How to Talk About Your Future Together the Right Way
At some point in every relationship, the time comes. You have to sit down and have the capital-T Talk about your future as a couple. It sounds like the absolute worst prospect — both boring and scary — but it’s the only way to find out if you’re on the same page!
The problem with the Talk is that it is potentially hurtful (it’s easy to wound your partner with a careless turn of phrase). It’s also awkward as hell. Luckily, you’ve stumbled upon a helpful guide for how to navigate the talk without too many casualties!
1. Don’t Be Vague About What You Want From The Relationship
“I’m not sure about the future — I need some more time to make up my mind, I think. I don’t know what I want us to be.”
It’s fine to be vague and noncommittal if that’s how you actually feel about the relationship. Do you see long-term-relationship potential with this person? Or is it something that’s convenient for you right now? Are you planning to move to Iceland in two months without warning? Are you convinced in your heart that she’s not the one?
If so, tell her. Don’t pretend that you will change your mind, or that you need time to figure things out! It’ll only lead her on and drag out the misery.
If you’re worried you’ll crush her, relax. You can be honest without being brutal, we promise (though be economic with the honesty!) A little tact and grace goes a long way. Reassure her that you’re being mindful of her needs.
“Here’s the thing — I have to move for work in two months. I’m enjoying this time with you so much, but I’m not sure that I want to commit to a long-distance relationship considering the circumstances. How do you feel? Where’s your head at? I want to be honest with you so nobody gets hurt.”
Conversely — if you think she might be the one, do tell her! It would suck just as much to be the one getting hurt because she doesn’t see a future with you.
2. Hypotheticals Are A Good Way To Keep The Talk Light
You don’t have to ask your partner point-blank “What kind of future do you see with me?” That’s a rather stressful formulation for her.
Instead, try: “Do you think you might want marriage someday if you met the right person? What kind of person would you see yourself getting married to? Would you want your future husband to convert to your faith, or is that not a dealbreaker?”
Phrase it delicately — talk about what you or she would do if X or Y occurred. Talk about “my future wife” or “my future partner” in an indirect fashion, instead of talking about your partner. This takes a lot of pressure off you both, while still allowing you both space to be honest! Now you can let each other know what kind of life or partner you’d want in the future.
3. Don’t Freak Out Immediately If You Two Differ On Certain Things
So she wants to have kids, but doesn’t believe in getting married. You’re ready to propose, but you don’t want to have kids! Whew. What a nightmare scenario it is to find out that your partner has very different life goals and ambitions from you!
Hang on a minute. Resist running your mouth out of fear or anxiety. Try not to knee-jerk react to anything she says. Take a deep breath, be patient, and give each other space to explain or elaborate. Make encouraging statements, not snap judgments.
“Hmm. I think I want different things, but I definitely want to talk about it more and see if we have room to compromise later on! Let’s figure out where there’s room to negotiate.”
What sounds like a dealbreaker now may not actually be — couples often change their minds or goals to accommodate their partners! People change their minds all the time: She may dream of living in Hawaii today, but end up applying for jobs in a completely different city. At least wait to see if this is a possibility before you write off the relationship.
4. Discuss Timelines
“I’m not really in a place to get married anytime soon — I don’t think I’m financially secure enough for it, at least not for a couple years.”
Yes, it sucks and is petrifying to talk about things like marriage and kids. But sticking your head in the sand, ostrich-style is extremely Not the Solution! Don’t be afraid to say that you’re not ready for X or Y yet. (Otherwise you’ll leave your girlfriend of three years wondering if you’re ever planning to propose to her.)
Temper the blow by providing a timeline of sorts for relationship milestones. Maybe you’d think about moving in with her in six months. Maybe you’re ready to discuss kids in exactly 1.7 years! Whatever it is, you need to provide her with some clarity on your progress — and understand where she’s coming from too.
5. You Don’t Have To Figure Everything Out In One Conversation
Don’t put too much pressure on this conversation! It’s fine to say “Let’s talk more about this later” or “Hey, I’d like to revisit this conversation in a few months — how do you feel about that?”
Once you broach the future, it’s kind of like doing away with a taboo: Every conversation about this will be much easier. As long as you both listen to each other, are honest and communicative, and are willing to try to compromise, everything should go smoothly! Good luck!
Long Term Relationship