Relationship Vulnerabilities Quiz

Shaya

New member
As a forum, we often find ourselves giving advice to newcomers to polyamory. These newcomers are sometimes already in an established long term relationship and our advice can range from divorce, to stop poly and focus on your relationship first, to "rock on poly." I sometimes feel we give advice based on very little information, always coloured by the lens of the opening poster.

More and more I think the health of the underlying original relationship plays a bigger role in a successful transition than we give it credit for. Our questions, if we ask any, tend to be "what does your partner think of poly," whereas I think the real money lies in asking "how good are you at maintaining one relationship" or "how strong is your monogamy?" Because if you can't do one relationship, you certainly can't do two and if your monogamy is not strong, it certainly won't survive the transition to poly.

Here is a set of questions adapted from a book by Shirley Glass called "Not just friends." I found it enlightening for my relationship. It's a questionairre about relationship vulnerabilities and has nothing to do with polyamory. I suspect it also presumes you are monogamous. Answer the questions and score yourself 0, 1 or 2 for each question. Add up your 16 answers to get a number between 0 and 32 to see how vulnerable your relationship might be. Your partner should do it separately since they will likely arrive at a different score. Do the quiz whilst feeling emotionally neutral if you can - don't do this whilst angry, arguing or unduly upset.


******************************************
Score each question with
0 (No. Disagree completely),
1 (Yes, agree somewhat) or
2 (Yes, agree completely).
Add up your 16 answers to get a number between 0 and 32.

1. We had problems trusting each other early in our relationship.

2. Our relationship revolves around our children (or for childless couples, we disagree on whether or not to have children).

3. My partner spends too much time away from home.

4. My partner rarely takes my side in anything.

5. We've grown apart.

6. I have felt alone and unsupported at times of loss or crises.

7. We don't have equal input for important decisions.

8. We argue about the frequency of sex.

9. Our interactions feel more like a parent-child relationship than one between equals.

10. We are uncomfortable about exposing our inner selves to each other.

11. We sweep things under the rug so we hardly ever fight.

12. There's a disparity in how invested we are in the relationship.

13. I feel I can't influence my partner to do what I request.

14. I don't know if I really love my partner.

15. We don't know how to repair after a conflict.

16. We don't have much in common.
*****************************************

Interpretation of results from Shirley Glass. Your relationship is in:
0-4: A safe harbour.
5-13: Choppy waters.
14-23: Rough seas.
24-32: Watch out! You're headed for the rocks.

*****************************************

I discuss in post 2 below my score and my wife's score. I discuss in post 3 below a suggestion for the previously monogamous couple who didn't score as well as they had hoped and what I feel this might mean for their transition to polyamory. Post 4 onwards will be comments from other forum members about this.

I would be interested in your feedback on how useful you think this is, bearing in mind that there are probably a hundred such quizzes including many that might be better than this at assessing relationship vulnerabilities.
 
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Shaya

New member
Shirley Glass is a psychologist with a background in relationship counselling and affair recovery. She specialises in troubled marriages. I don't know how she developped the questions but it may just be based on her personal experience. The emotive choice of words to interpret the results (e.g. "Choppy waters") is likely to reflect the fact that this questionnaire was published in a book aimed to attract the interest of the general public, hence the easy-to-appreciate sailing analogy. In reality, your score lies on a mathematical continuum of 0 to 32 and an answer of 2 for some questions has more impact on a relationship than an answer of 2 for other questions, giving rise to some kind of weighting bias when merely adding the scores.

With these flaws in mind, I'll share that I recently did the quiz for myself by imagining the state of my monogamous relationship 6 months ago and i thought I would have scored a 6 "choppy waters" back then. Interestingly, my wife tried the same exercise and thought our relationship was a 9. We found dicussing the differences to be enlightening.

I must hasten to add, that like many people who come to this forum, I would have said I thought we had an unsinkable ship 6 months ago with a few small problems. In hindsight, we didn't really have an unsinkable ship, but it sure felt like it at the time, probably due to a lack of awareness of the problems.

I also wonder if 6 months ago we would have had the insight to answer in such a way to get those scores. For example, the question "we sweep things under the rug so we hardly ever fight." I absolutely believe that was happening 6 months ago but if you were to ask me this 6 months ago, I would have said we don't fight because we agree on everything. My point being that without my present day insight, I would probably have answered in such a way as to believe I had a more perfect relationship because I couldn't see the flaws.

