If you’re like most people, then the mere thought of bringing up a tough subject in a relationship probably makes you cringe so hard that your face cramps up.
And with good reason!
Whether you’re just starting to fall for someone or your relationship is older than some Millennials, the last thing you want to do is initiate a conversation that could cause awkwardness and conflict with the person you love (or are on your way to loving).
Here’s the truth, though: Regardless of whether you feel like discussing challenging topics, sometimes you have no choice in the matter. If you want to have a healthy, honest relationship that has the potential for real longevity, then those potentially awkward discussions are a non-negotiable.
Avoiding difficult subjects won’t lead to anything but anxiety and wasted time, and when we’re talking about love and life, who has time for that?
Not us — and certainly not you.
Here are five topics that all couples should be comfortable talking about — even though many aren’t.
1. Past relationships
All too often, we avoid talking about our exes, especially early on in a relationship. When things are just heating up, no one wants to pry or appear jealous about old connections.
But caring about someone means caring about his or her story. And for better or for worse, that story includes the other people who came before you. While bad breakups and past indiscretions should never be used as leverage or ammunition during a fight, it’s absolutely necessary to feel comfortable talking about the past relationships that shaped the person you love.
2. Spending habits
As much as we don’t want to admit it, it turns out that spending habits are a big factor to most people when it comes to looking for a mate. The Discover® and Match Group study – which provides insights into what motivates our dating and financial behaviors – found that 66 percent of single people and 71 percent of partnered people rated financial responsibility as “very” or “extremely” important.
Even if you’re not at the point in your relationship where you have a joint bank account, honest conversations about what you spend versus what you save are seriously important. Disparate spending habits can lead to resentment if you do end up merging your finances later in life.
3. Career goals
It’s safe to say that better jobs and higher salaries are on pretty much everyone’s wish list. But what about the other things that come along with career advancement? Factors like geographical relocation and working overtime can eventually lead to disagreements when couples aren’t on the same page from the start.
Make sure you’re aligned with your partner on ALL aspects of your career goals, including the sacrifices that you’re willing to make for professional success.
4. Plans for kids (or lack thereof)
Ah, the topic of starting a family. It can be a joyful subject or an issue so divisive that it rocks your relationship to the core. Nevertheless, it’s something that demands discussion.
Whatever your thoughts are on procreating, remember this: They’re valid, and it’s wrong for anyone to pressure you to reevaluate your plans. That being said, talking openly about these plans with your partner is the only way to ensure that your visions of the future are compatible. It’s not fair to anyone involved (yourself included) to put this conversation off any longer than absolutely necessary.
5. Financial health
Many people grow up being told never to talk about money, especially when it comes to dating. But these topics — from your partner’s credit score to his or her approach to credit cards to thoughts on saving and budgeting — can seriously affect your future together. It’s best to get these conversations out of the way early on. That way, there won’t be any surprises down the road when subjects like mortgages and retirement come into play.
According to the Discover® and Match Group study, one in five relationships end due to financial pressures. Avoid this fate by establishing open communication about fiscal issues right from the start.