Regardless of how much you like your new partner, there are probably a few topics you’d rather not discuss with them.
But in order for a relationship to thrive, difficult conversations are necessary.
From financial decision-making to past relationships, you and your significant other need to be able to discuss even the most awkward of topics. In this article, we highlight seven uncomfortable — yet incredibly important — conversations you should have with your partner:
Before you start sleeping together, it’s important to have a conversation about sexual health. You should discuss both what type of birth control you’ll use and the last time you were tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While it might be uncomfortable, having this conversation is one of the best ways to protect both of you.
STIs, like genital herpes and chlamydia, are incredibly common—in fact, over one in six people aged 14-49 has genital herpes. And while genital herpes treatment is available, once you have this STI, you have it forever. To keep yourself and your partner healthy, make sure you have a candid talk about your sexual health.
You’ve been spending more and more time together, and you’re starting to develop feelings. But you’re not exactly sure where the two of you stand. Are you exclusive? Is it OK to date other people?
If you’re unclear about your relationship status, you should ask sooner rather than later. For one thing, it will provide clarity and inform your choices. If you want a serious relationship but your partner wants to keep things casual, they might not be the one for you.
There’s no denying that the “what are we?” topic can be an awkward one, but it’s necessary to move your relationship along. Of course, before you have the conversation, you need to know what kind of relationship you want and be prepared to clearly state it.
You should also consider timing. Don’t bring this conversation up when you’re busy, right before bed, or after either of you has been drinking. Make sure you’re both alert and ready to discuss such a potentially life-altering subject.
This conversation is just as important as the one above. In fact, you might want to discuss future goals while talking about your relationship status. That’s because if you’re dating someone who doesn’t believe in marriage but you do, the relationship probably won’t work.
The same goes for having a family. If you don’t want children but your partner does, this is something you should know before the relationship gets too serious.
While you might not want to share too much about your past at the beginning of a relationship, you’ll eventually have to open up. For someone to love you, they have to really know you. And that can only happen if you talk about your past.
Whether that involves previous relationships, childhood traumas, or goals you never achieved, this is an important conversation to have. It enables your partner to learn more about you and vice versa.
Financial compatibility is crucial for a relationship to succeed. Luckily, the more time you spend with someone, the more you’ll learn their spending habits. But knowing how someone spends money isn’t enough, especially if you plan on moving in together or getting married. You may not need to know each other’s exact salary. However, you should know whether they have substantial debt, how much rent they can afford, whether they’ll split expenses 50/50, etc.
You don’t need to audit each other’s finances two months into the relationship. But this is a conversation you should have before taking any sort of serious step. You don’t want to wait until you’re on your honeymoon to learn your partner can’t be trusted with a credit card.
Admittedly, talking about money can be awkward. According to an M&S Bank study, about a quarter of couples admit they don’t feel comfortable talking about money with each other. When you bring up this topic, do so gently and without judgment so you and your partner can have an open dialogue.
Chances are, if your partner is incredibly religious or spiritual, you will know that early on. But even if religion isn’t a part of their day-to-day, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion on the subject.
It’s important to discuss your beliefs at the beginning of the relationship to determine whether or not you’re compatible long-term. For example, let’s say you’re not practicing but still consider yourself a Christian. Would you be comfortable marrying someone who wasn’t?
Religion and spirituality aren’t necessarily deal-breakers for a couple. Still, it’s a good idea to have this conversation relatively early to avoid any obstacles down the road.
If you’re dating, it’s because you enjoy spending time together. But that doesn’t mean you’ll always want to be together. One weekend, you might want to spend time with your friends or be alone at home. At some point, you’re going to want some space — and you’ll have to discuss that with your partner.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend time away from your significant other, it can be uncomfortable to talk about. After all, you don’t want to hurt their feelings or come across as uninterested. To approach this topic, simply be honest. Make sure your partner understands why you need time alone and that it has nothing to do with the relationship or your feelings for them.
While these seven conversations can be awkward, there are ways to make them more comfortable. For one, pick a good time to have these conversations. Don’t initiate when your partner is in a bad mood or running late to work. If you do, chances are the conversation won’t go well.
It’s also important you give your partner time to respond. They might need time to reflect before responding, and that’s fine. Be patient, honest, and receptive when having these conversations, and they’ll be learning opportunities for you both.