One of the most difficult parts of any new relationship is defining that relationship properly. This might seem like a strange topic at first, but its importance is quite clear once you think about what is at stake. When you enter a relationship, you are committing a significant portion of yourself to the other person, at least for a period of time. Knowing what you are getting into, and what the other person expects, is critical.

You can think of this as simply trying to ‘get on the same page’. Rather than assuming you know what the other person wants out of the relationship, it is wise to have some honest discussions about your relationship and what it means. Only when that occurs can you be confident that both parties are planning on going in the same direction.
Below you will find a quick discussion of three different conversations you may need to have during your relationship.

What is This Relationship Supposed to Be?

Early on in a potentially new romance, it is valuable to have a conversation about what each of you expects moving forward. Are you working toward a long-term relationship, or is this just going to be a short-term thing? You might not know the answer at first, of course, but it is important to be honest about your expectations and desires. Right away, you will gain a useful understanding of what the other person wants, and whether or not that matches up with your own hopes and needs. Don’t put this conversation off too long, as you might end up in a difficult place emotionally as a result. If the relationship is advancing physically, make sure to have this talk soon in order to have all feelings from both sides out in the open.

Is It an Open Relationship?

This is not a discussion which will be relevant to all relationships, and in fact, many people will not even need to have this talk. However, if there is any doubt, it is best to clear the air and make sure there are no misunderstandings. Any open relationship is one where two people develop a romantic relationship while maintaining the possibility of doing the same with other people as well. The key here is to not agree to this kind of arrangement unless you are truly happy with it. Agreeing to the idea just to please your partner is not a good choice, and will only lead to problems down the line.

‘Friends with Benefits’

This is not a romantic relationship at all, but rather a strictly physical one. It is up to you whether you would like to enter into this kind of relationship or not, but there needs to be an honest conversation so both sides know what type of relationship it really is. If one person thinks it is a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement, while the other thinks it is a true romantic connection, there are bound to be emotional consequences later on.

The key to any successful relationship is good communication, and these conversations can help lay the groundwork early in the process. Be honest with your partner and expect the same in return – your personal life will be much more enjoyable as a result of the honesty.