Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

The Relationship Report Card

Grade your current or future potential long-term partner on this report card.

JD Hancock, CC 2.0
Source: JD Hancock, CC 2.0

Half of married couples divorce.

My clients have found this report card helpful in evaluating a potential long-term romantic partner.

In my view, unless a person scores at least a "B" on all five of these items, you're probably wise to search for a more appropriate partner.

1. Sexual compatibility. Are you both sexually attracted to each other? And importantly, do your sex drives match? If s/he craves daily hour-long sexfests while all you want is a quick, quiet weekly merge, you have a not-easily-fixed problem. Few people of today's generation have been brought up to think sex is dirty, so low sex drive is more likely to be caused by biology and so is less likely to be increased.

2. Non-sexual compatibility. When you talk, do you both tend to respect the others' opinions, values, and quality of thinking? Do you enjoy spending time together, even just sitting in the same room? Do you feel good about your partner when s/he is among your friends and family?

3. A positive bias toward life. For most people, life ain't easy. So, especially if you tend to view the glass as half empty, it's great to have a partner who tilts toward the positive, both about life and how s/he views you. Is s/he likely to let your small screw-ups roll off his/her back or to give you a hard time?

4. Stable employment. If both partners contribute significant income, each person has more freedom to do the kind of work s/he wants and to do that work ethically. Also, a person's stable employment is evidence that s/he is capable, reliable, and not an undue procrastinator, all of which are important not only at work but in relationships.

5. Free from serious problems. We all have issues. But a person with a severe physical or mental illness, an addiction, a violent temper, is inveterately lazy, etc. is a big challenge to deal with. Alas, even years of therapy may not change a person fundamentally so your entering a relationship hoping to fix him or her, is a longshot. It may be wiser to turn your attentions elsewhere.

Other factors

Other weaknesses may be more malleable. For example, let's say you are highly sensitive to emotional events and feel compelled to "process" them frequently. In contrast, your partner feels that "processing" expends too much emotional energy for the benefit derived. Realize that you shouldn't expect your partner to meet all your needs. Instead, find a friend or family member who likes exploring people's possible feelings, motives, and the causes thereof.

Or let's say you and your partner have some disparate interests. For example, my wife loves to travel and to dance. I don't, so she usually does those with friends, although I try to occasionally do those things with her. I like gardening and hiking. She doesn't, so I do those solo.

In conclusion

Of course, none of us are perfect. For example, you may wonder whether you deserve someone who scores at least a "B" on all five criteria. If you don't, perhaps ask yourself whether you can improve enough to deserve a good partner. And if not, rather than settling for someone who scores C or lower on those criteria, maybe you should at least defer looking for a long-term partner.

Dr. Nemko's nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at