Maybe you and your partner have just started to get serious. Maybe you’ve been together for a decade. No matter how well you think you know your partner, you can never know every single memory they have from the time before you two met. That may be one of the coolest things about relationships — no matter how well you know their habits, preferences, and schedules, there are always new things to learn about your SO’s life before you. Even if you feel you’ve covered everything, there may still be some questions to ask your partner about their past that will let you see bae in a whole new light.
The Gottman Institute, a center that researches relationships, has developed the Gottman Card Decks app, which offers more than 1,000 questions, statements, and ideas for improving and adding intimacy to your partnership. Many of those questions involve delving into your SO’s past, and that makes sense — your partner’s history can feel like an even bigger mystery than your future together. If you’re looking to take a deep dive into your partner’s previous relationships, memories, and experiences, then I’ve got some questions that will bring you and your boo closer than ever.
Questions About Previous Relationships
These might be the toughest kinds of questions to get into, but having some knowledge about the romantic relationships your partner has ever had (if any) can tell you a lot about your SO. The point, of course, is not to make yourself jealous — it’s to learn more about the relationship experience your partner has had and what kind of partner their experiences have prepared them to be.
Dating coach Connell Barrett previously told Elite Daily that it’s essential to talk about past partnerships at some point. “You want to get a sense if this person is able to commit,” he explained, later adding, “We learn from our mistakes and relationships, so you want to find out if this person has already gotten some experience in being a committed relationship partner.”
Here are some questions you can ask if you want to know more about an SO’s exes (without getting more info than you actually want).
- Who was your first celebrity crush?
- Who was your first real-life crush?
- When was your first kiss?
- How did you lose your virginity?
- How many serious relationships have you been in?
- Is there anything you regret doing or not doing in a past relationship?
- How did your past relationship(s) end?
Questions About Childhood Memories
Unless you and your SO were childhood sweethearts, chances are that you didn’t know them in their adolescence. Seeing childhood pictures always helps give you an idea of what your partner was like as a kid, but asking questions about their life growing up can give you a whole new perspective on your partner — especially since those formative experiences may have influenced their current relationship with their family.
Online dating expert Julie Spira emphasized that asking questions about family and childhood is an intimate learning experience. “You can learn a lot about someone when you learn about their relationship to their parents and siblings,” she previously explained to Elite Daily. According to Spira, asking questions like, “What was it like growing up in your family?” or, “Are you close with your siblings?” can “help you learn about their family values, without asking pointed questions about any individual.”
If you’re looking to know more about your partner’s life and relationships growing up, try asking some of these telling questions.
- Who was your best friend when you were a kid?
- What was your best family vacation?
- What was your most embarrassing childhood moment?
- What caused you to get into the most trouble with your parents?
- How did you and your family celebrate holidays?
- How did you spend your summer breaks?
- What sort of rules did you have in your house growing up?
Questions About Past Experiences
Where has your partner been? What has your partner done? Talking about any past experiences — whether they’re related to travel, activities, or even sex — can give you a great idea of what your partner is interested in (and maybe even interested in doing again with you). Though you can always talk about negative experiences, I think it’s usually more fun to discuss the highlights.
An example of this kind of question from Barrett: What was your best day ever and why? “It sparks a great conversation,” he explained. “When someone tells you what the best day of your life was, they are basically giving you the blueprint for who they are as a person.” He also added, “What you want to do is listen to their answers and find out if the underscoring emotional experience of why the best their life was the best day of their lives — and if that’s something you vibe and connect with.”
Here are some other experience-based questions that may help you better understand the emotional experience behind the memories.
- What is the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
- What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
- What have you ever chickened out of doing that you’d like to do now?
- Where is the most unexpected place you’ve ever had sex?
- What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
- Where was the first place you drove after getting your driver’s license?
- What was the best birthday you ever had?
Your partner’s past is a treasure trove of unexplored anecdotes and memories, and there’s no time like the present to learn more about that past. Next time you two have dinner together, try asking some of these questions — you’ll be amazed to see where the conversation will take you.