One of the best parts about dating someone new is getting to discover who they truly are. While the first year of your relationship is meant to be fun and exciting, experts say it's also a very crucial time. It's important to know your
partner's answers to some key questions by your first anniversary, if you're looking for a relationship that lasts.
"The first year is the most important because it's the information gathering stage,"
Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, founder/chief relationship strategist, tells Bustle. "By gathering bits of information you’re determining if you can see yourself with this person long-term."
You can expect for things to naturally come up, like where they see the relationship headed. But you also want to pay close attention to see if
there are any red flags in their words or actions. While it's always fun to exchange stories from childhood, it's more important to get real with each other about the "harder" stuff.
"By the first year you should know pretty much everything you need to know about your partner like their likes, dislikes, family background, education, friends, money etc.," she says. "You should also have interacted with them in a few different situations to see how they handle stress, conflict and day-to-day situations."
If your relationship has made it past
the one-year mark, experts say you should likely know your partner's answers to these questions if your relationship is going to keep moving forward. 1 "What's Your Money Situation Like?"
Talking about money can be uncomfortable. But if you've already been dating for a year, you see a future with this person, and you
haven't discussed finances, Perry says it's probably time to do so.
"You don’t want to move forward and realize that the person you’re with can’t manage their money, has a ton of debt, or can't afford to be in a relationship, which will have you constantly picking up the check for dates or outings together," she says. After one year, you should have a pretty good idea of whether they're a spender or a saver, what type of debt they have, and how stable their income is.
2 "Do You Have Any Ongoing Health-Related Issues?"
"It's easy to hide health issues in the beginning of a relationship, but by the end of year one you should know everything about their health," Perry says. For instance, if your partner has a serious chronic health condition or a family history of health issues, it's important to know in case of an emergency. You should also know how healthy their lifestyle is by now and how compatible theirs is to yours.
3 Do You Have Any STIs?
Talking about a chronic health condition is one thing. Bringing up sexually transmitted diseases can an uncomfortable necessity. By one year, especially if you two have already been having sex, you should also know about your partner's sexual health, Perry says. While this may be difficult to discuss, being open with your partner, and refraining from judgment can help this discussion be easier. You may even want to discuss
getting tested together, to both be proactive about your sexual health. 4 "What's Your Love Language?"
One very important thing that's easy to forget when you're in a relationship is that your partner is not you. How you like to be shown love may be different from your partner. That's why
talking about your love languages and being clear on how your partner gives and receives love is important. "Couples often struggle to grow their relationship because one will speak love to their partner, but the other feels love the most from acts of service," relationship expert Steve Clark, tells Bustle. When this happens, one partner may feel frustrated because their efforts go under-appreciated, while the other feels neglected. But when couples are able to take steps on a regular basis to "speak to the heart and needs of the other," Clark says they can begin to develop a stronger relationship. 5 "How Do You Deal With Conflict?"
"Every relationship has conflict and conflict can be an opportunity for learning about each other and growing in closeness and intimacy,"
Dr. Margaret Paul, bestselling author and relationship expert, tells Bustle. But this only works if your partner is open to learning about themselves and you during conflicts. For instance, if your partner starts blaming you or completely withdraws when they get angry, the chances of forming a closer bond is not so great. If you want your relationship to last, both you and your partner need to develop healthy conflict-resolution skills. Recognizing when yours isn't healthy is the first step in turning it around. 6 "What Does A Healthy Relationship Look Like To You?"
Everyone has their own idea of what being in a healthy and satisfying relationship looks like. By one year, you should have a good idea of how your partner views relationships if you want it to last long-term. For instance, if they believe a healthy relationship means that you never fight, and you later have a disagreement, they may just see it as a compatibility issue and decide the relationship isn't meant to be. But that's not necessarily true.
"Relationships stay loving and connected when both people are willing to stay open and take responsibility for their own feelings," Paul says. If your partner doesn't believe healthy relationships require work after one year of being together, it's definitely something to discuss.
7 "How Are You Dealing With Baggage From The Past?"
Baggage from past relationships or insecurities stemming from childhood can have a way of creeping into your relationship whether you like it or not. If your partner's past has left them with fears and insecurities, they may come to you with all kinds of unrealistic and unfair expectations. For instance, they may need you to constantly reassure them of their "worthiness" because they rely on you for validation and happiness. Everyone gets insecure from time to time, but if it's a constant thing that isn't worked on, it can create a
codependent dynamic in your relationship.
But if your partner is working on it and you've noticed positive changes throughout the year, you're on a good track. "When each of you learn to love yourselves and come to each other open and loving with love to share, then you have the basis for a wonderful relationship," Paul says.
Hitting the one year mark is pretty special. Although the honeymoon period is known for being fun and exciting, it's even more exciting to grow a close, strong bond with your partner that will hopefully last for years to come. If you know your partner's answers to these hard questions after one year, congratulate yourself for getting them out of the way. Now you can focus on the future and work on getting to know your partner on a much deeper level.