12 Topics That Will Help You Get To Know A New Friend Or Potential Partner

Making meaningful conversation is important for connecting with both friends and romantic partners. In fact, it's just as important to vet your friends the same way you would a potential partner to tell if you're compatible. However, it can be easier said than done, especially if you aren't overly confident in your conversational abilities (interestingly, this sign has the easiest time communicating). However, to express your curiosity about someone's life while simultaneously deepening your relationships, you're probably going to have to ask some questions. "In order to do this, try to ask open-ended questions. These could be past-, present-, or future-oriented," licensed marriage and family therapist Kimberly Panganiban told PsychCentral. "The goal is to strike a conversation in which you both learn new things about one another and, therefore, feel more connected. Questions that generate discussion about emotions can bring the deepest connection."


Relationship expert Terri Orbuch believes that open-ended questions are the key to turning awkward, stiff back-and-forth into a genuine conversation. She told Women's Health, "Topics that get at the other person's inner world — their thoughts, goals, and dreams — will strengthen and increase bonding between two people."

Sometimes conversation can feel stilted or bland no matter how long you've known someone. If you would like to become a better conversationalist or deepen your existing relationships – you might question whether your emotional connection is strong enough – consider broaching the 12 topics below the next time you hang out.

What does a normal day in your life look like?

If you want someone to open up, start by asking what a normal day looks like for them. This may seem like a boring question at face value, but it can actually teach you a lot about a person. "Learning about someone's daily routine tells you a lot about their lifestyle," relationship coach Julie Teffeteller shared with Insider. Do they like to work out first thing in the morning? Where do they normally eat lunch? How do they organize their leisure time alongside work and family obligations? Knowing how someone spends their day can be an enlightening look into who they are as a person and can help highlight what they value most.


This also opens the door for follow-up questions that can help minimize small talk and create a meaningful dialogue. "If afterwards I know nothing more about you than I knew before," psychologist Matthias Mehl told Psyche, "then that will be small talk." On the other hand, asking follow-up questions makes several things clear. It shows you are actively listening to the information shared and that the person talking matters to you.

Ask them about their likes and personal preferences

Opening up isn't always easy for people, but most don't mind talking about things they enjoy. Learning about a new friend or partner's likes, dislikes, and personal preferences will help you get to know them better. "Asking someone about their preferences helps you to understand who they are as a person," therapist Rebecca Hendrix told Women's Health. Follow-up questions are also important here. "If you find out they like dogs, take it a bit deeper by asking them what they like most about their dog or their favorite breed."


This also provides important insight into whether you are compatible. It isn't necessary to like or dislike the same things to have a successful relationship. However, having some similarities can provide a foundation for successful, healthy relationships of both platonic and romantic natures. "Compatibility is crucial in long-term relationships, but not more important than love, intimacy, and desire," Jacqui Gabb, a professor of sociology and intimacy, shared with Paired Magazine. "Friendships are often based on compatibility and yet they can feel qualitatively different."

Learn their go-to coffee order

Asking about a new friend's go-to coffee order is a great question for multiple reasons. For starters, it's a thoughtful way to show you know them, especially if you enjoy surprising your friends or co-workers with a caffeinated pick-me-up now and again. Coffee is also a very social drink. New friends who don't know each other well can meet up at their favorite coffee joint for a low-stakes hang, not to mention easily connect over their coffee preferences.


Psychologically speaking, learning a person's coffee preferences may also share some (extremely) loose insight about their personality. A survey conducted by clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula found that people who drink black coffee are often moody traditionalists who prefer simplicity in their everyday life. Iced coffee drinkers were found to be spontaneous and imaginative, while people who opt for alternative milks or ultra-specific orders may have controlling, perfectionist tendencies. While these correlations aren't definitive in the slightest, they may offer a fun look at your new pal. At the very least, they'll tell you if they prefer their coffee sweet or bitter.

Inquire about their career

Asking about a new partner or friend's profession is valuable information and a great conversation starter. Most people enjoy talking about their career path and their chosen field. For a more in-depth look, you can follow up this question by asking about their career aspirations. For most people, career aspirations aren't the same as their career goals. They may have a goal to get a promotion or earn a new title, but they may aspire to work more closely with the community, for example, or conduct a specific type of research. Aspirations are generally longer-term hopes that stem from a person's passions and dreams. If a person can fulfill these aspirations, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their chosen career. As a result, you can learn a lot about a person's passions and values.


If you don't want to ask someone about their work, alternate versions of this question can open up a successful and informative dialogue. Frame the question to discuss professional achievements they are proud of, something they enjoy about their job, or a project they're working on to hopefully offer up a similar amount of information without directly asking about their job or title.

Ask about their favorite music

It's been said that music is the window to the soul. If that's true, asking your partner about their favorite song or most-listened-to genre can be illuminating and can spark an interesting conversation. Tone Deaf reported that music taste is so important to most people that a 2006 study of 60 college-aged strangers found the discussion of music to be more prevalent than topics such as books or sports. "Individuals consider their preferences for music more revealing of their personalities than their preferences for books, clothing, food, movies, and television shows," the study concluded.


Research also shows that a person's musical taste can be a powerful indicator of their personality, general temperament, and political leanings. The type of music a person prefers can also indicate whether someone is open to new experiences, their degree of introversion or extroversion, their level of responsibility, and how anxious or agreeable they tend to be. Many people associate certain songs with specific periods of their lives or emotional experiences that shaped them, which is valuable information that can help you uncover a piece of their story. If you are interested in learning about how someone sees themselves, asking about their favorite songs may prove enlightening.

Who is your hero and why?

