The early days of a relationship are a wonderful whirlwind, because
falling in love is fun. It's all dates and make outs and exciting conversations, as far as the eye can see. But if you're looking for something long-term, there are a few questions to ask your partner to determine if you're on the same page — and the sooner you ask, the better!
Of course, there's always the famed
36 questions to fall in love from The New York Times, which include things like, "Would you like to be famous?" and "What does friendship mean to you?" They're specifically designed to get a couple talking because learning more about each other, even if it's just fun facts, will bring you closer. But you'll want to get down to the nitty gritty, too.
you and your partner's expectations are when it comes to your relationship status, sex, intimacy, and future is the difference between making it and breaking it in a relationship," relationship coaches Diana and Todd Mitchem, tell Bustle. "When you are in a relationship, you should never assume that your partner wants exactly the same things that you do."
They call this "mind-reading" and say it only ever results in stress, anxiety, and miscommunication. Checking in, however, and asking honest questions will make your expectations clear, and ensure you want the same things for the future.
Here are 14 questions to ask each other to make sure you're
staying on the same page, according to experts.
"What do we want our sex life look like?"
This is one of the first things you should discuss with a new partner, especially since many couples "don't talk about
their sexual agreement until they hit troubled waters," Kristin Marie Bennion, a licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist, tells Bustle.
So go ahead and come up with a few "rules" early on, so you can both be on the same page. Bennion suggests chatting about boundaries, how often you'd like to have sex, and what types of sexual experiences you'd be open to having.
"What counts as cheating?"
From there, you may want to go a bit more in depth about what cheating looks like, so neither of you is ever blind-sided.
Does flirting count as cheating? Does texting?
"These are all questions that you want to ask to ensure you and your partner are on the same page and feel secure with one another," Susan Trombetti, a
matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle.
"How do you feel things are going with us?"
This question is a gold mine when it comes to figuring out where you stand as a couple right now, as well as what's on your partner's mind for the future.
Just make sure you ask an open-ended version of the question,
Carla Romo, a dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. Otherwise you run the risk of getting a bland and unhelpful "good" as a response.
"What does a balanced relationship look like to you?"
Some couples end up arguing because their relationship feels unfair. But this can be prevented if you talk from the get go about
how to have a balanced relationship.
Sit down together and write out lists of how you'd like to divvy up chores, how much time you'd like to spend together versus apart, how often you'd like to go on dates, etc. "This will give you a blueprint of what each of you wants from the relationship," the Mitchems say.
Once you have shared your priorities, you can see if they're aligned — and make adjustments as necessary.
"What do we need to do to improve in our relationship?"
This question may be scary to ask, but it'll shed light on anything in your relationship that may no longer be working, the Mitchems say.
If they tell you, for example, that they'd appreciate having more
open and honest communication, then you've already opened the door to working on that issue together.
But if they have an unrealistic request or you can't see eye-to-eye on an ongoing problem, consider it a sign you may not be on the same page.
"What are your goals for our relationship?
By straight up asking your partner what their goals are for the future of your relationship, you'll get to see if they line up with your own — no guessing required.
Plus, "this is a question that will have your partner stumped if they don’t see you as a serious partner," the Mitchems says, which might be all the answer you need.
"What's your idea of a healthy relationship?"
partner has a history of toxic relationships, they might be coming in with a skewed sense of what's healthy and what isn't. But even if they don't, it's important to discuss and define what your idea of a healthy relationship will look like, Romo says, so you can be on the same page.
Even later in the relationship, as life throws new things at you (a shared apartment, kids) you can keep asking this question, and see how your definition might need to be updated.
"Which ongoing problems do we need to resolve?"
It can be
really scary to argue, and talking about ongoing problems can feel even more daunting. But asking this question is important.
"This is a question that will make both of you realize that you do argue and that you do have an issue that needs immediate resolution," the Mitchems say. "Figuring out why a specific problem is a trigger point for either one of you, and figuring out how to get rid of it, will save you time, stress, and anxiety in your relationship."
And remember, if your partner isn't receptive to this kind of conversation, they may not be what you need in the long-run.
"What's your arguing style?"
"Each person has their own 'stress reaction' (what their ingrained fight-or-flight response is),"
Tacha Kasper, MA, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Your partner might be a "fighter" or they might "flee" when things get tough.
But knowing each other's argument style will allow you to both agree on a set of rules to resolve arguments, she says, so you can remain on the same team.