These last 5 months have been difficult for me. I feel I have matured and learnt a lot about myself and my relationship. My wife and I have both grown as individuals and as a couple. I now score 2 "safe harbours" for the quiz while my wife feels we are a 3. The message here using me as an example is that relationships can improve if you put effort in.

Love alone is insufficient for a good relationship. Effort is needed. Things can get better. Relationships and people do change.
 

Shaya

New member
What does this score mean for you? Firstly, Shirley Glass wrote this in mind for a couple struggling in their monogamous marriage. If this does not describe you, then the individual questions may be useful but the way in which the scores are added may not be as useful as you would imagine. A way to see this is if you were to give an IQ quiz designed for a human to a dolphin. Without opposable thumbs or even the right worldview, a dolphin is likely to fail in many tasks that are designed for humans and to be able to do others that the quiz did not even think to test.

Regarding your score, if you and your partner scored differently, a discussion on the difference may highlight problems that one of you have not been aware of.

If you scored poorer than you had hoped, this could be a good time to look into ways you can improve yourself and ways to improve how you conduct relationships. Consider focusing on learning the skills to perfect one relationship first, then add more relationships. I feel that relationships are the hardest things to do in life. You would read a manual on how to create a bed or fix a fridge. Why wouldn't you read a manual on how to do a relationship?

If you scored well, this doesn't necessarily mean you or your partner will be able to do poly successfully. Other factors like jealousy, insecurity, NRE, communication, personality differences, attachment styles, childhood traumas, knowledge of and handling of hierarchy and perhaps a dozen other things I know nothing about are likely to play a role in your ability to do polyamory successfully. But I do feel having a strong relationship or being able to do one relationship well is a minimum requirement for attempting to maintain two relationships or when choosing to transition your monogamy to polyamory.

I am a strong believer of doing polyamory in such a way that polyamory does not destroy your original relationship. Otherwise, it's no different to serial monogamy. Doing polyamory well can involve putting polyamory on hold until you learn the skills necessary to manage one relationship successfully first, or amicable divorce first then starting polyamory afresh with a new partner. I feel that to start polyamory as a solution to fix a floundering monogamous relationship is like having a baby to fix a relationship. I feel that adding polyamory to a troubled relationship often ends in unnecessary heartbreak. Far better to either fix the monogamous relationship first or to separate and start fresh.

And finally, although I feel I have put forth a strong argument, I am open to others who may have a different opinion. In particular, I have said nothing of solo poly and i have not addressed how to come into poly from being single, though these large topics likely deserve their own thread from an author that is not me. My views are likely (though not guaranteed) to work for me. My views are also likely to change with time. Feel free to add your views below. Your difference of opinion may resonate more strongly with another reader, giving them a more balanced view to the big picture.
 
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Taramafor

New member
1. We had problems trusting each other early in our relationship.
0 (Got to being cosy on day 1 actually.)

2. Our relationship revolves around our children (or for childless couples, we disagree on whether or not to have children).
0

3. My partner spends too much time away from home.
0 (To be clear, even if they're away for a long time I trust that they still care)

4. My partner rarely takes my side in anything.
0

5. We've grown apart.
0

6. I have felt alone and unsupported at times of loss or crises.
0

7. We don't have equal input for important decisions.
0

8. We argue about the frequency of sex.
0

9. Our interactions feel more like a parent-child relationship than one between equals.
0

10. We are uncomfortable about exposing our inner selves to each other.
0

11. We sweep things under the rug so we hardly ever fight.
0

12. There's a disparity in how invested we are in the relationship.
1 (But if "I'm all in", accepting that the other has to get there in their own time if at all is a 0, make it a 0).

13. I feel I can't influence my partner to do what I request.
0

14. I don't know if I really love my partner.
0

15. We don't know how to repair after a conflict.
0

16. We don't have much in common.
1 (I consider this a GOOD thing. No one has to be alike).

I find this test slightly flawed. Also I really don't see what poly has to do with this test. This is simply a relationship quiz in general and if you got a bad score you're probably not ready for ANY relationship. Poly or mono. Though if you're already in one and it's not going well then naturally you're not ready for more. But at that point I'd be more concerned about the current relationship. Likewise there could be a better score with another person if you get into a relationship with them because they might be more trusting or something.
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I came into my relationship with my partner of 8 years as a single gal. So did she. We were and are both poly. She was experienced at it. I was tending towards it my whole life, but mostly in my head. I'd lived in a mono relationship for 30 years that was mismatched in some ways. Back when I was 19 I juggled four bfs for a while, but then met my husband to be and went mono.

