I first heard this term a few years ago while reading a breakup book whose name currently escapes me. It's not an uncommon to run across some variation on dating advice sites (such as this one) or other expert resources, and several noted psychologists and professionals have created formalized programs and systems to work through the process.
For those not familiar with the idea, a relationship inventory provides folks concerned about their love life with some clarity. It allows people to step back from a situation and review the strengths and weaknesses of a particular interaction using a series of thought-provoking questions. You can perform a relationship inventory on anyone you interact with, but for the intents of this site, we're talking about romantic partnerships here.
A reader wrote in the other day asking me if I felt a relationship inventory was necessary to move on from a prior relationship, and if she was cheating herself by avoiding the work. Weren't there other ways that she could work through the loss of her partner of two years?
I could have written the same email at a different point in my life, and I've fought doing the work of a relationship inventory in the past too - as have most of my clients in the midst of a breakup. It's not easy to be honest with ourselves and examine what went wrong in a relationship, nor is it simple determine what we're responsible for and what was the other person's deal. But analyze we must if we want clarity, peace and closure, because the only way we're going to get it is by giving it to ourselves.
So my answer was simple: Yes. Relationship inventories are important parts of the grieving and closure process, and you deserve to give yourself that gift.
What do you think? Have you ever done a relationship inventory? Would you? Why or why not? For those that did take one on, did it help? What did you do?