Many long-term relationship seekers have failed to find their ideal partners despite sincere and intense efforts. They have read dozens of self-help books and Internet articles, watched dating videos, and sought competent therapists to help them.
They have learned every phase of finding the right person, correcting their own dysfunctional behavior, and keeping competitive in the dating market. Yet, they have not been successful in maintaining lasting relationships.
As a relationship therapist for forty years, I believe that the most important evidence has been overlooked.
Most all relationship advice has focused on the “popular” traits and behaviors people think will ensure success, and have largely ignored those that consistently create great relationships.
Operating under the radar, people with these qualities don’t appear in tabloids or reality TV shows. They don’t live on pedestals, fall from grace when they choose new relationships or leave behind angry ex-partners.
You won’t usually find them leading with the package that most people think will work. They appreciate sexual attractiveness, status, connections, social performance, financial success, and dramatic experiences, but they know those are not the positives that survive the test of time.
I’ve watched these people carefully over many years. They consistently create great relationships filled with joyful and meaningful experiences. I’ve heard them called Keepers, those people you’d never want to lose. I support that title and definition.
These successful relationship people exhibit a set of beliefs, actions, and ideals that keep relationships thriving through the good times and the bad.
Keepers have fifteen consistent identifying traits. You may already possess some of them. As you read through the list, think of people you have consistently treasured and felt valued by in return. Also, note if these behaviors characterize them.
At the end of the category descriptions, you and your partner can take the short quiz to see where you stand on each of these traits.
It is only for information, and not meant as a way of finding fault.
You may also think of other traits that have been important markers in the successful relationships you’ve had or observed and could add them to the list.
Trait One – Keepers are self-accountable
Keepers understand how love works are not afraid to question themselves. They clearly put knowledge ahead of ego-preservation, and seek ways to help their relationships stay successful.
They ask themselves what they could do to change them for the better. They are not out to win at their partner’s expense.
Alongside their willingness to admit wrongs and to choose compromise whenever possible, they are also confident in their own contributions.
They don’t automatically give up their point of view when challenged. You know them by their combination of ego strength and flexibility. They not only hold their integrity under fire but also expect that kind of behavior from people they respect.
He: “I keep telling you how much I hate it when you’re late. No matter what I say, you don’t seem to give a damn. What will it take for you to listen and do something about it? I’m fed up.”
Keeper: (Pulls back and wants to defend, but thinks about what he’s said, and where he’s right.) “You have every right to be upset. I don’t handle time very well. I really mean to, but I let other things distract me. I know I’ve been getting better but you do have a history of being disappointed with me. I’m really going to make this a high priority. Work with me, okay?” (Reaches out for his hand.)
He: (Taking her hand.) “I guess I don’t trust that you’re really making an effort, but I know you are. I’m sorry for the rant. I guess I want to be more important to you.”
Keeper: “I do this to a lot of people, and I’m sure you’re not alone. I will do everything I can to make this better, babe. I’m glad you cared enough to challenge me.”
Trait Two – Keepers can hold on to their own personal rhythms under stress
Keepers can blend into the rhythm of their partners when they want to because they honor and respect their differences in timing and urgency level.
They do not allow themselves to be pulled into emotional cascades when it doesn’t work for them or the relationship.
Whether making love, spring cleaning or planting a garden, people thrive in individual ways. Those who respect and know their own rhythms want what’s best for themselves and their partners.
They are reasonably flexible and can slow down or speed up if their partner needs them to, but ultimately know that they are the final say on how they respond.
She: (coming in the door from work) “Hi, honey. Where’s the mail? Did your sister reply to our dinner invitation? Did you remember to pick up my prescription? I’ve got to finish this damn presentation tonight. When am I going to do this? I’m so stressed out.”
Keeper: (smiling and even) “Slow down, sweetheart. You’re spinning.”
She: “Wow, I really am, aren’t I? I think I swallowed a whole lot of crap today and I’m taking it out on you. I get so rattled when I have too much on my plate. Thank God you don’t get pulled in. You’re my rock.”
