Conversations To Have With Your Partner To Improve The Relationship

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

A healthy, happy romantic relationship is a goal for many people. You've likely heard that communication is one of the most important aspects of a stable, healthy relationship. But, what does good communication in a relationship entail? In this article, we discuss specific conversation starters and topics that may help you and your romantic partner improve your long-term relationship.

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Conversations to have with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or any partner in a serious romantic relationship

If your relationship is moving toward a long-term commitment, or if you've already made a commitment, there are important conversation topics to discuss to make sure both you and your partner are on the same page. Maintaining good communication about serious topics may help reduce future arguments, which is important because couples who spend more time arguing are less satisfied with their relationship.

Long-term expectations

Consider what each of you wants from a long-term relationship. For example, do you expect a long-term relationship to lead to marriage? Kids? Living together? If marriage is your goal and your partner never wants to get married, you will have to discuss your options and decide how to move forward. Even finding out more trivial subjects, like whether your partner is a dog person or a cat person, can be important to determine whether you are compatible long-term.

Talking about your expectations, including how you expect to be treated, may also be essential for your relationship. Consider how much time you want to spend with your partner, and how you expect your lives will change as you become more serious.

Financial strategies

Consider whether you agree on financial philosophies, and if not, whether this will be a problem. Perhaps they like to save money, but you prefer to spend disposable income on vacations, gadgets, and other fun things. Maybe you’re both focused on planning and saving for retirement but have different ideas about where you want to retire, at what age, and with how much money. 

If you are in a serious relationship, a conversation about finances can be critical, since financial problems and disagreements are among the most common reasons for break-ups and divorces. Discuss debts either of you have, what percentage of your incomes you believe should be put into savings, and how much each person will play a role in financial management. Consider if you'll maintain separate or joint accounts, and what the process will be for making big ticket purchases.


Do either of you already have children, and if so, what will your partner's role be in their lives? When should they meet the children? If you are a parent, your priority is likely figuring out what is best for your kids. Before making introductions, you probably want to know that the relationship is stable, or that your partner is willing to help raise your kids in the future.

It's also important to discuss if either person wants kids. If you are on the same page about having children, do you agree on how soon and how many? Also, when kids are in the near future, it would make sense to discuss details of how you plan on raising them. Will both parents play an equal role in parenting, or will one do more than the other? How often will the kids see their grandparents? Discussing these details upfront can reduce conflict later.

How to handle conflict

You may want to discuss how each of you handles conflict.  For example, if you are one who needs time to walk away and think before you respond in a heated moment, it is essential to tell your partner about your need for space, so they don't assume that you are ignoring them or giving up on the relationship.

A conversation about conflict can also help you become aware of areas you can focus on to improve yourself and your relationship. For example, if you tend to raise your voice in an argument or get distracted by random things, it might be something to address now, before more disagreements arise.

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Long-term goals: Do you want your dream job, a degree, or to travel the world?

Perhaps you or your partner have long-term education, career, or travel plans. It's important to bring these topics up early on, so no one makes assumptions otherwise. For example, if one person assumes you'll be having kids together shortly after marrying, while the other doesn't want kids until after meeting certain career or financial goals, that is important to discuss upfront.

Understanding your partner's future dreams can also allow you to learn how to support them. By recognizing what each other is working toward, you can both make the relationship a source of encouragement and personal growth.


Consider what defines the boundaries of your relationship. For example, think about how much time should be allotted to your partner versus your best friends or family. You might also want to discuss whether this is a completely monogamous relationship or if each of you is more flexible about fulfilling a sexual fantasy or having a relationship outside of this one.

Your childhood, past experiences, and past relationships

In an established relationship, it may be beneficial to talk to each other about your childhoods. How you grew up may not necessarily define your future, but it can help you and your partner understand each other and why you may feel the way you do on specific issues. Learning how each other was raised may also shed light on how you want to raise children if you choose to have them.

Similarly, discussing past relationships, as well as other major life events in adolescence and young adulthood can help your partner better understand your habits, hopes, and fears. It can also show you where you have common ground that you may not have known about before, which could deepen your connection.

How to start a serious conversation

Bringing up serious topics may feel uncomfortable or create an awkward moment if you aren't used to doing it. Asking questions is an excellent way to start a conversation, especially if you don't have a specific topic in mind and just want to connect. Open-ended questions allow someone to say more than "yes" or "no." An example of an open-ended question that might lead to a deeper discussion is, "What was one of the most transformative times of your life?"

You might want to take a different approach if you want to have a serious conversation about a deal breaker or specific elements of your relationship.

A serious relationship talk doesn't have to be negative; these conversations can help couples solve problems, understand each other better, and work toward a happier relationship.

Here are tips for talking to your partner about your relationship:

  • Frame the conversation positively. For example, say, "I'd like to discuss how we handle conflict, so we can get along better more of the time." 
  • Try to see their point of view. Repeat what your partner says in your own words to show that you truly understand what they're trying to tell you. The goal is for you and your partner to feel genuinely heard and grow to understand one another's thoughts and feelings better.
  • Be mindful of your body language and tone of voice. Rather than appearing combative, try to remain open and calm. This can be important not just when you speak, but also when you listen.
  • Stay present. You may also want to make eye contact and nod while they talk to show that you are listening.
  • Be mindful of phrasing. Avoid accusatory statements. Try "I" messages instead. For example, say, "I feel hurt right now," instead of "You're being mean and you hurt me."
  • Make sure that it's a good time. Before you start a serious conversation, check in with your partner to make sure it's a good time to talk. A good time is one that will be free from distractions and interruptions when both people feel calm and focused. It’s best to avoid engaging in these conversations at inappropriate times or during potentially disruptive situations, such as a sporting event, family gathering, a date night at a favorite restaurant, or after your partner has had a difficult day at work.
  • Establish a common goal before you speak. For example, the plan could be to make a specific choice that impacts your relationship or to understand each other's feelings on a topic. Remember that you are a team, not opponents.
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A healthier relationship through therapy

Talking to a couple's or family therapist with your partner can help strengthen the relationship. If you don't think your relationship is serious enough for couples counseling, you could participate in individual counseling with a therapist. Therapy can help you identify where you want the relationship to go and what you want from it. Sometimes getting clear on things in your head is the first step you must take before starting a conversation with your partner.

Talking about the intimate details of your relationship with a stranger can be an intimidating prospect, especially in-person. Online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp may provide a more comfortable setting for opening up about issues you might have with your partner. Internet-based counseling also tends to be more convenient since it can be introduced from home or anywhere you have an internet connection. 

Studies have shown that online therapy is an effective counseling method for couples. Online platforms can eliminate specific time, financial, and geographic barriers that can keep couples from seeking treatment. Individual counseling is also beneficial for couples, as the communication skills members of a relationship learn separately can help them in interactions with each other.

Here are BetterHelp counselor reviews from people experiencing various relationship issues:

Counselor Reviews

"Blaire has been amazing. She's super supportive, empathetic, and kind. She has helped me gain self-confidence and learn that it is okay to enforce healthy boundaries in my relationships."

"Mark is an amazing therapist. He listens well and has valuable insight into male and female perspectives and issues while not passing judgment. I have only just begun, but he has given me many great takeaways to improve my relationships and situations. I am grateful, and I highly recommend him to anyone!!"


Whether you're feeling dissatisfied with your partner or believe you have the healthiest relationship possible, having conversations about serious topics can help bring about improvement and continued growth. A fulfilling and lasting relationship is possible—all you need are the right tools. Online therapy can help.
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