Although falling in love is easy, perhaps too easy, relationships take work. A lot of work. It's nice to think that you can sail through them with the same ease that you sailed through the falling in love process, but the honeymoon period eventually comes to an end and it's then time to get down to business in regards to making your relationship last. You just can't go willy-nilly into something and hope for the best. I mean, you can, no one is stopping you, but it's a good idea to have a plan of sorts. I know; totally unromantic in theory, isn't it?
"There is some very important groundwork you should lay before getting into a relationship with someone," Lori Salkin, SawYouatSinai.com senior matchmaker and dating coach, tells Bustle. In other words, there are things you want to cover in order to get that groundwork laid down securely.
So exactly what should you do before you get into a relationship with someone, that is if you want to make it last? From timing and expectations to evaluating your religious identity and leaving the past behind, these are six key things you should do before you get into a relationship with someone.
Even if you start off in a long-distance relationship, at some point, if you want to make it work, you'll want to live in the same place. As someone who actually tried to do an LDR marriage, I can attest to the fact that it's really difficult.
"If you are not the same page about where you want to live, in the short term and long-run, it's almost impossible, no matter how incredible the chemistry and emotional connection, to succeed as a couple," says Salkin. "Ultimately, you need to live in the same city and if you still feel so strongly about living in a particular city and will never make room in your heart for even the most perfect prince or princess charming if it means on letting go of your geographical dreams, then it's never going to work."
Before you put it all out there with someone else, you definitely want to take a look at yourself. It's important to have a complete awareness of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, before getting into a relationship.
"The one thing I would advise everyone to do at the start of a new relationship is take inventory of yourself," Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night, tells Bustle. "I would even go as far as to put that inventory into a journal."
3Evaluate Your Religious Identity
No matter if you're religious or not, this is another thing you want to hash out before getting into a relationship. For example, as an atheist, I couldn't date someone religious and I'm sure someone who staunchly believes in a God couldn't date someone like me either. Granted, you don't need to have the same religion to make a relationship work, but the respect for each other's religion, or lack there of, should be there.
"I have unfortunately heard of too many stories of divorces where 'we drifted apart religiously' or where a prospective partner never fit into the rest of the other's family, parents and grandparents," says Salkin.
Even if you feel like religion might not be an issue, eventually it could be, so consider covering it now — especially if you plan on having children together at some point.
4Forget The Past
If you've been burned in past relationships, it's important not to compare your current partner to your past partners. It's not fair to you or to them.
"The one imperative at the start of every new relationship is leave your past relationships behind," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "Too many times I have seen relationships with potential go bad as you compare a past partner to a new one."
5Timing And Expectations
Of course discussing expectations for yourself, your partner, and your relationship is important, but you also want to discuss your expectations in regards to where you want to be in your relationship at a certain point.
"Some people have specific timelines in dating," Salkin says. "Meet, date for a year, get engaged, and married a year later. Others want no pressure and have no interest in anything serious or talking about marriage, [with the mindset of] 'if it happens, it happens.' If one person has a specific timeline and the other none at all, you can find yourself having spent a year or more with a person and wanting a commitment from someone who has no intention of giving one anytime soon, and feeling like you just wasted an entire year of your life."
While it can seem a bit cynical to think of any relationship being a waste, if you're expecting something and that expectation isn't fulfilled, then, yeah, that's a waste in some ways. It may have been a beautiful and exciting waste, full of amazing sex, but if you want to be married and have kids by a certain point in your life, then you want to address this as soon as possible.
6Listen, But Also Hear Your Partner
Although we're all capable of listening, it's the ability to truly hear someone that's most important. And you want to truly hear your partner before you get into a relationship with them.
"Too many people get swept up in romance and excitement, and they forget to listen and learn about the person they’re dreaming about and fantasizing a life together," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle.
While there are no guarantees in life, if you start with a sturdy foundation and go from there, you just might have a better chance at a successful relationship. If you think of your relationship like a house, then it's clear to see why a foundation is so necessary. You can't just build a house on the ground, with nothing strong enough to old it up and make it last. I'm pretty sure my father has used this analogy a hundred times when he's doled out relationship advice to me, but it does make perfect sense.