Keeper: (smiling) “I’m sure I get rattled on occasion, too. I just hate to see you so upset, especially by people who shouldn’t matter that much. We can go over your laundry list and figure this out together.”
She: “I’m so grateful you don’t get pulled in to my stuff. It’s such a relief.”
Trait Three – Keepers don’t patronize. They find a way to stay interested or they graciously bow out
Keepers know that boredom can undermine the best of relationships. Because they can hold on to their own sense of excitement, their first response to an uninteresting situation is to try to make it more meaningful by using their own resources.
They know that staying bored will probably make them boring as well, and they don’t want others to have to ensure that. Their goal is to find meaning or joy in whatever they are doing.
They’re the first to admit that they don’t respond as well to people who aren’t willing to change their situation. They eagerly look for any way to make connections more positive and don’t give up easily.
If eventually, there is nothing more they can do, they won’t patronize another person by pretending that they are interested when they no longer are.
Keeper: “I’ve been asking you a lot of questions and you seem quiet. I hope I’m not being inappropriate.”
She: “That’s sweet of you to ask. I’m not much of a talker.”
Keeper: “I’m interested in knowing you better. Tell me something about yourself you’d like me to know.”
She: (shrugs) “Well, I’m a pretty ordinary person. Not much that’s that interesting.” (Silence.)
Keeper: (Know he’s going to have to put out more effort, but still willing to try.) “Well, what do you like most about your work? You’re a dental hygienist, right? It must be nice to make people feel better about themselves. What kind of people do you usually see?”
She: “I guess it’s an okay job. The people are usually nice.”
Keeper: “Have you ever thought about doing any other kind of work in your life? Maybe something that would be more meaningful?”
She: “I’ve never really thought about it.”
Keeper: (realizing this isn’t working very well, but wants to get through dinner without making her feel bad) “Well, what would you like to order? I really like the halibut here. Do you like halibut?”
She: (peering at the menu and seemingly unaffected) “I need some time to decide.”
Keeper: “Take our time. I’d like you to get something you really enjoy.”
Trait Four – Keepers see humor as a sacred part of relationships
Laughter is one of the best antidotes for anxiety, sorrow, loneliness, or frustration. People who find the humor in life is more resilient to disappointments.
They don’t laugh inappropriately or use humor to mock, but they do maintain the perspective that keeps them aware.
Keepers don’t use laughter to cover when they’re feeling uncomfortable. They have learned the value of timing and a compassionate heart and can process sorrow and joy with the same gentle appreciation for life.
They readily enjoy others who can make them laugh, and help them hold on to their sense of perspective when times are hard. They have a keen sense of perspective and don’t use humor to lighten up situations that need to stay serious.
He: “Man, people are sometimes so stupid. Every time I tried to tell my boss what we needed to do to save the deal, I get undermined. He’s just like my old boss. I know he’ll pretend he didn’t hear me and then steal the idea. What the hell am I supposed to do, just shut up and get used again? If this job didn’t pay so well, I’d be out of there. Doesn’t anyone have integrity anymore?”
Keeper: (touching his face tenderly) “I understand, but I hate to see you this heavy and down. I know you work hard, but you’re letting this guy steal your soul. Remember when we used to make fun of hard situations? We could put anything in perspective, just because we knew how to laugh about things together.”
He (reflecting): “How did I get this angry, honey? I don’t want to go around feeling this way. Maybe too many disappointments in people. I don’t know what to do.”
Keeper: (Caressing him) “Well, you could get me pregnant.”
He: (laughing) “Now, that suggestion definitely changes the equation.”
Trait Five – Keepers know how to stay even
Keepers have an internal resiliency and don’t get out of control. You can always count on them to stay centered, especially when they are challenged.
They can take in criticism with the same gracious evenness as compliments. They seem to have internal advocates who catch them when they fall and support them when their confidence is low, and want to do that for others whenever they can.
