Relationship Health: 15 Questions to Diagnose Your Love Life
Improving and maintaining our physical well-being is an ongoing process. We enroll at gyms, take weekly classes, challenge ourselves to go faster and get stronger. Our relationship health is no different. It is an endeavor that we don’t undergo once or twice, but all the time, every day. Taking the temperature of where you stand in relation to your partner is always a good idea, because you come out of it with insight into where you are and where you want to go.
By answering these 15 questions honestly and fully, you can diagnose your relationship’s health anytime - without the help of a licensed professional. Are you ready to find out how healthy your relationship is?
1. Am I fully satisfied with my sex life?
Sex isn’t everything, but it’s an important slice of the relationship pie. Understanding how your dynamic works in the bedroom will help you understand how it works outside of it, too. While answering this question, consider all the components:
- Do I feel my partner cares about my pleasure as much as they care about their pleasure?
- Do I feel like my needs are met? Do I feel comfortable enough to share them?
- Do I feel happy with the frequency of sex? Would I like more or less?
- Do I regularly experience orgasm with my partner?
- Is our intimacy in proportion to our sex life? AKA, do we enjoy cuddling, kissing, and foreplay as much as we do the actual sex? Why or why not?
Once you’ve broken down the question to these various parts, it will be easier for you to identify your areas of weakness - and also your points of strength. Then, you can discuss your feelings with your partner in more specific terms. Instead of saying: “I’m dissatisfied with our sex life,” which is likely to start a fight or inspire hurt feelings, you can tell them: “I would love to increase the amount of time we spend on foreplay before sex.”
2. Do I feel seen and heard?
This question can be taken literally or metaphorically. If your partner is constantly checking their phone while you’re talking to them, you might be feeling the literal effects. If you get indications that your partner really doesn’t understand the ‘real’ you, what drives and excites you, you may be feeling it more metaphorically. Either way, this is an important point to investigate. If your answer to this question is anything other than a resounding “Yes!” then we encourage you to dig deeper to understand why you feel your partner isn’t able to give you their full attention. Begin by identifying the obstacles: Are you being honest and forthright with them about what you want? Is their attention something you desire but can’t achieve? Are they holding onto a dated idea of who you are? Are your needs as important as theirs are? And perhaps most importantly, are you making them aware of the fact that you don’t feel seen in your relationship? Once you’re able to clarify how you’re feeling internally, the job of expressing yourself to your partner will feel infinitely easier.
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3. Do I feel appreciated by my partner?
One of the most common reasons partners begin to feel resentment towards each other is because they feel underappreciated. Of all relationship pitfalls, this is one of the easiest to fall into. Life gets busy, we prioritize other things like kids, careers, mortgages, trips, and we forget to prioritize our gratitude for each other. The daily rigamarole leaves us depleted, exhausted, and without the perspective necessary to understand just how much you’re both sacrificing. So if you can’t remember the last time your partner thanked you for cleaning the kitchen, folding the laundry, or complimented a meal you cooked - it’s likely you’re feeling underappreciated right now. One way you can begin to remedy this problem (apart from the obvious tell them how you feel option) is to lead by example. Appreciated people appreciate people. So the more you focus on rewarding the good your partner does, vocalizing your appreciation for their sacrifices, and expressing gratitude for their efforts… the more they’ll learn to show the same affection back to you.
4. Am I comfortable being vulnerable with my partner?
Experts will be the first to tell you: vulnerability is your superpower. In the past we have dangerously misunderstood this emotion. We’ve confused the absence of vulnerability with ‘strength’ and misled generations of people (mostly men) with this incorrect information. Now though, we are beginning to process the full potential of vulnerability, especially when it comes to relationships. Without this emotion, there can be no real closeness in intimate relationships. Trust is only formed when you feel comfortable airing your worst fears and insecurities with your partner, in full knowledge that your secrets are safe with them. This phenomena, often called ‘psychological safety’ or ‘emotional safety’ by relationship experts, is essential to building a healthy, lasting relationship. But the trickiest part is this: if you aren’t vulnerable with yourself, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be able to be vulnerable with your partner. Only after mastering it alone can you share it with another. So begin by finding it, allowing it, and feeling comfortable with it, and give yourself permission to only share vulnerabilities with your partner when you’re absolutely ready.
5. Do I fully trust my partner?
To answer this question, we give you a hypothetical: you get home early, and discover you’re home alone. Your partner, however, has left behind their phone - or laptop - and they’re nowhere to be found. You don’t have any fear of getting caught, so do you look through their phone or their email? Or do you just walk right by?
