Even if at first glance it looks like you’ve found your soul mate, that doesn’t mean you two are really compatible or that it will last forever. When dating, most people put on their best face and aren’t necessarily divulging their true selves. It’s wise to take the time to really get to know someone before committing to a long-term relationship. The more you discover about the other person and the better you get to know your partner, the greater chance of you knowing if this is indeed the real deal.
Go Somewhere You Can Talk
When planning a date, make it somewhere quiet where you two can talk and get to know one another, says Fredric Neuman, M.D., in "What to Do on a Second or Third Date" on the "Psychology Today" website. Shared activities where you can have fun are terrific, but don't pick a place that is noisy or impersonal, like a dark movie theater, unless you plan on going somewhere afterwards to talk about what you've seen and then some. Instead of a loud club, try going for a hike or having a picnic somewhere scenic, leaving lots of time for important relationship-building conversations.
Be a Good Listener
Listen carefully to what your date is telling you. People reveal themselves in the details about their day or by what is on their mind, says psychotherapist F. Diane Barth in her article "Want to Know Someone Better? The Data's in the Details" for "Psychology Today." “The more details you know about a person, the more likely you are to know him intimately," claims Barth, who advocates finding out basic things, like what he likes to eat or watch on TV, to gain insight into a new partner's character. If he tells you the TV shows he watches all the time are cooking shows, then perhaps fine cuisine and dining are important to him. That is good to know if, say, you can’t even boil water and your idea of fine dining is stopping at the local burger joint. An added plus, being observant and attentive will also make your date feel valued and cared for.
Share Core Beliefs
Don’t be afraid to ask your date important questions about her core beliefs. What are her values? Does she want to have children? How does she feel about religion? Does she go to church or temple or is she an atheist? Is she close to her family? Does she talk to her mother every day or not at all? Share your thoughts about growing up and listen to her observations to give you clues as to what is important to her. Parents and siblings and the way you were raised can have a lot of bearing on the person you are now. If you are close to your family, perhaps you expect to have that same kind of open, close relationship with a partner?
Swap Stories of Your Dreams
Find out what your date’s dreams, wishes and goals are in life. Does he want to learn how to play guitar and be in a band? Does she dream of touring the canals of Venice or discovering her Native American ancestry? The best way to ask big questions like this is to first share your own hopes and dreams. Be vulnerable with this person by sharing your life goals, no matter how silly or grandiose they may be. Once you open up the dialogue about what you're looking for out of life and from the relationship, you'll find your date can let you know if he feels the same way, too.
Study Body Language
If your date tells you he’s comfortable going on roller coasters, but he is raising his eyebrows or his leg taps uncontrollably, he probably is pretty nervous but doesn’t want to look like a wimp. Likewise, if he agrees with you about your feelings on commitment, but his arms are crossed and he is avoiding eye contact, he may not be telling you the whole story. Body language can tell you a lot about someone, whether he wants to divulge the information or not.
Plan an Overnight Trip
There's nothing like an overnight trip to add some intimacy to a relationship. If you are ready for the next step in your relationship and have been dating for a while, why not plan a brief road trip to a romantic location where you can see what it's like to spend an entire day and night together. There are some things that talking won't tell you about another person. Even your ability to compromise on activities that you may not want to do will help you get to know if you're compatible -- quirks and all.