They use challenges as opportunities to know themselves better and to learn more about their partner’s fears and insecurities. They feel grateful that they can find their footing more easily than others, but they don’t give up continuously learning how to do it better.
They don’t overly react when their partners are unstable. They can be caring but won’t take more challenge than they feel they deserve.
She: (angry and blaming; on output) “It’s been three weeks since you’ve even looked at me. You take care of everyone else in the world but I’m your lowest priority. I wait and wait so I won’t bug you and seem needy, but I’m getting really tired of feeling so damned unimportant. Can’t you see how much I’m hurting?”
Keeper: “Hey, what’s going on? Where is this all coming from? We were great this morning and I haven’t seen you all day.”
She: (heating up) “You’re on that God damn phone all day. You’re sweet to every waitress that serves us, even if they aren’t doing a good job. You won’t tell your mother to leave us alone on the weekends. You don’t remember the things I tell you that is important to me.”
Keeper: “It feels like you’re really on output. I’m willing to listen and to take blame where it’s due, but there seems to be a lot more going on here than you’re talking about. Slow down and try to tell me where this all started.”
She (quieting down and starting to cry): “I don’t know. I just missed you today after we made love. I guess I needed more of us and you disappeared, like always.”
Keeper: (takes her hand but stays centered) “I’m really sorry you’re feeling so bad, honey. I did leave a little soon. I didn’t want you to feel sad. I really thought we were okay. I wish you’d told me you needed more. I can’t take responsibility for the things I don’t know but I’ll sure try to change the things that I can. Talk to me about what can I do for you now that might help?”
She: (Feeling hopeful) “Just listening to me really makes a difference, especially when you are so honest. It would really help if we could plan some longer time together soon.”
Keeper: “Let’s do it.”
Trait Six – Keepers do not allow guilt to influence their decisions
When people feel embarrassed, shameful, or guilty, they feel like they haven’t measured up. Small children learn from their caretakers when they are being good or bad.
Even though those criteria may be arbitrary, they are absorbed and form the basis for guilt in adulthood.
Only through greater understanding do adults realize that guilt was used to control their choices when they were young, and begin to set their own standards for personal integrity.
Keepers do not control others by using guilt tactics, nor do they succumb to obligatory obedience if others use guilt to control them.
Their views of themselves mostly depend on their own integrity, not upon what others expect of them. They care about making others happy but do not act from fear of loss when they cannot.
He: “You can’t seem to get this straight. I told you for the fiftieth time that you can’t open your mouth in front of my friends if you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Your dad says the same thing about you when you were a kid. You always were out of line and continuously said things that made people uncomfortable. You should be able to keep that under control by now. What do I have to do, send you to your room?”
Keeper: (checking inward first to make sure she was okay) “You’re talking to me now as if I was that child and trying to use guilt to get me to do what you want. I’m okay with who I am. No one at that table seemed uncomfortable but you, so maybe it’s your own stuff. Bringing in my dad’s childhood stories is hitting below the belt. I don’t appreciate it.”
He: “Okay, okay. Maybe I’m being a little hard on you. I’m really being critical and I shouldn’t be. Maybe it is about me. You’re so damn comfortable telling complete strangers everything about your life, and I’m really uneasy if it includes me. I probably wouldn’t be comfortable even when it doesn’t have anything to do with me. We never talked about this kind of stuff when I was a kid.”
Keeper: “I don’t want you to feel guilty for being mad. You have every right to want what you want just as I do. Let’s really talk this over and plan ahead better. I like being open and I don’t really care what other people think. I’m sensitive to how people are responding, honey. I don’t want to embarrass you.”
Trait Seven – Keepers store the “good times”
Life can be hard at times for everyone, and tragedies can erode a person’s capacity to endure grief without resentment or bitterness.
Keepers like knowing they can fall back on great memories in order survive and thrive when times are hard. They realize that remembering those experiences in the midst of trauma can be hard and that practice makes it easier.
