In any situation when you don’t know what to do, try making a pros and cons list and see what happens.
Putting down your feelings about any dilemma makes you approach it in different ways than you usually do. A list can open your eyes to what’s important to you and what you prioritize – and even make you rethink your initial expectations.
When it comes to your love life, things get complicated. Your romantic feelings matter, but so do many other things. Making a relationship pros and cons list can help you make big decisions that can seem difficult otherwise.
These are the questions you should include in your list to make sure that you’re in a relationship that will bring you happiness in the long run.
How To Create Your Ultimate Relationship Pros And Cons List
Even those romantic relationships that start as whirlwind romances in which two people fall head-over-heels in love need a lot of work if they are to go on to live happily ever after.
Some people only chase that spark, but if you want a long-term partnership, it’s necessary to make sure that the other person is a good match for you.
If you’re unsure, creating a relationship pros and cons list can be a great help. Using the following questions that cover every aspect of a healthy and happy relationship, you can create your own checklist that’s unique to your relationship.
1. Eliminate the red flags
The very first step when creating your list is to take a close look at your current partner and your relationship and eliminate any red flags. We often choose to ignore uncomfortable things a person we like does because we want the relationship to work.
Unfortunately, certain problems will only get worse, so before you do anything else, carefully think about the following points.
• Is your partner ever violent or physically abusive?
• When your partner is angry, do you feel unsafe? Are you afraid of making them mad?
• Does your partner ever take out their anger on objects around them, such as breaking household items?
• Does your partner push your physical boundaries? When you tell them to stop or ask for space, do they continue to touch you, even in ways that aren’t sexual (poking you, tickling you, hugging you)?
• Does your partner respect your sexual boundaries? Do they ever try to convince you to do something you don’t want to do?
• Does your partner put you down? For example, do they tell you that you’re lucky you have them because you could never do better?
• Do they frequently criticize your appearance, behavior, friends, etc.?
• Are they passive-aggressive and sarcastic in their comments about you?
• Does your partner blame you for their problems?
• Can you talk to them openly, feeling safe instead of judged?
• Can you express your feelings without fear?
• Do you feel comfortable or anxious around your partner?
• Does your partner gaslight you? Do they ever try to manipulate your reality by rejecting your words? Do they tell you you’re too sensitive or deny your feelings when you express them?
• Is your partner excessively jealous and possessive?
• Do they try to control where you go, what you do or who you socialize with?
• Can they manage their jealousy?
• Is your partner clingy, needy or demands too much of your time? Are they okay spending time apart from you?
• Does your partner frequently lie to you?
• Is your partner consistently hiding things from you or trying to make themselves seem better by telling you things that aren’t true?
• Does your partner tell you things on a need-to-know basis?
• Is your partner unwilling to compromise?
• Do they tell you that things are always done your way whenever you get to make even the smallest shared decision?
• Can you communicate effectively?
• Does your partner listen to you or do they only wait for their turn to speak? Are they open to hearing you out?
• Does your partner avoid discussing problems?
• Do they walk away from arguments or ignore you when you try to talk about a difficult topic?
• Do they lash out at you instead of discussing something?
• Do you avoid conflict because they always escalate it?
• Does your partner fight to win and not to solve your problems? Is it important to them to always be right?
• Does your partner often gossip or talk negatively about others?
• Do they have friendships and are they accepting of your friends?
• Do your friends and family like your partner?
• Are you reluctant to introduce your partner to your family and friends? Is there something about them that you don’t want your loved ones to see?
• Does your partner always choose you?
• Do you think they are capable of commitment?
• Does your partner care about their mental health?
• Do they know how to care for their mental health?
• Does your partner constantly need validation from you?
• Do they have self-esteem and self-confidence issues that they’re not addressing?
• Does your partner expect you to take responsibility for their feelings?
• Does your partner show signs of alcohol or substance abuse?
• Does your partner have a bad relationship with their family that they won’t tell you about?
• Would you describe your partner as “difficult”?
• Is your partner prejudiced? Are they defensive about their beliefs about the groups of people they are prejudiced about? Do they reject discussion on this topic?
• Does your partner consider some people to be below them, such as people in the service industry? Are they rude to those people? Do they act entitled to be treated a certain way by anyone?
• Does your partner call their exes crazy or only speaks ill of them?
Using this checklist to think about whether you’re noticed red flags in your partner’s behavior and your relationship will already make quite a list of pros and cons of being in a relationship with your partner.
If they’re not showing any red flags that can’t be solved, your relationship can be healthy and successful. Time to move on to the next level.
2. Examine your values
Now you’re ready to take a look at how well your relationship can work by examining your values. Initially, certain things might not seem important, but the more serious a relationship gets, your values become more relevant.
The challenge of mismatched values is that it’s almost impossible to reach a compromise. If your partner does not share these values with you, they become deal breakers in a relationship.
Here are the core values it’s necessary to agree on if you are to have a successful relationship with someone.
• Religious beliefs
For some people, religion is important; for others, it doesn’t matter at all. In a relationship, it isn’t necessary for your religious beliefs to be the same, but it’s important that they don’t clash.
If you want to be with someone who’ll accompany you to church every Sunday and your partner is an atheist, you might have problems down the road.
• Political views
People with different political views can theoretically be in a relationship, but the chances of it working are low. Your political values reflect your core beliefs about the world. Two people who look at something that matters to them in completely different ways will never be able to agree on those issues.
Even your best friend probably shares your political views, so a partner who doesn’t probably isn’t for you.
• Life stage
Is your partner still living like they’re in high school or college while you’re ready to have a family? If your life stages don’t match, you need to discuss this and come to an agreement before your relationship can progress.
