How do you relate to your partner? When an unmet need, conflict, or issue arises, listen to the words and the tone you use. Listen to the words and tone your partner chooses. Notice how I use the word “chooses.” You are at choice and so is your significant other. Are you controlling, aggressive and dominating? Is your partner controlling, aggressive and dominating?
Now really think about this. Do you allow your partner to control you? Does he/she allow you to control him/her? Are you soft, shrink down and become childlike or insecure? Does your partner become childlike, insecure or shrink back? Do you allow yourself to feel betrayed prematurely?
In a healthy relationship, we take personal responsibility for our own needs, for what we say and, yes, for how we feel by how we react and respond. Relationships are all about our interpretations of our partner’s behavior, actions and even inactions. In an unhealthy relationship, we blame others and they blame us for unmet needs, for our own perceptions or for how we ourselves feel.
The Relationship Spectrum
At one end of the relating spectrum is victimization, which typically comes from individuals who experienced scarcity of time, attention, love, money, or physical or emotional needs in childhood. Victimization also comes from individuals who were stifled, neglected, abandoned or abused as children.
They tend to dismiss their own needs, assign their own unmet needs to their partner and consequently become angry or frustrated at their partner for failing to meet those needs. This mindset comes from years of feeling disempowered.
At the opposite end of the relationship spectrum is entitlement which typically comes from individuals who may experienced over abundance in childhood, may have been spoiled in the foundational years or were raised with an over-inflated idea of themselves as children. They tend to overindulge themselves and consequently may be insensitive or callous to their partner’s needs. Either extreme ends of the relationship scale can be out of balance.
Below is a quiz to test your relationship health, fulfillment and maturity. The quiz should be filled out by your significant other. They will be more aware, honest, and objective than you will be of yourself and you will be more honest and objective of how they behave and respond to your needs. You are responsible for expressing your own emotional and physical needs. However, in a healthy relationship, your partner is responsible for how he/she responds to those needs.
Relationship Maturity Awareness
Put a check after any of the behaviors you recognize from your partner. This is not to blame, shame or criticize. This exercise is only to raise awareness. Raising awareness is the first step to cultivate change and growth or, perhaps, to evaluate if a certain relationship is the right fit for you.
1. My partner sulks, becomes angry or withdrawn when he/she doesn’t get what he/she wants.
2. My partner becomes angry or critical when I have a different view of politics, religion, family or life in general than he/she has.
3. My partner becomes angry, demanding, sulks or withdraws when he/she feels ignored or neglected.
4. My partner makes a pest of his/herself with phone calls, texts, or emails to me to get my attention.
5. My partner becomes angry if I do not meet his/her needs.
6. My partner likes to control me so he/she can get me to do what he/she wants me to do.
7. My partner communicates his/her needs to me by using phrases such as “You don’t”, “You never”, “You’re suppose to”, instead of “I need.”
8. My partner does not make requests, but makes demands by shouting, screaming or making accusations like a child.
9. My partner does not like to take personal responsibility for his/her own words or actions if they have hurt me.
10. My partner tends to become physically or emotionally absent if we experience an issue or conflict.
11. My partner is uncomfortable with apologies, giving or receiving them.
12. My partner actually gets angry or defensive when I express my needs.
13. My partner blames others for his/her problems.
14. My partner is insecure about being alone. He/she would rather stay in an unhappy relationship.
15. My partner seeks approval and acceptance from me to gather his/her own self worth.
16. My partner lacks sensitivity when he/she hurts me.
17. My partner lacks compassion towards me when I am in emotional pain by failing to listen to me and failing to offer support.
18. My partner has been untrustworthy, unreliable, disloyal or undependable more than a few times. He/she didn’t have my back.
19. My partner does not share my values, nor honor them.
20. My partner has limiting beliefs that interfere with our goals and future happiness.
Add up the checks:
1-3 checks = This is a healthy mature relationship.
4-9 checks = This relationship is in need of maturing. My partner needs to become more conscious, he/she may need to understand his/her own unmet needs, limiting beliefs and emotions.
10-13 checks = This relationship is immature. My partner may be self-centered and in need of understanding and responding to my unmet needs, values and emotions.
14-18 checks = This relationship or my partner is unhealthy at a child’s level. He/she may not be mature enough or conscious enough of his limiting beliefs and unmet needs to be in an intimate relationship.
Remember, you are not responsible for how your partner acts or reacts. Nor is he/she responsible for your actions or reactions. You both are, however, responsible for how you allow your partner to treat you and how you respond to, perceive and interpret his/her behaviors.
Each person in the relationship must take ownership of their own limiting beliefs that get in the way of the partnership advancing to a healthy, mature level. You, alone, have to represent your own needs and values. Be your own advocates. You both deserve to be treated with respect, love, kindness and trust. You and your partner deserve to be heard, seen and valued.