There are few things more exciting than the prospect of a new relationship. Those early days of getting to know someone are filled with butterflies and anticipation of what is to come. Everything about the other person seems so good at face value, and it’s not hard to imagine what your life might look like with them in it. You both love hiking and can imagine weekends full of summer camping and adventure. He’s a film buff and you never know what to watch, so you can foresee the many movie nights you spend ordering in takeout. It all looks great.
But before you get carried away in your own fantasy of what the future might hold for you and your significant other, it’s time to tap the brakes and get a little deeper. While it’s great to be optimistic about your new romance, it’s also important to take off the rose-colored glasses for a few crucial conversations before getting serious.
While certain differences, like your taste in music or art, can be easily brushed aside, other areas of opposition are a little harder to smooth over. Differences in the way you approach money can spell trouble if you don’t talk about them early on. Finding out that your partner thinks it’s preferable to live paycheck to paycheck while you are a studious budget-savvy saver means that it’s going to take some serious negotiating on how to handle money when and if you combine your finances someday. If you’re both going to be paying off one of your student loans or credit cards until death do you part, that’s something you’ll want to know before you start thinking about walking down the aisle. You can ease into the money talk by simply talking about how you see your future – your hopes, dreams and goals – and how your finances will impact those plans.
Even if thoughts of babies are far off on the horizon, this is one area you should address before moving into more serious relationship territory. While you may be able to negotiate on certain disparities, deciding whether or not to have kids is usually not one many people can budge on. If you see kids in the future someday and your partner doesn’t, you could be in for a whole lot of heartache down the line. Best to bring it up casually now than to find yourself in a formidable fight later on. It doesn’t have to be a big serious talk – whenever the two of you are around kids you can mention whether you do or don’t want them, and your partner will likely do the same.
3. Faith and core values
Let’s face it, our beliefs inform nearly every decision we make in our lives, and this is never more true than in relationships. The pacing of your relationship, the parts of yourself you decide to share, the way you interpret and give love, all of these things spring from our faith and deeply held beliefs. While interfaith couples can (and do!) make it work, discussing each of your approaches to spirituality will ensure everyone is on the same page. The most important thing is to examine one another’s core values, and make sure they align in a way you feel comfortable with before taking the plunge into a more deep and meaningful phase in your relationship. Whether you share a faith or not, knowing how you will navigate spirituality together is going to be a step in the right direction.
Even if these aren’t big, in-depth conversations and you’re simply gauging the territory in a new relationship, listening is key. You don’t just want to hear the short answer, but the whole of their reasoning. Whether you agree or disagree on these subjects, try to approach your partner in a non-judgmental way and empathize with how they feel – and ask them to do the same. It’s not an interrogation, but an opportunity for you to grow closer.