Having a relationship with another person can a beautiful or amazing thing or can be a living hell. Use this relationship readiness checklist to see if you are ready to give it a whirl. Whether you are considering a relationship, already have one, or considering continuing one, it's never too late to run through this relationship readiness checklist to see where you really stand, from a more object stand point.
Do you know what you AND your partner want from this relationship?
It's always good to have a realistic set of boundaries and expectations going to into a relationship, and it's even better when you are conscious and aware of those boundaries and expectations. If you aren't too clear about what YOU want, take some time and think about it. Combining two people from two separate families into one is something that many people take lightly. What do you expect and want from someone who you will consider potential future family. And family, in my coaching practice does not focus whether or not you want to kids. Two married partners are a family. Two people dating or going steady are in the process of figuring out of they fit together as family. Start with what you need and want right now, and don't go too far out. Think in terms of week or months and then see where you stand.
Are you free from any other romantic relationship?
While this might not always be a dead stop for you or your partner, but think about it this way. If you are in the process of separating from marriage or a long term relationship, you are in the process of dealing with a lot of drama and a lot of bullshit. If the relationship you are trying to begin is something you care about or want to happen, why push it into the middle of all that crap? If you aren't sure your separating from a partner, then why are you starting another relationship? All your doing is creating more drama, more hurt, and playing games. No one deserves that. Either get of the relationship you are in or do the self-work it takes to make that relationship work.
Can you readily and easily communicate with your feelings and needs to your potential partner?
Okay, this one might be hard to judge if you don't know your potential partner yet, but have there been past communication issues in your relationships? Communication is 90% of a relationship. You need to be able to talk about the big things and the little things fairly and with as little drama as possible. A lot of communication issues revolve around trust issues. On some level, many people don't trust their partners not to reject them as un-lovable or unworthy, and shy away from talking about difficult things. But why be afraid AND be silent? Beginning a conversation by explaining what you are feeling can go a long way to opening up the whole situation. You don't have to dump your emotions on your partner, and you shouldn't just dump it on them. Fair and honest communication can be simple like, “I've been feeling a little nervous because...” or “This situation has me feeling scared, because...”. In blame game, no ever wins, so keep your feelings about YOU! Additionally, consider all the things your potential mate will need to know about you, your sexual history, your problems, your fears, your credit history, your family, how do you feel about talking about those kinds of things?
If you need a little help learning how to communicate, see below for more resources!
Does your partner respect you and your boundaries?
While this question isn't something that you can necessarily control, making this a topic you regularly consider can literally be a life saver. No one has the right to beat you, rape you, hit you, kick, push, or slap you. Your partner should be the first person to stand up for you if those things are happening to you, not the person who is doing those things to you. Your partner should not degrade you or belittle you, or scare or push away your friends and family (or force you to). They should not make you wait on them hand and foot, or take advantage of your paycheck and hard work while not contributing anything of their own (being a stay-at-home partner does not fall into the category automatically. Are they providing child care, emotional and physical support, home management, supporting your combined vision for your life as a couple or family?). Their addictions, disabilities, and/or upbringing are no excuse of their behavior. Your life and safety and the safety of any kids involved take first precedence. All of the things listed above are extreme red flags to your health and well-being. If you in a relationship where this is happening to you and need help, call a crisis counselor who would love to help you and take a look at some resources below.
How will bills and debts be taken care of?
Money is one of the largest challenges any couple will face. Each party in a couple should be responsible for the bills and debts they had before becoming a couple AND for the bills and debt you both created as a couple. Blind faith and trust in a partner in the area of finances is dangerous to your future. If you or partner agree to be a stay-at-home partner for any reason, there should be money set aside for that partner for each paycheck a myriad of reasons. Budgeting is one of the biggest reasons, but there is also trust and respect to consider. So many times the person who becomes a stay-at-home partner becomes taken for granted, but if that stay-at-home partner is contributing their portion of the family check toward bills, debts, fun time, etc.. this can or at least help to eliminate a lot of the blame and guilt associated to being or having a stay-at-home partner.
Can you or will you have a life outside of this partnership?
Here am I speaking to the ability to have an outside life AND the willingness to have a life outside of your couple or family-hood. Having the ability and the willingness to continue relationships with friends and family outside of your romantic relationship is a wonderful and healthy thing to have. If you or your partner are relying on other for their sole relationship needs and wants, then you are heading down the road of co-dependency or possibly abuse. A partnership is a coming together of two, already who and fairly complete people. A partnership will not make you feel whole and complete, unless you already have that sense of wholeness and completeness in your life.
