1. Where do you fall on the cleanliness spectrum?
Love conquers all, except maybe the mounting resentment a clean freak harbors after months of living with a hygiene challenged individual. I don’t care how attracted you are to your partner. If you’re someone who color coordinates their cotton t-shirts, you’re not going to do very well with a person who doesn’t drop everything and start cleaning upon spotting a cockroach. People have very different levels of tolerance for crumbs, odors, and the crust that forms along the seal of a peanut butter jar. So figure out where your partner falls on the cleanliness spectrum stat, and take it into serious consideration.
2. What forms of entertainment do you prefer?
Unless you’re one of those miracle couples that works together and lives together and somehow avoids tearing each other’s hair out in the middle of the night, your downtime is when you’re most likely to focus on reconnecting. When you’re in a relationship and your quality time with the person you love is limited to the evenings and weekends, the ways in which you prefer to spend your precious free time matter a lot. There’s a difference between finding your boyfriend or girlfriend’s obsession with graphic novels kind of cute, and agreeing to dress up and hit Comic-Con without feeling as if you have to sacrifice a considerable percentage of your dignity to do so. Sure, you can take turns choosing between a movie, a concert, and a night spent stargazing between reading aloud to each other. Long-term love requires making personal sacrifices. But life’s a lot less complicated if you genuinely prefer most of the same activities. Who wants to compromise when you can both get your way almost always?
3. What kind of vacations do you like best?
A healthy work-life balance demands vacationing once in a while, something you’re bound to do with your significant other as soon as you mature beyond the phase in which “girls’ trips” and “boys’ trips” are an acceptable excuse to travel. So the type of vacation you like becomes quite relevant. Some people don’t consider it a break unless they’re sunbathing and tearing through a stack of beach reads, pina colado in hand, others won’t consider a destination unless there are culturally enriching activities to pursue there, and still others are focused on scratching their itch for adventure through physical exertion while away. Guess what? If you want to climb Mount Everest and your boyfriend or girlfriend only ever wants to recline beside an infinity pool, you’re either going to take a lot of separate vacations, or one of you is never going to be satisfied while you’re on holiday.
4. How much bandwidth do you have for extended family?
For some, weekly family dinners are non-negotiable. There are people who genuinely love their parents, siblings, and cousins because blood is blood and spending time with them is priority number one. Then there are people who look forward to a family reunion like it’s the next Bird Flu pandemic. They’d rather spend time together as a couple, within the nuclear family unit, than reassure their mom-in-law that her tiramisu is truly delicious yet again, or play multi-generational charades. Since you can’t very well demand that someone spends more or less time with their own family, it’s helpful to get a sense early on as to how much time your significant other plans to devote to their relatives so you can assess whether or not you have whatever it takes to accommodate future requests to attend a lifetime’s worth of block parties, birthday barbecues, and holiday gatherings.
5. How do you feel about eating out versus cooking?
The act of mouthing anything is automatically sensual, and consuming food is pleasurable to almost everyone, so it’s not surprising that couples tend to bond through eating—from the beginning phase of booze heavy get-to-you you sessions to the memorable meals that mark anniversaries and birthdays over the years. But while some people treasure the process of going out and being served, others are perfectly content to raid the refrigerator and gorge on a mishmash of leftovers while standing over the kitchen sink. One person’s restaurant oasis is another person’s headache. Arguably, when it comes to a couple’s rapport, specific culinary tastes are secondary to each person’s preference for eating out versus preparing a home-cooked meal or ordering in.
6. What are your sleeping schedules?
Some people are early risers not because they’re disciplined or virtuous or hardworking, necessarily, but because their brains excel naturally in the early hours, while others tend to sleep late and stay up past midnight regularly simply because they perform better later in the day. The minimum amount of sleep people require to function at full capacity varies quite a bit too. While the “sleepless elite” can easily sustain themselves on five hours or less, some need nine-plus hours daily just to feel human. If you’re a night owl who falls for a morning person, you’re bound to face some logistical issues when planning pretty much everything. You can try setting two alarms and tiptoeing around each other, but it’s best to find someone whose sleeping patterns are at least somewhat aligned with yours, sleep is key to relationship compatibility.
7. What are you willing to outsource?
If your partner would rather pay someone to do their laundry and clean the toilet and nurse their child in the middle of the night and you’re more of the DIY type, things might get sticky down the line as you manage your lives as a couple. Some people are simply more comfortable outsourcing certain tasks, while others feel guilty and/or weird about having someone else fluff and fold their underwear, or watch their kid more than a certain number of hours per week. When one person is committed to undertaking most tasks themselves but the other would rather hire a third party to get shit done, both are bound to end up pissed since we all like to do things our own way. If you can find someone whose penchant for outsourcing matches yours, you’re far ore likely to feel like you’re on the same team.
8. What’s your spending style?
Money is the kindle that lights many a lovers’ quarrel. So when you’re considering how compatible you are as a twosome, think long and hard about your partner’s approach to finances. Are they the type to save, or to squander half their life savings in a day under the guise of “seizing the day”? It can be helpful for someone who’s a little too careful to learn how to splurge once in a while, but in general, comparable spending styles and like financial goals foster peace within a relationship, especially in the context of a joint bank account.
9. How much alone time do you each need?
Introverts and extroverts can certainly harmonize romantically. In fact, an introvert might benefit greatly from dating an extrovert who pulls them out of their shell and into the world, while an extrovert might learn valuable lessons in how to have fun without going out from their introverted partner. That said, it can be tricky for an introvert-extrovert pair to manage their opposing needs on an ongoing basis. So be mindful of just how much solace you and your partner each require, and don’t be afraid to take the divide-and-conquer approach to meeting your needs by doing different things.
10. What are your political leanings?
Sometimes people spend lengthy stretches of their lives completely unaware of what’s going on in the world, politically speaking. The thing is, people tend to become more passionate about their political leanings over time. So while it might not irk you that you’re currently dating an NRA supporter or someone who takes Donald Trump’s White House aspirations at all seriously, you might not be able to handle your partner’s politics if the scale tips any further in a certain direction. If you’d rather avoid debating “the issues” with your significant other on repeat over the years, perhaps pay more attention to their voting history than might seem necessary while you’re both so young and open-minded.