In addition to the 20 questions you should ask at the beginning of a relationship, below are 7 important ways to set the tone when you’re in a fresh relationship with someone.
1. A clear “Yes”
Most of us never say yes. We just go along with what is happening and don’t speak up unless something bothers us, letting our partner make all kinds of assumptions that have varying degrees of accuracy. One of our friends was telling us a story about the first time his parents met – his mom brought his dad a bottle of Rosé and they shared it with their meal. He assumed she liked Rosé because she brought it so the next time they got together, he gave her a bottle as a gift. They kept bringing each other bottles of Rosé for 10 years until his dad finally said, “you know what? I have to tell you something, I don’t like Rosé.” “Neither do I,” she said. They had a good laugh, and that was that.
Your yes matters, even if it just to basic questions like, “do you want me to drive?” It’s important to be clear about your preferences and honest about what you’re capable of. Say yes when you mean it, and when you say it, feel it. Saying yes to something can be the best decision we ever make, as can saying no.
2. A clear “No”
You can’t say yes if you don’t know how to say no. We must be able to say no in our relationships in order to fully say yes. “No” can be a difficult word for many people. Some fear that if they say no, their partner may never ask again, get upset and leave, or check out from the relationship. Some people will have a reaction to hearing the word no, and this is not your fault. To fully be in relationship, we have to be fully ourselves. That involves checking in with ourselves and saying no to things that do not feel right for us at the time.
To prevent your partner from shutting down after a “no,” you might also say “yes” to something else, as in, while you let them know that whatever is happening is not your thing, you’d greatly enjoy some other activity. That way, you give them options to keep an experience going while providing them with a better understanding of what you like and don’t like.
3. Eating and sleeping patterns
When you start to spend a lot of time with someone, you can lose yourself in their eating patterns and sleep schedule. Usually that’s how others can tell when you’re getting serious about someone – your weight has changed or you’re half asleep at work. It is a really good idea from the get-go to share how much sleep you need and when you wake up as well as how often you need to eat and what foods are good for your body. If your blood sugar gets low and then you get hangry (hungry and angry), you are no use to anyone. It is not your partner’s responsibility to keep you fed, unless they love to cook and are happy to make it a priority. It is your responsibility to speak up early before you get too hungry or say when you’ve had enough. Relationships are maintainable only when your bodily needs and habits are compatible with your partner’s.
4. How you like your body to be touched
Each body is different from the next. Learning to communicate how you like touch can be one of the most important ways to get what you want out of your sexual experiences. Do you like to be touched lightly with nails or fingertips, or more firmly with whole hands, grabbing in certain areas, or some combination of different pressures? Maybe you want to be pinched in certain areas, or held, licked, bitten, hair pulled, or caressed.
5. How you want support around your family
Some people are very close with their families, while others are quite distant. Some people really like to hear feedback of how you should deal with your mom, your sister, or your crazy aunt. Other people just want to share how it makes them feel and they do not want feedback. Communicating how you want support around your family matters can save a lot strife and negative feelings.
6. How much alone time you need
It is very normal that one partner needs more alone time than the other partner. Does this mean you are not a fit for each other, maybe. If one person needs to be alone 5 days of the week, and the other feels too disconnected, this relationship might not work out. This is a good thing to communicate about in the beginning of the relationship, how much alone time do you need? This might also change over time, so be aware of your needs.
7. What your time commitment to work is
Letting your partner know how much time and support you need around your work is crucial to everyday happiness. If you are on a track for a promotion and are going to be working long hours, share that with your partner and ask for the support you need around the hard work you are putting in. If you struggle with relationships with co-workers and need time after work to decompress, make sure that you are both in agreement over how long you need to wind down. If you are always sharing the struggles of work with your partner, check in and see if that is ok with them or they feel burdened. Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed and you need to rant to someone other than your partner. This is not because what happened for you was not important, it’s just that sometimes people can only hear how terrible the person in the cubicle next to you is so many times.
– Keeley & Nikita
Featured image of woman whispering into man’s ear courtesy of ImageryMajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos