It’s Time to Assess Your Relationships

As the year comes to a close, follow these steps to reflect on your relationships and see which ones to carry into the new year (and which ones to leave in the past).

It’s Time to Assess Your Relationships

As 2013 comes to a close, many of us are taking stock of the important things in our lives. Am I doing well at work? Am I healthy? Do I have enough money and am I saving as much as I can? Did I keep any of my New Year’s resolutions from last year?

I’d like to suggest that all mental reviews of 2013 also consider your relationships. There’s good scientific evidence that having meaningful and fulfilling high quality relationships is among the best predictors of happiness. I am not talking about simply having a great boyfriend or wife, I am talking about the whole enchilada of your relationship experiences—with your parents, your friends, your kids and your lovers.

All these relationships count toward your happiness. I’ve said this before in my columns, but it’s worth repeating: One of the best things you can do for your health and happiness is cultivate great relationships.

With this fact in mind and as the year comes to an end, it makes perfect sense to see if there are ways to improve your relationships for 2014. Great idea, but how should you go about this type of review? And, more importantly, what should you do if you need to make some changes?

MORE: Know When to Walk Away

Green Means Go
You can think of the review I am describing as an effort to “take the temperature” of your relationships—that is, do an assessment to get a read of what’s going well and what could be, or needs to be, changed. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, you can do this “temperature taking” by thinking about the three colors of a traffic stoplight.

Here’s the system:

1. Think about the relationships listed below:

  • Your partner
  • Your parents
  • Your kids
  • Your best friends
  • Your other friends
  • Your work friends (if they don’t count above)
  • Your siblings
  • Your in-laws and other relatives
  • Your co-workers that you don’t consider friends
  • Other people in your life
  • People you hate and/or think hate you

2. For each person in a given type of relationship, ask yourself how you feel—take your emotional temperature for that specific relationship. Ask yourself:

  • Overall, do I feel satisfied with this relationship? Does this relationship make me happy?
  • Is this relationship fun and exciting?
  • Is there too much conflict or stress in this relationship? Too much jealously? Is it too competitive? Is there a lot of other bad stuff?
  • Am I being taken advantage of in this relationship? Is this person too needy and not giving enough? (For example, Jane tells me every stupid detail of her life but never once in the past year asked about me. Not once!)
  • Do I feel lonely and/or bored in this relationship?
  • With partners, is the physical intimacy good enough?

MORE: How to Spot a Psychopath

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