4 hard conversations about dating that should be …

We’ve been conditioned to believe talking about STDs, finances, and sexuality with a romantic or sexual partner can make us appear overbearing or uptight.

According to renowned relationship therapist Esther Perel, taboos are often used to “create boundaries and group cohesion,” especially societal taboos around incest and bestiality, because they help maintain a social order. But other taboos, like those around sexuality, money, and death, are often rooted in fear, Perel said during a September YouTube livestream.

In reality, learning to have uncomfortable conversations around these topics can strengthen your relationship.

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“Don’t try not to be uncomfortable. Just do it,” and eventually it will be more comfortable, Perel said. Here’s how to tackle the taboo conversations you need to have with your partners.

Mental health

Many people believe discussing mental health is a sign of weakness, but having a vulnerable conversation about your mind and emotions can help you and a potential partner communicate better down the line.

And if you live with a mental illness yourself, broaching the subject early on can help you weed out people who might not understand, or be willing to learn about, your experience, Avi Steinhardt, a licensed clinical social worker, told HuffPost.

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“If there is a risk that they won’t be sensitive enough, it is also good to know early on that this person would likely not be a good match,” Steinhardt said.

You’re not obligated to discuss your mental health if you feel uncomfortable, but if you’re interested in opening the conversation, give your date a heads up.
Therapists previously told Insider that there’s no “right” time to bring up mental health, but if you trust your date and see a future with them, it’s worth talking about it.

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Read more: 4 signs you had a codependent upbringing that affects your adult relationships, according to a therapist

Sending your date a text to let them know you have something important to discuss in person can take the pressure off of both of you leading up to that face-to-face moment, according to Mental Health America.

When you sit down to talk, first explain how happy you are with the state of your relationship, and that it’s why you want to share something personal and important to you, the National Alliance on Mental Illness website suggests.

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“After describing your mental health condition, finish on a more positive note by describing what treatments you’ve followed, what has helped you, and what you’ve learned about yourself and other people as a result of mental illness,” the NAMI website says.

Sexuality

Society has trained us to use a person’s appearance and the people they’ve previously dated to assume their sexuality.

But having a conversation about sexuality, rather than assuming it, will better serve your relationship and personal needs, according to the American Sexual Health Association.

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This conversation doesn’t only have to be about who you’re attracted to, but also your sexual preferences.

“You can’t expect a partner to know what you like unless you tell them,” the ASHA website says.

It’s also good to discuss whether you’re interested in a monogamous relationship, where you only date each other, or a consensually non-monogamous relationship, which could involve you dating more than one person, dating another person together, swinging, or having an open relationship.

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People often view monogamy as the default relationship type, and don’t have conversations around different dynamics. This can lead to misunderstandings and discontentment later on.

Even if you’re sure you want a monogamous dynamic, this conversation will make future talks about your sex life and emotional connection that much easier.
Read more: How to find a therapist virtually for the first time

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STD status

Negative stigma about sexually transmitted diseases mean most people stay away from discussing STD status, even though doing so has been shown to reduce STD transmission.

Dating while living with herpes has made Erica Spera, a comedian and co-host of the podcast Shooters Gotta Shoot, more aware of how little control people take over their sexual health just because it’s uncomfortable or might result in judgment.

But the more you push yourself to have that talk with a potential partner, the easier it will get, she said.

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“It takes having to tell people and literally putting yourself out there to get better at it, and kind of more accepting of it. And once you have people that are fine with it that date you or sleep with you, then it’s like, ‘OK, I’ll be fine,'” Spera, who was diagnosed with herpes four years ago, told Insider.

Family planning and finances

Though not an immediate conversation to have, discussing your family plans, financial status, and goals with a date is an important step if you plan to stay together for the long-term.

That’s because these topics are value-based and can make or break a relationship, Terri Orbuch, a sociology professor at Oakland University in Michigan and consultant for relationship-improvement app Paired, previously told Insider.

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It’s possible differing views on finances and children could be a non-issue. But the longer you wait to discuss these uncomfortable topics, the harder it becomes, especially if you or your partner are bringing financial debt into your relationship that could affect your lifestyle.

“Waiting until you have a money-related issue means it’s too late, emotions are high, and rash decisions will likely be made,” Anuj Nayar, a financial health officer at LendingClub, previously told Insider.

To broach family planning, Orbuch suggested saying, “Family and children are important to me. They’re important to how I see myself. They’re important to how I live my life, and they make me happy.”

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With money, frame the conversation around your personal goals, and then ask your partner about theirs.

“It’s easier to approach the conversation of money with someone you’re dating by giving them an idea of what’s happening in your life, including a money goal you’re working towards,” Nayar said.

Published at Sat, 09 Jan 2021 16:15:00 +0000

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