dating

Nine questions you shouldn't ask your partner, and nine you should.

When you’re in a long-term relationship it’s normal to know everything about the other person and have no questions left unanswered, right?

I mean, you know so much about them, surely there’s nothing you shouldn’t ask?

Well, actually there is, according to Sydney-based clinical psychologist Stephanie Allen from Life & Mind Psychology.

Listen: Love Life tackles the tricky issues, like is electronically cheating a thing?

“A healthy relationship is not about telling your partner absolutely everything or knowing everything about them,” Stephanie told Mamamia.

“It’s actually about a really nice interconnectiveness, but making sure that you have your own hobbies, your own friends, your own lifestyle as well as the relationship.”

We all know how crucial communication is to a successful relationship and Stephanie says being clear is the key. So when it comes to asking getting answers to some burning questions there’s a better way to do it.

1. DON’T ask: How many partners have you had?
DO ask: How did your last relationship end?

Stephanie recommends thinking about how helpful this question is really going to be for your current relationship.

“If they said two, how is that different to four or six or one? I think what you want to know more is why did they break up?”

She says it’s natural to be curious about your partner’s relationship history, and smart to find out. But as with most things, it’s not the quantity that’s important, but the quality.

“You want to know about the sort of relationships they were. Was it a really caring relationship?”

2. DON’T ask: What does your dream person look like?
DO ask: What values do you look for in a partner?

Want a surefire way to see your self-esteem take a hit? Ask your partner to describe in detail all the ways you don’t measure up to their dream girl. If your partner’s celebrity crush had always been Pamela Anderson and you wear an A-cup, you’re not going to leave the conversation feeling good about yourself and are unlikely to listen when they insist that you’re so much better than anyone they ever imagined (even if it’s the truth, you gorgeous thing, you.)

Stephanie says that if you’re trying to make sure your goals, beliefs and values align, the best way is to get them to describe the type of internal qualities they’d possess.

“They might answer, ‘Well, someone who’s adventurous and kind and funny and honest’.”

3. DON’T ask: How do I look in this?
DO ask: Do you think this dress is appropriate for the occasion?

We all know this question can be fraught and seen as a potential minefield to the person answering, but Stephanie adds that it’s also quite vague.

Most of the time when you’re asking for your partner’s opinion on an outfit it’s for a specific reason, such as if it’s too tight. Rather than dance around this, Stephanie recommends just being direct.

“Before you ask, express what you’re worried about. ‘I’m worried that were going to a church and the dress is a little bit too short for that sort of occasion. What do you think?'”

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However, Stephanie says there’s nothing wrong with seeking reassurance sometimes, too.

Try giving your partner two outfits to choose from, suggests Stephanie. (Image via iStock.)

4. DON'T ask: Are you cheating on me?
DO try... to have a mature discussion about your relationship.

Stephanie says that unless you really think your partner is cheating, no good can come from throwing this question out in a regular conversation or argument.

"It brings trust into question in the relationship, and you don't want to do that unless there's a good reason for it."

However, if you're asking this question based on evidence and then answer is yes, the next question you ask is equally important.

5. DON'T ask: What hotel did you cheat on me in?
DO ask: What meaning did the cheating have for you?

It's natural for a partner who's been cheated on to want to know all the details, like which hotel you went to and how the sex was, but Stephanie explains this is "really unhelpful".

She recommends rather than go into detail about the affair instead focus on your relationship. The best way to do that is to understand what needs were being met by the affair and how you can work on building a stronger relationship together.

6. DON'T ask: What did you talk about in therapy?
DO ask: If you want to talk about your therapy sessions, I'm happy to listen.

If your partner is seeing a psychologist for a specific issue, you're only saying that you care about them by asking them to share. However, Stephanie warns that they may not want to share this information with you and it's better to offer to listen if they want to talk.

7. DON'T ask: What's your password?
DO try... respecting your partner's privacy.

Stephanie says there are some things partners should be able to keep private from one another. Not sharing your Facebook password with your partner doesn't send the message that you don't trust them, but rather that you'd like to keep some things for yourself.

"It's important to have independence within the relationship. I don't think it's healthy to share absolutely everything," she says.

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It's healthier to keep your passwords to yourself. (Image: iStock.)

8. DON'T ask: Can I join your basketball team?
DO ask: I'd really like to play basketball.

Context is key to this, Stephanie says. If your partner has multiple hobbies and is on several sports teams, they're probably more likely to want you to join in than if this is the one night a week they spend without you.

However, if you'd really like to join in on one of their hobbies and see if it can become a shared interest, Stephanie says there's a way to ask to ensure you don't put them on the spot.

"Express your interest in playing. Say, 'I'd love to play, but I know you're doing it, so if you'd just like to have that as your thing then I respect your choice to do that. But if you're happy for me to come along then I'd love to.'"

9. DON'T... air your relationship troubles in public.
DO try... saving the discussion until you get home.

When you're out with friends and your partner does something annoying, it can be tempting to call them up on it (particularly if alcohol is involved). Resist that urge, Stephanie warns. Instead, save the conversation for when you're alone (and out of the kids' earshot) and in a position to have a proper, respectful discussion about it.

"Otherwise it's got the potential to embarrass or shame your partner, and they're not going to respond very favourably," she says.

Finally, Stephanie says to keep in mind relationships are not an exact science and what works for one couple might not work for another, but being kind, considerate and respectful is always important.

"Before you ask, think about, 'Why do I want to ask this question right now in the context of our relationship and what is the best way to ask it?' 'What do I want to from my partner?'"

What question did you regret asking your partner?

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