I score close to 0. We used to disagree on frequency of sex, but no longer do. Our relationship used to feel sometimes parent-childish to me, but mostly because of our age disparity of 22 years. But as we've grown together this has changed. Lately I've been ill and she's been taking care of me.

So yeah, about a 0.

Now if I'd taken this while with my ex h I would've been in danger of capsizing.
 

Shaya

New member
All you happy folk with your zero scores. :) Talk about setting the bar high for the rest of us struggling folk! ;)

Just to give others who aren't scoring perfectly some hope, in many private responses to me, people have admitted to scoring 'choppy waters' (mostly) and 'rough seas'. These would be people in monogamous relationships up till recently, coming to the forum looking for help becoming polyamorous. I dont know if you can go smoothly from monogamy to polyamory when your original relationship can do with some improving, but I suspect a transition to polyamory will be smoother if the concerns from the old relationship are addressed first before trying to learn poly.
 

Taramafor

New member
I dont know if you can go smoothly from monogamy to polyamory when your original relationship can do with some improving

It can. And for one simple reason. Other people are not the current partner.

If your partner has trust issues and you do not then the transition can even be smoother. For you at least.

If you have trust issues however then naturally it will be more difficult to pursue another relationship. More so then if you have a mistrustful partner. Both can be "sticky situations" though.

For my part I need to know people can "handle me". 9/10 people won't be able too. Hell, I've been with people in the past that can't. But they're NOT the same people I might be with now. Where things are going much better. I can't be comparing the past to the present. I'd be thinking "No one can handle me."

Let's use children as another example. Maybe the next partner doesn't care about children while the current partner does. This can be a good thing and mean it makes things smoother for all involved since the next partner doesn't want children. Or perhaps the current partner CAN'T have children and a next partner could be a surrogate as well as someone close providing emotional support.

And what about distance? Some people NEED more space. As in some people need to be away a lot. Maybe they travel the world. Go outside a lot of the time. I'm a "Couch potato" myself. Prefer to stick at home. I also need to be with people that are close on a daily bases. In this example other people being around can make things better for all involved. Older partner doesn't have to worry about being "latched onto". Clinginess can be a turn off.

There's so many factors to take into consideration. Which the quiz doesn't account for.
 
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Spork

New member
I scored 21 with my ex husband in mind.

Scored 4 with Zen in mind.

The only reason that I put a "1" in four different categories for Zen and me is where we are in the relationship. We don't live together yet, so we don't make a lot of important decisions together at this time, and I don't always feel comfortable leaning too hard on him when it comes to "loss or crisis." And we are both conflict avoidant to a fault, for our own various reasons. Either of us is likely to be a "rug sweeper under" if it's really not that important, rather than starting fights about things. Neither of us really likes to fight or wants to fight. And we have not really fought yet, so I have no idea how that will look. I can go decades without getting into a fight with anyone. Which is to say either a heated conversation with high anger, raised voices, let alone physical violence. I'm a diffuser and a de-escalator. I ~think~ that I am in some ways more invested in the relationship than he is. But there are reasons for that. I'm his first serious relationship and he is concerned about needing to go provide elder care for his father, and making that a priority, which it must be. I have experience with marriage, and I think that in time it will be a good idea for us, most likely. Especially if I end up in the position of providing elder care for HIM (Zen.) I am well aware of the benefits of it. Entangling lives with a partner is a new idea for him, it's old hat for me. I hope that maybe in time he will grow to a level of comfort with the idea of "investing" more, logistically, in us as a couple. If not, well, whatever, I take life as it comes, ya know?

Still, a 4 ain't bad. :)
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
1. We had problems trusting each other early in our relationship.
0

2. Our relationship revolves around our children (or for childless couples, we disagree on whether or not to have children).
0

3. My partner spends too much time away from home.
0

4. My partner rarely takes my side in anything.
0

5. We've grown apart.
0

6. I have felt alone and unsupported at times of loss or crises.
1

7. We don't have equal input for important decisions.
1

8. We argue about the frequency of sex.
0

9. Our interactions feel more like a parent-child relationship than one between equals.
0

10. We are uncomfortable about exposing our inner selves to each other.
0

11. We sweep things under the rug so we hardly ever fight.
0

12. There's a disparity in how invested we are in the relationship.
0

13. I feel I can't influence my partner to do what I request.
1

14. I don't know if I really love my partner.
0

15. We don't know how to repair after a conflict.
0

16. We don't have much in common.
1

0+0+0+0+0+1+1+0+0+0+0+0+1+0+0+1 = 4
 

Shaya

New member
I suspect that there may be a publication bias at work here, in that people with good scores are more likely to advertise their results online whilst those with poor scores are more likely to send me their results by private message and be embarrassed to publish it in this thread.
 

