As more and more people are receiving COVID vaccinations, folks who have held back from dating due to the pandemic are beginning to loosen up and get out and about. Whether complicated by the pandemic or not, getting to know a new person romantically can be anxiety producing. Most people can spot a bad date and not repeat.  But,  after a few good dates, folks wonder and worry if the person who seems so nice, initially, will turn out to be as good as they first appeared.  Indeed, there is a need for a new-romance checklist to help couples know if a new relationships can last.

Unfortunately, many lovelorn articles focus on other topics such as telling folks how  to break the ice ,and meet someone new. Alone on Valentine’s Day : Looking at your Outlook on Love | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (  or how to be a good date.11 Science-Backed First Date Tips To Make Your Date Great (   And, of course, there is a lot of advice being given to help folks deal with or get out of bad or abusive ones. 5 Ways to End a Bad Relationship for Good | Psychology Today

Conceptually, knowing if a new relationship is workable is not complicated.  Good relationships develop when both individuals have matured enough to get beyond individual selfishness and are able to commit to becoming a partnership.  When looked at from this perspective it is possible to list fundamental skills and abilities which are necessary to sustain a satisfying relationship and reveal the needed level of maturity.

The problem: Why find a good match is so difficult.

Unfortunately, nature’s way of getting singles together, physical attraction, is often an unreliable criterion for a lasting relationship.  Indeed, we are often physically attracted to people who many not be capable of a mature partnership but who could, because of our attraction, hurt us deeply. This ironic twist takes place because much of our coupling impulses are guided by a primitive limbic system whose only goal is preservation of the species,  aka, procreation. Fortunately, psychology and social research as discovered that there are definite skills and abilities that are necessary for couples to have successful relationships and marriages.  In a nutshell, maturity  or being able to get beyond primitive selfishness is an essential ability to make a good match,  So, how does one recognize maturity in a  potential date or partner ?

Here is a check-list of behaviors to look for when your are out on a date.  You can use this list  to evaluate  whether it is likely that  your new relationship has a future. No relationship is perfect or checks all of the boxes but the good must out weigh the bad. For those who have decided that they want to be together, the list can help identify problem areas which will need to be addressed if the fledgling relationship is to thrive.

A Check list for New Relationships : Do you ? Does s/he:

  1. Pay Attention to you or the other when either speaks ?
  2. Understand and Respond Empathically to what has been said ?
  3. Communicate and discuss fears. vulnerabilities or uncertainties (in addition to positive things) ?
  4. Talk about and understand each others history of trauma and emotional difficulties ? 
  5. Doesn’t get angry easily or to frequently ?
  6. Resolve arguments constructively ?
  7. Have significant interests and activities in common ?
  8. Respect and accept each other’s differences ?
  9. Enjoy being together and have fun with each other most of the time ?
  10. Have positive relations with his/your families (children and in-laws) ?
  11. Have any significant conflicts or problems with money or finances ?  
  12. Enjoy sex or have any significant sexual problems ?
  13. Know how and are able to negotiate conflicts and resolve problems rationally ?
  14. Can, rather than blame, take responsibility for , recognize and be willing to work on their own mistakes and problematic behaviors in the relationship.
  15. Have a therapist ?

Although , this is not a comprehensive list of everything that it takes to make a have a good relationship, it does include and ask some important questions about fundamental characteristic of psychological maturity.  The ability to strike a balance between caring for self and one’s love as well as to respectfully negotiate differences and resolve conflicts are the key elements of successful relationships.  No relationship is perfect at the start. A willingness to acknowledge problems and work as a team to fix them , however, is a good indicator that  the partnership can grow and get better over time.

Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC , Fellow AAPC                    10 2 2021

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