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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:

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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