Lots of people believe that the right relationship is supposed to last forever, but…um…forever is like, a crazy long time. It’s one of those concepts that’s hard to wrap your mind around, especially when you’re in that heady stage of infatuation that comes with a new relationship. But no matter how intoxicating you find someone, there are certain things you need to know before you two get super serious. Some of them may seem unsexy, but getting the answers to these questions will help deepen how well you know each other, which is actually the sexiest thing of all.
If you have dreams of living in a rustic country cottage and your partner needs the hustle and bustle of a big city, you’ll have to reach a middle ground. It might be spending a few years in one place then moving to another or living in a woodsy suburb right outside a city. Either way, you’ll either want to agree from the get-go or understand that you’ll both have to compromise. “This is essential because if one person expects to live in a certain state or town and the other wants to move across the country or closer to their family, you’ll wind up arguing and feeling resentful,” says Jane Greer, Ph.D., author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
“You need to know whether or not your partner supports your views on religion, and most importantly, what beliefs he would want to pass on to children,” says Megan Fleming, Ph.D., sex and relationship expert. You two don’t need to be of the same religion—it’s the 21st century after all, and love is love! But you should certainly know whether you’re okay having differing beliefs, if one of you would need the other to convert to make a lifelong commitment, or if his religious standing affects things like his views on birth control.
“You don’t want one person expecting to start a family while the other actually has no interest in having children,” says Greer. But this conversation goes way beyond whether you both want kids in the first place and how many you each want to have, says Greer. Really, you should get into the nitty-gritty of how you’d ideally like to raise them. How strict of an upbringing? Public school or private? What’s the deal with junk food? Having kids is one of the most unpredictable things in the world, no matter how much you try to plan ahead. Being on the same page at least ensures you’re on the same team, says Greer.
How much debt does he have, and how is he trying to chip away at it? Is he good at sticking to a budget? Does he act like a rapper making it rain every time he travels but turn into Scrooge when it comes to buying clothes? “It’s important to know you have similar values about money and finances,” says Greer. “Otherwise, it will be difficult to have shared financial goals you can both work toward.”
Think of it as getting a sneak peek into his childhood. “Seeing a man have a good relationship with his parents and treating them with respect says a lot about core experiences he’s had growing up,” says Fleming. Keep in mind that if he has a bad relationship with her, it doesn’t necessarily signal a red flag. “Some men have mothers who were self-involved, neglectful, or even abusive while they were growing up. Under those circumstances, healthy distance from her would be understandable,” says Fleming. In fact, it could even speak to his good character.
Or taxi drivers, busboys, and bartenders? “Notice how your partner treats strangers, especially those providing him service,” says Fleming. This is especially important if he’s had a hell of a day and it’s taking forever to get his meal or his flight was delayed and an airline customer service representative can’t do much to help. “Someone who can breathe though difficult moments and remain considerate is someone with a lot of inner resources to handle stress and the unexpected, both of which I assure you come up in life and relationships,” says Fleming.
He doesn’t need to spill all his kinks ASAP (although if you know about and are okay with each one, that’s great). But you should definitely know how often he likes to have sex and, to be blunt, whether you excel at getting each other off. “As a sex therapist for 15-plus years in New York City, I’ve seen it all,” says Fleming. “It’s important that you find out how important sex is to both of you because the reality is there’s a huge range.” The longer you’re in a committed relationship, the harder it’ll be to work up the break-the-bed desire that seems so easy in the beginning. “It’s about finding the time, energy, and level of desire that works for both of you,” says Fleming.