Know yourself--know what your wants and needs are.
The process of dating and being in a relationship can be challenging enough if you know exactly what you are looking for. Depending on blind luck to land you in a good partnership may mean searching your whole life. Have a clear picture of what is important to you in a partner and don't compromise your core values. Be honest with yourself and clear in your own mind about things that are "deal-breakers" for you. A deal-breaker is an aspect in a potential partner that you feel you would never be able to get over. Being upfront about your wants, needs and deal-breakers can save you and your potential partners time and frustration.
You cannot depend on your potential partners to be upfront with you about who they are and what they want.
Don't be afraid to ask important questions. If a position on politics, family or religion is in conflict between you, a compromise should be reached when possible. Leaving a contentious issues undiscussed can lead to deep-seated resentment and future misunderstandings. Express your concerns about potential conflicts in a tactful way and listen closely to your partner's concerns as well. Keep an open mind to the perspective of the individual and you may grow in your understanding. If you honestly feel there is no chance for change, compromise or resolution to the issue, then you need to inform your potential partner right away. Concealing this information can lead them to feel deceived and angry.
Decisions that will affect both of you should be made together.
In order to truly meet in the middle and allow for input from both parties, it is helpful to actively listen to one another. Active listening is agreeing to take turns being the speaker and the supportive listener. The speaker is given freedom to express their truest feelings without threat of interruption by the listener. The listener's role is to reflect back what they comprehend and assist the speaker in achieving the conveyance of a concise message. The listener must stay in the moment and not think ahead to their later rebuttal. This allows for both parties to feel as though they had an opportunity to voice their feelings and opinions. Although this may seem to be a very structured way to communicate, you will find that it creates a forum of trust and mutual understanding.