No one doubts the importance of communication in a relationship. Experts talk about how important it is, and surveys show that we agree that it's a main priority in a relationship. But communication isn't necessarily easy. Talking about big issues can feel like yanking the most intimate details out of yourself and exposing them in some pretty unforgiving light. It brings out some pretty weird responses — it can make you clam up, be awkward or get defensive. It depends on the person, but discussing sensitive topics does't exactly bring out the best in most of us.
But it has to be done. And the good news is that it's definitely an area in which practice makes perfect. Or at least "practice makes it less awkward." If you learn to talk about various topics without aggression or an agenda, then they can start to feel like less like events and more like just check-ins. Some of my best sex has come after my partner and I spoke in a very matter-of-fact manner about our sex life. For me, it's easier to do this with sex. For you, sex may be a minefield, but maybe you can speak fluently about your feelings on other things. We all have things that we find uncomfortable, but you need to push on through. It's better for you and your relationship.
Here are some difficult questions to ask in your current relationship, and why you should be asking them.
1. "What Are We Doing?"
Sometimes you need to make sure that you're on the same page about what's happening. I think it's an important thing to cover early on. Some people want to be a bit more "go with the flow" about things, but this can often lead to being on different pages and someone getting hurt. I'm not saying that you need a big State of the Union conversation — just a "Hey, so this is casual, right?" or "So, we're going for this, aren't we?" can save a lot of pain in the long run. But it's awkward as hell.
2. "What Do You Want In The Long Term?"
Another tough conversation to have. If you're happily in a relationship and it's looking long-term, then you need to make sure that the two of you are aligning on certain things. I'm not saying that your life plans need to look identical, but it's good to check for dealbreakers before it's too involved. Kids? Travel? Where to live? These are things you need to know.
3. "Are You Satisfied Sexually?"
This is so important. Because not being sexually satisfied isn't really sustainable. Whether you have high sex drives or low, vanilla or kinky, it's important that everyone is getting what they need. You have to be open to hearing the answer, as it might be "no," and maybe even willing to volunteer ways in which you think your sex life could be improved to get the conversation started. Once you establish an open, relaxed attitude about discussing sex, you'll find your sex life improves massively.
4. "What Are Your Fantasies?"
This is a good question to ask if the "satisfied sexually" question doesn't go so well. If the conversation is stalling or if neither of you want to hurt the other's feelings about what's happening now, then you can talk about fantasies, because it doesn't feel like a critique of your current sex life. It can still be awkward, but it helps get things moving.
5. "Do You Have Fun With My Friends?"
Your S.O. and your friends don't need to be besties, and they shouldn't be. But it's important that you can all hang to together and have a good time. It's uncomfortable, but checking in on this means that you'll know if your S.O. feels like you hover too much when you're all hanging out, or doesn't like being left on his own to make small chat for hours at a party. You can figure out a balance.
6. "Do You Want To Meet My Family?"
If you've been dating a long time, it may be a question of spending more time with the family, but family and partner dynamics are always tough. Asking about meeting them can feel like an imposition or jumping the gun, but if you're in it for the long term, it has to happen sometime. Just be sensitive to the fact that your partner may need some time before they're ready.
7. "Are You Happy?"
It shouldn't be a loaded or aggressive question, but it is important to check in with your partner and see how they're doing. You don't want to get complacent, and getting an update on how they're feeling about your relationship and life in general will make sure that you're both satisfied.
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