Musings with Dr. Goodheart
checklist for determining your love's long-term potential
~ Sure it happens. Boy meets girl. Girl meets
boy. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. It's love at first sight.
Or is it lust? Though it's not always impossible,
if things seem too good to be true or too good too fast, they generally
are. Still, occasionally the fairytale love stories do prevail.
To gauge whether or not your relationship is based on love or
lust; whether not there is true lasting potential, one needs
to objectively reflect on some of the following criteria. Consider
it a "Love List" of sorts.
*That said, if you find yourself speculating
over one or two of the following scenarios don't fret. As long
as you can put your doubts into perspective and see pathways
toward overcoming any possible remaining obstacles, then you're
on the right rack to long-term-love. Think of these following
scenarios as guidelines; possibly highlighting areas where your
relationship may, or may not need work.
Checklist Criteria 1) "This
It's tempting to "adjust," or morph into a replica of your partner's
dream guy/gal. Still, the moment you agree to confer with changing
yourself to be someone you're not, simply because it's someone
they want, a HUGE red flag should signal. This is the most obvious
way to rate lasting potential. Either your partner not only likes
but respects what they see, or they don't; take it or leave it
is the attitude you need to maintain. Now that doesn't justify not owning up to your
potential character flaws and working towards "bettering yourself"
as a person by using
the "this is who I am" argument. Your partner should always be a catalyst in helping
you become a better version of yourself, rather than becoming someone different altogether.
KEY POINT: Remember being "me" doesn't
equal being your partner's other half. It may seem like a version of that at times, but not in
the way that you surrender your opinion, preferences, or
likes of your own; yours may be distinct and potentially incompatible with
your partner's. The real test is judging whether or not those
incompatible differences act as a way to better the dynamics of
a relationship, or seem too incongruous to reconcile.
Remember to maintain your personal dignity and identity; don't
surrender your girls/guy nights; don't compromise you. Don't abandon your wacky
wardrobe, instead use discretion as to when and if it's appropriate,
etc. You're quirky distinctions are what attracted your partner
to you in the first place. Now its time to see if, quirky or no,
you can both appreciate each other's eccentricities; within reason,
not censor them.
Checklist Criteria 2) Honestly
Sure you say you are an open couple; completely honest with each
other. But are you really? Just because you are honest about your
daily events. doesn't mean you're necessarily being honest
about the most fundamental, and important element of your relationship;
your feelings. Do you constantly feel like you have to hold your
tongue so as not to say anything to offend your partner, despite
the fact that what provokes you to want to speak up offends you
in the first place? For example, is your partner constantly
flirting and you're constantly holding your tongue about it? Not
good. Or, are you constantly feeling overly self-conscious
and self-censoring around your partner for fear of embarrassing
him/her? If so, you're not just being dishonest with your partner
about who you really are (by suppressing your natural character),
but likewise, you're not being honest with yourself.
KEY POINT: It's important to confront
the difficult stuff, be it embarrassing, dangerous, trivial, etc.
If you're constantly aware of your censoring either your actions
or your informing your partner about certain stuff, or likewise,
if you suspect your partner of the same, you may need to sit down
with him/her and discuss just how comfortable you are
with being completely open and honest with one another. The
couples with lasting potential are the one's who can not only
confront each other with the uncomfortable things, but join in
a team effort to overcome them, be they embarrassing personal
ticks, scenarios, family members etc. Humiliation is a natural
part of life, and is just as important to honestly admit as other
potentially uncomfortable situations.
"It's the relationships that fight as passionately as
they love, with an equal respect for each partner, and an equal
deference to one another's opinions, that stand the test of time."
Checklist Criteria 3) Same
Book, Same Page
Though some partners might try relentlessly to convince themselves
they're on the same page, more often than not, they discover in
the long run they aren't even in the same chapter, or book; to
extend the metaphor. For example: do you really want to live in
Tahiti for several years before you settle down, but your partner
avidly refuses to leave the states? Or, the obvious: Do you want
5 kids but your partner absolutely does not want any? Questions
like these may seem insignificant or irrelevant in the beginning
stages of a relationship when you're still testing the "compatibility
waters" but the truth is these questions are just as, if not more
The key is in determining just how "unwavering" each of you is
with your answers to such possibly conflicting scenarios. In the
long run if you really do want to live in Tahiti and your partner
really never will live out of the U.S. then both of you are just
lying to yourselves and drawing out a relationship that's doomed
to fail for longer than you have to. What's worse; by holding
out even longer you're only making it harder to say goodbye, and
consequently, making the pain and the baggage all that more severe.
