Reality Check: How Can You Tell Whether It’s A Good Relationship?

Choice theory emphasizes self-evaluation. As the word implies, to self-evaluate is to evaluate, for yourself, how well something is working. To self-evaluate, you consider what you want, compare it to the reality, and then determine how well they match.
It’s a simple idea. You might even consider it common sense!
However, sometimes we choose not to self-evaluate, but rather to go along with the evaluations of others. Why?
Perhaps we aren’t confident in our ability to determine whether something is working. Or, maybe someone expresses their opinion so assertively that we doubt our own ears and eyes. Or perhaps we just don’t have enough information.
The self-evaluation concept is really powerful, because it puts the determination in your own hands. You don’t need to go anywhere else. You examine your own needs, perceptions, and situation to see what’s doing you good or doing you harm.
Of course, with that power to evaluate comes responsibility. If it’s your choice to evaluate, then you are also responsible for the actions you take based on that self-evaluation.
Choice theory also emphasizes the importance of our relationships. If you apply the concept of self-evaluation to relationships, a question arises: “How can I tell whether a relationship is good or not?”
For some relationships, the answer is straightforward. It’s perfectly obvious whether you have a great relationship, a terrible relationship, or something in-between. No elaborate self-evaluation required.
However, sometimes the quality of a relationship is less clear. Maybe you’ve never really thought about it but assumed a relationship is good. Then something puzzling happens, or you have a troubling interaction. Perhaps you get mixed signals, or you see a pattern of hurtful actions that you don’t understand.
Equally possible, you may believe that a relationship is poor based on something in the past. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to take a fresh look.
Either way, it can be helpful to self-evaluate the relationship. One way is to ask yourself, “How do I feel about this relationship?” But might there be a way that doesn’t depend solely on feelings?
The answer is “yes.”
In “Why Don’t You Want What I Want?” Rick Maurer suggests some statements to help you assess how well a relationship is working.
For example, you assess how strongly you agree with statements such as, “You feel free to say anything to the person” or “Few topics are off limits.” How about, “It’s easy to have eye contact” and “The relationship feels natural”? Or “The person is interested in your point of view” and “You are interested in theirs.”
The most interesting statement I found is, “Your digestive system functions normally when you think about this person.” That’s a good indicator, isn’t it?
Is a particular relationship helpful or harmful? If you are uncertain, then evaluating it using a set of unemotional statements like this may help you become clearer.
You can make up your own set of questions or statements based on what is important to you. You might find it interesting to assess several relationships in your life using the same criteria.
What do you do with the information from your evaluation? Perhaps the results simply confirm what you knew, or suspected, all along.
It’s more interesting (and possibly most useful) when the results surprise you.
For example, if you thought you had a good relationship with your boss, but you see that you avoid all eye contact and your stomach clenches whenever you think about her, that’s a useful piece of information. How you choose to act on it, perhaps by addressing it, avoiding it, or simply choosing future actions with that new knowledge, is ultimately up to you.
Do you have relationships in your life that could be made clearer through self-evaluation?

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