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The Power of the “Relationship Quality Control Checklist”

A number of years ago, I had gotten out of a difficult, dysfunctional relationship which I had freely chosen (for what I now believe are the lessons I needed to learn).  Those lessons have put me in a fantastic place today, and I am grateful for that journey.

When I entered past relationships (“significant-other” types) I did not ask the right questions of myself pertinent to the values, views, attitudes, disposition, temperament, religious issues, political views, social behaviors, social habits, and many other issues related to happiness and success of the relationship.

In past times, once I became attracted to the individual and entered the relationship (often because the person “wanted to be with me”), I became blinded towards my needs, values and moreover BOUNDARIES.  I moved into a place of becoming a “steward” of the other persons’ happiness, well-being, needs, etc.

I honestly believed that I could change the person for the better, and then ‘things would be okay!”

How many of us do that?

I did not have this realization until my dear cousin Phillip, who mentored me thorough adolescence, began to urge me to make a “Quality Control Checklist”.  I asked, “What in the world is that?”  Phillip said, “Make a list of traits, habits, values, attributes behaviors, etc. which you would like to have in your next relationship.  Then when you meet someone you are attracted to, you can revisit the Quality Control Checklist and see if it right for you”.  I replied, “That sounds so businesslike, so rational!”  Phillip said, “Exactly!  You would be that way if buying a product, or a car or a house, or taking a job.  Isn’t a significant relationship even more delicate, sensitive and important than any of those things?”

Yes, choosing one’s life partner should have at least the same consideration as buying a car…!

So, 4 or 5 phone conversations later, I sat down and made a list of positive attributes, character traits, behaviors, habits and values that I felt would blend with mine and give a good chance of future “relationship success”.   I included “non-negotiable deal-breakers” like substance-use and homophobia.  “Negotiables” like how the house is decorated or the person’s musical taste.  And “don’t cares” such as vegetarian or meat eater, tall or short, size in general, or kind of car.

I included what to me were essential issues (after initial attraction and a sense of things in common) such as mental health, good financial sense, and a work ethic in practice, and children.  Plus, I wanted someone nice, friendly and fun to be with, someone with whom I could relax.

Anyway, a while after I made my list, which Phillip congratulated me on, I shared it with a dear colleague whom I had been working with as co-guidance counselors for a couple of years.  She and I had worked together as a team professionally and creatively during that time, with a clear friendship, well-boundaried and restricted to work and school.

Somewhere along the way, as she was on the other side of becoming divorced, I shared my list with her, the clarity it had given me, and what a great tool it was and reflected that in fact, she had some of the qualities on the list.  I recommended that she too make a list.

After many walks, talks and eventually, outings, we began to realize a deepening friendship.  One special evening, she shared her list with me, and told me she had a strong sense I was “her list”.  I was momentarily stunned, and shortly thereafter, remembered my list.  There were so many matches on my “Quality Control Checklist”, and a few that didn’t match.

My list allowed me the mindfulness to question those particular items, and to see if I could find a way to be in harmony with them, knowing I could not change someone or their character traits or personality, likes and dislikes or life situation.

There really was never a moment of doubt, only the deep realization that somehow our lists had manifested a healthy, functional relationship.  We remain happily married, in love, best friends and a great team in everything from day to day matters, to co-parenting our wide array of children (and grandchildren).

That is the beauty of the list, cousin!   You actually attract, choose and unite with a partner out of your most positive, conscious hopes, aspirations and dream.

So, whether you are looking for “a good friend”, “a best friend”, a “life companion”, significant other, partner, or spouse, use the following guidelines:


Make a list.

Refer to it often.

Revise it periodically.

It makes a big difference



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