relationship health check-up questions: abusive red flag questions & relative healthiness questions
Someone recently asked me if I had any relationship check-in questions to determine a relationship’s health. The closest thing I had was questions to determine if a relationship is difficult-but-worthwhile or possibly/definitely abusive, so I went through that list and expanded it into two larger sets of questions. The first is a set of yes/no questions, and any ‘no’ to these is a red flag for an abusive relationship. The second list is about the relative health of the relationship, and a ‘no’ is not necessarily a red flag but does mark a place that potentially needs work (a ‘yellow’ flag perhaps).
The basic questions I ask to determine if the relationship is abusive:
1. Can I trust this person not to lie to me? including using loopholes in language or lies of omission?
2. Can I trust this person not to deliberately hurt me — with words or otherwise?
3. Can I trust this person to put in sufficient effort to avoid hurting me? (if they accidentally hurt you quite often, this answer is likely ‘no’)
4. Can I trust this person not to touch me in any way I do not want? including things like blocking me from leaving a room, or trying to hug me when I am angry and do not want it?
5. Can I trust this person not to try to manipulate or force my behavior? Including things like trying to get me to continue a conversation when I have said I do not want to talk right now?
6. Can I say no to or disagree with this person with very little fear or guilt or worry?
7. Can I trust this person to tell me how they really feel, even if they know I won’t like the answer?
8. Can I trust this person to never expect me to know things about their feelings/desires without being explicitly told?
The questions I ask to determine if it is a worthwhile difficult relationship:
1. After spending time with this person do I feel any of these things: less able to do activities I enjoy; less able to do chores or work which I need to do; less self-esteem; greater need for comfort; greater need for rest; greater desire to self-harm; greater desire to withdraw from people in general? If so, how often does this happen? How often can I handle such a drain? Is there sufficient nourishment in the relationship to balance it out, overall?
2. If there were no negative consequences to breaking up with this person, and I could get just as much emotional nourishment and other resources elsewhere, would I still want to be with them? if not, how can I seek out resources and safety to help me leave the relationship?
3. Can I look at times when they have hurt me and learned from that and actively avoided doing it later on? and vice versa? are these times fewer or more common than times when they have hurt me, had a discussion about it, and then hurt me again in a very similar way?
4. Does this person want to give to me at least as much as they want to get from me? Do they act on this desire when they have the energy?
5. Can I share all parts of myself and feel respected, safe, accepted, and sometimes challenged by this person?
6. Does my time spent with this person make me feel nourished and fulfilled in at least one way that is important to me? Do they make efforts to show me love in ways that feel most loving to me?
7. Is there any unresolved pain between me and my person? if so, what is it? is there a solution that allows both of us to be true to ourselves? if not, are we willing to accept this pain as a constant presence in our relationship?
8. Are there any issues that have come up multiple times without a satisfying resolution? If so what are the common threads in such issues/conflicts?
9. In our past few conflicts, have there been feelings of helplessness or hopelessness? Do I feel like my person is as willing as I am to put forth the effort to heal and grow together?
10. Do I feel sure that this person respects me and desires my company for its own sake? If I was not actively giving to them, would they still value me and want to spend time with me?
11. Do I feel supported in pursuing any art, hobby, relationship, or professional endeavor that nourishes me? Does my person actively desire for me to have external sources of nourishment? Do they do what they can to encourage this?