When life is less stressful, Keepers look for and store the good times so they can draw upon them later. They make a point to treasure the simplest things and to turn every possible situation into one of joy, mischief, or adventure.
They are not irreverent about sorrow or tragedy but balance difficult moments with joyous recollections.
She: “This has been a horrible month. Nothing has turned out right and I can’t see anything in the future that can make up for it. I’m so incredibly depressed. We desperately need a break, some kind of silver lining in this mess.”
Keeper: “I agree completely, but we have to remember that it hasn’t always been this way. We have lots of reasons to believe that they’ll get better and we’ve got to keep those in mind when things are tough.”
She: (torn but touched) “I know you’re right. But it’s really hard for me to remember and to have faith that we’ll be okay.”
Keeper: “I know, sweetheart. But I know how down you can get if you keep thinking the way you are.”
She: “Aren’t you worried? What do you do with your fears?”
Keeper: “I’m not always okay, either. You know how tough things were for my family when my dad died. There were a lot of times when my mom and sisters would just cry. I didn’t know what to do for them. I was the smallest so I just would pretend that things were great and that we had nothing to worry about. I’d perform skits that would make them laugh. They would seem better so I just got it into my head that pretending things would get better work. And they did, eventually.”
She: (smiling in appreciation) “I don’t know whether it’s just a nice idea or the twinkle in your eyes, but it helps to remember. We’ve had so much to be grateful for. Thanks, honey.”
Trait Eight – Keepers are authentic
Keepers trust those who are honest and above-board. They feel responsible for what they say or do. They just don’t pretend to be someone they are not, or automatically agree with something they that they don’t.
They want to be transparent because they don’t play games or want to participate in any. They’d rather hear the truth from others, too, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Keepers choose partners who value them for their honesty. They don’t take that right lightly, nor do they use their authenticity to unnecessarily pointing out other’s faults. They do love and care for how their partners feel about them. They don’t go out of their way to cover their faults, and deeply appreciate when others are honest with them.
He: (Teasing, but serious underneath) “Okay, I’ve been working out for two months and watching everything I put in my mouth. You have two choices. The first is to tell me I look better than when you married me ten years ago and reap the rewards of total devotion. The second is to say that you don’t see any difference, and risk that I will go into a deep pout for the next several days and forget your birthday.”
Keeper: “I don’t like the odds. Way too risky. First of all, I love you with your belly relatively round. Yes, it is not particularly sexy to look like Buddha, but you’re my Buddha. Second, you’ve only lost five pounds and it is noticeable but probably not neon-lighted yet. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of you for your commitment and effort. It’s great. Are there new muscles? Yeah, I can definitely see them as they work their way to the surface. Now you have two choices: the first is to be hurt by what I’ve said. The second is to tell me how much you value my total honesty so that when you start to look really good, you’ll know it’s true.”
He: (smiling) “You are merciless, but that’s why I trust you. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ve always been in my corner, honey. I’m not quitting”
Trait Nine – Keepers understand and accept their value in the marketplace
Keepers have a realistic sense of their own value. They don’t try to impress people who aren’t interested in them, and they don’t want others to go out of their way to win their favor.
They have strong values about what characteristics they believe are important, and are not tempted away from them to be someone they couldn’t respect.
If they don’t come out ahead in any contest, they don’t complain or feel rejected because they know it’s a waste of time.
They’ll tell you that they are more interested in finding out what they could have done better. If they want to belong to a specific group or relationship, they figure out how they offer what is required, and then do their best to make it happen.
If they don’t make the cut, they analyze what didn’t work instead of blaming anyone, then either try again or find another relationship that does work.
She: “I’m so down. I do everything I can to make those people like me and they just keep rejecting me. I’m obsessing over not being good enough. I don’t know what to do. I just don’t seem to be able to let go.”
Keeper: “I’m really impressed by your perseverance. I could not handle that much rejection and come back. What are the criteria for getting into that group?”