Confused

New member
I scored 1. We had trouble trusting each other early on. I was 19 and he was 22 and we had poor relationship skills compared to now (almost twenty years later!)
 

Dagferi

Well-known member
Big fat zero for both of my relationships here.
 

Shaya

New member
Hmmm... What do your partners get? I suspect if you score 2 and your partner scores 6 then that actually says quite a lot about the relationship.

Actually, what do you guys feel a large score discrepancy says about a relationship?
 

Tinwen

Active member
Interesting questions, although there are probably topics missing. Gonna contribute to the publication bias and not tell my score.

I suspect if you score 2 and your partner scores 6 then that actually says quite a lot about the relationship.
IMHO it might and it might not. It may also say a lot about how strict the people are in their judgement.
I'm strict and prone to doubt. I was tempted to say 1/2 in a few cases. Just not sure. I may choose to give a point, while my partner can choose to give 0.

But if the difference is indeed huge, it probably means, that one partner is not secure, perhaps contemplating a breakup, while not speaking about it with the clueless other.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
Actually, what do you guys feel a large score discrepancy says about a relationship?

Perspective is powerful.
 

Spork

New member
Perspective is powerful.

Agree. Could simply be a matter of one person being more generally secure by nature, as I have found that many of my insecurities are "me things" and not actually based on reality but on programming.

Also, as most probably know about me by now, I put all of my thoughts and feelings on blast, I am if anything, over-communicative about whatever is going on with me. My partner is not. He is working on the whole demonstrating and talking about feelings thing, but he was raised (like many American men) to keep a lid on his emotions, and not to be as open and sharing of them.

So when answering a question like whether I think one of us is more "invested" in the relationship... I don't like to assume where my partner is at. I know where I am at, hell the whole damn world knows where I'm at...but until he and I had a conversation about this, over this last weekend, I did not care to presume where he was at on the subject of "investment." I could quantify my end of the equation, but his was a ??? to me. Well, so. I would answer that question differently today.
 

Al99

Well-known member
Tinwen wrote:
IMHO it might and it might not. It may also say a lot about how strict the people are in their judgement.

I absolutely agree. It is an interesting and thought provoking quiz (and perhaps therein lies its true value) but the scoring on the individual questions will necessarily be completely subjective in nature with no basis for comparison or objective measurement. The cumulative score will be objectively meaningless, despite the author's guide to the meaning of the cumulative scores.

Additionally, Shaya makes a good point in regard to the publication bias also.

I found it difficult to even assign a score because the questions are simply too subjective.

My couple of cents worth. :) Al
 

BathedInSalt

New member
Ok, I'm game. As long as we get to talk about it after. :)


1. We had problems trusting each other early in our relationship.
0 ( I was a tad afraid of heartbreak, but it wasn't a reflection on him at all)

2. Our relationship revolves around our children (or for childless couples, we disagree on whether or not to have children).
1 (I'm not sure how a couple with 3 kids under 8 could answer "0" here)

3. My partner spends too much time away from home.
0

4. My partner rarely takes my side in anything.
0

5. We've grown apart.
0

6. I have felt alone and unsupported at times of loss or crises.
0 (I've felt the absolutely MOST loved during these times and we've had more than our fair share)

7. We don't have equal input for important decisions.
0

8. We argue about the frequency of sex.
0

9. Our interactions feel more like a parent-child relationship than one between equals.
0

10. We are uncomfortable about exposing our inner selves to each other.
0 ( I suspect my husband would answer a "1", I'll let you know what I find out)

11. We sweep things under the rug so we hardly ever fight.
I don't know. I just don't. I tend to be more confrontational, it's recently come to light that my husband practices some willful ignorance. I wonder how much of his willful ignorance has caused me to be less confrontational.

12. There's a disparity in how invested we are in the relationship.
0

13. I feel I can't influence my partner to do what I request.
0

14. I don't know if I really love my partner.
0

15. We don't know how to repair after a conflict.
0

16. We don't have much in common.
0 (We have much in common and much not in common- but it's all good, complimentary and all)


1 point for me, and I'm gonna add 3 points for the question I don't know the answer to. So 4.
Gonna have my husband do it soon and share his responses.
*****************************************

Interpretation of results from Shirley Glass. Your relationship is in:
0-4: A safe harbour.
5-13: Choppy waters.
14-23: Rough seas.
24-32: Watch out! You're headed for the rocks.
 
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