The most important question to ask on a first date.

In the internet age, we’re conditioned to expect all information instantly, but what if we applied this to our love lives? On a first encounter, what if you could know what relationship chaos you’d be getting into in advance? According to Author of Essays in Love, Alain de Botton, the most effective first-date question is not “What are your interests?” or even “Do you like dogs?” but instead, “How are you crazy?”

Imagine that before you become— god forbid— emotionally invested in another human being, you could know exactly what about that person would eventually come to drive you insane. Would you do it?

Maybe you’ve been dating a few months, and you realise they twitch when they’re falling asleep. Soon they bring up that weird thing they’ve been meaning to try in the bedroom, and you realise you’re dating a sexual deviant. Or, more seriously, what if you knew you’d eventually be helping them deal with an underlying mental illness or comforting them during the loss of a loved one? Would you still sign up for all of that for the potential of love?

On the other hand, imagine having to disclose your own “crazy” to another. You can’t cook. You drink too much. You’re emotionally damaged by your ex, your parents, or that time you accidentally murdered your pet turtle. (Okay maybe that last one is just specific to me; his name was Billy and it was a tragic accident.) If I was required to reveal my long list of idiosyncrasies and condemnable flaws to any potential partner, I might (would definitely) never receive a text back.

On the upside, maybe if we saw each other’s grotesque realism in advance, we could go in prepared. If you anticipate the worst, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised, right? And maybe there are a few people out there whose crazies fit with our own.

If you knew what horrors to expect, privy to the most annoying, disturbing parts of your partner before the relationship begins, would you still jump in for the possibility of love? Or would you carry on, date to date, bed to bed, searching for someone who fits your idea of “sane”? I’m confident that if we choose to take the latter approach, we’re all going to die alone. So if we’re damned to be mad, we may as well do it with someone equally insane by our side.

editor