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The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have

Interviews are about who's truly qualified for the position, right? Why shouldn't relationships also apply?

Love & Relationships

I make it no secret that, back in 2015, I went on what I call my "Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour". Men who I felt I had some unresolved issues with, I purposely sought them out so that I could finally make peace with them and, more importantly, myself. When I think about where I currently am as a person overall, it truly is one of the best things that I've ever done.

I thought about that lil' tour of mine when one of the latest episodes of The Skin Deep popped up in my YouTube feed recently. It featured exes Steven and Krystal. After three years of not seeing or speaking to one another, they met up, face to face, to ask each other questions like, "What do you remember about the last time we spoke face to face before reconnecting?", "Do you miss what we had?" and "Would you ever consider dating again? Why or why not?" I don't want to give away too much of the dialogue or outcome; if you want to see how it all panned out, Part One is here and Part Two is here. What I will say is there is a line that was shared that was extremely insightful—"Once you realize you were the toxic person, everything changes." Sometimes, "interviewing an ex" can reveal a lot—about them, you and the relationship overall.

Although I know that some people would never dream of hittin' up their ex just to pull out a deck of cards with semi-uncomfortable questions on them, what the episode did remind me is how important—and necessary—relational interviews can be. I mean, who said that they should only be for professional purposes? After all, an interview is defined as being "a formal meeting in which one or more persons question, consult, or evaluate another person".

So yeah, I definitely think that exit interviews for couples who break-up can be helpful (so that clarity, healing and hopefully peace can manifest). More importantly, I think that pre-commitment interviews should transpire; just so, if two individuals are seriously contemplating taking things to the next level, they can be certain that they are both on the same page.

And just what kind of questions should you ask—and be willing to be asked—in said interview? Let's start here.

“Do you want a serious relationship?”

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Something that will spare you tons of potential heartache and wasted time is not assuming that just because you've been giving a guy a lot of your time, heart and, quite possibly your parts, that you're both on the same page about where your relationship is headed. While you're thinking that three months of steady dating is going to lead to something long-term, he might be thinking that you are simply a cool person to spend time with. So yeah, right off the rip, the first thing that should be discussed is if you both want to be in a serious relationship. If he says "yes", the next question is what needs to immediately follow.

“If so, what does ‘serious’ mean to you?”

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Definitely one of the hardest things about being in, just about any kind of relationship, is coming to a happy medium when it comes to different perspectives on things. Things like what? Things like words. Take the word "serious", for example. While you might think that serious means exclusivity and working towards marriage, the guy you're seeing might be more on the tip of seeing you more than once a week and making your phone calls a priority.

The reason why I know this is because I know a guy right now who's been seeing a woman for almost five years. Although he's not having sex with anyone else (according to him, anyway), he has absolutely no intention on popping the question; not just any time soon but probably ever. Meanwhile, she's out here believing that since they talk on the phone every day and spend holidays together, she's got a proposal in her future. SMDH. When it comes to dating, many times "serious" is relative. Get clarity on where you both are coming from so that neither of you are disillusioned or end up being disappointed (if not straight-up pissed).

“How do you think it would benefit us both to go to another level?”

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Remember how I said that one definition of an interview is to evaluate another person? To evaluate is "to judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of; assess". That said, even though all of us have great worth, that doesn't mean that all of us are designed to be highly significant in the lives of the people we come across. If you're going to go up a notch in your relationship with someone, you need to determine if they show the qualities and traits of being able to be significant and purposeful for you. What I mean by that is, by going beyond where the two of you are now, how will that benefit you both mentally, emotionally and spiritually? If you're not sure, maybe you need to take out the time to get to know each other a little better. Because, if someone can't help you to be better than you are without them, on the intimate tip, why exactly do you need them to be any closer to you?

“What are your personal relationship deal-breakers?”

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Anyone who has ever been in a session with me knows that one of the things that I always recommend is them "knowing what their line is" in a relationship. I'm not talking about when it comes to things like abuse; hopefully, it's a given that you won't stand for that. No, what I mean is what are the things that are up for negotiation, to a point? Maybe you're willing to date someone who is still trying to figure out where they stand when it comes to their religious beliefs. Maybe you're open to testing out a long-distance relationship for a certain period of time. Maybe dating a broke guy while he's completing his education or is getting his business off of the ground is something that you're open to. At the same time, maybe these are things that you're willing to deal with for a season but not forever.