"What are you not willing to compromise on?"
This Q is about values, aka what you're not willing to compromise on in relationships,
Kendra A. O'Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Write down things like your political and religious views, your feelings on marriage or kids — whatever is super important to you — and then compare with your partner.
"Differences in personality, communication styles, and preferences are actually
not dealbreakers," O'Hora says. "True dealbreakers are the pieces of one's belief system that are unable to be negotiated."
If you don't agree on the big stuff, a long-term relationship might not be in the cards.
"What would you like to see more of in our relationship?"
"Asking your partner what they think is working and what they would like to see more of in the relationship puts the attention back on [the positives] — and making sure that you do more of that," the Mitchems say.
Asking this question can be fun, too, especially if they say "more dates" or "more sex," and you've been thinking the same thing.
"What are your financial goals?"
Finances are a huge source of stress in many relationships. In fact, one third of millennial couples have even
broken up over financial differences. So it's important to discuss this issue early and often.
You can chat about small things, like how you plan to pay bills if you ever move in together. But you can also talk long-term goals, like paying off a major debt or buying a house, Romo says — and what that process might look like.
"When do you want to take the next step in our relationship?"
When it comes to exclusivity, sharing an apartment, getting married, etc. you'll want to know where your partner stands in terms of moving the relationship forward, the Mitchems say.
If your partner hasn't thought this through, asking will at least put it out in the open, so you can work towards figuring things out together.
"What are your thoughts on having kids?"
If you're set on having or not having kids, you'll want to know where your partner stands on the issue, ASAP. Not on the first date, obviously, but as soon as it seems like you might have a future together.
It's important to discuss early on, Romo says, because if you disagree it's pretty much a dealbreaker. But if you both want kids, this convo will allow you to plan for it, talk timelines, and so on.
"What makes you feel loved?"
This will open the floor for a chat about your love languages, aka how you like to give and receive affection.
"You may think the way you feel loved is the way your partner feels loved, but that may not be the case,"
Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
They may like "acts of service" while you like "words of affirmation." Knowing means you can be better partners to each other.
"Where do you see us in a year?"
Or five, or ten, depending on how long you've been together.
"This is a fundamental question that allows you and your partner to explore the direction of your relationship, if you are both aligned on the future, and if they are serious and see you in their life," the Mitchems say.
If it seems like too big of a question, you can also ask your partner, "where do you see
yourself in a year?"
"Are you open to therapy?"
There may come a time when you encounter issues as a couple and aren't sure how to proceed. And that's where therapy can come in handy, O'Hora says.
Knowing your partner would be down for couples therapy, if it was ever necessary, can come as a huge relief, since it shows they're willing to grow as a person.
"What's it like to be you right now?"
This intriguing Q can get you back in touch with each other, counselor
James Cochran, MA, LCPC, NCC, tells Bustle, if you've been feeling disconnected. "Are they overwhelmed about something? Excited? Checking in this way can give us all kinds of insight into how we might approach our partners," he says.
"What do you hope never changes about our relationship?"
"This can help you establish a vision of your partner’s values, and work together to maintain what’s important to you both as your relationship continues,"
Ned Presnall, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle.
For example, you might be surprised to hear how much they love eating dinner together every night, or watching movies on Fridays.
"Clarifying what’s important to them can help make your relationship stronger in the long-run," Presnall says, "by making sure the things that seem small to you aren’t overlooked."
"What can we do to make each other's lives easier?"
As a relationship goes on, it's common to take a partner for granted, and almost become blind to how much effort they put in. So don't forget to ask each other, "how can I make your life easier?"
It might mean running an errand, being more available, or whatever else your partner needs, in order to feel more supported.
Sean Paul, MD, tells Bustle, "These questions should be revisited regularly as you both grow and change, because the answers might also change."
Open-ended questions like these can be a great way to
get to know your partner better, and keep track of whether you two are on the same page — without having to guess. Very few questions will end in obvious dealbreakers, but almost all of them will end in more clarity than you started with. And if you see a future with this person, that's super important. Experts: Diana and Todd Mitchem, relationship coaches Susan Trombetti, matchmaker Tacha Kasper, MA, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Kristin Marie Bennion, licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist Kendra A. O'Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT, licensed clinical marriage and family therapist Carla Romo, dating and relationship coach James Cochran, MA, LCPC, NCC, counselor Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Ned Presnall, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker Sean Paul, MD, pscychiatrist