Why a Relationship Barometer?
As I reflected upon why my breakup occurred and whether there were signs I should have seen, or maybe aspects I just hoped would get better, a weather forecast came on TV. I realized that just as atmospheric conditions determine the probable weather outlook, there might be a similar way to forecast where a romantic relationship is headed. And since everyone understands that sunny is good, and stormy is bad (unless you’re a storm chaser!), the weather metaphor makes it easy to understand.
I surveyed people everywhere I traveled, and discovered that there were common characteristics of relationship success that transcended age, gender or relationship status. I thought about those factors that affected relationship fulfillment, and simplified them into three categories: the things we really want, the things we don’t want, and the things we like but aren’t critical. I then analyzed how the balance and importance of those items affected relationships to arrive at a reasonable calculation that could show, based on what you are uniquely experiencing, where your relationship appeared to be headed. And what you should focus on, if necessary, to improve that forecast and the probability of a fulfilling and healthy long-term relationship.
This isn’t about losing the fun and romance in your relationship, or in having a computer tell you what to do. It also isn’t about just finding fault with your relationship, as much as in bringing awareness to fully appreciate your sunny experiences, or address rather than ignore your stormy ones. There’s no cookie cutter approach to relationships, as each is different, and each evolves in its own manner. But there are common aspects that can help us see where we are, and the trends that we are experiencing, which affect our relationship satisfaction.
I call the values and qualities that we really want the “Gotta Have’s”. They really give us foundational pleasure, and if we don’t experience them we feel deprived. Over time, that could cause us to suppress those needs, and just feel discontented. Not usually our goal for an ongoing relationship.
On the other extreme, the aspects we absolutely do not want in our relationship are the “Gotta Not Have’s”. If we experience them we feel badly imposed upon and resentful, and they usually become the deal breakers of a relationship. Who wants to experience things they hate? They just continue to grate on us until we can’t take it anymore. These are not the small stuff, but the really foundational things that conflict with the values or type of lifestyle we cherish.
Lastly, there are the fun activities and aspects that give us enjoyment, contentment and fun, but any particular one isn’t critical to have. Those are our “Like to Have’s”, and are usually the things we do when we first start dating that make it fun to continue. They can make a good relationship even better, or may deceive us into thinking an unhealthy relationship is actually better than it really is.
The balance of how well these needs are fulfilled is what goes into calculating your forecast, and is the foundation of the “Balance” in your “Relationship Barometer”!