For a relationship to work, both partners need to be in the same place and want the same thing. If one partner puts off their own goals because the other person isn’t ready, it can lead to resentment and, eventually, heartbreak.
• Career pathways
Your relationship has a significant impact on your career. You want your partner to support your ambitions, share your goals and dreams and inspire you to work on personal fulfillment. If this is lacking in your relationship, you’ll have less motivation and feel discouraged, resulting in dissatisfaction and unhappiness with your path in life.
• Gender roles
When a couple in a heterosexual relationship holds different views on gender roles, it can cause problems in all aspects of their relationship. Some men and women feel that they have to act a certain way because of society’s expectations, while others completely reject these beliefs.
If one of the partners firmly believes in gender stereotypes, while the other disregards them, finding a way to function will be nearly impossible.
From the first date, you and your partner define what your relationship means to each of you and as well as what it means to be loyal. Some people don’t consider monogamy necessary for a loyal and loving relationship, while others believe that this is the basis of loyalty.
Defining what being loyal means to both of you and that you’re on the same page is essential for a happy relationship.
• Sexual expectations
If a couple is unhappy with their sex life, a relationship doesn’t have much chance of survival. Different sexual needs and expectations can drive a couple apart.
Open and honest communication about sex is crucial if you want to work on this, but sometimes talking about it isn’t enough. A partner who’s unhappy if they don’t have sex every day can compromise with their partner who doesn’t like sex very much at all, but they’ll both grow miserable eventually.
Both your extended family and the family you create together play an important role in your relationship. Early on in a relationship, while you’re exploring new feelings and living new experiences, this topic doesn’t seem important, but in a long-term relationship it’s crucial.
You need to agree on your life together and how it will involve each other’s families and whether or not you want to have children, and if you do, when and how many. These issues can make or break a relationship.
As parents, you’ll have to work towards the same goal of raising your children to be happy and kind. Parents must back each other up, but if they don’t agree on how to raise their children, it becomes impossible. Parents who disagree on their parenting styles don’t only hurt each other and their relationship, but their children as well.
• Financial beliefs
When you’re in love, talking about money is the least romantic thing imaginable. But for a successful relationship, it’s something you need to discuss and agree on.
Income, debt, shared or separate accounts, spending, saving, budgeting – none of these issues are romantic, but if you disagree on them, they can cause a lot of problems in your relationship.
Sit down with your partner and talk about these things. You might be able to reach a solution for some discrepancies in values, but you don’t want to reach a point where you’re ready for kids, and your partner tells you they don’t want any.
3. Evaluate your effort
If there are no insurmountable red flags and your values match, there’s another important matter to consider: your effort and willingness to work on your relationship.
This is the key to a successful relationship. When both partners are dedicated to making things work, things are going to work. The moment either of you quits, your relationship will start to deteriorate.
Here are some signs that you’re making an effort and are willing to nurture your relationship:
• You regularly talk to each other about everything from your day to your dreams and hopes.
• When you have a problem, you talk it through without letting anger take over.
• You show each other respect.
• You support each other’s goals.
• You don’t hold resentments.
• You make time for each other
• You do something nice or special for each other regularly.
• You communicate regularly and with the desire to understand.
• You can be vulnerable with each other without fear.
• You like each other’s company and have fun together.
• You’re both willing to work on your personal issues to improve your relationship.
• You compliment each other and show appreciation.
• You forgive each other easily.
• You support and motivate each other.
• You can rely on each other.
4. Explore what you like about your partner
Your list should also include the things you find endearing or annoying about your partner. Those are the things that give your relationship that special something even though they don’t play a huge role in how your relationship functions.
For example, maybe you love the fact that you and your partner share lots of common interests and that they’re cute when they smile, but you dislike their snoring.
These aren’t good or bad things when you look at the big picture, but they’re important because they bring joy to your everyday life.
5. Emotional assessment
Finally, listen to your gut feeling. Intuition is an important tool when making decisions for a good reason. Sometimes we already know things that we don’t want to admit to ourselves. Intuition is the result of subconscious processing of everything you sense, feel and know, so it rarely steers you wrong.
Sometimes things work even though they don’t seem they would, and relationships that would be perfect on paper fail. Listen to your feelings for that extra input.
Just make sure that you don’t ignore the real issues because of wishful thinking.
Example Of A Relationship Pros And Cons List
Here’s an example of what a relationship pros and cons list would look like if you created it using the method outlined in this article. Should this imaginary couple break up or work on their relationship?
• You trust your partner because they’ve proven their loyalty numerous times.
• You’re sexually compatible and enjoy your sex life.
• You both want to have children in five years and your life plans are compatible.
• They’re supportive and understanding.
• They’re kind and gentle and never raise their voice.
• You like their vibe, their dressing style and their taste which make them particularly interesting to you.
• They’re thoughtful and do little things for you that make you feel cherished.
• They have anxiety issues that they don’t want to work on.
• They have trouble voicing their feelings because of shyness and anxiety and you feel like they don’t rely on you.
• You don’t get along with their family which has been hostile to you from the start.
To make a relationship pros and cons list, start by taking a long look at any possible red flags in your partner or your relationship. Those are the things that are guaranteed to make a relationship unhappy or a failure unless great care is taken to work on them.
Next, think about whether or not your values match – are the same things important to you and do you want the same things. If you don’t, it will be difficult to find a compromise without resentment on one or both sides.
Effort is a crucial part of relationships, and the real challenge starts only after “happily ever after.” If you and your partner are both happy to work on your relationship, it will be successful. And don’t forget to include your gut feelings for your relationship and your partner because it can reveal the things other methods can’t.