Sure you may be perfect for each other right up to that dilemma
about having kids, but even so, if you can never reconcile the
answer then you're not on the same page. And couples that aren't
on the same page don't stand a very likely chance of surviving
longer than the breaking point when that "dilemma" finally surfaces
as an undeniable reality.
KEY POINT: Couples with lasting
power not only have a pretty solid frame about their own "life
path," wants, desires, dreams, etc., but they also have a generally
good notion about their partner's values, dreams, etc. Knowing
each other's values and more is the first step. The second step
is identifying which ones, if any, are conflicting (honestly),
and if so, how much each of you are willing to work towards a compromise
between your two extremes. Usually the "Tahiti" crises can be
solved by a compromise to live in Hawaii, or even the mainland of
Southern California, or maybe the Florida Keys. Being able to objectively
value your partner's life goals as much as yours is a fundamental
component of getting each other on the same page and thus working
towards a stable, lasting future.
Checklist Criteria 4) Fun
No one likes to fight. But as much as people do their best to
avoid fighting, unless you're slightly perverse, it's axiomatic
that, in the long run no matter how white-picket fairytale perfect
your relationship is, fights will ensue: be they
little tiffs, spats, or even all out wars. The test is seeing how each
of you handle the ripples in the water without completely getting
off track. For a relationship to last, smooth sailing needs to
prevail after the storm.
For most couples the notorious "first fight" is the big test:
the maker or breaker of the relationship. Still, even if you survive
your rift over who ate the last cookie, bigger problems like,
potentially, infidelity, criminality, etc. may arise where you two will
undoubtedly need a bit more substantive conflict resolution tactics
than those employed in the "cookie fiasco."
KEY POINT 1: As with any healthy
fighting relationship, the key is communication and honesty.
Can you genuinely discuss your feelings, concerns, thoughts, hopes,
fears, etc. with your partner without fearing that doing so may
end your relationship? If not, chances are you're partner may not
respect either yourself or the relationship as they should and
its likely the relationship is headed towards either, a quick
end, or (more tragically) a long-term rocky relationship of self-denial,
regret, and psychological abuse with you as victim. And still,
generally even the volatile unstable ones also end up in separation;
but with far more baggage left behind.
Likewise, is your partner ever psychical with you during your
tiffs, be they man or woman? Or, more importantly, do you purposely
withhold your feelings and perspectives for fear of your partner
responding abusively? These are obvious, though difficult red
flags to concede. Still, to be honest with yourself, and truthful
to your future, one must acknowledge such possible shortcomings
in either you or your partner's behalf: are you the one who tends
to get psychical, or overreacts during fights?
KEY POINT 2: When you fight you want to fight passionately. This signals that you care about each other and
yourselves enough to be truly passionate and engaged in your argument.
Still, just as you want to be true to your feelings, so too do
you want to be fair. Allow for each to speak their side, to rebut
and/or defend their possible critiques. It's the relationships
that fight as passionately as they love, with an equal respect
for each partner, and an equal deference to one another's opinions,
that stand the test of time. Those who care just how much
their partner feels during the good times are likely to be the
same type that worry how their partner is feeling during the bad
times. That's the key: look out for each other and worry
about the other's happiness even when things head south for a
Checklist Criteria 5) Rock
With couples it's best to think of teammate metaphors: your partner
should always be that person who's got your back; who won't let
you fall; who crosses the finish line with you instead of in front
or behind; who pushes you one step further when you're ready to
give up; who won't let you give up. You get the point. In short,
your partner should be your rock: stable, reliable, dependable,
solid, and unwavering. They are to be the dependable hand to hold
onto during the good times, and the beacon of hope in the bad. You should always be able to turn to your partner for anything,
with anything, in need of anything, and in turn they should always
be there; and vice versa. For example: when you're sick does
your partner take time and effort to bring you soup, rent movies,
or make any other visual gesture towards showing they're considering,
and sympathizing with how you're feeling? When you've just been
publicly humiliated for a recent scandal, professional or otherwise,
does your partner stand loyally by your side, and better yet,
stand up for you?
KEY POINT: True love is blind, and
though its sometimes a hindrance, still, there's nothing more
loyally devout than taking the good with the bad in stride with
your partner, even if that means feeling the brunt of their mistake
or vice versa. Remember, rocks are unwavering, and just as
your partner should be one for you, so should you be one for your