Should I Go or Should I Stay? The Ultimate Relationship Checklist
It's the age-old question: Should I stay or should I go? All relationships have their ups and downs, and at times it can be difficult to determine if you and your partner are not compatible or if you're just going through a rough patch. Luckily, science can give us a few insights into how to identify and build a healthy romantic relationship.
The checklist below is based on new discoveries about how our biological systems create all the different feelings that hold our relationships together. If you feel confused or ambivalent about your relationship, this will give you a reasonable second opinion about whether you should hold on and try to make it work or whether you should just leave.
The Healthy Relationship Checklist
Study each statement and think about how it applies to your relationship. Then, mark each one true [T] or false [F].
- I trust my partner.
- I consider my partner to be one of my friends.
- I’d say my partner generally thinks about me without getting angry or jealous.
- I can talk about my ideas without my partner trying to shatter my dreams.
- Sometimes it feels rewarding just to be together.
- When I think about our relationship, I generally don’t get angry or jealous.
- My partner usually doesn’t criticize the way I spend money.
- Sometimes my partner looks excited when we meet.
- My partner is OK with discussing his or her personal problems with me.
- When I talk about my sexual needs, my partner usually gets it.
- I sometimes enjoy helping my partner.
- My partner has occasionally tried out new things when we are in bed.
- I can kick back, relax, and talk freely with my partner about the events of my day.
- I am generally satisfied when the sex is over.
- I usually think my partner does OK when it comes to spending money.
- My partner often seems to be content after we’ve had sex.
- My partner can kick back and relax when I’m around.
- I don’t gossip about our relationship all over town.
- Rather than holding it inside, my partner generally talks to me if there is a problem.
- After I get angry with my partner, I am able to cool off and let it go.
- My partner generally forgives my mistakes rather than constantly reminding me of them.
- We occasionally have our differences, but we don’t call each other names or fight in public.
- My partner seems to want me to achieve my goals.
- I can discuss my personal problems with my partner without it becoming a big hassle.
- My partner generally loosens up after talking to me about stressful events.
- My partner will generally help me when I really need assistance.
- I don’t feel isolated, anxious, or depressed because of our relationship.
- It’s important to me that my partner succeeds in life.
- I would do it all over again because it’s hard to imagine being without my partner.
Are Your Relationship Needs Being Met?
Count up the number of times you answered "True" to the statements above. The score you get will reflect how well you and your partner’s emotional needs are being met. Use the chart below to help you figure out what your score means:
What It Means
Great! Your partner's a keeper.
OK. Discuss this questionnaire with your partner.
Troubled. Counseling could make it better.
Not Really Worth It. Get ready for the breakup.
What Relationship? It's time to go.
Should I Stay in the Relationship?
If your relationship falls in the Great category, you're in luck! If you've made it this far, then you two probably already have what it takes to communicate with each other in a healthy way when problems do arise.
If your score fell into the OK category, don't fret—your relationship is just fine. Though you and your partner have many strengths, you might want to work a little on your relationship in order to bring more excitement and meaning into your lives. Choose a good time and talk things over with your partner. Start working on one thing at a time build from there. Remember, no relationship is perfect—there will be times of happiness, times of hardship, and even times where it's just okay. Even if you have some issues, it's worth working together to resolve whatever few problems you may have.
How to Fix a Broken Relationship
Most people who are seeking relationship help have scores that fall into the Troubled category. But what does it mean to have a troubled relationship, and how can you fix it?
Your relationship probably has its beautiful moments, but you might also have some things that are bothering you—maybe your partner doesn't listen to you when you talk, or maybe you don't like the way they spend money. Whatever the problems are, there are steps you and your partner can take to patch up them up and work towards building a healthier relationship together.
1. Recognize the problem areas.
Use the checklist above to help you identify in what areas your relationship could use some help. Avoid thinking about the nitty-gritty details and focus on the bigger picture. What would you like your partner to work on, and what are some areas that you can work on yourself?
2. Take the time to think about how you feel.
Before blowing your fuse at your partner because you've suddenly noticed a problem, take a bit of time to think about what it is that you want. It can help you see the situation in a different light and sort your thoughts. This will help you avoid being too heated and miscommunicating when you hash things out with your partner later.
