Five conversations you need to have
Initiating important conversations can be incredibly awkward, but they are universal to healthy relationships. From the trivial to the news-making (and sometimes relationship-breaking), here are some conversations you should consider having with your partner.
Definitions are bound to come up as a subject for conversation when entering a serious relationship. It can be difficult to gauge when to drop questions concerning how exclusive you want the relationship to be or when you want to go public. Talking about these issues can help resolve any burning questions you have about the state of your relationship. Otherwise, you might end up having to resort to the Internet. “I love how it’s official when you put it on Facebook,” said Carla Miller, a first-year in MCS.
Space and privacy
How much is too much? Talk about spending time apart from each other, and maybe spend those extra hours working on other relationships, such as those you share with your friends. “You need to make sure you maintain your own identity and friends,” said Galit Frydman, a junior biology major. “Maintain your own relationships!” Don’t spend time with your partner to the exclusion of all else; friends provide safety nets if your relationship sours.
What about your partners’ friends? If there are many reservations when it comes time to meet them, you might want to analyze the situation; a hesitation could indicate unresolved issues. You don’t need to be best friends with your partner’s friends, but feeling accepted can prevent future stress in the relationship. “I think if they really want you to be part of their life, they would want you and welcome you into that part,” Frydman said. “It’s also a really good way to get to know them if you get to know their friends.”
Other issues to address might include prior relationships. “Talking about past relationships — I think that’s pretty important,” said Michelle Mirabella, a first-year in H&SS. Relating your previous experiences can communicate the issues you feel strongly about and help your partner be aware of the things you might be sensitive to. It helps to reduce the possibility of miscommunication.
I want to know you
Finding out what you’re comfortable with around your partner is important, and what you’re insecure about equally so. Address readiness to communicate, religious views, and relationship goals. “Personal aspirations — what a person’s all about, who are they, and where are they going,” said Jeremy Astor, a senior business major. “I think that’s the whole dating process: your evaluation of who a person is.”
Also, find the line between sharing too little and sharing too much. Information overflow can be a turn-off.
“I’m not a secrets person, but it’s nice sometimes to spare your partner of certain things,” said Miller. “For example, I don’t think it’s necessary to say, ‘My ex was better endowed than you.’ ”
Talking about talking about talking…
Communication is a central aspect of all relationships, but sometimes it’s a good idea to have a talk about talking. Making sure that your significant other is comfortable telling you things and that you are also comfortable talking to him or her about what’s important so you can strengthen your relationship. “Talking about communication — I think that’s the most important thing,” said Mirabella. “I feel like communication covers it all, because if you can’t communicate, you’re not really in a relationship.”
Have an idea of where your partner is sexually. Mismatched experience levels are often the cause of discomfort and insecurity — not to mention awkward moments. Discussing them can be a relief for the experienced and inexperienced alike. “Talk about where they are sexually and where you are — what does that mean for your relationship?” said Jessica Winn, a junior political science major. “You need to be able to have an honest conversation where you’re not worried about whether what you say is touchy.”
The number of people that your partner has been with, for example, can have an impact on your impression of him or her. For first-year business major Brett Cannaday, this number is a large player in whether he is willing to date a girl. “I figure out if she’s datable or not by finding out how many guys she’s been with,” he said.
Some consider numbers to be irrelevant, however. Frydman countered, “I don’t think it really matters how many people [your] partner has been with as long as when he’s with you, he’s with you. And as long as he was safe about it and tested.”
A more sensitive — but equally important — conversation is about the consequence of contraceptives gone wrong. “One thing I always worry about is if I got pregnant — where would he stand in this situation?” Miller said. “You shouldn’t be sexually active with someone if you’re not in agreement on that situation.”
Social conventions often make certain subjects taboo, and engaging conversations about them can be painfully awkward. Still, there’s no better way to get to know someone or to address issues that could otherwise breed discomfort. While most of these examples have been heavier, more serious issues, there are the fun ones too. “I want to talk to [girls] and find out why The Notebook is the best movie ever!” joked Astor. The only way to do it is by talking.