If you're not sure whether you're ready to define the relationship, make sure you think hard before you do. You need to be really careful to get any unanswered questions out of the way and learn all you need to know before you get there — because it will be a lot harder to deal with unexpected surprises once you've committed to something. Between how you feel about open relationships to how much alone time you need — not to mention your general life plans — there's a lot of ground to cover. Make sure that you ground yourself in reality before jumping in with that honeymoon feeling.
But along with asking these questions, you need to be prepared to share part of yourself too. You can't expect to receive without giving anything, especially when it comes to intimacy and learning about each other. "I always recommend that you give to get," dating, relationship and lifestyle expert Steven Ward tells Bustle. "Be vulnerable to see vulnerable. Be open to see open. If you want to get closer to someone tell them something that very few, if any, other people know."
So don't think of these as aggressive questions — think of them as a jumping off point for a conversation. It'll help both of you learn what you need to know about each other in order to decide if you're ready to take the next steps.
1What Do You Want Out Of A Partner?
Firstly, it's important to know what they expect. Is DTR just an extension of what you're already doing? Or do they expect different things from someone who is officially their partner? I have friends that thought it was all just one continuum, only to realize their partner though being in a relationship meant everything else fell to the side. And they were not prepared for it.
2How Do You Feel About Monogamy?
There's nothing wrong with having strong feelings about monogamy — whether it's for or against — but it's not something you want to be surprised by when it comes to how your partner feels.
3What Are Your Political Beliefs?
You'll know you're with the right person when you can talk openly about loaded and difficult issues— such as politics and money. "Never in my life have I been more OK to bring up a controversial topic, something that has been bothering me, or even instigate an argument," Caitlin K. Roberts, founder of To Be a Slut and cofounder of I'd Tap That tells Bustle. "My feelings are never undermined, and everything I say is heard and given a thoughtful response." That's how you know you're headed in the right direction.
4How Much Alone Time Do You Need?
Before you DTR, there's a good chance you've been in the honeymoon period — which isn't realistic long-term. Having objective talks about how much alone time you want or what you need in a relationship beforehand will mean that you won't blame any eventual changes on yourself. You have a better idea of what to expect and take the changes as they come.
5How Can I Support You?
At some point, you guys are going to stress each other out. And you're both going to be stressed in your separate lives. It just happens — but when things are still new and sunny, talk about how you can deal with those stressful times. It's a tool that will help you so much down the line.
6What Are Your Long-Term Goals?
Learning where people want to go and what they want out of life is a great way to see if you're really compatible. Not just 'having amazing sex and a fun time' compatible, but whether you're on the same page about what you want in the future. You want to see if there's a strong foundation there, before you just jump in.
7What Would You Like To Know About Me?
Like I said, you need to make yourself vulnerable as well. Open yourself up to the same questioning you're giving them— any concerns, thoughts, fears. It'll show you're willing to make sure this will really work.
Sure, you've been living in a loved-up glow in the kinda, sorta seeing each other stage, but that doesn't mean it's right to take the next step. Ask the tricky questions, have the tough conversations, and then you'll know for sure.