If you felt tempted by that hypothetical in any way, there is a small part of you that thinks you’ll find something incriminating in your partner’s personal correspondence. Whether it’s inappropriate DM’s from someone attractive on Instagram, a friendly chat with an ex on Facebook, or inappropriate jokes with their friends over email, you have nagging suspicions that there are some things your partner doesn’t want you to know. Building trust is not the kind of thing that can be accomplished overnight, but it is the kind of thing you can identify immediately. And trust us when we say, identifying the problem is a huge step towards the solution. Couples that insist they trust each other implicitly and then snoop behind each other’s backs are the only ones without hope of improvement. Everyone else is a candidate for change. If you’re able to admit that you would have looked through their phone, you’re able to admit you don’t fully trust your partner. That awareness can propel you to take the steps necessary to building (or re-building) that trust.
Rebuilding trust takes time and serious effort. Luckily, our relationship coaches are here to guide you. Download the #1 relationship training app today and get started for free.
6. Do I laugh regularly with my partner?
Compared to the last few questions, this one may seem a bit… trivial, but of all the questions to diagnose the health of your relationship, this is probably the most important. Couples who laugh together have higher opinions of each other, experience less stress, and feel more hopeful about their future. And yes, it really is as simple as a knock-knock joke. When you and your partner are able to weather thick and thin and still find time to make jokes, poke fun, or simply throw your heads back and laugh at the same thing, you have officially made it as a pair. Not feeling particularly inspired lately? Try watching a stand-up special together to dip a toe back into the funny waters. Or, rent a funny movie just to experience what it’s like to laugh together, even if it’s at Adam Sandler.
7. Do I envy my friends’ relationships?
The best way to lose what you have is to compare it to something else - but sometimes we can’t help but feel jealous of relationships we’ve decided are ‘easier,’ ‘better,’ or ‘more thoughtful.’ The harsh truth is that no matter how close you are with your friends, we can never really understand how a relationship works behind closed doors. Which means, you may not even have much to envy in their relationships, but tell that to your brain, right? If you find yourself lusting after the way your friends' eyes light up when their partner walks into a room, try to identify what aspect of their relationship, specifically, has you drooling. Is it how attentive their partner is to them? How thoughtful? How rarely they fight? How often (they tell you) they have sex? If you’re able to pinpoint the reason, you can gain some insight into what you feel you’re lacking in your relationship. The best relationship is the one that leaves you without jealousy or desire to be anywhere but where you are - so if you feel the answer to this is yes, you’ve got some work to do. If you don’t feel envious of anyone else’s relationship, then that’s a very positive sign.
8. Do I feel prioritized by my partner?
How do you know if you feel ‘prioritized’? Put it this way: if you called your partner and told them you needed them, do they drop everything and come running? Or do they ask qualifying questions, like: “What’s wrong?” “How bad is it?” and “Can it wait until I get home?” Happy couples are confident in the knowledge that their partner, at any moment, would put their needs above everything else. Every meeting that had to be rescheduled, every dinner that had to be cancelled, every trip that had to be postponed, there is nothing in this world that means more to them than your happiness, and vice versa. That is the cornerstone of a solid foundation, the mutual understanding that you will always come first.
9. Do I still learn new things about my partner?
Ideally, we spend the entire length of our relationships getting to know one another. Of course, you’re divulging and processing more information on the first date than on the 15th, but just because it’s a cumulative process doesn’t mean you ever achieve “all-knowing.” Relationship therapist and author Harville Hendrix says if you can’t sit down and list at least six things you’ve learned about your partner in the last year… you’re not paying close enough attention. What does he recommend? Observe them! Like tourists at the zoo, find your partner in their natural habitat and just watch what they do:
- Do they take their coffee the same way you always thought?
- Do they cook with new techniques or recipes?
- Are they interested in different hobbies?
- Are they playing new sports?
- Do they exercise more or less regularly than they used to?
- Whether you thought them a morning person or night owl, do they wake up early? Go to bed late?
- Are they interested in different topics?
- Do they read the newspaper every day?
- Has their taste in music changed or expanded?
These are just a few of the questions you can jot down on a clipboard as you follow your partner around your house. Just kidding about the clipboard, of course. Half kidding. But if you feel like you haven’t learned much about your partner recently, this is a negative indicator of your relationship’s health. It’s not dire! Think of it as an easily-remedied issue: the only thing you need to do is pay attention.
10. Do I value my partner’s opinion?
Actress Sarah Jessica Parker is regularly hailed as having one of the longest-running marriages in Hollywood, and once when she was asked about this, she said: “He’s the one I’m always trying to make proud.” Apart from being an adorable sentiment, it’s also a great blueprint. If you hold your partner’s esteem higher than anyone else’s, you’ll always be motivated within your relationship to continue growing, challenging yourself, improving, and taking risks. Partners that have devalued each other’s opinion become more lazy, more risk-averse, and less inclined to grow or self-improve. Encouraging each other and being each other’s biggest cheerleader is a continuous cycle of positivity: the more you put in, the more validated and supported you feel, the more you feel encouraged to move the goalpost. The same goes for your partner. If you find yourself saying no to this question, journal a little bit about whose opinion you do value and why. Sometimes things are revealed to us that we didn’t realize through the written word: only by allowing ourselves to consider the issue do we arrive at the answer we knew all along.
