Dear Neil: A few years ago, I read a column you wrote in the newspaper on how to decide if you’re in a relationship with the “right one,” and what questions to ponder when choosing a potential partner. Would you consider reprinting that article?

Hopeful in New Zealand

Dear Hopeful: I would be happy to reprint that article, but I have a slight problem regarding your request. Over the more than 17 years that I’ve been writing this column, I have printed perhaps a dozen articles relating to how to evaluate a partner or a relationship – and I have no idea which of those columns you’re referring to. So permit me to offer you a composite of several articles on the topic. Some of these come from The Relationship Rescue Workbook by Philip McGraw. Answer the following questions as thoroughly as you can. If you don’t know the answers, get to know your partner better:

  • What memories, images or experiences about marriage and commitment—positive and negative—is your partner bringing into this relationship?
  • What attracts you about him or her?
  • How evenly matched are your interests, lifestyles and values?
  • Why has your partner chosen you? What do you think are the major factors that attract him/her to you?
  • How emotionally expressive is your partner? Verbally expressive? Insightful? Decisive? Logical? Gracious? Sensitive? Physically affectionate? Assertive? Diplomatic? Intelligent? Sensible? Self-disciplined? Artistic? Funny? Shrewd? Extroverted? Introverted? Good with children? Good in social situations? Imaginative? Fun?
  • Is there an area in life in which your partner excels? What is it?
  • What are your partner’s top five priorities in life at this time? How high a priority are you?
  • About what is your partner most passionate?
  • Do you feel you have a voice in this relationship that your concerns, wishes, preferences and requests are treated seriously;
  • Are there any changes you would like in the relationship? What are they?
  • Are there any changes your partner would like to see in the relationship?
  • To what is your partner addicted?
  • Would you consider him/her to be a loyal person? Faithful? Honest? Do you think he or she operates with high integrity?
  • How does your partner respond when the environment between the two of you is emotionally charged?
  • What does your partner do when angry? How often does he or she get angry? About what?
  • How does your partner respond when personally confronted? Does he or she get mean-spirited or defensive?
  • What are your partner’s insecurities?
  • What does he or she do when hurt?
  • Is your partner a whiner? A blamer? A poor sport?
  • Is he or she financially responsible? How does he or she feel about his/her financial position in life? Is there an expectation that you’re going to rescue him/her financially?
  • How good are your partner’s conflict-resolution, compromising and negotiating skills? Is he or she able to discuss conflicts and differences in a healthy manner when they arise?
  • How do you feel about his/her appearance? How does your partner feel about his or her appearance?
  • What are your partner’s greatest fears? What does he or she do when afraid?
  • What are your partner’s major faults?
  • In which ways do the two of you have fun and play together?
  • Generally speaking, how happy or unhappy is your partner?

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