How well do you know your partner? Even if you’ve been together for what seems like ages, you may not feel like you really know them. I was with my former partner for sixteen years and I barely know anything about him other than he likes to crossdress and likes to go fishing, and bowling, drink Jim Beam, and build Lego. Despite my best efforts, he wasn’t the best at communicating or listening.
I couldn’t tell you his favourite colour or favourite food. I would often ask him questions to get to know him and his answer was always “I don’t know” or a similar expression.
It frustrated me to no end. I would offer titbits of information about myself, but it took him ten years to finally remember the name of my favourite author. He would still offer to cook me fish, even though I’d told him a million times I didn’t eat seafood.
It wasn’t until I was out of the relationship that I realised I’d been living with a covert narcissist. His narcissism was subtle until you stepped away and really looked at the dynamics between us. It was a relief because I thought there was something wrong with me that I didn’t know these things about him.
How well do you know your partner?
It takes approximately six months to really get to know someone if you spend enough time with them. So, how do you get to know your partner without giving them the Spanish Inquisition?
Here are a few ideas you can do to not only get to know your partner, but also see how they react in certain situations.
1. Play a video or board game with them
Are you a competitive person? Is your partner? Are either of you a sore winner or loser?
Playing a board game with someone gives you some insight into how they problem solve, how they handle winning or losing, and how quick they are to anger. It can be a truly eye-opening experience and not confined to an intimate partner relationship.
2. Cook together
This is a perfect way to learn more about what your partner does and doesn’t eat. Are they a messy cooker? Do they have a system in place in the kitchen?
To up the ante and really get to know your partner, attempt to clean up after a meal together.
3. Go on a spontaneous road trip
Take out a picture of your area, drop a finger or a pin or marker on the paper and take a trip there. Or, ask them to pick a direction – North, East, South or West and see where the choice leads you.
You will learn what kind of traveller your partner is. Do they need maps or are they happy winging it? Are they a highway driver or do they enjoy taking the scenic route? Do they like to have adventures along the way?
4. Read their favourite book or watch their favourite movie
And have them read/watch yours. Why do they love it so much? What does the genre say about them, to you? A person’s favourite book says a lot about who they are.
My favourite book is about a centuries-old vampire finding a partner. So, obviously, I want to live forever and drink blood from people. No, really, the book is about family and loyalty and connection. All things I value in the people in my life.
5. Meet their family
Human beings are multi-faceted. The person they are at work is vastly different than the person they are with their friends which is also vastly different to the person they are with their family. Parents always have the best stories about what your partner was like growing up.
6. Meet their friends
Nothing tells us more about someone we are dating, marrying, or hanging out with than their friends. People are their most authentic selves with their friend group. There’s no pressure to act a certain way (like there can be in front of family) and friends know all the good stories. The stories they would die if their parents heard.
7. Volunteer with them
Are they the kind of person who would enjoy helping vulnerable people or do they look down on them? Seeing how someone reacts and treats people in different situations, and from different backgrounds, shows you a lot about that person. There’s an old Hollywood stereotype that you should never work with kids or animals. But I find this to be an excellent way to see a person in a different light.
I’ve dated guys in the past who seemed great on paper but were horrible to disadvantaged people and wait staff. It really opened my eyes to what I value and what I am willing to tolerate, or not tolerate in a relationship.
8. Go grocery shopping
I am a get-in, get-what-I-need and get-out grocery shopper. Occasionally I can be distracted by a new product, but usually, I’m direct. A former partner of mine liked to take his time.
He didn’t shop with a list or anything which was just shocking to me. He would wander around, aisle by aisle picking whatever he decided on in the moment and I was a ball of stress watching him do it. Let’s just say the relationship ended shortly after.
9. Let them book a romantic getaway for the two of you
What is their idea of romance? Is their perfect holiday close to yours? How different are your ideas of romance?
My former partner booked us a weekend away so I could relax without the kids and so we could spend some time together. My idea of a romantic getaway was spending time in a small place looking at all the sights, cooking together and watching a movie together and seeing where the night took us. His idea was a lot different and involved fast food, alcohol, and going fishing alone all day, which is fine, but it wasn’t compatible with what I would have liked to do.
10. Share one of your passions with them
If you’re a rabid football fan or cross-stitching enthusiast, share this with them and ask them to share their passions with you. Your hobbies and interests might be vastly different, but you might also be surprised to find you have more in common than you think.
There’s always a middle ground to be found between what drives you and what drives your partner and that’s the beauty of putting yourselves out of your comfort zone. You learn so much about people when they are doing something foreign to them, both good and bad.
Not only can you learn about your partner, but you can build trust and mutual respect for each other and make memories you can look back on in the future.
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