Evaluate Your Relationship, Not Your Partner

Couple holding hands walking and talking in park

At risk of embarrassing myself (and a friend of mine), I’m going to share with you a conversation   I had in 2008 when I was debating whether or not I should get married. It contained some priceless advice that I want to share with you.

Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues. I read self-help books, I take seminars, I’ve gone to therapists. You name it, I’ve done it, all in the name of gaining self-knowledge and pursuing happiness. In other words, I try to practice what I preach. Don’t complain life’s not working for you; figure out how you can tackle it more effectively.

Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues.

Anyway, since I am a notorious worrier/navel-gazer/overanalyzer, I had some deep concerns about my future with my then-girlfriend. She and I had been dating for a year, and, since she was 38, I really had to come to some conclusions fast. I could think of no better confidant than my close friend, Scott Greenberg.

Scott is not only one of my first friends in Los Angeles from 1996 and a nationally recognized motivational speaker, but he’s also been married for ten years. (He met his wife at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room, the same way most nice Jewish boys end up finding love).

Anyway, while I was pouring out my heart to Scott over tofu scramble at Swingers, he sat back and watched me with a bemused look on his face. Needless to say, this pissed me off. I asked him what he was smirking at.

“You,” he said, “have absolutely no problems whatsoever. You’re creating them yourself.”

This took me aback. “Having serious questions and doubts about the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with isn’t considered a problem by you?”

He smirked again. “You don’t have any doubts about your girlfriend. You only have doubts about yourself.”

He was right. If there was one thing I knew, it was that my girlfriend was the single best person I’d ever met. My question was whether that was enough. Shouldn’t she be more ambitious, more well-read, and make more money? Shouldn’t she be a few years younger? Shouldn’t we agree on concepts of God and religion?

More smirking. “I’m going to give you one piece of advice that I used myself. You ready?”

“I’m ready.”

Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship. You can always find someone younger, cuter, smarter, richer… But that doesn’t mean you’ll have a great partnership with her. So even if you could say that your partner is a “7” or “8”, if your RELATIONSHIP together is a “10”, that’s really what matters most.”

Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship.

I took this in for a second. Scott saw me processing. “So?” he said. “How’s your relationship?”

“10,” I replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

“You know what to do,” he smiled.

That advice, from a very wise and happily married man, changed my life. It is no disrespect to my wife to say that I wasn’t positive if we were meant to be. All relationships are a choice. The easier choices come when you’re intoxicated by passion and you’re not thinking clearly. Sometimes those relationships work out; more often, they don’t. I thought I was thinking very clearly while I was courting my wife. Turns out I was wrong.

There was never anything wrong with her; there was only me, looking for reasons to run away from the best relationship I had ever known.

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t think I knew it all – and more glad that I have friends who know more than I do…

Join our conversation (56 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Excellent advice, it is funny how the people that know us can often see what we are blind to.
    My question is how the heck did you find a 10? Jeez! the best I have ever done is a 9, maybe I need to hit the Viper Room.

    1. 1.1

      Maybe you should merry that 9 😉 That’s awsome to have one.

  2. 2

    I like this advice (evaluate the relationship, not the person) a lot. And it has nothing to do with passion vs. safety thank God 😉

  3. 3

    Thanks for sharing this… it’s been rolling around in my head for a while now too. After I got out of a “bad” relationship with someone I inexplicably loved anyway, a friend of mine pressed me to think about the same kind of thing… did I love the relationship as much as the person? I even wrote a post about it *grin*

  4. 4

    What’s the disagreement over God/religion and how have you subsequently worked it out? Just curious–religion can be a real deal-breaker for a lot of people.

  5. 5

    Jake has said that one of the things that he likes best about dating me is how our relationship makes him feel. I think that’s what it’s all about!

  6. 6


    I was curious about that too- being a spiritual/religious person, it would be hard for me to get around that.

  7. 7

    I guess the real question though, is how you get the _other_ person to see it that way too, when they’re running.

  8. 8

    Ditto what Jennifer said in # 2. 🙂

  9. 9

    Hadn’t thought about the topic this way, but it certainly makes sense. And I’m curious too. How did you and wife overcome your religious differences?

  10. 10
    Karl R

    Bryan asked: (#7)
    “I guess the real question though, is how you get the _other_ person to see it that way too, when they’re running.”

    If the other person is running from the relationship, your relationship isn’t a 10. I’d call it somewhere south of 5.

  11. 11

    Or 0. As in nonexistent.

  12. 12

    My greatest frustration with dating is getting the passion part balanced with the relationship part. I’ve had some good relationships, but they all failed at some point because of attraction and chemistry, or lack thereof. It’s very fleeting for me, and rare. This is why I fear that I am never going to find that love of my life I want so badly. I’m not looking for a perfect person, but I need someone I can feel intensely about. Otherwise I feel like it’s pointless. I’ve yet to find someone I’m ‘in love with’ who I can forge a decent relationship with.

  13. 13

    Great advice!
    For me this is the reason I don’t have faith in internetdating anymore. The consciousness as Evan describes takes time to grow and people don’t take that time anymore. Everybody on internet seems to be in such a hurry. Many times I heard men saying: “If I don’t get a 120 % click feeling at the first date already(!) I am not interested anymore. So how can you ever “feel” the relationship. Because the chance to feel a 120 % click at first sight AND to have a 10 relationship subsequently is …….%?

  14. 14
    Warm Heart


  15. 15

    Yay, I love this story!

  16. 16

    AWWW!!! Oh my gosh! It’s so nice to see a man so in love with his wife and sharing stories about it. That’s a wonderful story and great advice. I’ll always remember it! 😀

  17. 17

    Very good point!
    We’ll never find the perfect person, but the close-to-perfect relationship is definitely what we should aim for. and appreciate once we have it.

  18. 18

    Evan, thank you for sharing. Navel-gazer? Interesting term. 🙂

    Your friend was right, of course, that you were creating your own problems. Everyone does this from time-to-time. All of your thoughts about the “shouldn’t she” mentality sound more like self-imposed expectations to me than looking for reasons to run away, but I can see where that could be the undertow. The expectation and the pressure that made you feel you had to make a decision fairly quickly didn’t help either. 😉

    Why do we put ourselves through these tasks? The observation that it’s about the quality of the relationship vs. how close to perfect in their lover’s eyes is the individual is great. The dichotomy is that it’s the individuals that make that great relationship. It’s wonderful when we can realize that there’s something far greater and more valuable at work in our lives than “should they earn more or share my beliefs.” It’s quite simply, love.

  19. 19

    @Evan- you mentioned needing to come to conclusions fast because your then girlfriend was 38. I wonder why that had a bearing- was it just a in case she wants kids issue, or was there something more to it as well? Just curious.

  20. 20

    To Mikethemasterdater: > Jeez! the best I have ever done is a 9,<
    Me too, after we’d been deeply committed, then married for a couple of years, it grew into a 10+!
    I look at dating as a transition skill to meeting a person who can develop into a long, deep, loving relationship. My most recent relationship lasted over 25 years, taking us from our 20s to our 50s deeply in love, raising a couple of great kids, sharing all the blessings that a love that long can bring.
    “Look at the Relationship” It is what is uniqely special about any couple. Otherwise we’re all just “dates.” I believe that 8s and 9s are also worthy of our efforts. Invest some time, some caring some commitment and a relationship that is “merely” almost a 10 can grow to something that far surpasses its beginning. And far surpasses any date!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *