A Little Bit Better

Questions You Should Be Asking Early In A Relationship, According To A Therapist

Stop staying in relationships with people just ’cause they’re nice.

by Irina Dvalidze
Beautiful happy couple dating in Tokyo

Dating is hard. Browsing through endless Hinge profiles featuring men holding dead fish is enough to suck the life out of what’s meant to be a fun and exhilarating period in anyone’s life. And then there is the first date… Best-case scenario, your date will show up, you’ll have a perfectly cordial drink, and you’ll realize that they’re a nice enough person to warrant another rendezvous. However, before your emotionally burnt-out self settles for nice enough, you should really consider finding out some fundamental information about the other person early on in the dating process so you can save yourself heartache down the line.

We spoke with therapist and author Nedra Glover Tawwab, who has practiced relationship therapy for 12 years, about the six questions every dater should ask early on when courting.

What Is Your Love Language?

The concept of different love languages has skyrocketed in popularity since the 1990s. If you’re not familiar, the idea of love languages was popularized by Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Chapman groups five unique styles of communicating love into categories he distilled from his experience in marriage counseling and linguistics. The categories are: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of services, gifts, and physical touch. Tawwab suggests asking your prospective partner how they express and prefer to receive love.

What Is Your Communication Style?

This one might seem obvious, but Tawwab stresses the importance of explicitly discussing your communication styles with a partner. There are many different way to categorize communications styles, but the most popular are passive, aggressive, passive aggressive, and assertive. According to Tawwab, communication style can be an indicator of person’s overall disposition.

How Do You Cope With Anger?

Tawwab encourages prospective partners to have frank conversations on how they deal with anger to ensure compatibility. She suggests that it’s important to know how one’s partner recovers from anger and how they deal with the discomfort of being angry. Having an up-front awareness of a partner’s emotional response, may help you prepare with an appropriate response and assess whether their coping mechanisms are something you’re willing to live with.

What Are Your Hobbies?

Tawwab makes an excellent point about finding partners that have full lives outside of their romantic relationships. The implication is that when you find someone who is fulfilled in different aspects of their routine, they are less likely to rely on their partner for every aspect of their happiness. Having a rich life outside of a partnership may help create a more exciting long-term coupling, in which each person can continuously have new and exciting learning with their partner from realms outside of their time spent together.

What Are Your Pet Peeves?

While it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, Tawwab recommends learning about the prospective partner’s pet peeves early on, so that you can avoid committing an unintended faux pas, like showing up late to engagements. While she doesn’t encourage changing one’s self to fit a desired mold of a partner, shared knowledge of pet peeves can be very helpful when building a long-term relationship.

What Is Your Personal Development Plan?

Last but certainly not least, Tawwab encourages daters to share their thoughts on personal development with prospective partners to help ensure that there’s a shared growth trajectory for a lifelong commitment, if that is what you’re looking for.

If you’d like to hear more advice from Nedra Tawwab, check out the rest of the episodes of A Little Bit Better.

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