Once you've been dating someone for a year, it might feel like you're past the get-to-know-each-other stage. But you may be surprised by how much there still is to learn. There are certain things you should know about your partner after a year, and if you don't, these topics provide an excellent jumping-off point for further conversation.
No matter what stage you're at, there are endless questions you can ask your partner, from what their family life was like growing up to what they wish was different in your own relationship. Making a conscious effort to make conversation, as you would with a friend, can help you reconnect when you start to feel distant. Even if you've already answered every question on the list below, try out the famous "36 questions to fall in love," which have been scientifically proven to make people feel closer. One pair of strangers even got married after answering them.
Although every situation is different, there are a few things that are reasonable to want to know by your one-year anniversary, according to practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, Ph.D., author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone? Here are some of them.
1Whether They're In Love With You
Most people say "I love you" between three and five months into a relationship, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. If someone hasn't said it after a year, it may be worth exploring why.
"There isn’t a set timetable to realize we’re in love with someone," Parker says. "But it’s important to reach that awareness at some point in the relationship’s development."
2What They Want In A Relationship
If one person wants to get married and have kids and one doesn't, that could mean you either aren't compatible long-term or need to compromise. By the time you've been together for a year, you should figure out whether you can fulfill each other's future goals, says Parker. Smaller goals with a little more room for compromise, like where you'd like to live and how much you'd like to work, are also worth discussing so you can figure out how your plans might fit together.
3Their Career History And Goals
Someone's career says a lot about them.
"When you understand a partner’s career and how they got there, you get a window into your partner’s interests and motivations, which helps you to understand them better," Parker says. "Similarly, an awareness of your partner’s career goals gives you a glimpse of their dreams and aspirations, which can not only help you know your partner better, but also provide you with another gauge of your compatibility."
4Their Favorite Books, TV Shows, Foods, Etc.
Make sure you're not always the one choosing what you watch on movie night. Immersing yourself in the things your partner likes can provide a glimpse into who they are.
"The entertainment our partner enjoys is another way of understanding their interests and life experiences," Parker says. "And on top of all that, it’s another gauge of how much you and your partner share with each other, and how much you ask questions of one another."
5Their Friends And Family
At a minimum, you should have met your partner's best friends and closest family members after a year.
"Awareness of the crucial people in your partner’s life is an aspect of connecting with your partner and understanding their life more fully," Parker says. "Moreover, assuming your partner is someone you think you may be able to see a future with, it’s a good idea to know who your partner’s family members are, even if you haven’t met them. They’ll be connected to your life."
6Their Lifestyle Habits
If you eventually plan to live together or spend a lot of time together, it'll help for your eating, exercise, and other lifestyle habits to be similar, says Parker. If they always want to stay in and watch TV while you like to be active, for example, you may resent them.
The qualities someone values — trustworthiness, compassion, hard work, etc. — may be the most important clue into your compatibility.
"Values reflect who we are as individuals, and they often guide our choices," Parker says. "An awareness of what principles and ideals are deeply moving to your partner give you a more fundamental sense of who your partner is as a person, and how aligned you both are."
It's possible for people with conflicting politics to agree to disagree, but often, our political and social beliefs reflect the deepest values that govern our behavior. So, it behooves us to talk to our partners about their politics and look out for deal-breakers. "[Political differences in a relationship can work] but only if you both respect each other's differences and are able to appreciate one another's perspectives," Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, tells Bustle.
Though our instinct is often to avoid tense discussions, it's better to get these ones out of the way sooner than later. That way, if it turns out you're not compatible, you both save yourselves time and heartache.