Getting to a know a new love interests often involves discussions both deep and light-hearted. It’s common to chat about past relationships, love languages, favorite restaurants and family history. Not all topics are fair game, however, depending on the type of relationship you’re hoping to pursue. However, according to licensed mental health counselor, Lory Toussaint, there are some topics you should get out on the table immediately. Others, she says, can and should wait.

Relationship Status

First, determine what stage of the dating process you are in with this person. Toussaint describes dating as, two people getting acquainted by going on dates, spending time together, and participating in activities to explore common interests and compatibility. But spending time together doesn’t equal exclusivity. Toussaint says you can still date other people if both parties are aware and agree to it.

Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial while dating. Specifically, you should pay close attention to how often you and your partner communicate and the manner in which you do so. This gives you a preview of a person’s potential as a partner.

“If someone only contacts you once a week during the dating phase, it may indicate that relationships are not their top priority,” Toussaint explained.

What to Discuss First

Once you’ve determined the status of the relationship, you can start diving into some important topics with the person you’re dating.

“It is crucial to talk about your job, values, political views, boundaries, children, and religious beliefs early on,” Toussaint advised.

Following this rule allows you to determine compatibility. It can also open your eyes to any potential conflicts.

Once you begin to feel more comfortable, Toussaint suggests discussing topics like medical conditions, mental health, family dynamics, and long-term goals. Toussaint stresses the importance of being honest about what you’re looking for.

“Communicate your expectations from your partner, including relationship priorities, needs, and desires,” the health counselor said.

Toussaint has special advice for single parents who are dating. She believes how you interact with your co-parent is one of the most telling aspects of your personality.

“Talk about how they manage this relationship, their parenting duties, the boundaries they set for dating as a parent, and their perspective on creating a blended family,” Touissaint said. 

What to Discuss Later

It goes without saying, but Toussaint doesn’t suggest being dishonest with the person you’re dating.

“Honesty and authenticity are crucial for nurturing a strong relationship,” she said.

Still the health counselor says you should be careful not to mention anything triggering that you have experienced early on. Those can be overwhelming conversations to have too soon. Those triggers include trauma, abuse or other situations in past relationships. Conversations about these topics need to be with someone you feel completely safe with.

“[Prioritizing] establishing trust and emotional security before discussing such topics is essential,” Toussaint said.

Dating Advice

Above all else, Toussaint encourages simply being yourself while dating. Remain patient throughout the process.

“Take your time and allow the relationship to naturally progress. Stay open to meeting different people and enjoy each experience without putting too much pressure on it,” she said.

Toussaint also warns you should have your own self-reflection in this process. While you are coming up with a list of qualities that you want in a partner, make sure that you possess desirable qualities, too.

“If you desire effective communication, ensure that you can communicate effectively,” she said.