I’m constantly writing (and researching) the beginnings of love, particularly that hopeful time when love is in the air and life is filled with exciting possibilities, the honeymoon period of relationships.
I’m continually intrigued and interested in communication and interactions between new couples, especially the ways these early interactions can evolve into fulfilling long-term love. Knowing that the first interactions between new lovers is so crucial for eventual relationship success, I wanted to look at the kinds of questions partners might ask each other in order to really know one another, and to ensure that this is the right person in which to take on the challenging journey of love.
So, let’s say you’ve met someone new, possibly a prospective life partner, and you want to be sure about her or him. Is this the right person? Can I trust her? Can I trust him? You’ve got questions, and you want answers.
After all, this is your future we’re talking about! Or maybe you have a long check list (maybe in your mind?), that you need filled out before you take that initial plunge into that new love relationship or even marriage?
So what are the right questions to ask someone new? Which topics are “supposed” to be avoided? Remember those warnings about leaving religion and politics out of the conversation? Is it okay to query your new love about such a sensitive topic as sex? (What would your grandmother say?)
Recently, a colleague of mine turned me on to a book written by a noted relationship coach, Michael Webb, called 1000 Questions for Couples.(LINK) It’s a sort of practical pre-marital aid to help know your partner better, to improve communication, and to make sure your partner is a good bet for a successful life-long romance.
These questions cover just about every subject imaginable: pets, health, money issues, sex, morals, personality, feelings/emotions, religion/spirituality, family life, legal issues, the past, the future – you name it.
Here’s a tiny sample of Webb’s suggested 1000 questions:
“What does my family do that annoys you?”
“What rituals could be added to our relationship on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis that would help us to remain close?”
“Do you need to hear the words ‘I love you’ or similar words on a regular basis from your partner?”
If you’re interested in hearing more of Michael Webb’s questions, you can pick up a copy of his book here. I recommend it!
I think these are fair and reasonable questions to ask your new partner. But I have a few questions of my own. Here’s just a few with some brief comments:
1) When and where do you start to ask these questions?
Webb suggests that you can ask the 1000 questions anywhere, even through email. It’s fairly obvious that there are many factors that go into the precise setting and timing of these pointed and personal questions. I mean, it’s pretty doubtful that I’d bring up much about sex or ask about possible past convictions on a first date!
2) Which topics do you cover first?
Again, I think it would depend on where your conversations are leading you and your new love interest. It would probably be best to interweave a certain topic, and the questions that followed, right as our conversation developed, rather than presenting them as some kind of questionnaire or exhaustive list to be methodically checked off. This is personal stuff, people!
3) Which questions are appropriate to your particular relationship situation?
Each couple has their own unique chemistry and particular timing. Have you just met or are you contemplating marriage after being together for a certain length of time? How well do you already know the person with whom you’re seeking this potential future involvement? I think the current state of your relationship would most likely determine the timing and appropriateness of your questions.
4) Assuming you know a few things about your new love already, are there certain questions that are just too sensitive or confrontational to even ask at all?
For example, if you know that your partner has some addiction issues, it might be well to leave the subject alone until you know him or her a lot better. Again, timing (with tact), is essential here. If your new partner needs assistance with something like addiction, make sure you ask yourself whether you’re willing to hang in there and provide that kind of support.
5) How many questions do you ask before it turns into a police interrogation?
Nothing can turn off a person more than being grilled with too many questions, especially when you’re just getting to know them! As Sherlock Holmes would say, “It’s elementary, Watson!” You’re attempting to get to know your new love, not lock them up
6) And what about the responses to your questions?
With all these questions, it’s absolutely vital that your prospective life partner’s responses be carefully heard and duly noted. If you’re going to ask a thousand questions, the least you can do is listen, listen, and listen more. If you don’t, he or she will feel unheard or misunderstood, and fly the coop before anything good or lasting can come of your once-promising partnership. Without a two-way dialogue, what’s the use of asking the questions in the first place?
I’ve mentioned in so many of my previous blogs (like this one) good communication is the key to all successful, long-lasting love relationships. So go ahead and ask your 1000 questions (or a million!), in order to better understand just who your prospective partner really is (or isn’t). Probe with focused intention, and consciously investigate so you can wisely assess your future potential with that person.
If you have some questions of your own about what to ask your partner, when to ask, or how to ask it, please leave a comment below, or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help in any way that I can!
But when you ask your questions, ask appropriately, in the right situations, the right moments, and always in the spirit of fair-mindedness and compassion. And please, don’t forget to listen to your beloved’s answers, because this kind of open communication is the healthy way to a shared love that can joyfully develop over the years, over a lifetime – a true honeymoon forever.