Committing to a partner long-term doesn't have to involve a down payment or a ring; it can sometimes be a subtle decision or realization. What you do need, to commit to someone, however
, is to really know them and trust them. And there are certain important conversations to have in a relationship, even if they're a bit scary.
A lot of questions that can seem just plain awkward to you may actually be crucial for your relationship. And keeping conversations off the table just because they're uncomfortable may not always be a good idea. "If you're in a relationship for the long haul, it's important to know a lot about what you're getting into, and this includes [...] awkward things,"
David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. So you may want to prioritize certain conversations in the beginning, before you take any major steps towards commitment.
Having these conversations can help you grow as a person as well. "Sometimes uncomfortable questions are difficult because we aren't even willing to be that vulnerable with ourselves about our own feelings or desires," licensed clinical psychologist
Dr. Carly Claney, tells Bustle. "Facilitating conversation about difficult, awkward, or uncomfortable topics allows you to practice discussing things in a vulnerable way. This can lead to being authentic with yourself within the relationship and facilitates a satisfying relationship." You may gain more insight into the long-term potential of your relationship, and also gain valuable communication tools that can help you two have a healthier relationship if you do commit.
Here are nine seemingly awkward questions you may want to consider asking before committing to your partner long-term.
"What Are You Willing To Sacrifice For This Relationship?"
Partnerships are all about balance. And even though it may be intimidating, it's important to establish with your partner what the two of you are willing to give up for each other in the long-run — versus what they won't compromise on — if you're considering commitment.
"It can feel romantic to promise to follow your partner across the world when it comes to dreams, goals, or jobs," Dr. Claney says. "However, in reality, [you should ask them] 'what are your limits for sacrificing for the relationship?' [or] 'What are some areas you can stretch and what are some that you can't?'" This conversation can help you establish whether you two have similar ideas about what a
lifelong partnership entails. If your partner can't see themselves ever compromising for you, it may not be the right time to commit.
"Do You Have Any Non-Negotiable Kinks?"
While you can spend your whole lives discovering each other's sexual preferences and interests, there are certain important questions to ask sooner rather than later.
"It is uncommon for every couple to be completely in sync when it comes to sexual desires so it's important to consider how to manage sexual desires within a relationship while maintaining consent," Dr. Claney says
. Dr. Claney suggests asking about kinks in particular; would your partner be willing to give their kink up long-term if you don't like it, but want to stay monogamous? It may be awkward to ask, but it's important to communicate about what both of you are comfortable doing and not doing sexually if you want to build a more serious relationship.
"What Are Your Financial Priorities And Goals?"
If you and your partner have different expectations about finances, managing your relationship long-term may be difficult — especially if
merging finances is on the table.
"It can feel difficult to discuss debt and consider combining finances in a long-term relationship, but it can get even more complicated when you realize that you have different values when it comes to money," Dr. Claney says. Talking about credit and other financial technicalities can be awkward, but an initial conversation is important to make it less and less uncomfortable down the line.
"Are There Any Mental Health Problems In Your Family?"
Many couples discuss physical health problems and potential genetic issues with their partners as things become more and more serious, whether or not they're planning for biological children or simply preparing for potential health issues down the line. Mental health is important to discuss too, even if you feel nervous.
"[...] It's important to consider the impact of these potential issues in your relationship over the lifetime and also when considering having children," Dr. Claney says. While having mental health issues is
manageable in a relationship, and many couples thrive with diagnoses, at the very least, having this conversation can help you get to know your partner on a deeper level, by learning more of their family history. But be patient with them if they are not comfortable discussing it right away.
"How Do You Feel Knowing I Have Chronic Health Issues?"
The burden of living with a chronic illness can be heavy. You may not want to bring it into your relationship. But if you're considering a long-term relationship with someone, it's important to gauge how they may react to the health issues you face — even if it's awkward at first.
"Most of us have some health challenges and some of us have a more severe challenge," Davey Tully says. "In addition, some health challenges are more serious than others. So, disclosing you have a chronic [illness] and having your partner react negatively, even after time to process the information, is a strong red flag that a long-term relationship with this person isn't viable." Having a partner respond badly may hurt, but what you learn can protect you from further hurt down the line.
"Are You OK With Alone Time?"
Introverts and extroverts can make great couples. But if you need a certain amount of alone time to recharge, it's important that you bring this up directly with your partner.
"Many people can be very understanding, but others can be turned off by the idea that we would need to spend time away from them, or be disturbed that a weekend away from them can be healthy," Davey Tully says. It may be awkward to ask for some space, but if you're unable to have this conversation early on in the relationship, it doesn't bode well for your long-term potential.
"How Often Do You Change Your Sheets?"
Asking your partner about their cleanliness and hygiene is not prying. These conversations are important, and can be very serious factors in determining whether your relationship will last. So asking them "how often do you change your sheets?" or "how often do you clean your bathroom?" can be a good place to start.
"This can be an awkward question to ask and the answer might be gross, depending on what it is,"
Liz Colizza, MA, LPC, head of research for Lasting, tells Bustle. "Cleanliness tops the charts for perpetual fights among couples — these are fights that are unresolvable. In fact, Lasting [...] surveyed users and found that cleanliness was the top fight in 2018." You may not love bringing this up, but the ensuing conversation will likely be quite informative.
Talking about debt can be awkward. But bringing up debt, and what to do about it, is crucial in a long-term relationship.
"Far too many people find out after getting married that their partner has significant debt and did not know how to bring it up," Colizza says. "For some people,
financial debt is connected to feelings of shame and inadequacy." It's important that you let your partner know that you support them, while still getting the details you need to make informed decisions as a couple.
While you may learn things you don't want to having these conversations with your partner, you may also learn more about how loving and supportive they are. Davey Tulley suggests that having conversations you consider "awkward" or "embarrassing" with your partner may actually bring you some pretty surprising results. If your partner responds very positively, you may even question what you considered "embarrassing" or "awkward" in the first place. There are always risks,
but the reward of open communication and a deeper understanding between you and your partner is definitely something to look forward to.