Things to Know Before You Give Your Heart Away


I have found that many abuse survivors have a hard time evaluating whether a person would be a potentially good mate, or whether s/he would become another abuser. One friend of mine told me that her “picker” was broken, because she had chosen one abusive boyfriend after another.

I recently came upon a great tool for evaluating relationships. It is called “Things to Know Before You Say Go: Powerful Questions to Ask Before You Give Your Heart Away”. It comes in the form of cards that you can hold in your hand. You can order this from Here is the link. The cards’ creator, Elsbeth Martindale talks about therapists using the cards with their clients. But, anyone can gain knowledge from them.

I ordered the card set. There are 76 cards in the set. Each card has a title on the front of it such as “Anger”. The title is followed by a question. The question on the “Anger” card reads, “Is this person angry, mean, or agitated much of the time?” On the back of the anger card are more detailed questions:

Is this person sarcastic and negative?

Does this person insult others or put them down?

Does this person believe things are supposed to go their way in life?

Does this person’s anger turn against themselves in the form of self-harm, self-criticism, or depression?

Do I feel unsafe when this person is angry?

Does this person take responsibility for the consequences of their anger?

Where does this person direct their anger? How do they demonstrate their anger?

Here are some other cards that I found important; especially for abuse survivors, or anyone concerned they might be dating a potential abuser:

Accepting “No” – Can this person accept it when I say “no” or set a boundary?

Family, 1, 2, & 3 – Do my family members get along with this person? Do I get along with their family? Does this person get along with their own family?

Faults, Their View – Can this person see their own faults and shortcomings?

Forgiveness – Can this person forgive themselves and others?

Hurting – Do I like how this person responds when I am hurting or upset?

Past Relationships – How does this person manage past romantic relationships?

     I.e. Does this person talk about past relationships often?

             Positively or Negatively?

             Was there unfaithfulness, abuse or violence in their relationship with others?

Respect – Does this person respect others’ opinions, beliefs and social position?

Sensitive – Is this person sensitive to others’ feelings and needs?

Social Freedom – Does this person respect my right to socialize and give me freedom?

Stress – How does this person manage stress and difficulties?

At the link, Elsbeth says that when a person holds a card in their hand, they must do something with it, either answer the question, realize they don’t know the answer, or don’t want to think about the answer. Elsbeth recommends sorting the cards into 3 piles, a “yes”, a “no”, or an “I don’t know” pile. When all the cards have been examined, it is possible to see in a tangible way if the relationship should be pursued or not, or if you simply don’t know enough about the person to decide. If you don’t know the person well enough, this lets you know it isn’t yet time to give your heart away – this person may not be safe – you simply don’t know.

Parents, this would be a great tool to use to help begin conversations with your teenagers who are just beginning to date. My husband used them with a group of teens we know recently, and they found them really engaging. They discussed eight cards for an entire hour!

What if you discern from doing this exercise that you are ALREADY in a potentially abusive relationship? If so, I urge you to read my blog which describes how to recognize an abusive relationship, and what to do about it. Here is the link.

It is much easier to end a potentially abusive relationship in its beginning stages than later on. Tweet This

Once an abuser thinks s/he “owns” you, it is very difficult, and can be even dangerous to try to leave. So, be wise. Don’t give your heart until you know that your love interest is worthy of it.

Proverbs 3:13 – 18 says:

 Blessed are those who find wisdom,

    those who gain understanding,

for she is more profitable than silver

     and yields better returns than gold.

She is more precious than rubies;

    nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand;

    in her left hand are riches and honor.

Her ways are pleasant ways,

    and all her paths are peace.

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;

    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Question: Do you have doubts that the person you are interested in is a safe person? 

I pray this resource can help you discern whether to say “go” or not.

Bless you all,



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Caroline,
    Thanks for the great review of my cards. I want to remind everyone that all the questions contained in the deck, as well as the content of the book, can be found in an iphone app called, The Questions. You can find out more at iTunes or at
    I hope your readers will find this material very helpful in teaching young people how to inquire, assess, and choose wise love.
    Gratefully – Elsbeth

    • Dear Elsbeth,

      Thanks so much for this information! And thanks so much for creating such a great tool. We have used it already several times, and think it is wonderful! I wish everyone who is considering getting involved in a new relationship would think through these questions. God bless you!


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