When you first meet someone special, you want to know everything about the amazing person looking back at you—from what they do for a living to their favorite foods. As time goes on, the questions get deeper and deeper. When that person you were in awe of on your first date ends up being the person you think you could end up saying "I do" to someday, there are certain things you need to know to ensure you have a solid future together. Here are the important questions to ask when you start to get serious, straight from an expert.
Where do you see our relationship going?
It's always good to make sure you're on the same page with the person you're dating—especially when it comes to where you see the relationship going. "People date for all kinds of reasons: They enjoy having a relationship, they're just interested in sex and fun, they want to learn about themselves and what they do and don't like in a relationship, and they want to fall in love and get married," says Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, author of Dating from the Inside Out, and director of My Dating & Relationship School. "Assuming it's been at least five months, you may want to have a discussion about what they're looking for in a relationship. Do they see marriage in their future? Do they want to establish their career before getting serious with someone? Although you may be compatible and happy, these nitty gritty conversations will help you see if you're on the same page."
Are we exclusive?
Two people shouldn't just assume they're in the same place just because their current relationship seems to be going well. Even though you might feel like the person you're dating is only seeing you, that doesn't mean they necessarily are. "It's always a good idea to discuss your beliefs regarding boundaries when it comes to flirting, friendships, and what's regarded as cheating so you're both on the same page with those issues," Sherman says.
Are you religious?
When couples first start dating and are still living apart, religion often isn't the focus—but, it can be a big issue down the line, so it's wise to discuss your views as you get more serious. "If one person is Jewish and one is Christian, for example, they should discuss the extent of their religiosity, how they celebrate, and what traditions are important to keep and what aren't," Sherman says. "Sometimes one person has traditions and the other person is more secular and doesn't mind raising kids that way, but in more difficult situations, it might require someone to change their entire lifestyle and they may not choose to do so."
What are your beliefs and values?
What you believe and value in life guides your choices, and when someone doesn't see eye-to-eye with something you feel strongly about, you're bound to have disagreements. "Some values may not be super important, and others can be vital," Sherman says. "Some examples I see a lot are dealing with politics, family, honesty, and monogamy, but each couple can think of what they value most and what they strongly believe in and have a serious discussion about it."
What are your non-negotiables?
Everyone has their deal-breakers that they aren't going to put up with in a relationship—and especially when things start to get really serious. "The most common non-negotiables include no drugs, gambling, and cheating. And sometimes one person says their partner must want kids and may need to practice their religion. So, it's important to exchange non-negotiables and to discuss them to see if you can be on the same page around what will work for both of you," Sherman says.
How do you see your future?
Even if things are going better than ever in the moment, it's always good to look ahead. When you're with someone you can see yourself marrying, you want to ensure your future plans will align. "It's important to discuss where you see yourself in five and ten years, and that can include everything from your career goals to where you see yourself living," Sherman says. "Couples should have conversations and discuss their shared vision together so they can work on compromising in the places they have differences."
How traditional are you when it comes to gender roles?
It's may be the 21st century, but you wouldn't know if you spoke to some people. Chat about gender roles early to make sure you're on the same page. "This is an important topic of conversation these days as relationships are changing. Some people might be traditional and expect old gender roles to play out where the man brings home more of the income and the woman tends to the children and housework, but today many people expect it to be more equal. That way both people divide fiduciary and domestic responsibilities and both people encourage each other's goals at home and at work,” Sherman says, is important.
What have your past relationships been like?
According to Sherman, it's really important to hear about your partner's past relationships because sometimes those patterns can predict your future. "For example, did all his past partners break up with him because he was overly involved with his mom or too critical? Or did he date each one for long periods of time then refuse to commit?," she says. "If you hear about a pattern, that may lend insight into some issues you might want to discuss. And, the same applies to you. We all have obstacles in our relationships, so it's a great sign when partners are willing to acknowledge those areas and are willing to work on shifting them."