“3 Tips for Having Crucial Conversations While Dating,” Ensign, June 2020
Difficult conversations can be incredibly awkward—especially with someone you’re dating. But crucial conversations need to happen because they can help you deepen your relationship, build trust, and become more comfortable with each other.
Everyone has experiences, weaknesses, expectations, and dreams that should be discussed with their potential eternal companion. You may have different views about how to handle your finances, different ways of approaching challenges, different ideas about the roles of husband and wife, and other differences that you might want to discuss before starting a life together. Keep in mind that you’ll never find someone who completely agrees with you about everything, but when you’re dating and both willing to talk about the hard stuff, these conversations can help you both face the good and bad of the future together.
To get you started, here are three suggestions for talking about hard topics effectively.
Before you talk about something that may make you or your significant other uncomfortable, choose the right time to discuss it. If he or she isn’t prepared to discuss something, respect their feelings and suggest that you postpone your discussion until you are both ready.
When my husband and I were dating, there were things we both knew we needed to share with each other, but when we started to talk about them, we both realized we weren’t ready to share them, so we chose to wait. As time went on, we began to trust each other more, and finally we were ready to have a discussion. We had a difficult conversation, but it became a time for us to comfort and support each other. Our approach to this conversation actually turned into a pattern for us in the future when we needed to talk about difficult things.
For guidance in knowing what topics to discuss, see the article “10 Things to Ask Your Future Spouse” (included in the digital version of the June 2020 Ensign).
Honesty is critical when it comes to approaching difficult topics. We are taught that “when we are honest in every way, we are able to enjoy peace of mind and maintain self-respect. We build strength of character, which allows us to be of service to God and others. We are trustworthy in the eyes of God and those around us.”1 We can also learn from the example of the people of Ammon in the Book of Mormon, who were “perfectly honest and upright in all things” (Alma 27:27).
It might seem easier to hide your true feelings about a difficult subject or things from your past, but it’s better to be open and honest. Don’t forget that part of being honest can be expressing that you aren’t quite ready to talk about certain things. As you are both willing to be honest in your relationship, the Holy Ghost will guide you.
When you are sharing difficult things with each other, or when you disagree, sometimes you might experience hurt or other painful emotions—and that’s completely normal. But to communicate effectively, it’s best to bridle your emotions and listen to each other. President Russell M. Nelson once taught, “Learn to listen, and listen to learn.”2 You should first try to understand and then to be understood. Be sure that you listen to understand completely where the other person is coming from, even if they are saying something that you don’t want to hear. The more you listen, the easier it will be to understand them and to overcome hurt feelings.
The article “Five Things Good Listeners Do” (from the June 2018 Ensign) can give you more tips on becoming an expert listener.
Communication in relationships requires real effort from both of you, but it will pay off for you throughout your life. Learning to communicate about both the easy and the hard things will be a huge blessing in your relationship. And if you’ve learned to talk about hard things while dating, you will build a solid foundation for communicating and strengthening each other throughout your marriage.