I’ve heard dating advice that started with “It’s too early to talk about [insert topic]” way too many times.
As a woman, this advice always seemed logical. I grew up watching depictions of overly-eager girls making advances on too-cool-for-school guys; the scenario ending in the girl appearing foolish. I experienced firsthand what it was like to ask what I thought was a reasonable question to someone I was dating, only to have them make me feel like I was crazy.
But now that I’ve gone through a decade of dating and forming one too many relationships, I realize the problem wasn’t me.
Getting into a new relationship is a few things. There are feelings of excitement, curiosity, and butterflies in your stomach. But then there are also the emotions invoked when you bring a new person into your life: trepidation, hesitation, worry for both your physical and emotional safety.
These latter emotions are entirely valid. Dating is beautiful, emotional, vulnerable, and scary wrapped up into one. And because of this mixture, the questions once labeled “taboo” make complete sense and are within your right to ask.
Your heart and physical health are the utmost priority when entering into a new relationship. No matter how long you’ve been dating, you have every right to ask these questions with your partner.
1. What their intentions are
If you haven’t defined the relationship yet, you might have some confusion over what your partner’s intentions are. Do they want to date casually? Are they looking for something serious?
If you’re clear on your intentions, this question is never too early to ask.
I’ve listened to many people, myself included, shy away from posing this question. But if you lay awake at night with this question nagging at your mind, then you should go ahead and ask. You don’t need to wait for them to make that move.
If the person reacts badly or gives you an answer that’s incongruent to your intentions, you’ve saved yourself future heartache. If they respond well, your worries are over.
Both outcomes are a win.
2. If you’re exclusive
If you’re sleeping with the person, ask this question. If you want to know before sleeping with the person, ask this question. If this question has been racing through your mind the past week, ask this question.
There’s nothing worse than moving forward in the relationship and having your heart hurt because the two of you weren’t on the same page. Sometimes you can assume your exclusivity, but if you’re worried in the least bit, it’s better to clear the air.
This defining of the relationship is even more important when your physical health is at stake.
Again, worrying about being labeled “crazy” or “overly-eager” should be the least of your concerns. If that’s how someone reacts, consider yourself to have dodged a bullet.
3. Their sexual health
No matter how early you are in dating someone, you should have this talk.
STDs are no joke. That’s something that could severely impact your health and be with you for the rest of your life. Never let someone make you feel like this isn’t your right to know. If you’re sexually active with them, it’s your business too.
So go ahead and have the talk about whether or not your partner has been tested. If you want to journey into a beautiful relationship, creating a solid understanding of clean sexual health will be something you both benefit from.
4. How they feel about you
Even in the longest of relationships, how someone feels about the other can be unclear.
Not everyone can express their feelings well. Not everyone shows love in the same way.
Asking a question about how your relationship is going and where they see things heading is completely reasonable. Be careful not to bring it up too much, though. Continually questioning the status of your relationship can be a sign of insecurities you need to work on or an anxious attachment.
5. How their past relationships affected them
People experience present love based on their past loves.
The ways that their parents and past relationships showed your partner love shaped how they’re showing up for you today. Maybe they’re slower to open their heart to you. Talking to them about their past relationships could reveal how deeply betrayed they felt in the past.
Having an open, vulnerable talk about how your partner has been hurt or experienced love in the past can give you an insight into their behaviors today.
This might not be easy for them, but creating space for them to open up when they’re ready will do wonders for your relationship.
There’s so much truth to be found in someone’s reaction. Advice that says not to bring up a subject with someone you’re dating because it might scare them off is nonsense. If that person is going to leave, let them.
The only person that’s going to prioritize your emotional and physical well-being is yourself; you have every right to ask these questions to the person you’re dating.