11. Am I comfortable disagreeing with my partner?
Difference of opinion happens all the time. Arguments are expected. But conflict is entirely optional. The difference all comes down to how you approach the issue. If you and your partner have worked to create an environment that welcomes debate, healthy disagreements, and differences of opinion, then you likely feel very confident to voice your opinion when it differs from your partner’s. But if you would rather go along to get along, change your opinion, keep quiet about it, or shut down completely - it’s a symptom of a deeper issue. Being afraid to be honest is a sign that there are other more sinister issues in your relationship like manipulation, fear, control, jealousy, even gaslighting. If you’re on the fence here, wait until your next disagreement with your partner, and stay conscious of how safe you feel expressing yourself to them? Is it as safe as you feel talking to a parent or close friend? Or do you feel there’s a bigger risk when you disagree with your partner? Once you have a better picture of how serious this issue is, you can begin to work at healthier dialogues, discussions, and resolutions.
12. Do I feel loved?
When The Beatles sang “All you need is love,” they were not exaggerating. It is one of the most important emotions we experience in our lives, and by far the most critical to the health of your relationship. If you don’t feel loved, then no amount of great communication, listening skills, couples exercises, and new sex positions will change that. If you do feel loved, you quickly realize that not much else matters. It’s all icing on the cake after that, right? So while this is a big question to answer, it’s also a very personal one. Reflect on your relationship: how it began, how it’s grown, how it’s changed, and how it currently is. Do you feel happy with every stage? Do you feel like you’re more in love now than you were in the beginning? Are you aware that your partner, even when they forget to show it, loves you more than anything? If you falter on some of these answers, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, it means it needs a tune-up. Set aside time to have a serious discussion with your partner about how they feel in your relationship. You don’t need to blurt out: “You don’t even love me anymore!” It can begin much more nuanced, like you saying: “How happy are you right now? Are you satisfied with our relationship? Do I do a good job of expressing my love for you?” You might be surprised. If you feel like there isn’t a lot of love on your side, it’s more than likely your partner is feeling the same way.
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13. Do I want to spend time with my partner?
Sure, this sounds obvious - like, hopefully the answer is yes, but it’s actually a little more complicated than you think. Look at your weekly or monthly schedule: do you plan lots of dinners with friends? Do you try exercise classes or go watch games you know your partner wouldn’t enjoy? Do you and your partner create different schedules so that you’re typically busy when they have free time and vice versa? Sometimes, this can happen so slowly and subtly we’re not even really aware of it. But quality time together is one of the most important currencies in a healthy relationship, so it should be something you want to spend on each other.
14. Do I desire my partner?
Sex without desire is meaningless, so even if you’re enjoying a robust sex life in your relationship, it has no value unless you still desire your partner - and they you. This is a layered question, because not only does it ask the obvious do you still want them, but also the trickier do you still find them attractive? It can be difficult to drum up some mystery and excitement if you’ve been together a long time, but even couples who are in the early stages can experience some turbulence in this area. Our attraction wanes, our moods shift, and our confidence has a lot more to do with it than we think. So how do we simulate desire if our heart isn’t in it? Short answer: you don’t. But you do start with the underlying issues, because if you can fix those, you can regain desire (even magnify it). One of the best ways to do this is to experience novelty together: there is a specific activation we experience in our brain when we feel the rush of doing something for the first time, like skydiving or painting. The more first-time experiences you can cement together, the more fresh perspective you’ll have in this area, and likely - the more you’ll fancy your partner.
15. Am I excited about the future?
If you only answer one of these questions in the affirmative, hopefully it’s this one. The alternative is too grim to bear. Because if you were interested in diagnosing the health of your relationship but not interested in its future - it would be the definition of an exercise in futility. So sit back and picture it: you and your partner, 5 years down the road, 10 years. What are you doing? What city are you living in? What does your life look like? What milestones have you celebrated? What goals have you achieved? What does your relationship look like? And most importantly: Are you happy? If answering these questions makes you giddy, then congratulations, you may not have a ‘perfect’ relationship, but you likely have a healthy one. If you experience resistance, not excitement, don’t ignore that red flag. That is a powerful indicator that you need to attend to. While there are many unknowns in the future, and most of our plans end up changing and shifting, the one thing you should always feel confident betting on is each other.
Last question… Are you ready to start working on your relationship health? Let our expert relationship coaches put out together a customized improvement plan for you and your partner. Start your free 7-day trial today.