New relationships are confusing and often stressful, but they don’t have to be.
The core problem is that most men spend the early months (or even years) of new relationships acting in the way they want to, based on how they feel they should act.
They act based on what they think they know about relationships, not what they know about the new person they’re in a relationship with.
Hopefully, you can see how this leads to problems. Indirect communication is the bane of happiness in relationships.
Luckily, there’s an easy way around this, although most people avoid it.
They avoid it because, well, it’s a bit scary. It’s a humbling and anxiety-inducing way to get to know someone.
That way is asking important questions to your new partner in your new relationship.
It’s scary to ask questions in your new relationship because the answers to these questions might show that you’re incompatible with someone. They might kill your relationship before it takes off.
But wouldn’t you want to know sooner rather than later?
These 10 defining questions are essential in any new relationship.
1. How do you define cheating?
I once dated someone who thought “liking” pictures of other girls on social media was cheating.
Considering that I’m friends with girls, and they post photos on social media, this strained our relationship from the get-go. To date this person, I had to stop supporting my friends on social media.
It bugged me that I had to stop liking the pictures, and it bugged her that I didn’t know she hated when I did. It caused several unnecessary arguments.
However, this also exposed an important boundary for both her and me. It made me realize that I prefer to have relationships where I’m not forced to alienate friends, and it made my now ex realize that she preferred men who aren’t active on social media.
Over time, we were incompatible for other reasons, but because her definition of cheating required me to change the way that I interacted with my friends dramatically, it was probably for the better.
Before you begin a monogamous relationship, ask your partner what defines “cheating”. If it’s too intense or too lax for you, it’s probably best to avoid that relationship.
2. Are we sexually compatible?
If sex is important to you, then sexual compatibility is an important part of relationships.
If it’s not essential to you, that’s okay, but make sure you get into a relationship with someone who has similar sexual values to you.
Furthermore, sexual compatibility is a loaded and complex question.
This requires a lot of honesty and vulnerability, and for many people, sexual preferences (or kinks) can be a dealbreaker.
Imagine you’re in a swinger’s group, and your new girlfriend has only had one partner in her entire life. You’re probably going to have some problems.
Nip them in the bud before the fire gets going. Have a conversation. If the conversation leads nowhere, cut your losses.
3. What do you want out of this relationship?
I’m not saying you need to propose to each other or become exclusive after the first date (or even the first handful of dates), but I am saying that if you want a serious relationship with someone, you better make it known.
If you want a casual relationship, make that known too. Ask your partner to do the same.
It blows me away how many people (men and women) think that other people can read their minds. If you don’t tell your prospective partner what you want, they will probably assume that you want what they want.
This is a terrible way to act in a relationship, but they don’t have anything to go off of.
Before you begin an actual relationship with someone, decide what your goals are for the relationship.
4. How can I support you during stressful times?
We all go through periods in life when we feel like the world is caving in around us.
When this happens, some people lean on their partners for support.
Others need space. Some people need a little bit of both.
You probably know what you need from a loved one when you’re feeling stressed, but people very often forget to make these needs known. I know I have done this in the past.
This crappy communication strains new relationships because it puts the person in the relationship without feeling the stress into “limbo.” They don’t know why you’ve suddenly changed (or you don’t know why they’ve suddenly changed), and you struggle to adapt to new circumstances.
This loaded problem has a simple solution.
Just ask your partner what they need when they’re struggling before the struggles have even started, and then communicate with them what you need when you’re struggling.
Talk it out.
Most people who care about you are reasonable, and they will help you through a trying time.
If they won’t, then they probably aren’t right for you.
5. What gives you anxiety in a relationship?
I once dated an incredibly flirty girl.
I didn’t like that about her. It made me anxious, especially because I was insecure then.
She never cheated on me, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t struggle during that period. I also never felt I could tell her that her behavior made me anxious because I didn’t want her to feel like she had to change to make me happy.
It was a whole situation – maybe a story for another day – but the biggest lesson here is that you shouldn’t be like I was. You should stand your ground better.
If someone does something that makes you anxious, you should make it known. This will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Relationship anxiety is like wildfire. Don’t let it burn for too long – you’ll both get burned.
I used to deal with a lot of “relationship anxiety,” and maybe you and your new partner do too. Find someone who accepts your anxiety.
At the very least, find someone who doesn’t make it worse.
6. Are our differing religious/political/spiritual beliefs going to cause a problem in this relationship?
People like to say that “love conquers all”.
