Whether you’ve been together for one month or one year, there will likely come a time when you want to
take your relationship to the next level. And there’s no better way to do so than by asking your partner questions — especially ones of the deep and personal variety.
It might feel uncomfortable to have a meaningful heart-to-heart. But according to
Julie Williamson, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, asking questions is a good way to figure out if you’re actually compatible, beyond any “honeymoon phase” feelings of love. It's totally a given, but if you want to develop a deep connection with someone, you’ll need to know a lot more about them than their likes, dislikes, and hobbies.
It’s also good to find out early on if your partner is able to have these types of conversations, in general. If they’re down to speak about difficult topics — all while listening and empathizing with you — a deeper level of
trust will start to grow. And that, Williamson says, is what will send your relationship to the next level.
So, want to learn more about your significant other and feel more connected, and you can start building a future together? Then have a chat that includes these types of questions, listed below.
1 "How do you define cheating?”
"Some people believe that cheating only counts if there's physical intimacy — touching, kissing, or sex, for example,"
Erica Turner, MS, LPC, NCC, a licensed therapist, previously told Bustle, while others believe emotional stuff counts, too.
You’ll obviously want to know if you see eye-to-eye, before taking things to the next level. But talking about cheating can also deepen your connection, as it shows how much you care about each other’s well-being.
2 "How can I help you feel secure?"
This is a great follow-up to the cheating Q because it'll lead into a discussion about the best ways to help each other feel secure and comfy within your relationship.
"Many individuals tend to answer this question in basic ways that surprise their partners, such as listening without trying to fix the problem, providing eye contact and being fully present, or being consistent,"
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. "Knowing these things will help you show up for your partner in the way [they need it most.]" 3 “How do we want to handle money?”
Nothing says “we’re a couple” quite like having a frank conversation about money. So if your lives are beginning to mesh together, it’s time to talk about things like sharing bills, financial expectations — such as shared goals for the future — and whatever else feels important.
4 “Do you ever keep secrets from me?”
Is your partner open and honest? Or are they someone who thinks it’s OK to keep major secrets? Chances are you’ll be happier with someone you fully trust to tell the whole story, relationship expert
Karen Salmansohn, tells Bustle, “without feeling as if you are yanking it out of them." 5 "In what ways have you changed over the past few years?”
Ask your partner about how they've grown or changed over the past few years and you’ll learn a lot about the kind of person they are, Salmansohn says, including their level of appreciation for growth and self-improvement.
When it comes to your relationship, you may want a partner who can adapt to the changes that will inevitably come your way. If they’ve grown and changed in the past year or two, chances are they’ll continue to do so going forward.
6 “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Do they see themselves going back to school? Having a baby? Moving to the opposite coast? These are all things you'll need to know, and agree on, if you see yourselves together.
"If your partner won't answer these questions, it could be a sign that they just aren't ready to take the next step,"
Donna T. Novak, PsyD, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. "Another option is however, that these are hard questions to answer."
If they don't know right now, that's OK. By asking you’re simply putting "the future" out there as a topic of conversation.
7 "What are your goals for this relationship?”
If you're going to
take your relationship to the next level, you need to be on the same page. And that's where this question comes in handy. "Both of you could have a different idea of what 'the next level' means," Samantha Daniels, a dating expert, tells Bustle. "Therefore, it’s important that you communicate and ask them what they want out of the relationship moving forward."
Once you have this conversation, you and your partner will know what to expect from each other and how to fulfill each other's needs. And that will make for a much stronger relationship.
8 "How did your family cope with struggles growing up?"
While it might be deeply personal, Williamson says it's important to
ask questions regarding your partner’s family and how they were raised. For instance, how did they handle conflict? How were emotions viewed? How did their family members communicate?
"These questions are important because our families of origin are our first experience with socialization and where our beliefs, values, and the way we view the world are formed," Williamson says. Even if your partner believes and thinks differently now, it's still important to know where they came from.
If they had a rocky past, that’s OK. It just may mean you both need to
form a new value system in the future. 9 "How do you deal with difficult emotions?"
