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6 Questions To Ask If You Want To Get To The "Next Level" With Him

If you're ready to transition up in your relationship, ask him this.

Dating

Levels. When you really stop and think about it, pretty much everything—everything that is of real and lasting significance, anyway—has levels to it. We have levels of promotion on our jobs. When we set out to reach certain goals, our achievements typically come in levels. I wrote an entire article on how friendships have levels (check out "Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them"). And, most definitely, when it comes to going from meeting someone to becoming exclusive and perhaps getting married someday, there are levels that must be reached there too.

That's what this article is all about in a nutshell. If you've recently met (or gotten involved with) someone, you dig him and things seem to be going so well that you want to see if there's a real future in it, I've got some questions that you can ask; ones that will bring clarity on whether or not "he" wants to get to another level—or series of levels—with you.

So, are you ready to read what can get you the answers that you seek? Let's hit it.

1. “How would a relationship benefit you at this stage of your life?”

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Wanna know how a lot of us find ourselves in full-on relationships with commitment-phobes? It's pretty simple, actually. If we meet a guy who checks all of our boxes, we have a really great time with and the chemistry is totally off the charts, we can oftentimes assume that this special combo is the foundation for something long-term. But here's the thing—if he's not looking for anything serious, he can feel the same way and still never intended on building a future with you.

As a marriage life coach, I can't express enough, just how much assumptions can damage, if not flat-out ruin, a relationship. So, if you've been seeing a guy for a hot minute and you can tell that you are on the road towards getting pretty attached, it's a good idea to ask him something along the lines of, "So, a relationship. Is that something that would fit well into your world right now?" If it is, he will absolutely have no problem expressing that. If he looks at you like you're out of your mind, well, that's an answer too. Bottom line, people who are open to a relationship are not afraid of the word or a discussion about the word. So, if it's been three dates or more at this point, don't feel like you are being pushy or "needy" by broaching this topic. To a mature man, you're not. Not at all.

2. “Do you feel comfortable enough to share your vulnerabilities with me?”

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I've shared in articles for married folks that I'm not big on using the word "vulnerable" in that kind of relationship; I prefer the word "dependent" instead. The reason why is because, if someone has stood before God, their mama and their partner's mama to profess that they will hold them down like no one else can (or should) for the rest of their life, they shouldn't feel like they are being vulnerable (capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon; open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.; open to assault) with that individual. Nah, being dependent (relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc.) is much safer. Healthier too.

If there's one thing that a lot of men—especially Black men—tell me is, they have a really difficult time feeling like it's OK to be dependent in their romantic relationships because their partner is very much into morally attacking and criticizing them. Or worse, their partner will say, "You can tell me anything" and then when they let their guard down and do it, they get denounced for it.

I don't care how beautiful a woman is or how good her "stuff" may be, if her man can't feel completely comfortable being his full and total self with her, she's in a surface-layered relationship; one that oftentimes has an expiration date. So yeah, if you want to get to the next level with someone, asking them if they feel like they can talk to you about, pretty much anything, is a very valid question. Make sure you listen very closely for the answer that they give you. It will reveal a lot.

3. “What are three things you wish you could do over from your past relationships?”

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It's pretty much human nature that, if you ask a person why their last relationship ended, that they will go on and on about all of the things that their ex did wrong. That's why I give major points to those who are humble and self-aware enough to own their own ish because, 8.5 times out of 10, everyone plays a significant role into why a break-up transpired. Besides, when you're dating someone new and they are willing to take responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof), you can get some real insight into, not just their areas of weakness and how self-perceptive they are, but what you could possibly be in for should you choose to continue seeing them too.

While it might initially seem awkward to ask someone to share all of their relational faux pas, so long as you are willing to do the same, it honestly shouldn't be that big of a deal. Just make sure to not try and "lead their narrative". What I mean by that is, if he says something along the lines of, "She had a hard time trusting me", it's not a good idea for you to immediately follow that up with, "Oh, so you cheated" like you are accusing rather than inquiring. Being a poor listener is another reason why so many relationships end up going off the rails. Let him tell his own story. Then decide if his missteps are ones that you can handle or not. This question is not about you serving as the judge and jury of his past. All you need to determine is, if once you discover what happened in former relationships, can you hang if similar things just happen to manifest in your relationship with him down the road.

4. “What do I bring to the table that no one else in your world can—or has?”

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Something that time and experience have taught me is, I can't stand flippancy. When it comes to this particular topic, a flippant man is someone who would give forth the kind of energy that conveys, "You're really cool and all, but I wouldn't exactly say that you're exceptional." You know what I mean—men who take on the "there's a ton of fish in the sea" attitude. The reality is there are tons of attractive, smart and funny people in the world. Live long enough and you'll get that a great sex partner ain't that hard to find either. So, what keeps two people together for the long haul? It's when they both find something (or a series of things) that stand out in their partner to the point where they really can't imagine being without them. It's kind of like that bun and special sauce on the Popeye's chicken sandwich; while you can find a chicken sandwich a lot of places, those two things are unique in their own way.

That's why this question makes the list. If you can sense that a guy is really feelin' you, ask him why. Not in a I-need-a-ton-of-compliments-and-reassurance-all-of-the-time kind of way, but more coming in the direction of, "So, what do you think I can bring to your life?" or "So, what makes our connection different?" What he says will reveal a lot—a lot about how he sees you and what he desires for the relationship, moving forward.

5. “Do you think that we are capable of meeting each other’s needs?”

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Another reason why many relationships don't go the distance? They are way too focused on getting what they want rather than what they need from their partner. Not that wants are a bad thing (not at all), but they should be seen as the icing, NOT the cake. The literal definition of a need is "a requirement" and "something deemed necessary". When something is necessary, it's essential. When something is essential, it's "incapable of being disregarded". While you might want a tall man (girl, I totally get it), you may need someone who is proactively attentive. This is why it is so important to know what your needs are, even before you start dating someone. If you're not sure, you could meet a man who's fine, charming and sexy AF and then "edit" what your needs are, just because you want him so bad that you will overlook legitimate needs just to keep him around.

Once you do know what you need and it seems like a new guy could possibly provide you with those things, make sure by opening up the door to discuss what both of your needs are. Make sure you express something similar to what I just said about needs—that they are pretty much relational deal-breakers if you don't get them. Allow him to share the same. I can't express enough that both of you need to be really frank and candid about if you can meet each other's needs or not. If you can, this is sho 'nuf a sign that you very well are headed towards hitting a new level in your relationship.

6. “What does ‘next level’ mean to you?”

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You know the old saying—"There are levels to this." Indeed. Since poor communication—including making assumptions and only hearing what one wants to hear—runs rampant in so many relationships, it can also help to 1) understand that relationships rarely leap from one stage to another (baby steps are the usual norm), and 2) the "next level" to you might not necessarily be the same way he envisions the next level to be. For instance, while you might think that casually dating's next level should be becoming exclusive, he might say that the next level is introducing you to some of his peeps or seeing you more than a few times a month.

When it comes to moving forward with a man, if you want to spare yourself a perpetual feeling of "WTF?!" six months from now, when you're having a next level convo, just so that you can be clear about where things are, make sure he expresses what the next level would look like to him. This isn't a right or wrong debate; it's simply something to make sure that you both are, not just in the same book but hopefully in the same chapter and even on the same page. Because, after all, a healthy relationship consists of two people who are willing to walk together. That can only happen if they are going the same direction and at the same pace. Make sure that the two of you are before believing that you're heading towards another level with him, aight? Bet.

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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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