Getting into a new relationship blurs our ability to think practically. The excitement of meeting and knowing the new person makes us overlook uncomfortable signs that may later prove to be deal-breakers, eventually landing one or both of you in a toxic relationship.
Being in a committed relationship requires a certain amount of maturity, coupled with minimal psychological reliance on your partner. You need to be there for each other because you enjoy being together, not because you cannot live alone and need someone to cater to your needs. But in the early days of attraction, we tend to overlook things that are likely to become major issues later—perhaps with the hope that we will be able to change the person. The truth is, people change because they want to, not because you want them to.
Physical attraction in a relationship is essential, but that is only a small part of the larger framework of a healthy, committed relationship. Here is my ‘Relationship 101’ toolkit to help you avoid common pitfalls and respect and nurture your relationship journey.
Expectations: Discuss your relationship expectations upfront. The first discussion should be: What is it that you seek – marriage, living-in, or companionship?
Another question is about long-distance relationships. If both partners are keen to pursue their respective careers, they must gauge if they are okay with a long-distance relationship. And if so, they must try to ensure that the ‘long-distance’ phase does not stretch on too long.
In case one partner is going through a divorce or separation, it is important for them to share the details and allow the other partner to gauge it they can deal with the ongoing soon-to-be-ex relationship pressure. Similarly, if there are children involved from the previous relationship, the individuals should clarify the extent of their role and responsibility in their children’s lives and leave it to their partner to decide on their investment in a relationship. It is also possible that one of the partners expects to live in a joint family, live with parents or have them live with you – if so, discuss it beforehand.
Besides the above, an important factor that must be addressed is discussion around physical intimacy and how both parties feel about it. Everyone has their desires and needs which should be discussed and considered.
Health and finance: In today’s world, health problems are setting in earlier than before. This is due to lifestyle changes and greater awareness around disorders. If you’re aware of any current or potential health risks, discuss these issues upfront with your partner.
It is also important to discuss your financial health before getting into a serious relationship. Your financial responsibilities could include the need to support siblings or parents, or save for the higher education of children from an earlier relationship.
Avoid withholding this above information with the ‘intention of sharing it later’.
Personality: Observe keenly the temperament of your prospective partner. How clingy or dependent are they? Can they be affectionate sometimes, only to ghost you for the next few weeks? How are quarrels handled? Do they keep the assurances made by them? Are they still living in the realm of their past relationships or have they moved on?
Are they risk-takers or risk-averse? Do they listen; are they open to discussions or usually want to have their way? Do they have the IQ that is your benchmark? Are they extroverts, introverts or ambiverts? Think about these things carefully and determine the level of your acceptance of your partner’s personality.
Friends and family: It is important for you to meet and spend time with your partner’s friends and family, because they could be an integral part of your life. How your partner behaves with their friends and family can give an insight into their personality. Of course, it is not important for you to like their friends and family. But even if you don’t, you need to be mindful that they will be in your life for time to come, and you need to learn to accept them and deal with them amicably.
In some relationships these conversations may start even in the early days of dating or after the partners find there is some chemistry between them that could keep the relationship going in the form of a live-in relationship, marriage or even a long-distance, monogamous relationship.
Though there should be no expectations that these conversations will happen within the first few meetings or days or even weeks, it is ideal to bring them up within the first few months of the fledgling relationship. Doing so will prevent heartache later in the relationship.
The comfort level for initiating these conversations varies between couples, depending on their personalities. But they are unavoidable and must be had sooner rather than later, so the couple can manage their expectations. Much of this has to be experienced on-the-go, and there isn’t a rule book to stick to; but this checklist of topics is a must for those looking to get into a serious, committed relationship.
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