by Neil Rosenthal
Note: This is the second of a two-part series.
If you are caught between being in a relationship with two different people, and are attempting to choose which one you want to commit to, here are more questions which are designed to assist you in coming to a choice. These questions come from Mira Kirshenbaum in the book “When Good People Have Affairs” (St. Martin’s Press):
• Thinking of the two people in your life, what expectations are created about how life will be in the future? Is this person realistically able to meet those expectations over time?
• What would life under normal conditions be like with this person?
• Do one of these people make a lot of bad decisions about big things or about little things? If so, that’s a very bad sign.
• When it’s just the two of you, do you have fun and play well together, and do you do this fairly often?
• Do you feel safe with the other person-when you’re being emotional, vulnerable, personal or intimate? Do you feel safe from being hurt physically or emotionally?
• Do you basically respect her as she is right now?
• Does he treat you as if he genuinely believes that you, just as you are, are solid, capable, responsible, smart, kind and that you generally make good decisions?
• If you were to settle in with the other person, three years from now, do you have a compelling reason to feel that things would be much less boring than they are now?
• Who do you like as a person? How smart do you feel when you’re together? How happy do you feel inside when you are with each of the people you are involved with? How hopeful do you feel? How depressed or discouraged? Which person helps or encourages you to be the kind of person you most want to be?
• With whom do you have stronger chemistry? How much stronger is it?
• When you think about everything that touches the situation that you’re in, what issue, fear, image or feeling is closest to your heart about this matter? If you look down the path five years from now, what’s the most likely way this issue will play out in your future if you choose one person? If you choose the other person?
• If you stayed in your primary relationship, would it be impossible for you to be happy?
• Would your children be so damaged by this that they would not be able to recover?
• How vindictive are the two people involved? What potential damage could each do to me?
• Which one is more communicative and engaging? Connection is what keeps a relationship together, so look at who is better at connecting and staying connected. Connecting means that you talk about things that are really important to you, and you have a fairly good idea of the other person’s feelings-both the good and the bad feelings. You also have empathy for each other, and there’s room in the relationship for the deeper, darker parts of you.
• Which person is the highest quality person: the most sane, intelligent, generous, honest, kind, reliable, sensible, warm, good-natured person? Who’s the most solid and wears well-not necessarily with you, but within themselves?
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, CO, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303.758.8777, or e-mail him from his website, www.heartrelationships.com.