Relationships are one of the best, most beautiful parts of life. Studies show that people who maintain strong relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer. But relationships aren’t always easy or perfect—especially romantic ones. They take a lot of hard work, which sometimes requires holding up a mirror to yourself.
For as wonderful and intoxicating as it is to be close to someone, it can also bring about fear, anxiety, or deep-rooted patterns you didn’t know lived inside of you. There may also be shame around certain feelings, especially when it involves sex and pleasure. Of course, there’s no relationship rulebook, but if there was, it would say that self-love and self-worth are the foundation of any strong and healthy relationship. Taking the time to dig into your desires and your fears leads to more empathy, understanding, honest communication, and partnerships that bring out the best in you.
Whether you’re single and dating, in a committed relationship, or just looking to dive deeper into self-exploration, here are some journal prompts to help you connect with yourself and build deeper bonds. When working through these prompts, it’s important to remember there’s no right or wrong way to feel, so try not to judge any thoughts or feelings that come up—just see what you can learn about yourself in the process.
For knowing what you want…
- What do you value most?
- What are some of your short and long-term goals?
- What makes you feel most alive and satisfied?
- What do you desire from your relationships? Get as specific as you can.
- How do you give love and how do you like to receive love?
- What does a healthy relationship look like to you? What does an unhealthy relationship look like?
- Do you feel worthy of love? Why or why not?
For understanding your habits and patterns…
- What draws you to someone?
- What do you think draws others to you?
- When reflecting on people you’re attracted to, do you notice any patterns in
- terms of communication style, emotional availability, the type of person you’re attracted to, etc.?
- How do you tend to express your emotions? If you have a partner, how do they express emotions, and how might that differ from you?
- How well do you understand and articulate your needs?
For examining your childhood and shadow self…
- How was love modeled to you growing up?
- What were you taught about sex growing up that may affect your views of it now?
- Were your emotional needs met as a child? How do you think this carries over into your adult life?
- What criticism are you most sensitive to? Why do you think that is?
- What tends to bring out the worst in you in relationships?
- What do you tend to judge most about the people you date? Why? Are these things you may deep down judge in yourself?
- What emotions do you feel the most shame around? What is their root?
- Is it easy or hard for you to trust people? Explore this.
For examining society’s impact…
- What were you taught to believe a successful relationship looks like, and can you explore how this may not be realistic?
- What societal expectations do you carry when it comes to relationships? (For example, getting married or having kids by a certain age.) How might those expectations hold you back?
- What societal expectations or pressure do you experience when it comes to sex and pleasure? How might those expectations get in the way of your own liberation?
If you’re single…
- What are dealbreakers or non-negotiables for when you’re dating someone new?
- What didn’t work in your past relationships?
- Are you comfortable with rejection? What does it bring up for you?
- Is it easy for you to be yourself on dates? Why or why not?
If you’re in a relationship…
- What qualities does your partner bring out in you?
- What’s working and isn’t working right now in your relationship? What needs to be addressed?
- What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from your relationship?
- How have you and your partner grown in your relationship? Have you grown together or individually?
If you’re somewhere in between…
- What are your priorities right now, and how do they align with your relationship goals?
- Are you looking for commitment? Why or why not?
- What difficult emotions have come up while dating or in past relationships?
- What expectations do you have for someone, and how might that be getting in your way?