Once upon a time, back in our parents and grandparents era, people dated, fell in love (sometimes), got married, and had kids. But that's no longer the path everyone takes. Marriage continues to be on the decline and relationships come in many shapes and sizes today. While this is beautiful in so many ways, it does make dating way more complicated. There's a lot more to consider now when you want to make sure you and someone you're
getting into a relationship with are on the same page.
Behavioral Scientist, Clarissa Silva tells Bustle it may be best to approach dating by testing out what she calls " Your Happiness Hypothesis", aka "your personal algorithm that can help minimize some of our own expectations," she says. "Create an equation or a list that includes the elements that you absolutely require and the elements that you think you want. You might find that dating based on a system testing out your happiness hypothesis, will help you figure out what is a better fit for yourself. Reversing the process of what random pool gets sent to you or selects you also empowers you." Definitely not the thought process grandma and grandpa had.
Since relationship goals and wants can vary, if you want to make sure you're not wasting each other's time, here are some key questions you want to ask in the early stages of a relationship.
"How Do You Feel About Monogamy?"
"The question of monogamy is no longer a given," author and relationship expert
Susan Winter tells Bustle. "Redundant as this may seem, you should ask your partner how they feel about monogamy, commitment, and exclusivity. After all — your building a relationship with them. You want to make sure you're on the same page while constructing your partnership foundation."
More and more people are realizing that
open relationships and polyamory are a better fit for them than monogamy. But if you're polyamorous and you're dating someone who's monogamous, and neither one of you will budge on the matter, it'll be an issue. That's why this question is a must.
"What's Your Finance Philosophy?"
Although asking about one's finance's on a first date would be a little much, if you want to evolve with someone, then this is something you want to discuss. As someone who loves to blow money left and right, I can tell you being in a relationship with someone frugal is extremely difficult. It either ends up in a fight, or me paying just so they'll shut up. Your
relationship with money matters in relationships.
"It’s important to know how your partner feels about financial self-sufficiency and how they want to structure their finances," says Silva. "Do you want to have joint or separate accounts? Do you want to target debt individually or jointly?"
"Do You See Marriage As An End Goal? Or Some Other Form Of Partnership Agreement?"
"Far too often people take these conversations lightly, assuming the standard format of the idealized partnership goal is marriage," says Winter. "...Many modern couples are choosing a partnership agreement in the form of written contract. 'Living together agreements' have been popular in the Nordic countries for quite some time now, and are gaining interest throughout the world. Agreements of this nature detail each partner's responsibility for rent or mortgage, food, utilities, and even emotional/sexual expectations. Though not sexy, everyone is clear."
Many of us, when we get into a relationship, hope it will evolve. Even if you marriage isn't for you, moving in together and
sharing a life together, probably is — at least eventually. You want to make sure you both have the same direction in mind.
"What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like With Your Ideal Partner Five Years From Now?"
Again, you want to be able to look forward with your partner, if you want to move forward. If you and your partner have a different idea for idea of what you want in a significant other
five years down the road, it's better to broach the subject now instead of waiting.
"Sometimes we focus on the immediate goals or just that we found someone," says Silva. "Go beyond the immediate time frame and add into the mix what it will be like to have that person along with you during major life events and how that person will handle goal-seeking together."
"How Do You Feel About Having Children?"
"In age gap relationships, this question can be a dealbreaker," says Winter. "But it's better to get the major points out of the way before you continue moving forward. Children are a very big issue. You and your partner need to be seeing eye-to-eye on the decision."
You don't want to date someone hoping they'll change their mind about the kid thing, knowing you want them and won't change your mind or vice versa. So ask the questions early and, as Winter tells Bustle, if your partner does want kids, ask about how many kids and, if faith is a component, how they want those kiddos to be raised.
"How Do You Feel About A Prenup? Postnup?
If your relationship is evolving toward commitment and marriage, this is absolutely a question you want to ask. It's fun to think that you'll be together forever, so money will never be an issue on the other side of marriage,
but you never know. You never really realize just how important money is until your marriage is over and you're going to petty and childish lengths to screw your partner out of money and assets — trust me; I know this first hand.
"It's naïve to enter a committed relationship thinking of 'money doesn't count'," says Winter. "Of course it counts. It's also the root cause for many arguments within the relationship. Being able to retain what you've worked hard to achieve is your right. Though your partner may claim it's 'not romantic' and is in anticipation of a breakup, you're at the one point in your partnership where you can enact such specificity."
"What Do You Really Want?"
"Your previous relationships were all tests of what you thought you wanted or needed or a combination of both," says Silva. "Extract the answers from those past experiences to figure out what you really want and don’t want." Even if you're afraid the answer won't align with your answer, it's important to ask not just for yourself, but for your partner and the future of your relationship.
When you're in the midst of a new relationship, being practical can feel terribly unromantic. But it's important to be practical. Successful
relationships can't survive on love alone.