They’re trying to say that despite any cultural, religious, or philosophical difference, love can survive. They’ll usually cite the great Shakespearean tale of Romeo and Juliet as an example.
This is a bad example, especially given that Romeo and Juliet died because they’d rather not exist than exist without the other.
I’m not saying don’t try a relationship with someone different from you. I think the opposite.
However, I am saying that extreme cultural, religious, or spiritual differences between 2 people can create conflict. You have to decide if this is something you can navigate.
To have a relationship, you have to be willing to accept and adopt someone new into your life.
Don’t take this lightly.
7. How will we navigate conflict?
As your relationship becomes more and more serious with someone, you will likely encounter some conflict.
The conflicts you experience in your relationships may become severe over time, but they probably don’t start that way. It probably starts with something small, showing up late to a date (several times in a row, perhaps) or something dumb like forgetting their favorite food, but it can escalate up to screaming matches with each other over the way you chew your pot roast at night.
Don’t let this happen. Set up a contingency plan in advance for navigating conflict.
Like most of the questions on this list, this will be uncomfortable to do, but setting up a plan for navigating conflict (and then following through with said plan) is essential for a healthy, strong relationship.
Don’t view conflict as you versus the other person. View it as you and your partner versus the problem.
8. What’s your favorite part about yourself?
This question won’t be as hard to ask, and it’s important to notice what people love about themselves.
Things that make them glow, things they’re proud of, and they want to show the world. You have to learn about the person that you’re trying to date. This is how you build trust in relationships, and it will give you something to return to when the relationship is in turmoil.
When you conflict with someone, it’s an excellent habit to focus more on them (and the situation) than yourself – as hard as this will seem.
Conflict aside, this is a great way to enhance connection with someone. Most people’s favorite thing to talk about is themselves, and they rarely have the chance to do it.
Give your partner the luxury to talk about themselves and listen when they’re speaking to you.
You’ll thank me later if you’re not too engrossed in learning about your new partner.
9. Do you want children?
It blows me away that people don’t have this conversation earlier on in relationships.
It’s four simple words that will determine your relationship’s future.
It will determine if your relationship is worth pursuing.
I’m not saying that 15 minutes into your first coffee date, you should start having serious questions about marriage, kids, and whether those kids will attend public or private school. Still, I am saying that this conversation needs to happen earlier than later.
The second you can see yourself having a long-term relationship with someone, you need to ask them if they want children.
If your answers to this question don’t line up, your relationship is likely doomed from the start.
This will hurt, but the longer and longer you wait, the more and more it will hurt.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Once in my life, I wanted to move to Colorado and live in the mountains.
I was dead set on living my life this way. My girlfriend at the time was also dead set on this new life. She wanted to go wherever I was going.
The mountain move was a few years away for us.
Over time, however, things started to change for both of us, personally and professionally. Life took me in one direction and it took her in a completely different one.
Neither of us was going to be moving to Colorado any time soon. Eventually, the difference became so extreme that neither of us was going to live near the other anymore.
The second we realized that our paths were diverging more and more, we made the hard decision to end the relationship. It hurt, but it was a smart move.
If you see yourself in 5 years traveling the world on a tour bus with your rock band playing shows and selling records, you should tell your partner this.
Wouldn’t you want them to do the same for you?
You don’t need identical plans but plans that establish similar values.
This is essential for a strong relationship.
11. What is your “love language”?
Despite the speculation and criticism, “love languages” are a real thing, and you should really get to understand your potential partner’s love language.
The five love languages are:
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
No, you and your partner don’t have to pick one, but this list is a great way to help you get to know your partner. By knowing the best way to love someone, you can learn how to support them in stressful times, how to work through conflict, and how to become the kind of man they can rely on.
Love is easy, but we make it hard by trying to guess what the person we want to love needs.
Remove the guesswork of love. Ask good questions.
It should go without saying, but in addition to asking your partner these questions, you should ask yourself them.
Questions are perhaps the most straightforward way to get to know someone. You are not exempt from that.
However, in dating, you have to get a bit crafty with the questions you ask, and you don’t want to sound like you’re “interviewing someone”. Dating is not supposed to be like a job interview.
You have to learn how to flow the important questions you want to be answered with the act of talking with someone and getting to know them.
However, this can be hard. It’s not as simple as just taking this list of 10 important questions and trying to get answers to all of them.
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