Dating can be difficult — especially if you’re new at it, or back in the dating pool after a past relationship didn’t work out. Even though many women get the label of “intense” if they ask the big questions by date two or three, it’s literally the smart thing to do. Why? Well, because it’ll save you a lot of hurt later if you fall for someone who doesn’t have a compatible life plan.
If you’re starting to realize that your casual dates are starting to become legit, or perhaps you’re in a relationship where it wouldn’t be weird if a proposal was being planned, here are some of the serious questions to ask your boyfriend to get to know him better, and see if you’re a good fit for the long-haul.
1. Do you want children someday?
Kids are a huge topic. It’s okay to want a big family, and it’s also okay to be childfree by choice. But it’s not okay to bully someone into making a decision about it that they’re not okay with. If you think their opinion might change with time, you’d be wrong. Yes, it happens, but banking on it will eventually lead to disappointment. If your boyfriend isn’t into having a family, but being a mom has always been a dream of yours, you’ll unfortunately want to sever ties. It’ll hurt now, but you’ll be thankful later when you meet someone great that also loves the idea of kids.
2. Are name brands important to you?
It may seem like a weird question to ask, but here’s why it’s important. All of us have a specific brand we like, but for many people, brands help them control how other people perceive them. If he’s not a watch guy but insists on getting a Rolex to make it look like he’s successful, it means he’s into appearances. With marriage, you might not always be able to afford flashy accessories—especially if you’re hoping to have kids someday. If he always needs the best of the best, and can’t settle for anything less, you might find yourself financially incompatible. With a serious partner, you need to be able to handle an assortment of hardships, and money is one of the biggest.
3. What’s your opinion on marriage?
Some couples don’t like to make the big legal commitment, so it’s important to know what your guy thinks about the whole thing. If his parents had an unhappy marriage, there’s a chance he’s in no rush. Or, maybe he just doesn’t want to have a big wedding. If you’re expecting a ring, and it’s not even on his radar, it’s good to know that ahead of time.
4. Do you like pets?
Just like children, pets—namely dogs, who need a lot of care—are a big issue. If you’re in your early 20s and love animals, you might be roaming around the local shelters looking for a furry friend. Dogs are a big commitment, and when you bring one home, you should plan on it being permanent. If he’s not a fan of pets, or happens to have a cat allergy you’re unaware of, now is the time to talk about it. And yes—It’s hard to believe that some people don’t like pets, but hey, it happens.
5. Have you ever lived with a girlfriend before? How did that go?
If he’s never lived with a significant other, and you feel like that might be the next logical step in your relationship, you should ask him how he feels. This is also a good time for you to figure out, based on what you know, if you’d be compatible housemates. Is he messy? Does he know how to clean up after himself? Is he going to expect you to handle a majority of the chores? Better figure that out now before you sign a lease.
6. How do you typically vote?
Personally, growing up, my parents made a point to let me know that they never discussed voting with each other on election day—they went behind the curtain, made their decision, and stayed silent. Who they chose to vote for was entirely up to them. Even though this is a noble method, people are openly talking about politics a lot more these days. Especially since things have gotten downright scary in the last year or two. By asking about political preference, you might get their stance on a lot of other social issues. While it’s possible for people from two other parties to get married, it’s going to be a lot harder to find common ground.
7. Do you have debt?
Most everyone has some amount of debt that they’re working to pay off—that’s just a way of life, especially for many millennials. Still, it’s a tough topic to bring up. But it’s important, since it might give you a hint about how he is with money. Also, if marriage is in the future and you plan on combining finances, it’s good to know if you’ll be helping pay off his student loans.
8. What’s one thing you’d change about yourself?
This one might make him think, but it’s a good way to see what he may be a little insecure over. If he sometimes has a stutter when he’s nervous, you’ll know it’s something you shouldn’t bring up to him. Or, if he wishes he was more daring, maybe that’s something you can help him change.
9. Would you ever be willing to do long distance if need be?
Nobody loves being long distance, but for some, it’s a total dealbreaker. If something happened (say, an extended work trip, or a need to visit a sick relative for a month or two) it’s good to know how your boyfriend would respond to that. It’ll also let you know how serious he is about you. Is he willing to go through a few uncomfortable months if it means staying together?
10. Are you willing to move?
Moving is a big deal, especially if you already live close to family. The two of you need to sit down and talk about whether or not you’d be willing to switch coasts for a job transfer, or if you’re only willing to relocate an hour away from where you currently are—if at all. If you’re planning to have kids someday, it’s especially important. It’s already a pain to have to find new doctors and friends in a totally new town, but with children, you have to find a new school district and make sure they’re all caught up.
If you’re in a strong relationship, your boyfriend will understand why these questions—while serious—are being asked. The most successful couples are open and honest about their wants, needs, and expectations. Even if the two of you have a lot of obvious traits and interests in common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have identical life plans.