just more for fun and giving you a brief glimpse into the soul of your date, but don’t take it as a self-help bible for overcoming personal problems.
The nice thing about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is that there are no bad personalities. However there are times when you discover that there two different personality types that don’t match very well if you and your date have very different types of personalities that may imply that there’s going to be trouble in your relationship and yet it real-life couples like this exists and they get married and they have long and satisfying marriages.
5. How personality affects dating
While personality tests should not strongly affect dating, your personality definitely does affect dating. Everyone knows that people are drawn to their opposites, but opposites find it hard to stay together. Often the best dating matches are to those who are similar, but just different enough to be interesting. And icebreakers are a good way to begin discovering if you are in a good personality match.