Navigating through the ups and downs of finding and keeping the Right Guy is like trying to get someplace you don’t know well, in the dark and with no sign posts for guidance. Mostly we learn by trial and error, or what we hear from our friends who are also in the dark. Or we learn about relationships from our parents who are just as clueless as we are.
But rest assured that there are concepts and skills that you can learn and practice which will help you recognize the right guy and sustain that healthy relationship. The following questions outline the concepts which define the right guy. The answers can reveal if either of you need to acquire additional skills to develop and sustain the relationship.
1) Do you know what you want?
What makes you happy, valued, emotionally safe, and fulfilled? What are your Must Haves? A “must have” could be someone who has never cheated in a relationship. Or someone who shares your interests, or is the same faith as you. How can you find the right guy if you don’t know what you’re looking for?
2) Is there chemistry?
Sure, the sex is great. But that’s not the only kind of chemistry. Sometimes chemistry is about experiencing life through similar beliefs and goals. Feeling close to the other person but in a way that is different than being one of your friends. It can be how a person laughs, or the twinkle in his eye when he’s happy. Perhaps you feel close when you see how he treats other people or makes a difference in the world by following his beliefs. It can be a feeling of not wanting to wait until you see each other again, or remembering past conversations and enjoying them all over again. Like art, you will know it when you see it, even if it isn’t on the first date.
3) Is he a good listener?
Does your person remember past things you’ve said and does he refer to them over time? This demonstrates he is really listening and letting in what you say. Is he internalizing who you are? These remembrances allow him to begin to really know and understand who you are.
4) Does he talk things out?
Does he initiate talking through difficult moments or does he wait for you to initiate the talks? It is important for both people to initiate communication, especially when it is challenging, such as a disagreement. Maybe he has never learned how to do this, but he is willing to try. Or does he evade difficult conversations and nothing gets resolved? Healthy communication is part of what creates closeness and strengthens the emotional bond.
5) Does he initiate closeness and intimacy?
There is a difference between love and lust. Does he reach for you without it always leading to sex? Sometimes just snuggling on the couch brings more closeness than sex alone. How about emotional closeness? Is he willing to share things about himself including how he feels? Men often struggle with sharing how they feel inside. Often no one encouraged it in growing up so it becomes uncomfortable for them. It’s OK if you need to initiate a conversation. But make sure he is willing to share his feelings. In order to be emotionally close couples must be willing to share how they feel, including what bothers them and what makes them happy. The Right Man will be willing to at least work at this over time because he will be open to increasing intimacy with the woman he loves.
6) Does he manage his finances?
Is he steadily employed? Does he live within his means? Or does he have a lot of debt? You will need some time together before feeling comfortable about freely discussing your finances. However, he should not avoid the subject or hide his financial situation after you have dated exclusively for over six months. Especially if you often end up paying for things you did not openly agree to do. Sharing cost is fine but money issues are important to discuss and agree upon.
7) Do his actions match his words?
Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. You want to know that you can count on your mate. Beware if he comes through for you sometimes but more often leaves you in the lurch. Inconsistent actions usually mean that the positive behavior is not the normal pattern. When someone’s actions do not back up their words then you will not fully trust them. It’s important to watch this over time. The Right Guy will be a partner who can hold up his end of the relationship and follow through with what he says. This builds trust in a relationship.
8) Does he accept responsibility for his actions?
Everybody makes mistakes but everyone needs to be accountable. Does he own his actions? Or does he make excuses or turn the blame on you? An emotionally secure person who makes a mistake, owns it and will make the necessary changes to avoid the behavior repeating. This quality demonstrates character in a person.
9) Does he have healthy relationships with friends and family?
Healthy people cultivate healthy relationships. Look for this pattern. Does he hang out with friends who make good choices? Is he making good choices? Does he have frequent and positive contact with his parents and siblings? If not, is it because of him or is it about his family? Some unhealthy family members just need to be avoided. For example, an alcoholic parent who refuses to get help. Or a parent/sibling who continues to berate or belittle. You will want a healthy social and family life together. The Right Guy will already have one.
10) Does he live a healthy life?
Does he use alcohol or drugs to excess? Has he ever driven under the influence? If so, this should be a deal breaker from the beginning! Relationships are tough enough to navigate even without a substance abuse issue.
If you are already in a committed relationship then ask him if he will get help. Bottom line is that you should think carefully whether to remain in this relationship if you think he has a problem and he refuses to get help. Not only will unhealthy behavior come between you, but it may cause legal or financial difficulties affecting both of you.
11) What about children?
This question is often another deal-breaker. Do you want children? Does your mate want children? What kind of father does he want to be? The fun dad, or will he also help with school work and teacher conferences? Will he share in the discipline or take it over, or leave it solely up to you? Who will be the primary guardian and who will be the primary breadwinner? What was his childhood like? What lessons will he be bringing forward into his own parenting? These questions are difficult to discuss in a casual relationship, but they need to be ironed out as the relationship evolves. Think about what is important for you. The Right Guy will share these positive values. Remember, parents absolutely affect their children’s character and how they experience the world in their future.
If you are already married or in a long-term relationship:
These concepts and skills remain important. However, you are in a committed relationship and may have children involved. If communication is difficult and not productive you may want to speak with your mate about seeking help for professional couples counseling. Remember, we don’t know what we don’t know and therein lie all the possibilities! If your mate refuses to get help then you are left with some tough decisions. It would be helpful for you to seek counseling on your own for support and to help with your decisions.
If you want to know more about recognizing a healthy relationship, look at my past article entitled The Four Pillars.
These questions are not a complete list, but are meant to get you thinking about what works for you and what does not. First, you must know yourself and what you want in a relationship. Remember, you will be living with the ways he communicates, makes you feel, talks with you, etc. How do you want to feel in this relationship?
Remember that relationships are not all about the man. The Right Guy should also ask these questions about you. Would you both be open to professional counseling if the relationship seems too difficult to navigate on your own? If he won’t do counseling you may want to do it on your own for professional guidance and support.
Relationships are amazing when you know and can recognize the right person! Yes, they take a lot of work, but it is worth all of the effort when you feel loved, valued, emotionally safe, and truly enjoy spending time together. I promise!