After countless swipes left and right (mostly left), blind dates, speed dates, awkward dates, always-only-first dates, you’ve met someone you think is wonderful — and he or she seems to think you’re wonderful back. Eventually, neither of you wants to live without each other, so you’re ready to go all in and make a firm commitment.
This is exciting, but it can also be terrifying. After all, finding and committing to the right partner is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. To make sure you don’t lose yourself in the butterflies and giddiness — and instead create a foundation that’s grounded in an understanding that will guide you and your partner throughout your relationship — it’s essential to ask your partner and yourself some questions before taking the next step.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Have I taken the time to focus on myself?
Before you commit to someone else, you have to make sure you’ve committed to yourself. You won’t ever stop growing, but you need to be comfortable in your own skin and bring that stability to the partnership.
Do I trust my partner?
While you’ll always have your network of close family and friends to lean on, you should be able to trust your partner fully and talk to him or her about anything. Before making a bold commitment, ask yourself: Do I find this person reliable and responsible? Do I sense any deception?
Am I ready for this?
Relationships are a lot of work and take substantial time and energy. Make sure you’re ready to make this commitment and throw another human being, and his or her feelings, into the mix.
Similarly, make sure you’re over any previous relationships. Rebound relationships are destined to fail and hurt your new partner —make sure you’re going into this for the right reasons.
Questions to Ask Your Partner
What are your values?
Of all the times to put topics like religion and politics off the table, this is not one of them. While opposites can certainly attract, and you don’t have to align with your partner’s beliefs from top to bottom, understanding each other’s core values and respecting them is important before making a commitment.
What are your future goals?
The answer to this question will almost certainly change over time, but you both likely have some images in your head already. Do you want to have kids, for example? How locked into this decision are you? What if you can’t — what will you do? You likely have a number of goals and aspirations, and making sure they’re aligned with your partner’s is key.
Anything I should know about?
Before you make a commitment, and you’re putting everything on the table, is the perfect time to come clean about everything from your past, however big or small. If you or your partner have a complicated past with drugs, alcohol, gambling, abuse, illness, trauma — now is the time to bring it up.
As much as you might want to ignore potential problems and keep things as happy and lighthearted as they have been, the earlier these issues are addressed, the better chance there is that they can be dealt with successfully.
Have Someone Else Ask the Questions
While it may seem strange to see a therapist when things are surprisingly good, and you’re ready to take a positive next step, it’s important to remember that therapy isn’t only useful when you’re feeling down and need an extra pair of ears to talk to.
Couples that go to counseling together build better communication skills because they have an unbiased third party to help them understand one another. In the process, you’re learning how to better communicate your individual needs and desires and how to better understand your partner’s. You gain compassion, listening skills and learn to work together to plan actively for the future. In a neutral space, physical or virtual, you can talk openly about the expectations you have for your committed life and what you want from your relationship.
Throughout the process, a therapist can help you create goals, making sure your butterflies stay close even when the honeymoon phase disappears.