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When you first met

Sometimes the very things that attract us to someone are the ones we later find hardest to live with. Work through this exercise devised by psychotherapist Paula Hall to find out what's changed in your relationship.


Before trying this exercise it's worth having a look at the Guidelines for exercises.

You'll need a pen and some paper.

Make sure you have a reasonable block of time, say 30 minutes, when you won't be disturbed.

If you're struggling to remember when you first met, dig out some old photographs and spend time reminiscing. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three.

In the first column write down all the character and behavioural traits that first attracted you to your partner. For example:

  • easy-going
  • fun-loving
  • affectionate
  • looked after their appearance

In the second column write down how you felt about those traits and how they made you feel when you were together.

For example, you might enjoy someone's easy-going nature because they let you choose where to go, and you might be proud to be with someone who takes time looking after their appearance.

In the third column, write down how you feel about your partner's character traits now. For many things you may feel the same, but for others you may feel quite different.

For example, you may now find someone who is easy-going frustrating because they won't make a decision and you may be irritated by the vanity of the person who looks after their appearance.

When you've finished this exercise you should be able to see that there's a good and bad side to every character trait.

Now it's up to you to decide if you want to accept the good with the bad. An easy-going person may let you do what you want but, on the other hand, you don't want to live with a slob. If you feel something really needs to change, take a look at Resolving issues.

If you do this exercise when you're feeling angry or upset with your partner you will get quite a different picture, so make sure you're in a reasonable frame of mind.