Whenever you decide to make it Facebook official (or committed offline, if that’s your jam) with a new person, it’s likely because they’re pretty wonderful. With a generation based on instant gratification and an overflow of choices, making the choice to get into a new relationship may weigh heavier than it did, even a decade ago.
But if you’re new to being in a relationship and still getting to know this person you’re sleeping with and falling for, it’s important to have key conversations early into your courting. Though some topics may feel like they’re a big no-no, according to all those relationship books, experts actually agree that having an open, friendly dialogue with your partner will build the foundation for the rest of your relationship.
“Communication creates confidence in a relationship," Sarah Patt, matchmaker and dating expert says. "When you are transparent and honest with your feelings, it opens up the line of communication and allows everything to be put on the table for discussion. It is important to feel comfortable sharing personal information with your partner, whether it is life-changing information or just how your day went. When you have an open line of communication, it builds confidence in your relationship and allows you to grow closer as a couple. There’s less chance for misunderstandings if all of your cards are on the table and no games are being played.”
Check out the conversations that healthy relationships have below. But first, listen to the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast "I Want It That Way":
1. The One About Career Goals
Depending on how old you are when you start your new relationship, you will be on a wide range of spectrums of your career. Being supportive of one another is important to building a mutual respect, and so is discussing where you both intend to end up. Why? To make sure where you’re both shooting for is on the same playing field. “When it comes to your careers, you may have very different paths. That’s OK, but it is important to discuss how you plan to fit your career into your future. Do you plan to raise a family together? If so, who will take care of the kids?,” Patt says. “You need to decide whether your personal and professional goals line up, if they line up perfectly, that’s great. If they don’t, there are ways to work around it; just make sure you talk about it ahead of time so that you have a plan in action of how you’ll deal with these changes.”
2. The One About Sex
While analyzing your performance (and their performance) every single time you have sex could be a real mood-killer, psychotherapist Esther Boykin tells Bustle that being open about your needs and desires in the bedroom can help bring you closer and make your sex more intense. “Being comfortable discussing your fantasies, your preferences, as well as the things that aren't working for you, is crucial to keeping your intimate life on track,” she says. “Bodies change. Schedules change. Even turn-ons and desires will change with time. Be sure you have the skills to talk about those things so you don't have to worry about getting through the ups and downs of your sexual relationship with each other.”
3. The One About Babies (And All That Stuff)
If you've only been dating for a month, you probably don't want to talk about when you both plan on having kids, but if you feel like the relationship could make the distance, it's time to talk about what you both want out of life. "Having a picture perfect future living in a house with a white picket fence, happily married with two children might be how you see your future, but it is important to remember that in a relationship, your and your partner’s futures are now intertwined," Patt says. "Having a conversation to know where you both see your relationship going is important to maintaining a good relationship."
4. The One About How You’re Doing
The beginning stages of a relationship can be a whirlwind of romance, intrigue, adventure and nonstop sex and texting. But as your relationship progresses and you become closer and thus, more intertwined with each other’s everyday life, you may forget some of the intensity that once attracted you to one another. Psychologist Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell tells Bustle that having a ‘check-in’ conversation will help you reconnect and make strong moves forward, together. “Couples greatly benefit from carving out time for intentional conversations dedicated to assessing the relationship and tweaking anything that's bothering either party,” she says. “Even if everything seems to be going along perfectly, it's wise to have these conversations to prevent minor nuisances from gaining momentum and becoming bigger problems.”
5. The One About Money
As a relationship gets more serious and you consider taking big steps having a conversation about both of your financial pictures may feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. “Money is an important topic. It lays the foundation for how you will support yourselves together. It might be a difficult thing to talk about but getting through conversations, even the tough ones, make your relationship that much stronger,” Patt says. During this talk, you want to figure out any debt, savings and ultimate financial goals you both have. Additionally, it might be an eye-opening conversation that shows you how your partner thinks about cash.
Martinez suggests addressing these questions: Are you a spender or a saver? What’s your view on money? What is the balance between spending and saving that we both agree on? How will we handle our bank account and manage bills? What is our savings goal?
6. The One That’s Boring (But Important)
So you had a stressful day at work. Or you’re exhausted from a week’s worth of events and deadlines. You may not always have the energy (or OK, the interest even!) to check in on your partner’s day, but Boykin says the conversation that begins with ‘How was your day?’ is one of the most important ones. “It's easy to gloss over the details of your daily routine or stop asking about your partner's day. Much of what happens is mundane and similar from day to day yet it is the daily details of life that keep us connected to each other,” she says. “Part of being in a relationship is feeling known and making an effort to know about the initiate, and often simple, details of one another. Don't take for granted that you know how each other's commute was or what happened at work, ask the questions and share the details. It's through those daily details that you keep in touch with each other in a truly meaningful way.”