Pap smears, job interviews, first dates… life is full of awkward but necessary moments. Just like a gruelling workout, you often need to endure a bit of short-term pain (or at the very least, discomfort) for the long-term gain. The same goes for having tough talks in relationships – and no, we’re not talking about the age old “What do you want for dinner?” saga. While it’s tempting to avoid topics that are likely to make waves (especially in a new relationship), dodging difficult convos can lead to trouble later down the track. On the other hand, asking those vital questions allows you to ensure you’re on the same page – which helps you grow as a couple. It’s no secret that honest and open communication is a common factor in most solid relationships and these tough talks are a great way to facilitate this.
Of course, the relationship talks you should be having depend on how long you’ve been together. Obviously, you don’t want to terrify a new boo by asking “So, how many kids are we having?” But whether you’ve been together a month or are newly engaged, there are important chats to be had in every relationship stage. Sure, at first it may be like getting blood out of a stone – especially if your partner isn’t a talker. But with the right setting (a quiet, relaxed environment) and timing (ie. not right after an argument or before he’s about to head out with the boys), you might just emerge an even stronger and happier couple. Here are the 7 awkward but necessary relationship talks you should have with your partner, based on how long you’ve been together.
1. One month: The sex talk
Even if you’re not a couple and are just sleeping together, it’s crucial to have a chat about sexual health. In fact, this is something you should do even if it’s just a one night stand! This means discussing what protection method you’re going to use and whether they’ve been tested recently. In a study conducted by fertility awareness app Kindara, a whopping 44% of men and 30% of women reported they had never been tested for STIs. It’s always better to be safe than sorry even if you’re not having unprotected sex, as infections can also be passed on through oral sex.
2. Two months: The ‘What are we?’ talk
If you’re happy just hooking up and aren’t in a rush to put a label on things, feel free to skip this one! But if you’re in a situation where you’re starting to develop feelings and don’t really know where you stand, it’s usually worth it for your own mental wellbeing to have this conversation. We know it can be a tough one as the stereotype is that dudes despise the “what are we?” talk with a passion. To an extent, that’s probably true – but only because many guys equate it with a loss of freedom.
With this one, timing and tone are everything. Sober and face-to-face are absolute musts and try to do it in the afternoon (research shows this is when guys do their best listening, thanks to a drop in testosterone levels.) If you can, keep it light and make it clear that a relationship doesn’t mean he has to stop going out with the boys – it just means you think he’s awesome and want to see where things go!
3. Three months: The cheating talk
So, you had the ‘what are we?’ talk and now you’re in an exclusive relationship. That’s great – but it’s worth figuring out pretty early on what ‘exclusive’ actually means to you both. You and your partner may have different definitions of cheating and by making sure you’re both on the same page, you can avoid hurtful miscommunications later on.
4. Six months: The communication talk
You don’t have to be a relationship expert to know that men and women tend to be pretty different when it comes to communication. In fact, this is actually the number one reason couples split up! But by having a conversation about your communication styles in the first six months, you can set yourselves up for success. Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t usually open up verbally, but likes to organise a romantic dates? By understanding how you both express affection, you’ll appreciate each other a lot more. Don’t know what communication style is? Take the 5 Languages of Love quiz to find out.
5. Moving in: The money talk
So you’ve been together a while now and are moving in together. Congratulations, it’s an exciting step! Chances are, up until now you haven’t spoken much about money – beyond the occasional “Who’s round is it, mine or yours?” But before you start living together, it’s crucial to have a chat about how it’s all going to work financially. Are you going to have a joint account for all your bills or household expenses? Who’s going to transfer the rent? This is also a great opportunity to discuss how you both manage your money – if one of you is seriously in debt it’s something you’d want to be aware of now!
6. Engaged: The future talk
If you’re preparing to walk down the aisle, you (hopefully) see a future together. But if you haven’t already, it’s the perfect time to discuss what that future might look like. This includes topics like: plans to buy property, whether you want to travel, where you want to live and, of course, whether you want to have kids. Sure, it may be one loooooong conversation, but it’ll help you ensure things continue to be smooth sailing long after the honeymoon.
7. Married: The other sex talk
By now, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your partner likes and doesn’t like between the sheets. But it’s a good idea to check in every now and again about whether you’re both satisfied. Having frequent, honest conversations about sex will help you avoid the dreaded rut, as you’ll know when it’s time up the ante or try something new.