Assessing Your Partner's Mental and Emotional Health

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Psychologists point out that the relationship between two people can be no healthier than the emotional health of the least healthy person. To put this in a positive context: Fabulous relationships happen when two emotionally healthy individuals get together and invest the energy to build something wonderful. Further, researchers have found that in two-thirds of all marriages that eventually end in divorce or separation, at least one of the partners suffers from an emotional health deficiency. Since you want the best possible relationship with the best chance to last a lifetime, be on the lookout for signs that your partner is emotionally healthy—or not.

As you get to know someone, evaluate these questions:

1. Is the person an unwavering truth-teller? When a person feels compelled to deceive you (or anyone else), it’s a sign of shaky character. You want a partner with a rock-solid commitment to honesty and integrity.

2. Does the person become overwhelmed by everyday frustrations? Daily life is full of aggravations, and most people learn to deal with them more or less reasonably. Beware of the person who gets easily rattled and highly agitated.

3. Does he belittle you or others? If someone puts you down or tries to make you feel inferior, consider this a warning sign of more trouble ahead.

4. Is the person consistently irritable? All of us get cranky sometimes because of stress, sleep deprivation, or other factors. But watch out for the person who seems grouchy most of the time.

5. Have you noticed addictive behaviors? A person who has an unaddressed addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography) is a skilled liar and often develops intricate webs of deceit to conceal their behavior.

6. Does the person have an isolated lifestyle? A lack of connection with friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors can be a sign of intimacy problems or being excessively guarded.

7. Is the person bossy and demanding? The need to tell others what to do is a sign of someone with an obsessive need to be in control.

8. Does your partner manipulate? The person who plays “mind games” stirs up unnecessary drama and turmoil. This is often a symptom of deeper issues.

9. Does your partner have a mostly positive outlook on life? Persistent pessimism and negativity cast a dark cloud overhead—when, in fact, life is mostly bright and hopeful.

10. Does the person seem overly needy? Clingy and dependent behavior often reveals someone who is insecure deep down.

11. Is the person a “control freak”? Some people feel the need to take control of every situation and be in charge. Being proactive is admirable, but being overbearing is not.

12. Have you noticed an inability to manage anger? If the person is hot-tempered, easily provoked and quick to lose control, take this as a sign of danger ahead.

13. Is the individual detached and remote? This kind of person is highly defended and doesn’t want to let anyone get close.

14. Are there signs of a personality or mood disorder? People with a disorder like narcissism frequently have significant behavioral or emotional problems that can be very challenging for long-term relationships.

15. Does he display a lack of respect? Respect confers dignity and honor to the recipient. In contrast, lack of respect leads to all kinds of relational ills—putdowns, dishonesty, cheating—which are sure to sink a relationship eventually.

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