Falling in love is fun. Going through the early stages of communication and commitment can make you feel giddy and unstoppable. That is, until reality starts to settle in. To get off to a good start with someone, it's important to make sure you're on the same page. Wondering what questions to ask your partner, though? Luckily, couples counselors and relationship experts know where to begin.
Even after those
36 questions to fall in love went viral, relationships have continued to grow, and change, and sometimes burn out. All of your burning questions about relationships in general cannot be answered, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask your partner about certain things.
your and your partner's expectations are when it comes to your relationship status, sex, intimacy, and future is the difference between making it and breaking it in a relationship," Diana and Todd Mitchem, relationship coaches at EnariLove.com, tell Bustle. "When you are in a relationship, you should never assume that your partner wants exactly the same things that you do. This is a 'mind-reader' mentality, and it will only bring anxiety and stress when you find out that they may want something completely different. Staying on the same page and checking in once in a while will make you certain about expectations, desires, and dreams in your relationship."
For casual relationships, to long-term partnerships, and everything in between, it's vital to check in every once and a while. And when you do, there are certain essential questions to ask that will make things all the more clear.
Here are 14 questions to ask each other to make sure you're on the same page, according to experts.
"What Does Our Ideal Sexual Agreement Look Like To You?"
This is one of the first things you should talk about with a partner, and check in about throughout the relationship. "Many couples in long-term relationships never talk about
their sexual agreement until they hit troubled waters," Kristin Marie Bennion, licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist, tells Bustle. "It can be so helpful to talk about how often each partner would like to have sexual contact, what their understanding of fidelity is, and other ways of staying intimately connected when having a sexual experience just isn't in the cards.” So before you start to feel this issue coming up, bring it up. You won't regret it.
"I'm Curious To See How You Feel Things Are Going"
This kind of open-ended question is a gold mine
when it comes to communicating better in your relationship. "Whatever you do you do not want to ask a close-ended question," Carla Romo, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "It is important to leave it open-ended so you can get to know your partner's thoughts."
Asking your partner to describe what they feel is a really practical tactic, too. "These statements are important because you’re pointing out objectively the amount of time you’ve been dating and, without applying pressure,”
Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. Just don't let your partner respond with "good," and move on.
"What Does A Balanced Relationship Look Like To You?"
Some couples end up fighting based on how each partner divvies up their social life. This can be prevented if you're open and honest, from the get go, about how to balance your relationship with the rest of your life (whether it's work, school, friendships, or family, that are also important to you).
"List some aspect [each, like] 'we share chores equally,' '
have one date night a week,' 'start to work out together,' and [more]. This will give you a blueprint of what each one of you wants from a relationship," the Mitchems say. Once you have each shared your priorities, you can see if you are aligned.
"What Could We Work On To Improve Our Relationship?"
This question may seem scary to ask, because it's opening the door to criticism. But how else will you gauge your relationship's future, if you're not really examining it?
"This question will shed more light on something in your relationship that may no longer be working and needs to be changed or a new skill that needs to be learned," the Mitchems say. If they tell you, for example,
that your communication skills are lacking, then you've already opened the door to solving it. If they bring up something totally out of left field, then it might be a sign that you two aren't on the same page.
"What Are Your Goals In The Relationship?"
Asking about your partners' relationship goals will get to the meat of whether they're going to want to commit to you down the line, while leaving the question open ended.
"This is a question that will have your partner stumped if they don’t see you as a serious partner and they will have great ideas to share if they do see you as a long-term partner or even 'The One.' So go ahead and see if they have given a lot of thought about your relationship," the Mitchems say. Plus, it puts your partner way less on-the-spot then asking, for example, "do you see us getting married one day?"
"What Is Your Idea Of A Healthy Relationship?"
You and your partner may have had completely different dating backgrounds before this relationship. It's important to honor that, but also check in on what they feel makes a relationship work.
"Everyone has different experiences of being in relationships," Romo says. "But it is important to discuss what a healthy relationship means to you and to your partner. This can help set boundaries for the beginning of a relationship and it can give you information of how your partner interacts in a relationship." Even later in the relationship, as life throws new things at you (a shared apartment, kids), you can keep asking this question, to see how they're feeling about the future.
"What Would You Like To Do More Of, In Our Relationship?"
Whether you feel that everything is going right, or there's something you want to fix, asking this question can help you and your partner figure it all out — together.