She: (thoughtful). “You know, I’m not really sure I’ve thought about it. I know they like people who have great careers, and I do. They also seem to favor people who make a lot of money, which I don’t. I think a bunch of them have been together since college, but not all of them, so that doesn’t apply. They do play a lot of tennis, which I’m not great at.”
Keeper: “Sounds like having a lot of money is important to them. Do they travel a lot?”
She: “You know, I think you’re right. I love taking care of the kids I do, but I’m not free to just get up and go whenever they can.”
Keeper: “Do you wish you could?”
She: “Not if I had to give up what I love to do. You’re really helping me, Gus. I never equated my real values with how they live their lives. I think I’m trying to get into the wrong group.”
Keeper: “They have an absolute right to set the criteria for how they live their lives. It’s a hard lesson, I know. I learned it a long time ago when I couldn’t play varsity ball in high school. I just wasn’t good enough. Now I coach basketball and I’m really good at it.”
Trait Ten – Keepers look for the value in others
Keepers look for the true positive traits in others and remember to let them know it. They keep their important relationships up to date because they know that nothing in life is guaranteed.
They don’t dwell on the possibility of loss, but intentionally focus on what they treasure in the present.
Keepers remember the important things you tell them, and, if necessary, act on them when they get the chance.
When they are with people, they focus on the situation at hand and pay close attention to what is happening. Most people who know them feel special in the presence of a Keeper, as though they were the only person who existed.
He: “Have you got a few minutes?”
Keeper: “Sure. What’s up?”
He: “I just got off the phone with my girlfriend, and she says she needs a break. I acted okay at the time and told her to do whatever she needed, but I think I need a drink or something. I know you’re working on an important deal for work tomorrow, but I wondered if we could hang out for a while.”
Keeper: “Hey, I’ve been there. You’re not the kind of guy who easily asks for help. My work can get done later. I’ll meet you at your apartment in half an hour.”
He: “You’re sure it’s not going to mess you up?”
Keeper: “No problem. You’re more important to me. I’m good.”
Trait Eleven – Keepers avoid useless energy drains
Anxiety, unresolvable conflicts, outrage, powerlessness, negative conspiracies, and attachments to unattainable outcomes: all are examples of behaviors that drain people without changing anything. They make people less functional and less focused on making a difference. Keepers avoid such useless outpourings of resources. They would rather use that energy to solve problems and create new possibilities.
Keepers inspire others to focus on the possible. They don’t put you down if you are drowning in dysfunctional hopelessness. Instead, they will help you let go of energy drains and help you to focus on what you like about yourself. They like working on a team to find the best solutions.
She: “I’ve got myself in a mess. I have to be three places at once and all of them are important. I can’t bear letting people down and I’ve overcommitted again. I know I’m going to disappoint someone big time, and I’m sure I’m going to get blamed. Damn, why do I always try to do so much?”
Keeper: “I’m really sorry, sweetheart. I’ve seen you do this before. You want to make too many people happy, but, since you’ve already committed, why not let go of it. Worrying won’t make it better. You’re praying to the God of Mercy and you really haven’t done anything wrong except try too hard to do everything for everybody.”
She: “I know you’re right. I just need to get things in better priority. I always forget that I can only do what’s in front of me. You try to tell me to not try to second guess people or borrow trouble, and I really want to be more like that.”
Keeper: “Do you want some help? We can sort this thing out together and I can take over some of the other stuff.”
She: (smiling) “I need to carry you around in my head before I get myself in trouble.”
Trait Twelve – Keepers Know how to Self-Soothe
Like anyone else, Keepers get hurt, frustrated, and upset, but, when times get tough, their first response is to relax and self-soothe.
They know that if they’re agitated, they’ll just make more errors. To keep from doing that, they’ve learned how to take some deep breaths, go inward, and remember what is important.
If they get over stressed and respond negatively, they are quick to regain their personal balance and correct the situation.
Most Keepers will tell you that they weren’t always that way but have practiced catching self-destructive patterns before they are harder to solve.
They much prefer friendlier and more successful alternatives to arguing, defensiveness, or unproductive competition.
