You know the feeling: those magical few months when you finally meet someone you really vibe with and you see all signs pointing to a happy relationship. Though they can be an intense and scary time (hey, vulnerability is tough), it’s also when you’re starting to lay the foundation for what could possibly be a long-term or end-all-be-all relationship.
But in between those late nights spent having messy-hot sex and those fun nights spent out celebrating your new couple bubble, you should take time to strengthen your communication style. Why? It’s what will keep your relationship together, no matter what.
“Healthy communication in a relationship is important because it is the foundation of any partnership. Having the confidence to talk openly with your partner, regardless of whether the subject matter is positive or negative, is one of the true signs that you and your partner are practicing healthy communication,” dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt tells Bustle. “Listening, actually hearing what your partner is saying, and processing and responding without reacting overly emotionally is a sign that you are truly understanding what your partner has to say to you. Healthy communication also means being able to move forward after a conversation, together, and create a stronger foundation.”
To make sure your communication game is also at the top of it’s performance, psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez says you should first focus on being an active listener and approaching some make-it-or-break it relationship questions with that attitude. “This is where each partner has agreed to completely hear the other person out, and listen to their point of view before sharing theirs,” she says. “They may not agree, but they want to understand them. From here, they want to come to compromises where neither person feels like they are losing and both walk away having gained something, even if that is the understand of their partner.”
Ready? OK! Here’s how to tackle those tricky new relationship questions headfirst and with an open heart:
1. Are We Together?
The DTR talk — define the relationship — is either one that happens naturally, without much consideration or anxiety, or it’s something that you might feel the need to bring up. If you’re having sex and spending a lot of time together (ya know, leaving very little time for them to see someone else) — you might assume that you’re together, but you should double-check to save your feelings.
“Being on the same page in a relationship is something that will spare you hurt and potential heartbreak down the road. It can be an awkward conversation to have, especially since it typically happens towards the beginning of a relationship,” Patt says. “It needs to be an organic conversation where you let your partner know that you’re really enjoying spending time with them, and put yourself out there by asking: ‘How do you feel about us getting to know each other, and find out where this is going, without seeing other people’?”
2. What Are Your Goals About Money?
When you start bringing up the dollar signs, it’s a quick way to suck out the mystery and passion out of a budding relationship. While you likely don’t want to talk about your financial background and future right after a killer orgasm, if you see this relationship going the distance, you need to ensure you’re on the same page of your bank accounts.
“Sit and talk about what money was like for each of you growing up, and how that has shaped how you deal with money now. For example, you might not have either had money, but one partner needs to have a nest egg to feel safe, while the other spends money frivolously, because they have it for the first time,” Martinez says. Once you understand where your partner is coming from, what they hope for and what they’re values are, you can start to work together to make something stable for the both of you.
3. What Do You Think About Our Sex Life?
For most couples, there’s very little time to do anything because you spend so much time naked, wrapped up in your sweaty sheets together. It’s hot, it’s fun, it connects you, and it’s important to always keep it evolving. Opening up dialogue about intimacy — from your desires to your frustrations — will make your romps even sexier. Martinez suggests making it less serious and more playful. “If you are wanting to know what it is that is lacking, or what you could add to your sex life, make a game of it. Toss in a bowl ideas you like and take turns reading them and discuss them,” she suggests. “If you keep being open minded, alternate trying the different ideas throughout the weeks, and both people will be happy and satisfied sexually.”
4. How Was Your Family Life? What Do Envision For Your Family?
A relationship is also the combination of your families, friends, values, and goals. And how you’re raised varies greatly depending on the country, whether religion played a role, and the people who brought you to life. But if you’re with someone who you may see a future with, being candid about your past and how you envision your future family will allow you to see if you’re on the same page. “You may come from very different backgrounds and visions of the role your family will play in your relationship,” Martinez says. “It is important to hear each other’s thoughts, comfort levels, and come to an understanding of what each person feels is a healthy level of involvement with each others families, often for various reasons.”
Images: Fotolia; Giphy