I was recently at a workshop for therapists, and we talked about the differences between addictive love and healthy love. Addictive love isn’t really love at all; it’s about controlling the other person. Addictive love feels desperate and clingy and is more like a business agreement than a love affair.
Healthy love is a more subtle and complex animal: there’s trust, space and room for disagreement. Healthy love acknowledges that there are going to be bumps along the way, that we are inevitably going to not like each other at times and that – in the long run – mutual respect and kindness are more powerful than any attempts to control and manipulate.
After looking at all the aspects of healthy versus unhealthy (addictive) love, I have created a quiz you can use to take a look at your relationship. There’s even a scoring mechanism at the end. Have fun and use it to learn something useful about yourself and your relationship. If you are not currently in a relationship, think about your last one as you take the quiz.
In your relationship, is there:
Room to grow, expand and a desire for your partner to grow too
A willingness to tell the truth and be real
Time for each of you alone and with your own friends
An ability to ask honestly for what you want
An acceptance of your partner’s flaws
Comfort with your partner’s occasional need for space or distance
A balance between caring and healthy detachment
Trusting each other to tell the truth
Comfort, ease and intimacy
Loving each other but not needing each other
A fulfilling sex/erotic life
Continual growth and learning as individuals
An ability to listen to each other with openness and curiosity
A feeling that you and your partner are equals
“Our” friends and “my” friends (for each of you)
Each of you takes good care of your own emotional/social needs
Safety to expose your imperfections and fears
Affection and sex as natural aspects of your relationship
Emotional safety to bring up and discuss difficult subjects
A balance between giving and receiving
Encouragement of each other’s self-sufficiency
Acceptance of your and your partner’s limitations
No expectation of unconditional love
High self-esteem in both you and your partner
Wanting the best for your partner
One partner whose needs dominate the relationship
Frequent jealousy and possessiveness
A strong sense of competition between the two of you
Feeling “less than” if your partner occasionally wants some space or distance
A strong desire to change the other person
Dependence on your partner to fulfill your emotional/social needs
A feeling that you’re both playing mind games with each other
Rigidity (wanting to keep your relationship from changing)
Needing frequent affirmation and validation from your partner
A strong fear of your partner leaving you (or vice-versa)
All your friends are “our” friends
A hazy sense of what’s okay and what isn’t (healthy boundaries)
Frequent power struggles and wanting to be right
An avoidance of discussing difficult subjects
Using affection/sex to reward or punish each other
A strong need to “win” an argument
Trying to take care of/parent/mentor each other
A tendency to see your partner as mean, controlling or cruel
Demanding and expecting unconditional love
A fear of letting your partner see your imperfections and fears
Strong fears of abandonment
Physical/verbal/sexual violence or intimidation
Using manipulation to get what you want
A need to snoop and check each other’s cell phones/texts/emails
Feeling worthless unless you’re in a relationship
Scoring: Obviously, the first group of questions reflect a healthy relationship. Give yourself one point for each of these. The second group of questions reflect an addictive/unhealthy relationship, take away one point for each of these.
11 to 25: You’re doing great. No relationship is perfect, but yours is awfully damn good!
1 to 10: Your relationship could use a little turn-up, but you’re doing a lot right.
0 to -10: That red warning light on the dashboard is blinking: something’s not working very well.
-11 to -25: Uh oh, your relationship may be going downhill fast. Get some help to change direction ASAP.