Similarly, ask your
partner how they handle conflict and tough emotions. Do they lash out? Or shut down?
"It's important to have open and honest communication about these issues and how you both want to handle them in a long-term, committed relationship in order to avoid disconnection and intense conflict down the road,” Williamson says.
10 "Why didn't your last relationship work out?"
Talking about exes can be uncomfortable. But according to Salmansohn, discussing
why your partner's last relationship ended can be super eye-opening.
You’ll not only learn more about how they handle conflict, but also what types of negative feelings they still might be holding onto. Once you know more about each other’s pasts, it’ll be easier to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
11 "What did you learn from that relationship?"
What role did your partner play in the breakup? What have they learned since? What will they do differently if similar problems arise within your relationship?
"It's important to ask these questions because you can learn about your partner's ability to accept responsibility for their own mistakes,” Williamson says. If you notice similarities in their descriptions of past relationships and your own relationship, it could indicate a pattern that may need to be addressed.
12 "What do you think of your friend's relationship?"
If you want to learn more about your partner’s inner workings, ask what they think about a mutual friend’s relationship, Salmansohn says. From there, you can talk about what you hope to emulate in your own relationship, or how you might do things differently.
13 "What makes you feel most loved?”
According to Novak, this question will help you learn more about what your partner needs, in order to feel good in a relationship.
You might even want to bring up the
topic of love languages, which basically breaks down how you show and give love into five categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, physical touch, and quality time.
Knowing this detail will mean being better partners to each other now, and in the future.
14 “Can we talk about our sex life?”
While you may be having great sex now, you can take things to the next level by having more convos about sex — including what you like, what you want to try, and what will happen if things get "stale" in the future.
Because the truth is, many couples don't
talk about sex until they hit troubled waters, Kristin Marie Bennion, a licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist, previously told Bustle.
Talking about sex might seem weird at first, but it's something couples who are at that "next level" tend to do.
15 “Where do you want to live?”
Big "future" questions — including where you'd both like to live — may feel heavy but are important to get out of the way early on. It's much better to make sure you're heading in the same direction than to get two years in and realize you want totally different things.
16 “What do you think about marriage?”
Another big one is how your partner feels about marriage or long-term commitment. It’ll obviously be good to make sure you share similar goals. But bringing it up is also a covert way to show how invested you are.
17 “Did you feel free to be yourself in your last relationship?”
While this type of question might seem strange, Novak says it's an important one to ask all the same. It can lead to a conversation about individuality and freedom within a relationship, which is important if you want to make things work long-term.
Your partner might reveal what left them feeling stifled in past relationships. And that can, in turn, lead to a discussion about ways to prevent it from happening again.
18 "What are you not willing to compromise on?"
While it's important to be flexible in a relationship, you can learn a lot by being honest about things you're not willing to compromise on,
Kendra A. O'Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, previously told Bustle.
"Differences in personality, communication styles, and preferences are actually
not dealbreakers," she said. "True dealbreakers are the pieces of one's belief system that are unable to be negotiated."
Talking about dealbreakers will lead to a profound conversation, and hopefully one that helps you feel closer.
19 "What do you value most about our relationship?"
This is another great question as it "allows your partner the space to acknowledge the strengths they see in the relationship, while also understanding what you might be able to tend to a little bit more,"
Lisa Olivera, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. 20 "Do you feel like we make each other better people?"
And last but not least, have a conversation about how you can help
make each other better people, Daniels says, since that’s one of the best parts about a relationship. Share your goals — both mutual and personal — and talk about how to offer support. Experts: Julie Williamson, licensed professional counselor Erica Turner, MS, LPC, NCC, licensed therapist Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, clinical psychologist Donna T. Novak, PsyD, licensed psychologist Kristin Marie Bennion, licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist Samantha Daniels, dating expert Karen Salmansohn, relationship expert Kendra A. O'Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT, licensed clinical marriage and family therapist Lisa Olivera, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist