It’s hard to know exactly when to start having serious conversations when you’re dating someone, but there are certain subjects that you absolutely need to discuss with your partner before you get into a serious relationship to know if the relationship can progress in a healthy way. So wherever you are in your relationship, this list is important for everyone to have with their partner as soon as possible.
1. The Sex talk
It’s quite possible that you and your partner have already crossed this line, but that doesn’t mean you know everything you should know yet.
It’s a good idea to find out what your partner wants and likes in the bedroom – even if you think you know, you probably don’t know the whole picture. Whatever the case, have the sex talk, and most importantly, have an open mind and don’t be judgmental.
2. The Money Talk
It’s likely you have an idea of how much money your partner makes and what their spending habits are even if you’ve never discussed it.
However, this is an important conversation to have if you’re going to be opening a bank account together or taking on joint financial responsibilities, whether it’s renting or owning a house or getting a dog. One important question to ask is how they manage their money when they are on their own, and figure out if one of the two partners should be the main financial manager of a joint account.
3. The Communication Talk
It’s also important to learn how your partner communicates, especially when it’s about difficult topics or you’re frustrated with each other. This is a good conversation to try to limit big fights in the future.
Catherine Paulson, a psychology writer at Academized and Australian Help, suggests that “It’s useful to think of a fight you’ve already had and see how each person approached the situation”. Knowing how your partner processes information and handles their emotions is really good to know for future situations.
4. The Future Talk
It can create anxiety to think of the future as a couple and most people are tempted to just live in the moment and enjoy the day to day. However, being in a serious relationship means that you should have a conversation about what your partner’s future goals are to make sure they can work together and avoid nasty surprises later on. Is one of you planning a sabbatical to travel for a year? Does your partner want to go back to school to get another degree?
None of these need to be a deal breaker but it’s important to be on the same page about these plans so that if any come to pass you’re as prepared as you can be.
5. The Chores Talk
If you already live together or you’re planning on doing so in the future, you also need to talk about household chores and decide who’s responsible for what. If your partner is someone that needs to clean their dishes immediately after a meal but you’d rather leave yours until the end of the day, that needs to be decided or it will become a source of strife.
The most important thing is that the division of tasks seems fair to both – if your partner wants to clean all the dishes after a meal, you should offer to prepare the meal, or do the laundry and sweep the floors.
6. The Infidelity Talk
Sometimes it’s clear what cheating means – sleeping with someone else in your bed. However, don’t assume you’re both on the same page about the limits of infidelity. Discuss what it means to cheat within your specific relationship so that you’re both on the same page.
Diane Mulligan, a relationships blogger at Paper Fellows and Ox Essays, asks “is it more about emotional connections with others? What about flirting on a night out, or messaging someone online without having an in-person interaction? Every relationship will have different boundaries so you need to be clear about yours before it’s too late and someone’s hurt.”
7. The Values Talk
It’s important to talk about your upbringings and your cultural and religious values, because it can be challenging to be with someone from a different background. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible, but you definitely want to talk about certain things, like what holidays are important for you, how often you attend religious services, if at all, how you want to raise your children, etc.
8. The Marriage Talk
This comes to the last point, which is talking about your feelings about marriage with your partner. You need to discuss whether marriage is important, what their thoughts are on starting a family, how many kids they want, and more. None of these need to be deal breakers, but it’s much better getting on the same page and knowing where your partner stands.