One of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to get into a long-term relationship is to invest all of your time and energy in the wrong guy. To avoid disappointments, though, you can ask him a few basic questions. These questions will give you a lot of information about him, which can give you a few clues about the eventual fate of your relationship.
The First Thing to Think About
Before anything else, consider this: If your boyfriend won’t open up at all and responds poorly to deeper questions, then he may not be interested in having a serious relationship. That’s totally fine if that’s also what you want, but if you’re looking for something else, take that as a big red flag.
If your boyfriend is interested in deepening your relationship, on the other hand, he probably won’t have a problem discussing any of these questions:
Question #1: “Are You a Different Person Than You Were 5 Years Ago?”
Some people change more rapidly than others. Some of us go through massive transformations every few years, while others stay pretty much the same decade after decade. It really comes down to what you want out of life.
His answer to this question will mean something different to you depending on what you’re looking for. Are you someone who thrives on rapid change, and gets bored of living in the same city and leading the same life for many years at a time? Or are you the kind of person who likes stability and wants to put your roots down somewhere?
Of course, just because they’ve had an eventful past 5 years doesn’t mean that they are still on a path of change. However, you can often tell if a guy loves change and gets bored easily based on how he answers the question.
Question #2: “How Many Serious Relationships Have You Been In?”
Everyone has a different history, but if he seems to have had way too many “serious” relationships in, say, the past five years, then your definition of “serious” may be different from his. It could also mean that he jumps from relationship to relationship too fast because he is afraid of being single.
You want someone who isn’t needy and values being alone, while still understanding the benefits of a relationship. It’s better to have someone who would love to have you because he genuinely thinks you’re special, than someone who needs you because he has to be with someone. There’s a huge difference between those two mindsets.
On the other hand, if he’s never been in a relationship at all, this might also be concerning. If he’s young–like in his early twenties–this might not be as big of a deal. A lot of us focus on our careers early on and we might avoid long-term relationships while in school. However, if he’s in his mid thirties or forties or more, then this is a red flag. Ask him more about it and try to find out why he’s never been married or at least in a serious relationship at his age.
Question #3: “Do You Hate Your Ex?”
Ask him about his exes if you can manage to do so casually. Chances are, though, if he hates his ex, he will tell you all about it with minimal encouragement.
Sometimes people have legitimate reasons to hate their ex-lovers, but a lot of the time the hatred stems from feeling like a victim. Listen carefully to his story and try to figure out if the reason for his strong dislike of his ex is because he blames everything that led to the breakup on them. If he’s willing to take no responsibility for the problems in their relationship, then this is a bad sign.
Further, if he has “crazy” exes, politely prod him a little more about how long he was with the person. We all have encounters with crazy lovers from time to time, but the big question is whether we tolerate that crazy behavior or kick them to the curb as soon as we find out.
If he had a “crazy ex” who tortured him for years–or, worse, every ex of his was like this–then he probably has deep self-esteem problems because he allowed such behavior for months or years. Maybe he’s over these problems, and maybe he’s not. It’s up to you whether you want to deal with that.
Question #4: “What Are Your Religious / Political / Philosophical Beliefs?”
Lots of people ignore these at first, assuming that they aren’t important or practical, especially if you live an average life where these things don’t really cross your mind much.
However, the truth is that your philosophical or religious beliefs touch every part of your life, whether you realize it or not–and whether you actually chose your philosophy consciously or not. A lot of people go through life thinking that they have no strongly-held values except for those that are “common sense” that “everyone has.” For example, you might think, “I don’t kill baby seals or pour nuclear waste into rivers because that’s obviously wrong. Everybody knows that.”
The problem here is that, as strange as it may seem, not everyone shares your beliefs, even the ones that are the most universal and obvious to you.
Lots of people are shocked when they date someone and find that their worldview is entirely different, especially if they’re dating someone of a different cultural background. Do not assume these things. Look deeply inside yourself and understand the things you value the most. Maybe you value a strong family, or you value a vegan lifestyle, or you value your religious upbringing. If your partner does not also value these things, it will lead to problems in the future.
Of course, be careful here: Just because your partner doesn’t share your beliefs, doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. There’s no need to judge. Just acknowledge that there’s an incompatibility.
Question #5: “What Do You Think About Marriage and Kids?”
Whether or not you intend on getting married and makin’ some babies, you should be on the same page. If you never, ever, EVER want to get married, then he should feel the same way. Don’t string him along if he’s obviously hanging onto the hope that you’ll change your mind and tie the knot someday.
Similarly, if he hates children and thinks that they’re the spawn of Satan himself, then don’t wait around until he magically decides that he wants to change diapers all day. Don’t let yourself get too serious if you have different vi
ews on this; it will just lead to drama. He might change, he might not--but you can't expect your influence to do much.