Photo: Pachai Leknetip (Shutterstock)
It’s really easy to judge other people’s relationships. In fact, we may not even notice it when we do. But when you spend time with a couple, their dynamics usually become apparent relatively quickly, until you think you can identify their specific problems.
But that in our own relationships? Not as much. It is difficult to gauge the state of a relationship when you are part of it for a number of reasons, including not having the distance to see both its good and its bad. Building on existing research, the psychologist Dr. Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. Put together a set of 15 questions To help people evaluate their relationships and gain insight into them. Here’s what you should know.
The research behind the questions
In addition to his own insight into the science behind romantic relationships, Lewandowski based his set of 15 yes-or-no questions on the Keltner list, which was developed by baseball statistician Bill James to assess which baseball players are the best candidates for the Hall of Fame.
This may not be the most likely source material for a romantic relationship assessment tool, but that’s how Lewandowski explains it in an article in Psychology Today:
While James is a statistician, his Keltner list is intentionally unscientific. It is a collection of 15 questions that anyone can quickly answer to provide an overall assessment of a player’s worthiness for the hall. (Example: “Was he the best player on his team?“) The answers are not intended to make a definitive statement, but to force a careful weighing of the most important information.
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Similarly, Lewandowski’s list of 15 questions – each based on existing research on romantic relationships – was designed to highlight what is most important for serious, long-term, and sustained love.
The Keltner list for relationships
In order to benefit from Lewandowski’s tool, it is important to answer the following yes-or-no questions truthfully:
- Does your partner make you a better person and do you do the same for him?
- Do you and your partner both agree to share feelings, rely on each other, be close, and not worry about the other person leaving?
- Do you and your partner accept each other for who you are without trying to change each other?
- Do you and your partner communicate respectfully and without contempt or negativity when they have differences of opinion?
- Do you and your partner share decision making, power, and influence in the relationship?
- Is your partner your best friend and are you hers?
- Do you and your partner think in terms of “we” and “us” rather than “you” and “me”?
- Would you and your partner trust each other with social media and bank account passwords?
- Do you and your partner have a good opinion of each other – without having an overly positive opinion?
- Do your close friends and your partner’s believe that you have a relationship that will last over time?
- Is your relationship free of red flags like cheating, jealousy, and control behaviors?
- Do you and your partner share the same values regarding politics, religion, the importance of marriage, wanting to have children (or not) and parenting?
- Are you and your partner ready to sacrifice your own needs, wants, and goals for each other (without being a doormat)?
- Do you and your partner have a pleasant and emotionally stable personality?
- Are you and your partner sexually compatible?
Evaluation of the answers to the relationship questions
This is not a case where you will get final results by counting up the number of “yes” and “no” answers. Instead, Lewandowski says the purpose of the exercise is to not only gain insight into what isn’t working in your relationship, but what is working as well. He explains:
These questions are meant to be a self-guided tour of what relationship science knows is important in relationships – the relationship “green flags”. In other words, the best answer to any question is a quick, sure, and unreserved “yes”. When a question pauses or leads you to a resounding “no”, it is an area that needs attention and improvement.
Of course, it’s never possible to predict the future of a relationship – there are far too many other potential variables, some of which are unexpected. But the goal here is to get a better understanding of how and why your relationship is working (or not working).