3. Communicate your thoughts.
Don't go to bed angry. Setting aside a specific amount of time for you and your partner to talk these problems through.
You don't want to come off as pointing fingers; this is not a blame game. Start each point with "I feel that..." or "I think..." so that your partner knows that you are not blaming them for everything. You never know—they might be doing some of these things without even being aware of it.
4. Listen to your partner.
A relationship is a two-way street. Make sure you listen to how your partner feels. Try to practice "objective listening"—this means listening to what your partner is saying without interpreting it with your own feelings. Focus on the words they are using and do not influence them with your thoughts. It's important to be able to see things from your partner's point of view.
5. Keep the love alive.
You don't want your whole relationship to turn negative—it's still in a salvageable place. Continue to make an effort to show how much you love them. Give your partner compliments and little gifts, take them out on a romantic date, text them sweet messages, or do something special for them.
6. Consider speaking to a relationship counselor.
If you and your partner cannot talk about your problems without getting angry and heated, it might be time to bring in a mediator to help you sort out your problems. Couples therapy can help you two understand each others' point of view and work together towards solving your problems.
Should I Leave the Relationship?
If your score fell into the Not Really Worth It or What Relationship? categories, it seems as though your current romantic relationship might be a big hassle. You have picked a partner who creates stressful and chaotic situations for you. If you feel that to be true, make an appointment with a relationship counselor or psychologist and take this list with you. Use this chance to learn more about yourself and to enhance the meaning of your own life. It’s time for you to work on you!
This exercise might lead you to believe that it’s time to leave your partner. If you are married and have children, remember to think about them first before you make any big changes. Whatever your situation, it’s important to realize that it takes two people to create a great relationship. You cannot change it and make it exciting and meaningful without your partner onboard.
I Want Out! How Should I Leave My Boyfriend or Girlfriend?
If you’re actually getting ready to cut your partner loose, here’s something to think about: You don’t have to put someone down or scold them in order to go. You can just leave and move on.
When ending a relationship—whether it went on for many years or was for just a few months—you should be respectful of your soon-to-be-ex and be honest with them. Set aside a time to talk in person and let them know of your decision in a direct manner. Try not to insult, blame or belittle them—instead, use "I" statements and explain how you are feeling.
Afterward, they will surely have something to say. Listen to them respectfully, but don't take back your decision. You decided to break up with them for a reason, so don't get caught up in the heat of the moment and take them back.
If You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence
Your personal health and safety are most important. If you suspect that you are in an abusive relationship, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and seek help.
How Do I Know If I'm in an Abusive Relationship?
Domestic violence and abuse is a serious issue that can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, or economic status. It is not restricted to acts of physical violence—partners can be emotionally and economically abusive as well. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic abuse is "a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship."
Here are a few signs that you are in an abusive relationship:
- Physical Abuse: Your partner punches, slaps, or otherwise physically harms you.
- Sexual Abuse: Your partner performs sexual acts with you without your consent.
- Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Your partner yells and curses at you, or threatens and intimidates you. The latter can be either verbal or written.
- Stalking: Your partner shows up unannounced when you go to events alone or tracks you with a GPS.
- Isolation: Your partner prevents you from leaving the house or from communicating with other people.
- Economic Abuse: Your partner doesn't let you work or doesn't give you access to funds.
You might be a victim of one of these forms of abuse, or you might be a victim of all of them. It could even be that, at certain times, your relationship seems perfect—you go on dates, you compliment each other, and you have fun with each other. These positive moments, however, don't cancel out the physical and emotional toll abuse has on you over the longterm, and it's important that you recognize the signs and get out of the relationship as soon as you can.
Whatever your score and however you are feeling, please keep searching for ways to simplify, dignify, and enhance your romantic relationship. We all have ways in which we can improve and there's help everywhere, so don't stop now.
Whatever you do, remember that we are born to love and have relationships. It's instinctual. However, sometimes people who were mistreated while growing up take bad habits with them into their love lives. This is why generations of families are dysfunctional. With all the information available today, people do not have to go on making the mistakes their parents made. You can get help, move on, and stop having disastrous relationships.
© 2011 Dr Billy Kidd