Does your partner perceive you as someone who exists primarily to serve their happiness? Do they value you as a person? Do they recognize your uniqueness and what you bring to their life that no-one else possibly can?

If you’re still weighing up the pros and cons of getting together with someone, it’s very much worth your time and effort to have a dialogue with them about their values, their views and their perception of what love really means. It might all sound a bit intense, sure — but this is your future happiness we’re talking about.

These 7 questions are solid starting points to build the conversation around. Use them to ascertain your partner’s standpoint on romance, happiness and commitment. You might just learn something crucial about the way their mind works before entering into something serious and long-term.

1) What patterns of conflict did you observe in your parents?

We can all be blind to the behaviors we learned from Pa and Ma growing up. That’s totally normal. But it’s the way we deal with that blindness that defines us as partners.

Does your potential partner have a healthy degree of self-awareness, a solid level of insight into their own weaknesses that originated in their upbringing? If they don’t, these behaviors can manifest way down the line and cause serious harm to your relationship.

Talk to your special someone about their childhood, their mom, their dad. How did their parents themselves view marriage? Was it akin to a contractual obligation, an unbreakable social binding which they seemed to grow resentful of over the years? How did they handle conflicts within their relationship? Did they make each other happy?

2) Is love more about pleasure or self-sacrifice?

The ancient Greeks called it agape. Medieval philosophers thought of it more as a manifestation of charity. However you define love, most people would agree that it means putting your partner before yourself, period.

What does this mean exactly? Love is when you ensure your partner’s happiness even when it inconveniences you to do so, even when you’ve argued and it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Of course, they’d do the same for you, too. However, if your partner is with you primarily for their own benefit and flakes when the going gets tough, that doesn’t bode well for the future stability of the relationship. If the very concept of self-sacrifice seems utterly foreign to them, this could ultimately be an early warning sign.

3) What does forgiveness really mean?

Forgiveness is a hugely important factor in the success of any relationship. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is imperfect. It’s the way that we deal with this fact that makes or breaks the success of our romantic partnerships.

At some point or another, you will behave in a way that disappoints, upsets or angers your partner. They will act in ways that make you feel the same. How will the two of you navigate these scenarios when they do inevitably arise? Is forgiveness simply ‘letting it go’ — or is there significantly more to it than that?

Love is about forgiving deeply, sincerely and entirely, as the forgiver bears the emotional turmoil of what happened because of their love for their partner. Forgiveness doesn’t entail abandoning a quest for justice and putting things right, but it does mean being gentle, civil and clear-headed. If your partner can’t deal with this and every tiny drama blows up out of all proportion, maybe things aren’t going to work out in the long term between you.

4) Is marriage always temporary or can it be permanent?

This question might seem a little nihilistic, but you only have to look at the exponential rise of the divorce rate in the West to see that, for many people, marriage is absolutely not a ‘till-death-do-us-part’ concept. If your potential partner believes that marriage is permanent, why? Is it because it’s a contract, nothing more, or does their view run more deeply? What do those vows at the altar really mean to them? After all, contracts can be broken, no matter how genuinely they were entered into at the time.

5) What is perseverance to you?

In what ways has your potential partner demonstrated fortitude throughout their life? Have they shown, time and again, that they are resilient in times of crisis? What has broken down in their life, and why? Was it always ‘someone else’s fault’?

If you perceive a distinct lack of perseverance in your partner’s past, this might be a signal that a long-term commitment to this person will only end in failure. It’s paramount that you discern their capacity for perseverance and ability to ride the waves of the relationship, because it won’t always be roses. In the end, though, it’s the way that they deal with that fact that matters the most.

6) What does courage mean within a relationship?

Courage is not the absence of fear; courage means willing yourself to strive for the desired outcome despite fear, because you know it’s of the utmost importance to do so.

Is your partner courageous? Are they there for you when the relationship looks like it’s heading for the rocks, as you are for them? To what extent does your potential partner truly value the moral virtuousness of what it takes to be brave within a relationship?

7) Who am I to you?

This question is the most profound — and telling — of all. This delves way, way more deeply than simply how they feel about you.

Do you perceive that your potential partner truly sees you? Do they value you — or rather, do they see you as invaluable? Do they recognize that you are far more than just the sum of your behaviors? Do they love the fact that you are special, irreplaceable, unique, regardless of your flaws and imperfections?

Does your partner have the will, the character, to endure life’s inevitable hardships with you, even when one or both you feel frustrated, angry, sad? This question can really open your eyes to your partner’s fundamental underlying philosophy on not only how they perceive you but how they perceive themselves within the relationship, too.

Are you ready to commit?

Phew. That was pretty heavy going right?

The thing is, these questions and the discussions they lead to are not meant to be the Spanish Inquisition. Your partner’s not on trial. But knowing their outlook on the very foundations of your relationship will be helpful not only to you but to them, too. As long as you are both honest and frank with one another, you can use these questions as a stepping stone to a more wholesome and fruitful dynamic for your relationship — even if it means, in the long run, that the two of you just aren’t quite right for each other.

And remember, these questions don’t stop when your potential partner’s finished speaking. Turn the spotlight on yourself. Ask yourself honestly how you feel about the relationship and how each question relates to you and your past. You’ll become a much more well-rounded, respectful and sincere partner because of it.

Are you struggling with a relationship that’s on the rocks? We can help. Maclynn International is far more than an elite multi-award-winning international dating agency. Our in-house relationship expert and dating coach Madeleine Mason Roantreee, has over 15 years’ experience helping people work through their relationship issues. She can help you and your partner develop and build a happy and sincere partnership. Get in touch with Maclynn International today and let’s get you talking candidly, openly and honestly with your partner about your relationship. What could be more important than that?