Asking questions of your dating partner and of course, listening to the answers, are critical to creating a life partner relationship. That's because determining if someone is right for you is dependent on gathering the right information. But as I've sadly discovered in my work as a relationship coach, singles tend to avoid asking questions while dating. Why is that?

While chemistry and physical appearance often form the basis for initial attraction in relationships, determining if chemistry exists doesn't necessarily require asking many questions. Yet many singles believe that if they have chemistry with their dating partner, then everything else is either not necessary to talk about or "will just fall into place." Here's an example --

Mike, age 26, met Paula, age 30, on an online dating website. Mike was smitten with Paula, a petite, slim, friendly blond, and Paula was impressed with Mike's maturity and "decency." Paula was pretty sure after their second date that she didn't want to go out with Mike again, telling him she felt a lack in their connection. Mike convinced her to go out with him again nonetheless, claiming that since they had chemistry, their relationship had potential. Paula couldn't find the words to dispute this, so she agreed to dinner.

It was during this 3rd date that Mike noticed how Paula became disinterested in him and eventually started reacting angrily towards him. Mike picked up on this and chose to build on their chemistry by touching and kissing Paula reassuringly. This did not help the situation, and after spending time in the bathroom avoiding him, Paula insisted Mike take her home.

Mike and I reviewed his dates with Paula, and together we determined that while he had wanted to get to know Paula better, he feared losing the excitement of their initial positive chemistry. He allowed chemistry to guide his decision-making process so much that he was unable to pick up on her other feelings (not feeling enough of a connection to warrant a third date; her angry feelings at the restaurant). The relationship disintegrated because neither Mike nor Paula had the skills to channel their experience of chemistry to talk with one another to see if they shared anything else warranting a future together.

Unfortunately, I have seen the fall-out of dating in this way many times. Without putting in a conscious effort to ask questions and gather information in the present, there's little chance of creating a relationship with a future.

Many singles say they are averse to dating consciously because "it takes the magic out of things." They don't realize is that successful, committed relationships require much more than just chemistry and "magic." Assuming compatibility based exclusively on chemistry and physical attraction is the antithesis of dating in a conscious way. Relationships that last are based on shared life goals, values, and priorities.

While it's fairly easy to evaluate someone's interests, ways of having fun, and how they like to spend time, etc., it's much harder to evaluate values, priorities, and life goals and determine if you and your dating partner are on similar life paths.

That's why asking these "tough" questions in the early dating stages creates a dynamic framework for exploring the potential for being together in the long run --

~ "Are you looking for a long-term, committed relationship? If so, then what's your vision of that relationship?"

~"How important are family and children? Do you see yourself taking time away from pursuing a career to raise and spend time as a family?"

~ "Are you spiritually or religiously affiliated? If so, what religious practices or rituals to you participate in?"

Here's an example of why it's better to ask these tough questions sooner rather than later --

Dana and Ian met while employed at the same office. They enjoyed exploring restaurants and museums, and discovered shared interests in traveling and photography as well. Dana and Ian felt strong chemistry when they were together, and when Dana's lease on her apartment was up 8 months into the relationship, they decided to get engaged and move in together.

Dana noticed how she and Ian got along well on a day-to-day basis, but argued about what Dana called "the big issues." Ian frequently begged off socializing with Dana's friends and colleagues, which was important to Dana since a big part of her job required entertaining clients. Ian also refused to participate in activities involving Dana's family, which she valued and enjoyed, claiming that since he wasn't close with and didn't socialize with his own family, he shouldn't have to participate with hers. When Dana raised the topic of children, Ian said he was hesitant to become a father since he didn't feel his own father had been a good role model. He expressed his hope that Dana would find happiness and fulfillment in her life without needing to have children. Their wedding plans were frequently stalled.

Dana came to me to discuss making some decisions about her relationship. She expressed how surprised she was to learn how differently she and Ian valued family, children and socializing. When I asked her to share the outcome of their discussions about these issues prior to moving in together, Dana realized she had assumed that since she and Ian had such a strong initial chemistry and got along well, that they would be "on the same page on just about everything else." One year later, she sadly realized that they were not.

Experiencing chemistry with someone can be wonderful, powerful and promising. But if you're looking for a life partner relationship, don't let chemistry be your guiding star. Instead, channel the chemistry you experience into asking the "tough" questions, to learn if your dating partner shares your values, priorities and life goals.

The information you gather will tell you if you'll have more opportunities to make magic together in the future, something I don't think you'd want to avoid.

© Copyright 2006-2008 Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Practicing as a psychologist for over 22 years, Dr. Janice has treated many singles looking to get married, but who had become depressed and demoralized by the dating process. Living in New York City with her husband and three children, Dr. Janice now uses her skills and experience to help healthy singles overcome the obstacles preventing them from attaining the relationships and lives they really want. Janice has been quoted in Us Weekly and Cosmopolitan Magazines, writes the "Love Coach" advice column on, has a free e-newsletter and gives teleclasses, lectures and workshops. Check out her "Get Your Love Right!" blog, read other dating-related Q's&A's and articles, and sign up for a complimentary 40 minute telephone coaching session by visiting her website at