He: “You’re so quiet, honey. What’s going on?”
Keeper: “I’ve had a really tough day. The kids have been energy vampires. The delivery people didn’t show. The people on the committee didn’t do what they promised. I could go on, but it wouldn’t help.”
He: “Do you need to get stuff off your chest?”
Keeper: “Thanks, but not right now. You know me. I just need to be quiet for a while and sort things out. I don’t like it when I get this aggravated because I distort input and react to all the wrong things. Remember when I was so angry all the time after people disappointed me? It wasn’t good for me, or for us. Just give me a little while and I’ll be able to handle all this better.”
He: “I appreciate you. Can I take the kids out for a while so you can do it without the chaos?”
Keeper: “That would be a great help. I need to do some re-planning so these damned situations don’t get me going like this. You’re so great to care this much.”
Trait Thirteen – Keepers seek continuous transformation
Keepers are committed to learning from the past and projecting the future more effectively. To do that, they willingly seek constant new ways of seeing their lives unfold.
Their own search for more effective ways of living is wonderfully contagious. They are most alive when seeking treasures, solving puzzles, or attaining the important goal. They learn from their mistakes and believe in their dreams.
Most people will choose security and predictability over challenge or change. Keepers successfully blend the two. They cherish traditions but search always for better ways to help themselves and others.
This way of being makes them ever interesting and exciting to be around. They don’t wait for someone to inspire them; they generate excitement by who they are.
She: “Hi. Dinner’s almost ready. What are you carrying?”
Keeper: “A powered kaleidoscope. Turns by itself and projects its picture on the wall. I’m tired of this gloomy weather and figure it’ll give us great, ever-changing images without having to go outside. I can’t wait to try it.”
She: “You are such a wonderful nut case. I never know what you’re up to. Mostly, I love it, but those vegetarian chicken legs were a little, well…unusual.”
Keeper: “Now, hold on. I still go to church every Sunday and play Scrabble. I’m not totally weird.”
She: “I wouldn’t want you any other way. You do keep me surprised, though, and I sometimes have a hard time explaining you to my friends. I’ll never be able to predict you but life is so much more interesting when you’re around.”
Trait Fourteen – Keepers take good care of themselves
Keepers do everything they can to stay mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. They not only feel better but can better face whatever comes their way.
They hang out with people who regenerate them, keep their minds active, and are deeply in love with the spiritual values that sustain them through traumas.
These are the partners you never have to remind to care for themselves. They don’t put that pressure on the people they love.
These Keepers don’t press their views on others but stand as models for the people they treasure. You can easily recognize them by the quickness to their step, their ready smiles, the twinkle in their eyes, and their sense of personal serenity. They are in touch, in every way.
He: “You know, honey, I’ve always teased you about your commitments to working out and yoga gurus. Now that I look around, you’re the most beautiful woman at every party we go to. You’ve had three kids and you look younger today than when I married you. I think I’ve just been jealous of your discipline and the way you just take care of things.”
Keeper: “I know that I take time out from you and the kids sometimes, but I want to be my best for you guys and I know that I’m better when I make sure I’m okay. When your parents are alcoholics, there’s not much discipline or good food around. I just never wanted to be like them. It’s not easy, though. I have to re-commit every day, even when I feel discouraged.”
He: “I may complain sometimes, but I appreciate you. I think I’m jealous sometimes, too. I know I should care about myself better, even if it’s just for you and the kids. I wish you’d push me harder.”
Keeper: “I don’t want to push you to do something you don’t want to do. I know how hard you work and how difficult it is to do what you do. I would love it if you took better care of yourself, but I also know that’s your decision. I could tease you because I can run farther than you can. Would that help?”
He: “Now you’re getting serious. Do I have to meditate, too?”
Keeper: (smiling) “Only if you want to keep up. I can always push you around in your wheelchair come day.”
He: “Okay, that’s it. You’re disgustingly perfect and effectively manipulative. I’m on board.”
