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Hey, you just met him and this is crazy, but … could this be something, maybe?
We’ve all had one of those fairy unicorn dates — everything goes so smoothly, the chemistry is so strong, the desire to see him unclad and make out with him (right at that bar stool) is so intense, you can barely fight it. The best part about those wonderful dates, apart from renewing your faith in the male species, is that they open up the possibility of a relationship longer than a few drinks or a few dates.
But while it can be tempting (and exhilarating, even) to throw all caution to the wind and let yourself completely escape in this new hunk, experts agree that if you really want a long-term relationship instead of a fling, there are some things you should try to figure out within the first six weeks of dating.
Consider this your most important to-do list:
1. Can you fight in a healthy way?
Even when you’re in the honeymoon stage during the beginning of your relationship — those blissful six weeks — you’ll have fights as a couple. Honestly, those arguments are healthy for your relationship and can often times bring you closer, but only if you fight effectively.
“Most people avoid conflict for as long as possible when they first get together, but I look at it as a good thing,” Dr. Van Kirk says. “Experiencing some conflict in the first six weeks will give you an opportunity to see how you negotiate disagreements.”
Are you hot headed and he’s mellow? Does he run away from conflict or talk it out?
2. How do you handle stress together?
The most stressful thing about your relationship right now is how often you get to see one another and where you’re going away for your first romantic getaway as a couple, but if you’re going to make it in the long run, you’re going to experience much more stressful situations. From planning a wedding to having a baby and buying a house, it’s important to understand and identify how your partner handles being stressed the f*ck out.
“Knowing how your partner processes stress is important to know sooner in the relationship versus later,” Van Kirk says. “Do they work out, lose themselves in TV, or self soothe with weed? Figure out if you can put up with whatever they do and if they take it out on you.”
3. How do you communicate?
Clever conversation, flirty text messages, and proclamations of love are all fine and dandy, but how do you really discuss how you feel? What you want? What’s working? What could improve? Does he listen to you when you need to vent without berating you with advice? Do you value his opinion and does he respect yours?
Of all the things that keep a relationship healthy, being able to talk is at the top of the must-haves. “Paying attention to how you and your new partner communicate in the first weeks is important. This means you’ll want to know if you are compatible with how you show affection, if you listen to one another versus talking over one another, and how you both understand one another’s needs,” says Van Kirk.
4. Do you want the same things
if you don’t share overall life values, your relationship may suffer in the end. This can mean that ultimately you don’t agree on religion, where to live or having children. Many couples think those issues will sort themselves out but sometimes they don’t, even after you are together several years,” Van Kirk says.
You might not want to bring these topics up in the first six weeks because it could seem like too much, but think about it casually. Comment on a cute kid, talk about how you’ve dreamed of living somewhere else, or bring up a memory from your childhood about religion. More likely than not, he’ll chime in. Just make sure you listen.