You meet someone terrific; have a few dinner dates and great discussions, only to find out months later that he or she is not at all the person you thought they were. It’s a classic case of meeting someone’s “representative” in the beginning. It happens every day with millions of singles across the country.

Relationship expert and author of Break Up, Don’t Break Down, D. Ivan Young, offers these 10 simple suggestions towards building a healthy, long-term relationship and determining when it’s time to take the next step … or not. –adrienne donnell

1. Set the record straight!

On a first date establish what you’re looking for, not that you should talk about getting married, but confirm [whether] you’re looking for a serious or casual relationship. Share your ‘real’ beliefs and values. … Avoid people that talk about goals and plans but don’t have a ‘how to’ and ‘when’ associated with them.  

2. Disclosure is mandatory.

Let people know if you’re seeing other people. Nobody likes surprises. Let your potential suitor know the truth about the nature of your other relationships, especially if intimacy is involved.  

3. Know your role.

Talk about your views on religion and gender roles. Spiritual values are the core of any good relationship. Gender roles must be defined. This can prevent starting a relationship that would never work in the long run.  

4. Share values and standards.

… Both of you need to discuss openly what you will not tolerate in a potential mate. … This conversation, if done properly, will help you to avoid wasting each other’s time, or be the indicator to proceed to the next level.

5. Observe other important relationships.

Ask your potential mate about their relationship with the opposite sex parent. It will give you an indication of how they will treat you over time. (I.e. if men honor their mother they will honor you; if women respect their dad more than likely they will give you the benefit of the doubt when times are tough.)

6. Sometimes, you have to shut up and listen.

You have two ears and one mouth; you should listen twice as much as you talk. The sweetest sound to anyone is that of his or her own voice. Both sexes like to feel listened to and focused on. Listening will tell you more about a person than any question you can ask.

7. Yes, sex is important.

Ask about sexual attitudes, likes and appetites. A good sex life is crucial for a relationship to work. … Discuss sexual boundaries; what is conservative to one person can be boring to another.

8. Discuss past experiences, but don’t dwell on them.

People get the wrong impression when you continue to discuss your ex. Not to mention that it’s rude.

9. Don’t ignore your gut instincts. But, don’t overreact to them either.

Whatever dominates that heart will reflect itself in conversation. Time will reveal all.

10. Keep folks out of your business from day one.

Misery loves company. Good relationships take time, and nobody is perfect. Make every effort to take responsibility for your contribution to problems in your relationship.


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