Do you need monogamy?
While I don't necessarily personally understand people who are poly-amorous, I do recognize that for some people this is the way need to have a relationship. But there are a lot of things to consider if commitment is an issue for you or your partner. I do fully agree that your partner should not be the sole and only person who is responsible for meeting your relationship needs. I agree that people need a whole and balanced variety of relationships in their lives for heath and well-being. But I have a hard time applying this to realms of sex. By definition, when you agree to be in a steady relationship with someone you are agreeing to make some sort of commitment to your combined welfare, to your existence as a single financial, legal, and family unit, two people operating in the world under a common vision and desire for a life together. No matter how mature we think are (and see the myth checklist for a little more on this), it all comes down to trust. Can you trust that your partner's extracurricular sexual activities will not threaten the stability of the partnership you are building? Can you same the same for your sexual activities? How much is that stability worth to you? If you are willing to risk leaving that door open in your relationship, then you had better also be fairly realistic about the consequences of having that door open. Another thing to consider, how much do you trust the people with whom your partner is with? You may trust your partner, but if he or she is continually attracting people who want more than just an on-the-side thing, then that door you left open is always going to be bringing in drama and strife. Remember from my holistic explanation of relationships, that all relationships, whether we consider them casual or not, are always about some kind of energy and emotional exchange, even if we don't like or don't want to admit we have a relationship with your partner's extra partner(s).
What will you do when the endorphins run a bit dry?
When most relationships start we feel wonderful about it. We might be having more sex than we did before, we might be enjoying the romance, and the new perspective on life. But for the most part, that will all fade away. And then you are left the real relationship, for better or worse. All of those beginning relationship things change our body chemicals and we hare literally on a bit of high and seeing things in a way that wouldn't normally. It's not bad, it can be beautiful. But don't rush the assumption that just because things finally leveled out and real life and patterns set in that the relationship turned out to be a dud. When that rush finally does calm down you have finally reached the stage of having a real relationship and not the end!! I say enjoy the rush, but keep this in back of your mind. That rush is not the real relationship. The real relationship will reveal itself when things have settled down and settled in a bit. Each partner may hit that “real” phase at different times, which is why this especially important to keep in the back of your mind. If suddenly, you seem to get the idea that your partner is a different person that who you think you married or began dating, then you are only just waking up the “real” phase of your relationship and your partner might have already entered that phase!
Are you able to communicate your frustrations without letting your emotional defenses get in the way?
This question can also be asked of your potential partner, and do keep in mind NO ONE is perfect. But being that communication problems end up being 90% of the biggest challenges to couples, this is an excellent question to consider when you are considering your potentials for relationships. No one likes being snarked at, much less snarked on a continual basis because you or your partner are unhappy in some aspect of your life and you or they are letting it bleed over into their communication attempts. You and your partner are neither mind readers, nor necessarily aware of everything that happened in the course of the day. Self awareness and fair communication, for both you and your partner, are great keys and tools toward building a trusting and harmonious relationship. If you need a little help learning how to communicate, see below for more resources!
Do I like the sex, thrill, or attention, or I just like the person?
Liking or being attracted to a person does not mean you have to or should have sex with them. While I know sometimes reality doesn't always meet this expectation, I would argue that you should actually like the person, really like who they are and what they stand for, before even considering having sex with them. Everyone likes a good time, but could you be having a better time with someone else, some one you might actually like more? Having a romantic night out with someone you feel is, “at least okay” or is “alright:, doesn’t' mean you actually, genuinely like someone. Why not be honest about it with yourself and your partner?
Use the checklist and use it often! It will help you understand what you have, what you might have been under-appreciating, and what you might need more in your life. Don't ever get feeling down on yourself because something isn't happening fast enough or the fireworks aren't always going off you. Learning how to be in a relationship means learning more about yourself than you might ever care to know. Relationships are never easy and take time, dedication, and compromise. But don't sabotage yourself and don’t' let others sabotage you from learning to build beautiful and healthy relationships.
If you want to be more sure about your relationship, try couples life coaching! You and your partner will chat with me about your goals, life vision, and challenges. Together we work toward solutions to get you and your partner where you want to be! Contact me to inquire about couple's life coaching!