Trait Fifteen – Keepers treasure the present moment
Keepers plan for the future and learn from the past, but they are most invigorated by whatever is happening in the present moment.
By living more fully in the only real time that exists for them, they are able to leave heartbreaks in the past and use the future for possibilities.
When you’re with a person who treasures the immediate moment, you will feel deeply attended to. If you are in distress, those people notice immediately, stop whatever their doing, and ask you if you’re okay, no matter what was going on before.
If you smile, they will want to know what is making you feel that way. If you can’t find the words to express what you’re feeling, they reach out to meet you wherever you are. When these Keepers are with you, they are only with you.
She: “I just can’t seem to let go of my past mistakes. I feel so responsible for the damage I’ve caused. I try to forget them, but my mind just won’t let go. I keep thinking that something terrible is going to happen and I’m at fault. The saner part of me keeps fighting back and saying it wasn’t that bad, but it doesn’t seem to hold.”
Keeper: “You are really being hard on yourself right now. I can feel your tears coming.”
She: (Begins to cry) “I know you’re right, but I just can’t seem to stop. Maybe it was all that criticism I took it as a kid. I could never do anything right.”
Keeper: (Takes her hand) “You’re so sad. What is at the core of your sorrow?”
She: “I’m afraid that if I keep messing up, I’ll never deserve to be really loved.”
Keeper: “Honey, look at me. I love you, now, in the present. It doesn’t matter what you ever did in the past. I know what a wonderful person you are. Do you believe me?”
She: (Looks into his eyes, wanting to believe him) “Yes.”
Keeper: “Always remember. We only have this moment and, for us, that is what matters.”
Are You a Keeper? Rate your relationship desirability
Good long-term relationship partners have many of these traits. You can probably think of others that have special significance for you or your partner. The following short quiz will help you evaluate where you stand now on these fifteen.
The quiz is comprised of one summary question for each of the fifteen traits. Answer each question with a number corresponding to the following guide:
Most of the time = 5
Some of the time = 4
Occasionally = 3
Not often = 2
Never = 1
Trait One – Accountability
Do you take responsibility for the decisions you make and the behaviors they cause?____
Trait Two – Rhythm
Are you comfortable with your personal rhythm and how you blend with those of others?___
Trait Three – Interest
Do you actively help to make each situation interesting?___
Trait Four – Humor
Do you help people to see the sunny side of life when it’s appropriate?___
Trait Five – Evenness
Can you stay centered under stress?___
Trait Six -Guilt
Have you let go of worrying about mistakes?___
Trait Seven -Storing Good Times
Do you remember to keep a cache of meaningful experiences?___
Trait Eight – Authenticity
Can you be trusted by others to be honest about what you believe?___
Trait Nine – Marketability
Are you realistic about your value to others?___
Trait Ten – Valuing Others
Do you treasure the people you’re with?___
Trait Eleven – Staying Focused on what is important
Do you avoid getting caught up in useless energy drains?___
Trait Twelve – Self-soothing
Can you calm yourself when stressed?___
Trait Thirteen – Transformation
Are you committed and open to seeing things in new ways?___
Trait Fourteen – Self-Care
Are you taking good care of yourself?___
Trait Fifteen – Being Present
Are you treasuring your present moments?___
Add up your scores. The total will end up somewhere between 15 and 75. The higher your score, the more you are a Keeper.
You may find that you score three or higher in some categories and less in others. Look first at those questions where you scored a 1 or 2. Those are the most important areas to work on. No one is perfect, so don’t criticize yourself or your partner.
Change takes commitment, but it also takes time and practice. Your higher scores may already be serving you well in your current relationships.
Hopefully, after learning about the traits and behaviors that predict better long-term relationship success, you will look for them sooner in new relationships.
Keepers are sometimes just born that way but, more often, they hone themselves by life experiences and their determination to have more successful relationships.
If anyone you know calls you a Keeper, consider yourself one of the chosen people. It is the most significant compliment any person can give another.
Written By Randi Gunther Ph.D.
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