In this generation of self-entitled narcissists who shirk responsibilities, finding a good partner is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.
However, this does not equate to the obstinate unwillingness to change obvious flaws which makes the proposition of being a partner with some people unappealing.
When we enter a relationship we’re All Dressed Up for Business.
We clean up, we wear nice underwear (every day); we also do kind things, and we present our best selves.
More than that, we show deep interest in our partners, we find out what matters to them, and we also strive to make them feel good.
But after we grow comfortable, our own voice begins to squeak in our ear: hey, what about me?
And that voice gets louder and louder until the balance tips.
Then it becomes Not Fair; we’re not getting enough back from our partner, this is not what we signed on for.
Over time, we slip into unhelpful patterns of thought, emotion,as well as behaviour that can turn into a blaming game: it’s not me, it’s you.
And that leads to chronic discontent.
So before you land there, it’s worth turning the spotlight gently on yourself.
(Warning: don’t share all your faults with your partner — that’s just asking for trouble — just quietly go to work on them).
Am I a Good Partner (or the other kind)?
Answer Yes, Could-do-Better or No to the following questions:
- I freely admit when I am wrong. I can apologise fully and without being prompted.
- I have my own independent interests and friendships and I make time for them. I’m also happy for my partner to do the same — and encourage him or her to do so.
- I’m fun to be with. I can be upbeat, have a laugh and likewise share a dumb in-joke with my partner. I am not perpetually gloomy.
- I’m not a Drama Queen or King. I don’t over-react (too often). I’m consistently able to manage my emotional reactions — and, if my partner were looking over my shoulder while I do this test, they would agree with me.
- I agree with my partner over the time we each spend on our devices, as well as our recreational activities (including alcohol, gaming, sex, social media). If we don’t agree, I’m working on my part of it!
- My go-to conflict resolution style is reasonable. I’m up for settling an argument in a fair and healthy way. (Note: storming out, giving the silent treatment, vanishing into your cave for two days, picking issues over endlessly are not healthy strategies.)
I (mostly) keep our relationship in the present. I don’t repeatedly bring up old wounds or past conflicts. I don’t compare my partner with someone from the past.
- I make an effort, physically, emotionally and socially. I do chores. I do my share with the kids (if we have them). I talk. I listen. I suggest things. I don’t wait for my partner to come up with all the domestic and social ideas or “organise me” and, if I do, I don’t complain about my busy schedule.
- I share the emotional load with my partner. I give at least as much as I take. I talk to him/her about their worries. I ask how I could be more supportive (and I try to do it).
- I’m dependable. I do what I say I’ll do, I’ll be where I say I am and I’m a reliable sounding board for my partner when he or she is struggling.
I generously support my partner’s hopes and dreams but not to the point of martyrdom. I know I deserve support for mine too.
- My relationship standards are fair. I don’t expect my partner to be a super-hero and/or to meet all my needs. I am able to function well independently.
- I treat and speak to, my partner with the same respect I show friends, people at work or in other settings. I treat him or her as I’d like to be treated.
- I don’t play games. I don’t manipulate, abuse, gaslight, control or criticise my partner excessively. (NB: This is a trick question: people who seriously do these things won’t admit to them anyway, especially not in a “stupid” relationship quiz)
It’s a hard job being the perfect partner, but you sound like you’re close. This test was designed for humans though. Are you sure you’re not a robot?
This is where most of us land. That’s okay. Pick one area for improvement, even a tiny one, and begin there. Today.
Hmmm. You’re definitely not a robot, are you? At least you’re honest, even if you do have (a lot of) work to do!