Are you tired, frustrated and confused with relationships that go nowhere and don’t know why you always seem to end up with Mr. or Ms. WRONG? In my “Never Make a Mistake in Love Again (Part 1)” article, (February 4, 2022), I promised you that I would teach you my 10-step formula for assessing whose right or wrong for you BEFORE committing to any serious relationship. This formula is based on research that I conducted with 450 people in the Boston, Providence and Connecticut areas, which culminated in my book For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love. My formula has successfully been used by thousands of men and women around the world. While it’s not sexy or romantic, it gives you the tools to come up with an honest and accurate evaluation about who your partner is and is not. My research found that it takes six months to a year using my formula to do a thorough assessment. I promise you that if you put these principles to the test, you will be able to recognize a truly healthy relationship and avoid the disasters that too many men and women encounter.
1. Predicting the Future (Family Background): Family background is the first place to look for relationship programming. We first learn about relationships as children and many of us unconsciously play out problems rooted in our family of origin. UNLESS we are willing to acknowledge, address and take whatever steps are necessary to resolve these conflicts and problems, they will continuously play out in our adult relationships.
2. Lurking Around the Corner (Skeletons in the Closet): The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases is skyrocketing and yet most people will not request (and receive) a written clean bill of health from their partner’s doctor before engaging in sex. You need to learn to recognize signs of alcoholism and other kinds of substance abuse, because neither the alcoholic nor the drug abuser is a good candidate for any relationship. Learning how to identify verbal, emotional and physical abuse is critical. Knowledge will help you EXIT quickly if you are aware that you are at risk.
3. More Skeletons Lurking: You need to learn to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. While the clues are always there, these problems are often invisible to the untrained eye and ear, and are major obstacles to a successful relationship.
4. Listening Carefully (Did You Hear What I Said?): Everyone talks about the importance of communication. However, the majority of people have simply not learned the necessary skills in order to be able to communicate effectively. How well (or how badly) you and your partner are able to express emotions like love, fear, disappointment, anger and pain can and will make or break your relationship.
5. The Art of Compromise (Problem-Solving): This is the most crucial of the key ingredients. Why? Because this skill will help you deal with situations in all areas of your relationship. Even the most harmonious relationships have conflicts that need to be worked out fairly and openly. It is essential to discover your partner’s attitude and level of skill in dealing with conflict and compromise early on in your relationship.
6. Imitating Intimacy (Sexual Illusions): People can have a great sexual connection while at the same time have little or no emotional intimacy. It is very important to learn the difference between lust and love.
7. Lovemaking (the Agony and the Ecstasy): How’s your sex life? Human sexuality is highly sensitive and oftentimes confusing. Education, information, communication and chemistry are the key to a successful and exciting sex life.
8. Old Baggage (Past Loves): We often unwittingly and unconsciously choose the same kind of partner repeatedly though he/she may look and sound different. It is critical to understand WHY your past relationships were unsuccessful, what role YOU played and, more importantly, what you have learned.
9. Deal Makers, Deal Breakers: How compatible are you intellectually and educationally? Do you share similar goals, values, lifestyles, religious beliefs, interests and views about money, children, careers, including the challenges of dealing with exes and stepchildren?
10. Being Realistic (There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Partner): You’ve completed your assessment and now it’s time to ask yourself three important questions: Take your time to fully write out your answers.
First, what do I want and need in a relationship?
Next, what do I NOT want or need in a relationship?
Finally, how would I describe the reality of my relationship.
Certain compromises and trade-offs will have to be made in any relationship. You must be careful, however, to never accept or tolerate abuse of any kind, lack of emotional intimacy, and poor communication and problem-solving skills.
Whether you decide to move forward or end your relationship, I hope you feel proud of yourself for having had the courage to go through this in-depth process.
Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, author of For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker, national radio and television expert guest and host of “The Ask Beatty Show” on the Progressive Radio Network. She has a private practice in New York City and East Hampton.