In the age of president-elect Donald Trump, it appears that people truly don’t know the people they’ve been dating, sharing a bed with, or even possibly married to. Recently, stories have come out across social media featuring interracial couples in which one person didn’t know that their significant other was capable of voting for Trump. An article last month in The Root actually explored this issue anecdotally. The wife in one story, a black woman, said the couple’s arguments became so explosive that she unfollowed her husband on social media and slept in a second bedroom.
When I first read this article and then saw some experiences happen in real time on Twitter, I was astounded. It got me thinking about what conversations are people not having before they enter into committed relationships? How many sensitive yet important concerns go avoided until it’s too late?
Communication and trust are the cornerstones of a long-standing relationship. However, how you broach conversations has a lot to do with the amount of information you can take away from them. Sometimes you can ask the necessary questions but still not get enough pertinent information or the full truth because people are blinded by love and feelings.
I’ve thought about altering the way I communicate and ask questions when it comes to getting to know someone. I’m a believer that who you are at heart is impossible to mask and therefore you can’t make it conditional. During a conversation last week, it dawned on me that it’s helpful to get to know someone by placing them in scenarios where they’ll reveal their full selves.
For example, instead of asking someone directly about past relationships, form the conversation as an introspective question. I had a woman ask me “what did your failed relationships teach you about yourself that you didn’t know before?” A lot of people refuse to see fault in their actions. They’re always looking for justifications for their wrongdoing. That in and of itself is a fatal flaw that can indicate problems in the future. But the way she asked about my past led to me practicing self-awareness that is beneficial to healthy relationships. Talking about your past is typically regarded as a bad idea yet when someone never wants to talk about their past, that’s a red flag as well.
It’s never too soon to talk about finances. I’m currently getting my finances in order, but as a homeowner it’s been tough dating. For the most part, women have been receptive to my honesty. People get scared to talk about money and finance because they are scared to face their own financial baggage. With money being a huge factor in marriages and divorces, money talk doesn’t have to be confrontational or even exhaustive. In many instances, you can observe the little things. How much do they spend eating out? Do they own or rent? Are they good tippers? Do they commute or drive? If having an actual talk overwhelms you, that’s a sign that you’re nowhere near ready for the full commitment of marriage.
After money, sex and politics are contentious topics for a relationship. Referring back to the article, it’s strange that a black woman from Baltimore would think that she’d be compatible politically with a white man from rural Pennsylvania. It’s unfortunate that it took a Presidential election to find that out.
People change and evolve all the time. In the digital age, it’s possible for someone to change their mind politically. You can date interracially or inter-culturally and still support your inherent political party. That’s been true for decades. Now though, I don’t see how in good conscience a couple where one person voted and is still actively supporting Trump could have anything else to talk about.
When it comes to sex, people sacrifice pieces of themselves to be satisfied and to give their partners satisfaction. Although, after awhile, you have to ask yourself is it really worth it? Sometimes loving someone means accepting that loving them isn’t good for you.
Looking back at failed relationships in your life, there are likely some common threads as to why they ended. So many problems can be avoided and nipped in the bud by not being afraid to talk about them from the beginning. You can’t be afraid to look at the “crust” of a person, because those are the traits and qualities that will identify who they’ll be 30-40 years from now.
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