The 3 relationship questions you need to ask
There comes a point in every relationship where some tough questions need to be asked, and often asking these questions comes with a great sense of trepidation and anxiety. Approach these conversations in the right manner, and they’ll shed some light on the relationship and potentially bring you closer together. But approached in the wrong way, they’ll make for one hell of an awkward date.
Here are the three biggest relationship-defining questions and how to ask them:
Question #1: “Are we exclusive?”
When: Ideally, wait until you’re seeing each other at least a few times a week. If sex is on the table or has already entered the relationship, that’s a good point to have the talk.
How: The best way to do this is to position the question as a request, rather than an ultimatum. It can be scary to be confronted with “I won’t see you anymore unless we’re exclusive,” so instead try sitting the person down in a comfortable and familiar setting, and try “I’m really enjoying the time we’re spending together, and I’d love to see where this can go. I’d like stop dating other people, what do you think?”
When you ask the question, be prepared that there’s a chance you might not receive the answer you want. If that’s the case, bring up the topic again when you next feel comfortable and if their answer remains the same, it’s time to politely let them know that your feelings are strong enough that you can’t see them if it’s not exclusive.
Why: Without defining the relationship, it’s very difficult for both parties to be on the same page – and this can be a source of great tension and anxiety for both of you. If one of you is happy to keep playing the field but the other only has eyes for one person, someone is going to get hurt.
Question #2: “What happened in your past relationships?
When: A few months into the relationship, once it’s been established that you and your partner are committed to each other, is the best time to ask. Ask the question too early and you’ll scream insecurity, and not asking at all will show you don’t care.
How: Instead of asking your partner to spill the goss on their exes, ask them questions like why they broke up, or what they learned from the relationship. Your goal here is to learn more about your partner, what influenced them and how they’ve grown as a person, not to learn whether they prefer blondes or brunettes. Remember, it’s about your partner, not their exes.
Why: Whilst it’s not healthy to be obsessed with our partner’s previous relationships or compare ourselves to their exes, it is helpful to have a general idea of what went down in their serious relationships (if there were any). Their relationship history can be used as a guide for potential red flags that might occur in the future, as well as provide an understanding of what they don’t want in a partner. For example, a partner who gives a one-sided story and blames all problems on their exes, or refers to them as “crazy” is a red flag for selfishness and insecurity. A break-up that involved flirting with other people is also never a good sign. It’s all about knowing how to spot the difference between a healthy vs. unhealthy breakup. Make sure you’re willing to share the details on your past relationships, too!
Question #3: “How do you feel about marriage/kids?”
When: This conversation should be had when you’re sure the relationship is, or could be headed somewhere serious.
How: Avoid direct questions. It’s understandable to feel anxious about this topic, but being too direct may only freak your partner out. Instead of “Do you want to get married?” try, “How do you see your future looking in 10 years from now?” Even if you don’t receive the direct answer you wanted, you can pick up little clues from your partner that elude to the information you need. For example, an answer of “I’d love to still be concentrating on my career” may indicate that they’re not particularly focused on marriage or kids right now.
Why: It’s pointless continuing in a relationship aimed at long-term love when you want different things. You can be completely compatible in every other way, but if you want kids and your partner doesn’t, or they want to get married but you don’t – it can put a huge dark cloud over the relationship and will only serve to breed insecurity and resentment. You can’t be with someone who you feel will inhibit you from achieving your life goals.
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