If it seems like your relationship is something that could last long-term, then it's high time you start asking your partner a few questions, to ensure you're both on the same page. This might include questions about their hopes and goals for the future, how they handle money, whether or not they want kids, and so on — all in the name of making sure you're a compatible couple.
"If you’re going to be with someone for the long-term or are moving in that direction, it’s best to make sure you share, at a minimum, the same values and goals," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "The conversations might be difficult, but they are necessary to make sure you don’t commit long-term to someone who isn’t right for you."
Of course, if you discover you don't agree on something, there are ways to compromise and work through it as a couple. But if you find there are a few key differences that look like they might cause problems down the road — including thoughts about marriage, parenting, etc., — take the time to pause and think about whether or not this relationship is right for you. Here are a few questions to consider asking — depending on what's important to you — if you'd like to grow old with your partner, according to experts.
"What Do You Need To Feel Loved And Appreciated?"
Everyone has different needs when it comes to what makes them feel loved and appreciated in a relationship. And the sooner you can know what they are, the better.
"Knowing this information early on in a relationship is crucial to the success of it," therapist Caren Chopak Olaine, LCSW, tells Bustle. "If you’re someone who needs lots of physical touch (cuddles, hand holding, spooning) but your partner is more of a 'small gestures' type, then you might each misinterpret the others well intentioned actions as 'not caring' or being 'distant.'"
But knowing this information early on can help prevent a rift, since you'll both know what the other needs.
"What Should We Do When We Argue?"
In order to keep your relationship healthy now and into the future, you may want to come up with a way to handle arguments.
"A lot of times, this information is gained through experience, after a conflict has already occurred and perhaps, some damage has been done," Olaine says. "But talking about conflict resolution before there’s an issue can lead to more productive and less painful interactions."
"Do You Believe In Shared Bank Accounts?"
Any question along these lines will get you on the topic of money, how much your partner plans to save, how you want to divvy up expenses — all things you'll need to know if you want to stick together.
"[Many people know] that money is one of the biggest sources of conflict in relationships," Olaine says. "Understanding each other’s philosophy about money and its role in your relationship is essential. This is one issue that, if you and your partner are too far apart about, might be insurmountable."
"Do You See Kids In Our Future?"
If having kids is important to you — or if it's something you already know you'll never do — you'll definitely want to see how your partner feels before you get too serious.
"If you have a long-term partner, it's important to know how they see their future," Dr. Helen Odessky, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You, tells Bustle. "Having a child is a binary choice, so you should know how they feel about it and know if it aligns with your future goals."
"How Do You Feel About Chores?"
If you can imagine yourself living with this person long-term, and are worried they may be too neat or too messy for you, this may be a question worth asking.
"This information is important to have, as once a couple is living together, finding out that they are incompatible in this area becomes much more difficult to resolve," Olaine says.
"What Are Your Goals For The Future?"
"If you want to be with someone long-term, it’s important to know [their] goals for the future and make sure they fit with your values," Bennett says.
You may have a five year plan (or at least a good idea of where you'd like your life to go), so it'll be key to check in early on, and to make sure your partner is on a similar page.
"For example, you’ll want to know your partner’s career goals, financial outlook, preferred living location, and anything else that will impact both of your lives," Bennett says.
"How Social Do You Think We'll Be?"
This is one question you'll probably know the answer to, simply because you spend a lot of time together. But it never hurts to discuss your social lives — especially if you're really different.
"Sometimes, opposites attract, so an introvert and an extrovert might balance each other out in social situations," Olaine says. "But other times, how and with whom each individual chooses to socialize are completely incompatible. This can lead to resentment, jealousy, and ultimately a complete disconnection between the two." But, this can be prevented if you talk about it.
"What's The Toughest Thing You've Ever Been Through?"
Another way to delve into your partner's past — while getting a good idea about your future — is by asking if they've ever been through a tough time.
"You want to learn about what has shaped your partner and this is a nice intimacy-building question," clinical psychologist Dr. Rebekah Montgomery, tells Bustle. "It's also helpful to know how they handle tough things. It's important for a long-term relationship to feel like you have a partner you can count on, particularly when tough things happen."
"Do You Think We Share The Same Values?"
As mentioned above, shared values are where it's at if you want to be together for the long run. So go ahead and ask a few questions to find out more.
"Your overall beliefs and convictions that guide how you make your choices and interact with the world in your everyday life are a significant part of who you are and if your partner is in a whole different ballpark, it will absolutely impact the quality of your relationship over time," therapist Virginia Williamson, LMFT, tells Bustle.
"Do You See Us Getting Married?"
You may want to address the topic of marriage early on —whether you want to, or don't — since there's really no way to compromise.
"This is obvious but many couples avoid the topic as not to 'jinx' the relationship," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. And yet, you should find the courage to ask.
"Bottom line is that if you want to get married, your partner needs to want to do it, too," Dr. Klapow says. If you can't agree, you'll be setting yourselves up for a disagreement later.
"What Are Your Dealbreakers?"
In order to get on the same page, you may also want to talk about dealbreakers — or the things that just won't fly in your relationship.
"Take some time to speak honestly about what you cannot accept in the context of an intimate relationship and hear your partner out about what they cannot accept," Williamson says. "It may be as large as cheating to as small as not leaving dishes in the sink."
"Do We Make Each Other Better?"
Last but not least, ask them for their opinion of the relationship thus far, and if they think it's a positive one. Does your partner think you two are a good match? Are you making each other happier?
"If the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with doesn’t bring out the best in you [...] then they’re probably not the person with whom you want to grow old," Olaine says.
But if they do — and you're on the same page for most things, or at least well on your way to compromising — then you may have found the person you're going to be with for a long, long time.