When boy meets girl sparks fly and hormones rage. As a result, they usually throw caution to the wind and run heart first into this exciting and wonderful thing we call a "relationship." The only problem is that they do so without asking the important and revealing questions that may determine if the relationship is doomed for failure or headed for "happily ever after." The criteria most of us use to start a relationship is whether or not the person is hot and has reached certain life milestones (jobs, education, cars, designer clothing, fancy toys, etc.). It is all very romantic and exciting, but attraction is not enough to keep a relationship going. It takes hard work to make sure your relationship is supportive, fulfilling and lasting. Surprisingly, what we know about our new love interest is usually very limited even though we live in an information age, where the information available to us by a simple click of a mouse is mind boggling. The fact that we don't ask more questions and do more research before we invite someone into our homes, lives and beds is troubling. Too many hearts have been broken and lives disrupted due to our lack of knowledge and willingness to invest a little hard work before we enter a "relationship."
These 10 questions will help you determine if you should move forward with this relationship or bless the person and move on. The questions aren't meant to be used like an interview script or even asked all at the same time. Throw one or two questions into a casual conversation and see what information you gather. Keep the conversation light and make sure you actively listen for clues that will let you know if the person before you is right for you or not.
10. What kind of relationship do you want?
It seems as if the answer to this question should be obvious, but it is not. You don't want to put your time and energy into a relationship that you want to be long term if he/she only wants to be friends with benefits. Be clear in your intentions and desires. Ask the question and listen to the answer.
Please do not make the mistake of assuming you know what your love interest needs and wants better than he/she does. If they say they want to be friends, then pull back emotionally and physically. Protect yourself by making sure you stay in the friendship zone. Make note of any mix messages you might receive from him/her then ask the question again. Please do not assume that the mixed messages are a sign that he/she has had a change of heart. Clarity is your friend.
9. How should disagreements be settled in a relationship?
So, how do you discover how someone handles differences of opinions and arguments? You casually ask him/her about the worst relationship fights or disagreements they have had in the past. Listen closely to the details of how they handled the situation. Try not to show disapproval or they will shut down. Did you hear even a hint of violence, destruction of personal property, name calling, blows thrown, or swearing? Listen carefully to their words but also pay particular attention to the emotions that arise as he/she explains. The emotion that arises will provide clues about your partner's level of self-control, how easily they get agitated and the appropriateness of their responses.
Remember you are only hearing one side of the story and most people paint themselves in a favorable light. Knowing how your partner is prone to act in a disagreement is very important because people in relationships disagree and you need to know if a minor or major disagreement may lead to an altercation where the police SWAT team might need to be called.
8. What is it that you like about me?
You need to know why your love interest is attracted to you because looks change, finances change, jobs change and if the attraction is purely superficial you need to know.
That's why it is very important to make sure you are always your authentic self. You don't want him/her to discover that you are not what you presented yourself to be. Just like you want them to be honest with you, it is better to reveal who you truly are from the beginning rather than having him/her discover it later and run for cover. Sooner or later the real you will emerge. Even the best actors and actresses in the world have to come out of character at some point.
People have different worldviews and relationship roles may work differently for different people, because of their family traditions, cultures and philosophy. These differences can cause a great deal of misery when we don't ask the right questions.
Make sure you know what is expected of you as a partner and what you can expect. So many times expectations go unspoken and the partners are charged with picking up their respective roles by osmosis. Let's dismantle the expectation booby trap early on. The relationship expectations will be easier to manage if you know them early on.
6. Are you married, separated, engaged, living with someone or in a committed relationship of any kind?
Just because someone has single on their Facebook page does not mean they are not attached. A man/woman who is separated from their spouse is NOT single. Be clear. You should never assume a man/woman is single just because they are looking for dates. Ask the question, listen to the answer and make every attempt to verify, verify, verify. Don't ask don't tell may be good for the military but it is not good in relationships. If the answer is not a clear and concise "NO", then ask additional clarifying questions or put on the brakes until you are sure that you are not girl/boy Friday. There is no guarantee that you will get a truthful answer, but it is up to you to ask and act on the information you receive.
5. What is/was your relationship like with your Parents?
Familial relationships affect romantic relationships. People bring their baggage from their childhood and family trauma and drama into relationships. So, you need to know how their family functions as a unit and what their upbringing taught them about relationships. You need to know if there is a family history of violence, mental illness, alcoholism, depression, drug addiction, extreme jealousy, neglect, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, or family disconnect. If you don't bring the family of origin information out into the open, you might be surprised by what is lurking in the DNA pool.
When starting a relationship, you need to know the ingredients that worked together to form the person before you. But, please don't judge people strictly because of where they came from. I've known some wonderful people who came from the most horrendous family units and situations that you can imagine. And, I've also known some people who were awful human beings that came from what society would call a "good" family.
4. Do you have a criminal record of any kind?
Trust me, you need to know if your date is fresh out of prison, has a long criminal history, has several DWI's, etc. Not to say that innocent people don't go to jail, because they do every day. Be open-minded, because sometimes, the consequences of early criminal activity might have set your partner on the right track. This happened to a friend of mine. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd, and got arrested for a fight after a high school football game. His parents let him stay in jail for three days and when he came out he was sure that he never wanted to see the inside of a jail again, he became an attorney as a result.
3. What are your relationship Deal Breakers?
Deal Breakers are those things that you feel like you cannot forgive! They immediately terminate the relationship. What are the things that are automatic cut to black and roll the relationship credits for you and your partner?
Every couple should have a deal breaker discussion that sets some parameters for the relationship. Every couple's deal breakers are different. Is an affair a deal breaker? Is a sexually transmitted disease a deal breaker? What about children born outside of the confines of the relationship? What about child abuse or domestic violence?
As you can imagine, this will be an interesting and lively conversation between you and your perspective partner. But at least the deal breaker conversation will alert you to each other's do's and don'ts and help you start the relationship with a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.
Is there ever a time that is appropriate to be called a bitch, whore or another degrading name? Is there ever a situation bad enough where coming to blows is acceptable? Your life can depend on the answer to this question. Even if he/she does not answer the question truthfully you should be able to pick up on their reaction and determine if you need to do some further investigations on this person. Trust your instincts. And if they tell you to run, then listen and Run Forest!
1. Where do you live?
At an absolute minimum you need to know where your lover lives. When it is an appropriate time, you need to visit his/her place to help you determine who this person truly is. Seeing a person in their own environment can be quite telling. If your partner does not want you to visit where they live, he/she may be hiding something. You need to see it and if they are hiding a spouse and five children.
I suggest you ask these 10 questions, listen to the answers, HEAR the answers and read between the lines. Carefully analyze the answers. Sometimes, our eyes and ears will reveal what our heart wants to conceal. At the end of the day, what you do with what you discover is up to you but I pray that at least you'll have the answers to The 10 Questions You Should Know the Answer to Before You Begin a Relationship.
Love Yourself Completely!
Dr. Janice Moss, is a Break-Up Coach and the Author of Break-up Breakthrough: A 37-Day from Heartbreak to Healing, In Love, in Pain, In Love, In Pain, TOO and The Generations Meet.