The early days of a relationship are a wonderful whirlwind, because
falling in love is fun. It's all dates and makeouts and exciting conversations, as far as the eye can see. But if you're looking for long-term commitment, 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. Because there’s nothing like getting months-deep in a relationship and realizing you have completely different ideas of what a healthy, thriving relationship looks like. Yikes. Better to go deep with the relationship check-in questions in advance to avoid a heartbreak down the road.
Of course, there are 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 heavier topics, 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."
The Mitchems call this "mind-reading" and say it only ever results in stress, anxiety, and miscommunication — as you’re probably well aware of. Unless you and your partner happen to be certified clairvoyants, mind-reading probably isn’t going to cut it. Checking in, however, and compiling some honest questions to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend about the future will make your expectations clear, and ensure you want the same things.
Here are 25 questions to ask your significant other to make sure you're staying on the same page, according to experts.
1 "What do we want our sex life to 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.
2 "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 someone else regularly?
"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. Setting these expectations now will ensure you don’t get into a sticky situation down the road. 3 "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 it in an open-ended way,
Carla Romo, a dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. Otherwise you run the risk of getting a bland and unhelpful "good" as a response. 4 "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.
5 "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 your partner tells 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 that you may not be on the same page.
6 "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.
7 “What does your schedule look like when we’re not hanging out?”
“This is an interesting question, because it not only shows a desire to find out what your partner's day-to-day plans look like, but to integrate yours with theirs,” Cherlyn Chong, breakup and dating specialist from
Steps to Happyness, tells Bustle. You want to be able to make time to see each other, after all. “If they are not at the same place as you in the relationship, they will be uncomfortable with you seemingly intruding on their space and time,” Chong continues. “If they are in agreement, it will be very easy to arrange things like dates, calls, and even surprises.” 8 "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. Later in the relationship, as life throws new things at you (like a shared apartment or kids) you can keep asking this question, and see how your definition might need to be updated. 9 "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."
Remember, if your partner isn't receptive to this kind of conversation, they may not be what you need in the long run.
10 "What's your arguing style?"
"Each person has their own 'stress reaction' (what their ingrained fight-or-flight response is),"
Tacha Kasper, MA, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Your partner might be a "fighter," or they might "flee" when things get tough. Knowing each other's argument style will allow you to agree on a set of rules to resolve arguments, she says, so you can remain on the same team. 11 "What are you not willing to compromise on?"
This question is about values and what your dealbreakers are in a relationship. 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," Kendra A. O'Hora, Ph.D., a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "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. 12 "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. 13 "What are your financial goals?"
Finances are a huge source of stress in many relationships. In fact, one-third of millennial couples have
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. 14 "When do you want to take the next step in our relationship?"
When it comes to exclusivity, sharing an apartment, having children, or getting married, 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 the question will put it out in the open so you can work towards figuring things out together.
15 "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. “There are three types of people: Those that must have children, those that don't want children, and those who will defer to their partner's preference,” relationship expert
Susan Winter tells Bustle. “You need to know which you are, and which defines your partner.” 16 "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, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. They may like "acts of service" while you prefer "words of affirmation." Knowing means you can be better partners to each other. 17 "Where do you see us in a year?"
"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?" Then see if they are factoring you into that plan.
18 "Are you open to therapy?"
There may come a time when you encounter issues as a couple and aren't sure how to proceed. 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. 19 "What's it like to be you right now?"
This intriguing question can get you back in touch with each other if you've been feeling disconnected, counselor
James Cochran, MA, LCPC, NCC, tells Bustle. "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. 20 "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, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle.
For example, you might be surprised to hear how much your partner loves 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 by making sure the things that seem small to you aren’t overlooked,” Presnall says.
21 "What can we do to make each other's lives easier?"
As a relationship goes on, it's easy to
take a partner for granted and become blind to how much effort they put in. 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. "These questions should be revisited regularly as you both grow and change, because the answers might also change,” psychiatrist Sean Paul, M.D., tells Bustle. 22 "What would you like to see us doing in five years?"
It’s totally understandable that you might not be in the same place in your life and career in this exact moment, but if you plan to be together in the long run, you should know what each other’s visions are for the future. “This question wants clarification on life goals and partnership goals,” Winter tells Bustle. “If you want to begin a family and your partner tells you they want to be climbing the Himalayas and trekking through remote parts of the world, your future vision may be at odds,” she adds. “Five years is enough time to settle into your respective careers and have a plan of action for your future.”
23 “Do you feel like anything is missing from our relationship?”
Part of relationship upkeep is checking in when things are good so you can prevent them from becoming bad. “Maybe your partner thinks everything is great,” says Winter, “but maybe they secretly feel something's missing. This is a great way to ask the question before the concern becomes a problem.”
24 “Where would you like to live?”
It may seem obvious, and when you started dating, you might have asked this very question. But things change as you get older, move up in your career, and grow as a person. It’s important to check in and be sure you’re still on the page. “Some people want to stay close to family, especially if they plan on having children,” adds Winter. “Others want to be as far away from family as possible. Where you live will give you an idea of your lifestyle, and that's an important consideration.”
25 “What’s an ideal home for you?”
If you plan to be together long enough to live together, you’re going to want to agree on some things about the house or apartment you move into and if they prefer to live in a city or have more privacy and space. “This goes one step further than just thinking about living together,” says Chong. “This is about building a home. And if your partner has pictured this already, especially with you in mind, it's a great indicator of how serious they are about you.”
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 aligned — 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 Susan Winter , relationship expert Cherlyn Chong, breakup and dating specialist from Steps to Happyness
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This article was originally published on
June 27, 2018