In general, bad relationships don’t start bad; they sneak up on you by going slowly bad over time, in incremental ways that aren’t always obvious until things are quite bad. Because I’ve dealt with some bad relationships – both from abusive intimate partners and platonic friendships – I’ve developed this tool, a Monthly Relationship Checklist, to help myself spot some of the red flags early on, so that I can extricate myself from a relationship before it becomes dangerous or fraught.

I wrote this monthly relationship checklist in 2016, with a few later additions, and didn’t think that anyone else would find it useful until this past week, when I mentioned it to a friend. After I read the list to her, she asked if I would send her a copy, and it occurred to me – this may be a generally useful tool, not just for me. So I’m sharing it now! (Thanks, Rebecca!)

Each of these things on its own is not necessarily a reason to leave a relationship, and lots of them might be true one month and not another month for all kinds of reasons. Set yourself a calendar reminder, and do this checklist monthly. Over time, patterns can start to emerge. I have no specific metric for where the tipping point would be to take action to address the issues or leave the relationship, for myself or anyone else. This is a tool to assess where you’re at; it can’t tell you what to do.

Abuse can happen to anyone, of any gender, and can include many forms of abuse, including physical violence, financial abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Smart, tough, confident, strong people become victims of abuse every day. There are some good resources to help give options and support to people experiencing intimate partner violence (reminder: not all violence or abuse is physical; it also includes emotional, financial, and sexual abuse) here:

Toronto/Ontario Resources for people experiencing intimate partner abuse

Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre

You can view it on Google Docs here; if you use Google Docs, you can click ‘File’ and then click ‘Make a Copy’ to create an editable version for yourself.

You can also download a pdf here:

I’ll emphasize that it’s editable, and I encourage you to edit it; I made this for myself, when I was dating a man, and so the pronouns are male and it’s specifically about an intimate relationship, based on both that relationship and experiences I’d had with abusive and/or bad relationships in the past. You may not be dating a man, or you may want to use it to assess a non-intimate relationship. Or even a job. Your situation may not be abusive, but instead just not great. You may want to add things that, in your experience, are deal breakers or early red flags for you specifically. However you want to use it for yourself is great – this is meant to be a starting point.

Candace’s Monthly Relationship Checklist

Was I attracted to him before he started pursuing me?
Honestly, do I find him attractive?
Is he gainfully employed?
Does he have a place of his own?
Can he have a good time without being dependent on drugs or alcohol?
Does he spend most of his non-work time on one activity?
Have I been to his apartment?
Is his apartment reasonably nice/clean/comfortable?
Does he have friends of all genders?
Have I met his friends?
Is this relationship in any way secret?
Is there something that makes the long-term viability of this relationship impossible?
Do I feel like I shouldn’t spend time with friends or family?
Do I feel like I shouldn’t spend time on hobbies or pursuits that don’t involve him?
Does he describe any of his exes as ‘crazy?
Do we go places and do varied activities together?
Can he cook, clean, do other things to take care of himself?
Does he pay for a fair share of our activities?
When I’m upset, does he listen, rather than trying to change the subject?
Does he respect my boundaries?
Is he interested in my ideas and what I do?
Do we have conversations that I enjoy?
Do I win debates/arguments a reasonable amount of the time?
Is he helpful?
Does he respect my time and schedule?
Does he support me in my career, ambitions, and goals, even when they don’t match or complement his?

I’m leaving comments on for now, but if you are mean or abusive I will yeet you into the sun.

Candace's Monthly Relationship Checklist
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