Whether you're in a new relationship or have been dating someone for a while, you maybe wondering where things are going. Of course, the more warning signs you get, the better, especially early on so no one wastes their time. For instance, maybe you've been dating someone for a year and think you two are headed toward marriage, but then you find out your partner feels differently and isn't in settling-down mode. Whatever the case may be, there are some interesting questions you should ask your partner that will help you try to predict your relationship's future, or at least give you important questions — and answers — to think about.
"New lovers frequently have the feeling they really understand each other, but after the rosy glow fades, the understanding might fade, too," Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist, and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "Focusing on what's romantic, sexy, or exciting glosses over the dynamics that will determine whether you can really live happily ever after. From the perspective of counseling many couples, as well as my 36-year very happy marriage, I have found there are certain questions and topics that are the real determinants of whether any given couple can make the transition from falling in love to truly becoming loving partners in the journey of life."
And before you get to the answers, your desire to simply approach certain questions can tell you a lot about the relationship. "As a couple, you can work together to make sure both of you get what you want and need," Dr. Tessina says. "But, if you have no confidence this person can work through differences with you, you'll be reluctant. That's why I tell new couples that if they think saying or doing something honest will screw up the relationship, then screw it up right away, so you can find out if the two of you can get through a rough patch. Couples will face many rough patches in a lifetime, so it's important to find out if you can work through them."
As Dr. Tessina says, asking your partner certain questions can help predict if your relationship will make it or not. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so take the below to heart. If nothing else, they will give you some things to think about.
1. "How Long Did Your Previous Relationships Last?"
When it comes to dating and your dating experience, someone's past relationships can give you a glimpse of their dating patterns. For instance, perhaps one of you is a serial monogamist and the other is not. Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle that a key question to ask your significant other is: "How long did your previous relationships last?" She says, "Sometimes this can tell you that this person has a pattern of breaking up at a certain point in the relationship. For example, you hear that your partner seems to only make it to the two-year mark. When you ask why, it's because their partners want to get married. This can reveal a lot of information."
2. "What Is Your Timeline For The Future?"
Of course, not everyone wants to get married or have kids. But if you do and think your partner may as well, this is one to consider asking them. While some people who want both have milestone goals in their heads as to when they want to get married and/or have kids, others are more go-with-the-flow without hard-and-fast deadlines. "Ask: 'What is your timeline for getting married and having kids?'" Safran says. "Asking this question might reveal that you and your partner are not on the same timeline and, if things aren't more flexible, you might not end up wanting to stay with them. If someone has a HARD deadline that doesn't seem to have room for negotiation, it says something about who they are and if they really want to make commitments in life. We can't all plan to punch out life in a time clock, so flexibility is always necessary to make sure that you aren't waiting for something that may not be realistic to begin with."
3. "How Do You Feel About Finances?"
Money is a factor in romantic relationships, and often a big one. "Next to sex, money is the biggest generator of problems, arguments, and resentment in long-term relationships, so it's good to ask your partner, 'How do you feel about finances?'" Dr. Tessina says. "Couples tend to assume that money should be pooled, but it usually isn't that easy. A disparity in income can mean struggling about who pays for what, or whose income determines your lifestyle. Different financial habits (one likes to save, the other spends more or doesn't keep track) can become a source of arguments. For many couples, separating your money makes things run smoother and you don't wind up struggling for control — you can split expenses evenly, or work out a percentage share if your incomes are different."
4. "What Are Your Political Views?"
Dating someone with different political views may be a challenge (or even a dealbreaker), and it's beneficial to learn this early on, then decide how to proceed.
"It's not an easy situation, but plenty of couples find satisfaction with their partners of different political views, and even have successful marriages," Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, tells Bustle. "It's important to agree on an approach for coping with this situation. In order to continue a loving and respectful relationship with your partner, you have to be open-minded to views that may be different from yours, in any situation. Listen to where your partner is coming from, and express interest in learning about their rationale; maintaining level-headedness throughout the conversation will allow each of you to equally express your thoughts and opinions on the topic. The worst that could happen would be to agree to disagree, as long as you both value the relationship over these views."
5. "How Do You Handle Anger And Other Emotions?"
Emotions are part of every relationship, and not just the love-centric ones. "We all get upset from time to time, but ask your significant other, 'How do you handle anger and other emotions,'" Dr. Tessina says. "If you are usually good at diffusing each other's anger, and being supportive through times of grief or pain, your emotional bond will deepen as time goes on. If your tendency is to react to each other and make the situation more volatile and destructive, you need to correct that problem before you have a further future together."
6. "How Important Is Sex To You?"
Dr. Tessina says that another question to ask is, "How important is sex to you?" She says, "If you can't communicate verbally, you also won't be able to communicate physically once the initial passion wears off. You need to learn how to communicate about sex, your wants and needs, your likes and dislikes; because your sex life will change as you stay together, and you need to be able to negotiate the changes with non-competitive communication."
7. "How Close Are You To Family And Friends?"
You can tell a lot about a person, and your partner, by the company they keep — their friends — and the way they treat them. But when it comes to romantic relationships, it may be important to you to factor in family. "'How close are you to family and friends?' is a question to ask your partner," Dr. Tessina says. "If one of you has a lot of family or friends, and the other does not, find out what those relationships mean. Where will you spend holidays? If there are family members who have problems, such as addiction or mental illness, how much will that impact your relationship?" Of course, if your partner isn't super close with your family and you are, it doesn't mean you're doomed. But it's important to figure out how the people in their lives affect them.
There you have it — seven questions that may reveal how long your relationship will last. Of course, you and your partner can talk to a therapist if you only have a few concerns regarding the questions above. In any case, the questions are a good way to reevaluate what you both want and need, and to make sure you're both on the same page, relationship-wise. After all, that's the goal.