Asking a new friend about their likes and dislikes can help you connect with them, but asking about their personal heroes can unlock their goals and values. Do they value courage and bravery or align more with people who express themselves with bold creativity? Depending on their answer to this question, you may also better understand their overall personality. For example, if they express that their personal hero is a family member, that may indicate they have a good relationship with their family and are family-oriented. Indicating a modern public figure as their hero may also tell you about their politics or their beliefs.


Of course, some heroes aren't made of flesh and blood. Explaining that a fictional character such as a Marvel superhero or novel heroine is their hero may initially feel as if your question isn't being taken seriously. However, this can demonstrate the types of traits they find worthy in a human being. It can also illuminate the ways that person overcomes adversity and the emotional connections they form with others. "As anyone who has watched an engaging film or read an engaging novel knows, we invest ourselves deeply in the experience of living with those characters," postdoctoral researcher Howard Sklar informed the Motion Picture Association. "We tend to respond to them as though they were real individuals."


How do you spend your free time?

If you really want to get to know someone, asking about how they spend their free time is a must. How a person spends their precious time away from work, school, or family obligations tells a lot about who they are in ways that describing their profession or their favorite beverage cannot. Some people believe that a person's hobbies and preferred activities have a direct link to their personalities and individual strengths. For example, a bookworm is often introverted people with a high capacity for critical thought, whereas a gamer is often more sociable with a strong eye for detail. Someone who writes may have a powerful imagination, while a person who prefers to play sports in their free time may exhibit an energetic and active lifestyle.


Although you don't have to enjoy spending your free time in the same ways to develop a strong friendship, spending time with people who enjoy the same hobbies you do helps us feel a sense of belonging. It validates your own interests and can even make you feel more positively about a new friend. Sharing your passions with someone else is also fun and confirms that you and this new person will enjoy your time together. At the very least, it guarantees you'll have something to talk about and activities to do together in the future.

Talk about your favorite place

Where is your favorite place on earth, and what makes it so special? Where do you go to find peace? What is your "happy place?" You may not think that asking questions like these tells you much about a person, but you'd be wrong. A person's favorite place shows you not only where they like to spend their vacations but also what places are meaningful to them. A place that holds special significance for someone is normally shrouded in fond memories from their childhood or a significant other. It could be a place where they feel safe to self-reflect or find peace. It may also be a place where important events took place, transforming a city or beach or park bench into something truly memorable.


Research confirms that this special connection people have with their favorite places is a large part of their personal identity. A U.K. study found that a person's favorite place holds strong emotional importance in their minds, even more so than meaningful objects such as wedding rings. The majority of participants felt that their favorite place said a lot about who they were, and many agreed that they would be different people without that special place in their lives. If you really want to learn more about a person, asking about their favorite place is a non-confrontational way to do so.

What do you do when you're stressed?

If you want to connect on a deeper level with a new partner, consider learning about how they cope with stress or anxiety. Everyone experiences stressful and overwhelming experiences at some point. There are also dozens of ways to handle it, some of which are healthier than others. Does you partner like to go for a run or do yoga? Do they like to meditate or journal the stress away? If your partner feels comfortable sharing, the transparency can help you recognize their management methods when they occur.


Understanding how a partner will likely handle stress in the future can also bring couples closer together especially in situations when one person's stress affects the other. "Couples are able to help one another cope with stressors when they are able to conceptualize the stressor or challenge as something they both have to face together," associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology Ashley Randall told Arizona State University's Knowledge Enterprise. "Couples that are able to do this (using 'we' language) have better outcomes. Unity is key."

Discuss their favorite movies

Watching movies is an activity most people enjoy and do regularly. The stories are entertaining and help elicit emotional reactions from the audience, while simultaneously acting as an informational tool for different cultures and ways of living. They are also a fun opportunity to escape from the stress of reality.


As a result, most people have a strong opinion about their favorite movie. But what movie genre a person gravitates toward can actually inform you about who they are as much as it can tell you what types of movies they enjoy watching. A 2005 study found that people who preferred comedies were open, creative, and adventurous. The same study discovered that people who preferred action flicks were generally considered to be hard working, emotionally stable people who like the predictable plot lines of a thriller. 

If your new beau invites you over for a date night, ask what they love about their chosen movie and why it speaks to them. Follow up with questions about their preferred movie genres, actors, and directors to keep the conversation flowing.


Ask about their wildest dreams

Broaching the topic of a partner's wildest dreams is a beautiful way to open a dialogue about something that really matters to them. This conversation will help you understand your partner's values, goals, and needs in life, while having the added benefit of getting to know them on a deeper level, particularly if you are in a new relationship. You'll learn when to celebrate your partner's wins and how to effectively communicate about their struggles as they arise. Talking about their dreams is also an opportunity to share your own.


In addition, understanding a person's life goals is important to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page, especially if you wish to be a supportive part of their lives. For example, if they dream of living in another country but you want to buy a house and start a family in the town where you grew up, you may eventually find yourself at an impasse in a dead-end relationship. Having these important conversations sooner rather than later can help avoid these obstacles and ensure everyone in the relationship gets what they need.

What would you do if money wasn't an issue?

Unfortunately, even if you and your partner's dreams turn out to be compatible, the realities of bills, jobs, and responsibilities can make it difficult to turn those dreams into something tangible. Instead of letting the conversation die off with that knowledge, take it one step further by asking what your friend or partner would do if finances weren't a factor in their decisions. Would they travel the world? Start a business? Buy a piece of land and build a self-sufficient homestead? 


This type of question is disarming because it allows the responder the opportunity to talk about things they are truly passionate about. Professional matchmaker Susan Trombetti told Insider, "You'll get them to open up about their passions, hopes, and dreams." There are no right or wrong answers because everything is purely hypothetical, which alleviates any pressure a person may feel to come up with the perfect answer.