"When we are trying to figure out how to fix a certain part of our relationship, we tend to put our full focus on the fixing and completely ignore the right parts that are working," the Mitchems say. "So asking your partner what they think works and what they would like to see more of in the relationship puts the attention back on what’s working and making sure that you do more of that." Asking this question can be fun, too, especially if they say "more dates," or "more sex," and you've been thinking the same thing.
"What Do We Argue About The Most, And How Can We Find A Solution To That Problem?"
Trust in this one. It can be
really scary to argue, and talking about arguing can feel even more daunting. But asking this question can help give you a little peek into the future of your relationship, beyond just the future of your conflicts.
"This is a question that will make both of you realize that you do argue and that you do have an issue that needs immediate resolution," the Mitchems say. "Figuring out why a specific problem is a trigger point for either one of you or both and figuring out how to get rid of it, will save you time, stress, and anxiety in your relationship." And if your partner isn't receptive to this kind of conversation, they may not be what you need in the long-run.
"How Does It Make You Feel When We Argue?"
Once you've asked the previous question about
your arguments and how you resolve them, you'll have a bit more of a grasp on the logistics of things. This question is more about feelings, and it can be helpful to learn how your partner processes fights emotionally. This way, you can develop tactics together that can prevent things from getting too heated or upsetting for the both of you.
"This is a question aimed at your partner to see if they love to fight and fight to win or if they are arguing because you are arguing," the Mitchems explain. So if your partner feels like you (sad, anxious) when you fight, that's probably a good sign.
"How Can We Fix Specific Issues So We Don't Argue?"
After you've begun to conquer what you're already arguing about, you and your partner can start to talk about nipping future disagreements in the bud. While it may seem like you're dredging up problems unnecessarily, if you both handle things diplomatically, this can be extremely productive for your relationship.
"Talk about your triggers and what makes you mad," the Mitchems say. "This is a great time to use clear and honest communication to talk to your partner about what issues you both have that need to be resolved." Even if you think you can handle a relationship issue on your own, bring it out in the open. If your partner is receptive, you're probably on the same page about where things are going.
"When Do You Want To Take The Next Step In Our Relationship, And What Is The Next Step?"
This question is a big one. Again, though, it's open-ended, so it'll be a lot healthier to ask than "do you see us moving in together," or something like that. If you're nervous, just remember that this question will come up eventually, and it's important to discuss if you see a future together.
"This question will give you an idea of how seriously they view the relationship. Also, [you can see] if they are ready to take the relationship to the next level and get more serious," the Mitchems say. And if your partner hasn't thought this through, it'll be out in the open, and you can address that together as needed.
"What Are Your Personal Thoughts On Kids?"
If you've gotten to this question, the two of you are probably already on solid ground. But even if you're just getting started thinking about a future together, figuring out whether you're
on the same page about having kids is really important.
"If you see a future with your partner it is important to discuss the possibility of kids," Romo says. "You never want to expect or assume your partner wants kids. But it is important to discuss because that could be a deal breaker for staying together or not. Or if you both want kids, you can talk about how to plan for that." Unfortunately, if your partner is on a completely different wavelength, it'll be really clear after they give you an answer.
"What Are Your Financial Goals?"
Turns out, finances are a huge stress factor in relationships. One third of millennial couples have even
broken up over financial differences. So it's important to discuss this issue openly and honestly.
"Finances are the number reason for
stress and divorce in a marriage," Romo explains. "Even if it feels uncomfortable it is important to discuss finances. It is one thing to say I want to buy a house one day, and it is another to actually plan out how you would accomplish that goal. Discussing this can help relieve any current or future financial stress." So even if you don't think the two of you are ready to talk this seriously about cash, it's a good way to gauge whether you're headed in the right direction.
"Where Do You See Us In One Year, Or Five?"
Of course, this question is for couples who are already committed. But commitment can mean a lot of things, and this question can help guide you to how your partner feels about the idea.
"This is a fundamental question that allows you and your partner to explore the direction of your relationship, if you are both aligned on the future, and if they are serious and see you in their future five years out," the Mitchems say. If it seems like too daunting a question, you can also ask your partner, "where do you see yourself in five years?" If you're part of their imagination, that's obviously great, but you can also gauge what their ideas are about settling down, and building a family, as well.
Open-ended questions can be a great way to get to know your partner better, and keep track of whether you two are on the same page without guessing. Very few questions will end in obvious dealbreakers, but almost all of them will end in more clarity than you started with. And that's romantic.
This post was originally published on June 20, 2018. It was updated on July 9, 2019.