Dawn Ziegerer
4 min readApr 23, 2021


Today, we’ll touch on one thing we do that leads to feeling uncertain and shaky in our relationships.

We’ll talk about poisonous thoughts about partners. But it’s not what you think. I won’t be talking about negative thoughts you have about your partner.

We’ll talk about a certain thought that’s poison.

Let’s start with a tale of two women.

The first woman told me something that was so interesting. We were talking about her partner. She said she’d written a “pro and con” list about him.

On the pro side were things like, “He has a job,” “He’s nice to his mother,” and “He’s hot.”

On the con side were things like “He doesn’t like to go out,” “He doesn’t talk to me,” and “He watches too much TV.”

Then, she said, “But, he’s a good person.”

She was trying to convince herself she was happy in the relationship. She used the pro and con list to try to create some happiness.

She thought if the pro side was longer than the con side, then things are fine and she has reason to be happy.

Then, she added the “good person” idea.

But, it didn’t work. She wasn’t convinced.

Now let’s talk about the other woman. She says she’s madly in love with her partner.

She talks to me about stuff that’s clogging up their relationship. You know, emotional baggage. Stuff from her past.

And, when talking about her partner, she also says, “He’s a good person.”

But, when she says it, she feels great! She feels love. And joy. She’s convinced. She loves her partner and loves the relationship.

So, let’s go back to the first woman.

She used the “good person” statement, but it didn’t feel good.

She created the pro and con list in an attempt to create some happiness. She was trying to convince herself that everything was fine in the relationship.

But it wasn’t working.

She was trying to use positive ideas from the “pro” list to feel better. She slapped on the “he’s a good person” as a reason to feel happy. But, she didn’t feel happy. Later, she told me she felt trapped.

And guess what?

She was only trapping herself.

She was trying to believe that since he was a good person, she should be happy in the relationship. I mean, if you’re with a good person, that’s all you need, right?

But guess what?

The “good person” idea is irrelevant.

It’s a smokescreen we sometimes use against ourselves. Because what does “good person” even mean?

What makes a person a “good person” is subjective.

I bet Al Capone’s mommy thought he was a good person.

Some people would argue that every human is good. Some people would say most people are good. Some would argue that all the good people are gone!

But all that is beside the point.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the men in these two relationships are both “good.”

So what?

If a person is good, does that mean you stay in the relationship? Or that you should be happy in the relationship? Or that the relationship can’t get better?

You can think “he’s a good person” and feel great, like the second woman.

Or, you can think it and feel trapped in a relationship.

You can be using the idea against yourself.

When you think “He (or she) is a good person,” maybe you feel guilty. Perhaps “good person” is a directive to stay with a person you don’t want to.

So, can you see how “He’s a good person” may actually be poison?

We have many that sound positive. But they’re undetectable poison.

We have lots of ideas in our relationships that sound great, but feel like ass, deep down.

If any of this sounds like you, try these steps. They’ll help you figure out what to do next in your relationship.

First, ask yourself if you’ve ever made a pro/con list about your partner, then added: “He or she is a good person.”

Next, think about how you feel, deep down, when you think about the pro/con list and the “good person” idea.

Do this: Mentally go over the list and top it off with the “good person” idea. How do you feel?

And finally, name the feeling. Do you feel uncertain, unconvinced, doubtful, or trapped?

If you do, no worries. There is a way out. There is a path to happiness.

You just need the three D’s: Detect, Discern, and Decide.

Here’s what I mean. The first woman I’ve been telling you about detected what was going on in her mind.

She realized she needed to stop trying to convince herself that everything was okay.

She detected that she was keeping herself stuck in ambivalence and uncertainty. We uncovered lots of poisonous thoughts that, at first, sounded so pretty and helpful.

Then, we worked together so she could discern what she wanted out of a relationship. It was fascinating. She’d never gotten clear with herself about what she wanted in her relationship.

Once she figured that out, she felt a huge wave of relief and certainty. She saw the path forward.

And finally, she decided what she wanted to do next in her relationship.

She’s still in the relationship and she’s moving forward, step-by-step.

She figured out how to detect, discern, and decide.

Developing these skills means everything. It’s the difference between being stuck in a shitty relationship and being happy in a great one.