This 20-question quiz reveals if he's a cheater-in-waiting.
Quizzes are fun, but what do they really tell you? This one reveals the dangers to which many of us subject our primary love relationships — and the denial that goes with the territory.
Take it together or separately. Dare to discuss. Read what Pat has learned from the couples she's seen.
YT: Pat, How did you create this quiz?
PL: I developed it from research and clinical observation over 25 years of couples work.
Building on Salvador Minuchin's model of structural family therapy, which delineated subgroups within the family (e.g., spousal, parental, sibling), I assigned roles, rules, and functions to each of the subgroups.
The spousal unit consists of two adults meeting their adult needs, both physical and emotional.
YT: How do you use it?
PL: The purpose is to get individuals to identify for each other the expectations of the contract of the relationship. It's easy to assume that your partner has the same expectations as you.
The quiz has a high "squirm factor," meaning that I might think it's OK to have private, ongoing conversations with an attractive guy, but I sure don't want my partner doing the same with an attractive woman. The quiz can raise "red flags."
It also has a way of breaking through denial. I worked with a couple in which the man had a "friendship" with another woman that felt threatening to his partner.
She had a difficult time getting him to understand how a non-sexual relationship could be a threat, and it was only when he reacted so strongly to the idea of moving away from the friendship that he realized how very attached he'd become to the other woman.
A primary love relationship is about being lovers, best friends, confidants, and financial and social partners. Sharing these roles with a third person drains the energy and dilutes the intimacy of that primary bond.
YT: Have you been surprised at what people see as "acceptable" behavior outside the committed relationship?
PL: Yes. At times I will look at their responses and think, "You don't really believe that is OK, do you?" It explains why the infidelity rate is so high.
YT: Do you often find an imbalance between the way subjects see their own behavior vs. that of their partners?
PL: You bet. A common response is "I know my motivation and commitment to my relationship, therefore I know that spending time with an attractive friend is not a threat to it, but I don't know if my partner knows where to draw the line."
In other words, I trust myself but I don't trust him/her.
YT: Is it enough for couples to agree on the parameters of acceptable behavior, or should they avoid certain kinds of interaction outside the relationship altogether?
PL: I think they should avoid certain kinds of interaction altogether. Infatuation is an altered state of consciousness. When you are under its influence, you cannot think rationally.
The Cheat Sheet: The following items represent beliefs about the expectations and appropriate behavior related to marriage and/or a serious committed love relationship.
For each statement, indicate whether you believe it is acceptable (A) or unacceptable (U) behavior.
(Note: When the term "attractive" is used, it implies that you are attracted to this person and/or the person is attracted to you.)
(A U) 1. Having attractive friends outside the marriage/relationship.
(A U) 2. Socializing frequently without your partner.
(A U) 3. Frequently sharing the most important part of your day with another person.
(A U) 4. Sharing a hobby or pastime with an attractive person.
(A U) 5. Spending private time with an attractive friend or colleague.
(A U) 6. Showing non-sexual physical affection to an attractive friend.
(A U) 7. Greeting an attractive friend with a kiss.
(A U) 8. Spending time with people who do not like your partner.
(A U) 9. Talking about your private relationship issues with others.
(A U) 10. Having private email relationships of a flirtatious nature.
(A U) 11. Flirting with other people.
(A U) 12. Being secretly infatuated with someone over a period of time.
(A U) 13. Kissing another person romantically with no sexual contact.
(A U) 14. Sexual contact with another person that does not include genital sex.
(A U) 15. Sexual contact with another person that does not include intercourse.
(A U) 16. Professing love/infatuation to another without physical sexual contact.
(A U) 17. Having sexual intercourse with another person without emotional involvement.
(A U) 18. Being involved emotionally and physically with another person as a way of improving your marriage/relationship.
(A U) 19. Being involved with another person while keeping it a secret.
(A U) 20. Both of you having partners outside of your marriage/relationship.
Items 1-5: As benign as these activities might seem, with any "acceptable" (A) answer for behaviors 1-3 you should be alert to the bonding nature of shared time and intimate conversations.
An (A) for 4 or 5 is a little more serious, since fun and privacy further deepen the connection.
Items 6-10: Any (A) item in this group constitutes a warning.
6 and 7: There is no such thing as non-sexual physical affection when you are attracted to the other person or he/she is attracted to you.
8: Beware of the negative influence other people can have on your relationship.
9: Be sure you are not missing an important opportunity to deepen your love with your partner by using another as your confidant.
10: Private flirtatious email conversations are one of the most common paths to infidelity.
Items 11-15: You have crossed into the infidelity zone.
11: Flirting means you are available.
12: The fact that an infatuation extends over a period of time indicates you are feeding it.
13: Romantic kissing is the doorway to sexual infidelity.
14 and 15: How would you like it if your partner did either of these?
Items 16-20: These behaviors destroy relationships.
16: Emotional intimacy is just as serious a threat as physical intimacy.
17: It is nearly impossible to have ongoing sex with someone without forming an attachment.
18: Often used to justify infidelity, this still poses a significant threat.
19: Secrets fan the flames of passion, and are a source of looming stress for the unknowing partner.
20: Though some couples choose this arrangement, it is extremely difficult to maintain over a period of time.
©Pat Love, Ed.D. 2004