Starting a new relationship is exciting, but don’t let that excitement cloud your judgment. Before your relationship gets serious, it’s a good idea to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. For example, do you want to get married? Does your partner want children? This is information you should know earlier rather than later. And while having these conversations can be awkward, they’re crucial to maintaining a strong relationship.
In this article, we highlight nine conversations you should have early in your relationship:
1. Your Future Goals
You and your partner’s goals don’t have to be the same, but they should be compatible. This is especially true when it comes to life-changing goals, like if you want to get married or have children. If your partner never wants to get married and you do, it’s better to know early. That way, you can decide if this is the relationship for you.
2. Your Sexual Health
Early in a relationship, you might not feel comfortable talking about your sex life (past or present). While you don’t need to detail every single sexual encounter, your partner should know the last time you’ve been tested for STIs. And you should know their sexual history, as well.
There’s a common misconception that STIs aren’t common. But according to the CDC, one in five people in the United States has a sexually transmitted infection. So, it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. And while some are noticeable, a majority can go undetected. The only way to know is through STI testing. Asking if your partner has been tested can provide you the peace of mind you need to move to the next level.
3. Your Family
There’s no denying family can play a huge role in a relationship. Even if you’re not close to your family, how you grew up impacts how you behave. If you have a broken relationship with your mother, father, or siblings, tell your partner. The opposite is also true. If you’re incredibly close with your family, tell your partner.
It’s important you know each other’s family dynamic so you can understand each other and know what to expect. For example, if your partner is best friends with their mom, you’ll probably be spending time with her, too. That might not be a bad thing, but it’s something you’ll probably want to know early in the relationship.
4. Your Mental Health Struggles
Do you struggle with your mental health? This is something you should tell your partner about before your relationship gets too serious. While there’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health conditions, they are incredibly common. According to the CDC, over 50% of individuals will be diagnosed with a mental disorder during their lifetime.
Mental health issues can impact every facet of your life, including your relationships. Talking about mental health isn’t easy, but it’s something your partner should know so they can better understand you. Having this conversation will also shine more light on your partner’s character. If they respond negatively or with judgment, you’ll know they aren’t the one for you.
5. Your Ground Rules
The beginning of a relationship is the perfect time to lay out ground rules. One mistake many couples make is waiting to discuss what they’re comfortable or uncomfortable with. While you might think it’s too soon, your partner should know your expectations about communication, intimacy, and how you interact.
What expectations do you have for your partner and the relationship as a whole? Do you expect your partner to communicate with you every day? Are you uncomfortable with PDA (public displays of affection)? Are there certain things you don’t like in between the sheets? Whatever ground rules you have, tell your partner so they have the opportunity to show the respect you (and they) deserve.
6. Your Finances
Your partner probably doesn’t need to know your banking information, especially if you’ve only been together for a short time. But they should have an idea of your overall finances. For example, do you have student loans? Are you struggling to pay down debt? Or maybe you’re in great financial standing.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to have a conversation with your partner about your finances early on. This way, neither of you will be thrown for a loop as your relationship progresses.
7. Your Past Relationships
When did your last relationship end and why? You don’t need to tell your partner everything, but don’t be afraid to discuss your past relationships. Having this conversation is important because it’ll teach you more about your partner and vice versa.
Every relationship teaches you something. By talking with your partner about your exes, you’ll realize exactly what the past taught you.
8. Your Relationship Status
Your relationship status might seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page. Are you casually dating or in a committed relationship? And what exactly do those statuses mean to both of you? You might think your partner’s definition of “committed relationship” is the same as yours, but that might not be the case.
You and your partner should also address your ideal progression for a relationship. For example, some individuals are ready to get married after a year together. If that’s not something you want, make sure your partner knows they shouldn’t get down on one knee anytime soon.
Are you contemplating taking your relationship to the next level? Maybe you’ve been dating for a few weeks, or months, and feel comfortable moving things forward. That’s great! But before you do, make sure you really know your partner.
The conversations above aren’t easy, but they’re important to ensuring your relationship has what it takes to survive long-term. You don’t need to bring these topics up on your first date. However, these are conversations you should discuss sooner rather than later.