There are a lot of people who end up feeling blindsided, one year into a relationship, because they assumed that their partner was gonna be down with certain things about them for the long haul while their partner thought that it would be a temporary type of situation. Again, deal-breakers are things that people try and find a middle ground on but, if they can't, the deal is off. For you—and him—what exactly would those types of things be?

“What are your personal relationship expectations?”

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I've got a girlfriend who absolutely hates the word "should". I get why too. Should tends to come with a whole lot of assumption and presumption. He should know to make a big deal about Christmas. He should know that he should pay for every date. He should know that after six more months, I want to be proposed to. Oh yeah? Why should he think that? Because that's the way you tend to process things?

It's not fair to expect anyone to meet expectations that you haven't verbally expressed. So, while you're in the process of your pre-commitment interview, while you might not want to hit him all at once with the 50 things on your list, it is a good idea to at least express the first 10. While you're at it, ask him what his "10" are as well. Expectations aren't a bad thing. Unspoken and/or unreasonable ones are. You can't come to a decision of what fits that list in your relationship without discussing them, upfront, as much as possible.

“Do you feel like you’ve had enough time since your last relationship?”

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I'm not exactly sure who came up with the whole "You need half the amount of time of your relationship to heal from it" rule. To me, I think that knowing whether or not you're truly over someone depends on how profound the connection was and how/why it ended. But what I do know is you don't want to be out here being the rebound.

Another guy that I know? Although he's in total denial about it, he's been in an emotional affair with his first love, ever since they broke up, close to 20 years ago. I call it that because even though he's single, she's married. Plus, whenever they communicate, they sneak around in order to do it. Them still communicating is not only unfair to her spouse, it is keeping my friend emotionally stagnant to the point where he is unable to fully give himself to another person.

Some people, they don't even know they are still hung up on their ex until they are confronted with the notion (see "6 Reasons Why You STILL Can't Over Your Ex"). Even deeper than that, some people don't realize that they are not able to have a fulfilling present-day relationship because they are still hung up on their past (the second episode of David Banner's new podcast touches on some of this). The best way to enlighten someone to this kind of revelation is to ask. The best way to know that you are ready to be in something new is to have them to ask you in return as well.

“What would you expect to change should we decide to officially get together?”

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Even with as much as I study and observe relationships, I'm not exactly sure why giving things a title or "making things official" can automatically alter the dynamic of two people. Maybe it's because whenever someone hears "boyfriend and girlfriend", "fiancé and fiancée" or "husband and wife", there are already preconceived notions about what comes with those words.

Whatever the case may be, during your pre-commitment interview, it's really important to not assume that just because the two of you decide to become something more that you both are on the same page about the "day-to-day duties" that come along with that.

I know my fair share of couples who end up feeling super frustrated, a few weeks into their commitment, and it's all because one thought that things were going to go one way while the other had something completely different in mind. While we're on this point, here's a heads up to my sistas—oftentimes a guy thinks that the only thing that should be different is what you will refer to him as in the future. That's it. So yeah, if you all are going to go up a notch, make sure you discuss what you both think should come with that. It will spare tons of WTF moments, moving forward.

“Are you cool with us being in the same place a year from now?”

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A journalist by the name of Sydney J. Harris once said, "The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation, but false progress." Although I'm personally not a fan of stagnation either (have you ever left a cup of water standing for like a week? It starts to stink), I totally get where he is coming from. What my 45 years on this planet have taught me is, one of the worst things that you can do to someone is waste their time. When it comes to relationships, one of the ways that can happen is give someone the impression that committing on one level will eventually lead to another one.

Translation—if you are currently dating someone, you desire marriage someday, and you both decide to be boyfriend and girlfriend, please don't assume that it automatically means you'll be engaged next Christmas. If you want to know where the two of you are headed in the next 12 months (take or leave a few months), ask your partner what their relationship goals are.

Just as sure as I'm sitting here and typing this, I can promise you that the answer to this one question can almost instantaneously help you to determine if you should commit to this guy—or not. Because if you are all about progress and he's not, why even get committed in the first place? Amen and hallelujah! Good luck on y'all's interview, sis.

Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel for conversations over cocktails each and every week by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Itunes and Spotify.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Three Dates In. Should The Two Of You Move Forward? Or Not?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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