“The wrong man makes you beg for attention, affection, love and commitment. The right man will give you these things because he loves you.”
~ Sonya Parker
There is never any guarantee of longevity to any relationship.
In fact the only guarantee is that at some point it will end. I realize this is not a very romantic statement but it is the truth. The only question is when (next week, month, year, or decade) will it end and how (nicely, bitterly or through death).
By realizing all relationships have an ending, it makes it easier to stay grounded in the reality of the person rather than the rose-colored romance.
When deciding the course of any relationship there are ways of telling if this is short or long term.
It is all in the red flags.
- A huge often over looked red flag is, does he make you feel good about yourself?
- Do you now feel complete, loved, lovable, pretty, etc.?
These are all signs of infatuation, not love, therefore a happy long-term relationship will not develop.
- Another red flag is; are you working harder at keeping the relationship together than he is?
- All relationships are easy when things are going well. But when you hit a rough patch that is typically putting things back together?
In a healthy committed relationship the answer should be both are participating equally.
Something to look for in you, is he a project? Most will say “no” because they want the relationship to me more than it is. However, if you want him to change anything, then he is a project and the basis is power and control not love and like.
- Ask yourself, do you want him to change how much time he spends with his friends?
- How he communicates?
- How he keeps house?
- Do you say to yourself or others “if he would just_____”?
If any of the above is true than you are intent on changing him. If you have a good man who is a keeper, nothing needs to change or be changed.
Is he emotionally available or unavailable?
While the unavailable men can be attractive in a bad boy sort of way, please know it is going to be a short term play thing rather than a long term romance.
Being emotionally unavailable is exactly that so how can love blossom?
No, it doesn’t take the love of a good woman to open a man’s heart. It takes a man to open a boy’s heart.
The long-term happy, healthy partners are emotionally steady, trustworthy and honest in all endeavors with all people, great communicators about all topics including themselves and their emotions.
There is mutual respect and like for each other just as they are, no change required.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com
- Do you have a vision board on what your most fulfilling relationship would look like?
- Do you have a clear vision of how you will feel in a relationship that satisfies your needs?
- Do you know what your needs are in a relationship?
- Do you know how to communicate your needs to another person?
Being able to answer those questions before you evaluate if this is the person for you is going to be paramount to figuring out if he is a keeper.
How do you know if someone is a keeper if you don’t know what you want to keep?
Getting very clear with your intentions for a relationship is going to be step one.
This is not about making a concrete list that he needs to be this tall and this smart and make this much money.
It’s about creating how you want to feel in the relationship with the other person.
It’s about what you value most in your life and if that other person’s values align with yours. It’s about knowing exactly what you want and not settling for anything else.
- If he falls short in any of the areas, he is not a keeper.
- If your values do not align, he is not a keeper.
- If he runs hot and cold, he is not a keeper (unless, of course, this is what you want in your life).
- If he doesn’t commit to you, he is not a keeper. If there are red flags, he is not a keeper.
Again, you are going to need to know your deal breakers and red flags before you can evaluate if a guy who displays some type of behavior is a no-go.
Bottom line: You need to really get into touch with what you want, create a clear vision for you and hold out for the absolute best that life has to offer you. You deserve it!
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com
Relationships take hard work, continuous effort and a great deal of compromise, insight and understanding.
Romantic love will inevitably change as you progress through your relationship. But happy couples will tell you that you have to be more than great bed-mates to make a real relationship work. Look for common values, goals, beliefs and interests.
Opposites may attract in the short-term, but you want a relationship based on respect and sharing a future together.
If your core values and interests are not in alignment, you’re facing a tougher road ahead.
What lasts is the committed, emotional love that makes all healthy relationships worthwhile.
Here’s what you should look for in your partner if you want a real “keeper”
- You are able to be your authentic, natural self around each other. This means you don’t have to put on any airs or act differently around him. Walking on egg shells is NOT a concern.
- You treat each other equally, with one person not being more dominant or demanding. You and your partner need to feel like you share decisions and other important issues equally. Open and honest discussions are a must.
- You share similar values, philosophies and goals. You discuss the future and are compatible with long term dreams. This is necessary, for instance, if children are in question.
- You respect each other without compromising who you are. You may differ but you respect your partner’s opinion. Having your own ideas and thoughts makes you the amazing individual that you are.
- You are attracted to each other and are compatible in bed.
- You allow each other time to pursue your own interests and also share many common activities. You are able to remain autonomous, capable of standing alone, but committed to being with another.
- You have fun together. This is essential, since humor, joyfulness and playfulness are part of a healthy union.
- You handle disagreements respectfully and fairly. This is not ALWAYS possible, but, in general, you feel you are being heard and acknowledged.
If you think you found a keeper, you know it. It feels good and you feel good. And that is the ultimate goal.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
There are fun guys and there are keepers. Distinguishing between the two could be the difference between a life of misery and a life of happiness.
Of course we all want to have fun, and a keeper who isn’t fun is probably not really a keeper.
At the start of getting to know somebody we are usually attracted to chemistry, common interests and fun.
Who wants to hang out with someone who isn’t fun?
But after a while and as you begin to have deeper feelings, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the man’s potential as a mate.
In order to ask yourself the right questions you have to really know what you want out of a partner and out of life.
People want different things. Some people are looking for a life of adventure; some people want more stability. Take the time to envision a fulfilling life for you.
Here are some questions you probably need answered.
- Is he interested in a long-term relationship?
- Does he want kids (whichever is your goal)?
- Does he have a job that can support him enough to share the responsibility of a family?
- Can he listen without getting defensive?
- Is he honest about his needs and feelings?
- Is he able to stay present during conflict or does he shut down and withdraw?
- Does he avoid conflict by getting aggressive?
- Are there any substance abuse issues?
- Do you want the same things?
As you can see, it’s not a short list and it’s not really an exhaustive list either.
Questions of politics, religion, child rearing, etc. still will need to get addressed. It takes time to get the answers. Questions regarding process can’t be answered without experiencing what the relationship is like over time.
Time is important.
People can say anything, promise anything but you need enough time to be satisfied that you have a clear picture of who this man really is.
Lastly don’t make the mistake of thinking he will change.
He won’t change unless he wants to. Change has to come from within and you will never be able to make another person change for you.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Many women have a checklist of traits that they are looking for in a mate, and individual tastes will certainly vary. But there are some basic questions to ask yourself that ought to be universal, regardless of your particular preferences.
Before you make a long-term commitment, consider the 7 C’s.
Not everyone experiences love at first sight, but there has to be some kind of spark.
- Does your heart beat a little faster when you see him?
- Do you smile when you think about him?
- Do you want to kiss him?
If the answer is no but you still think he’s a great guy, there’s a word for that: friend. Be careful about settling for someone you’re not really attracted to. At the same time, just because he’s a hottie doesn’t mean he’s right for you. Read on.
- What kind of person is he?
- Do you respect him as a man?
- Would you want your kids to grow up to be like him?
Although we can all do things that are “out of character” from time to time, the idea of character is that it’s our default mode—the way we typically behave and treat other people. It’s important to notice whether your guy is kind or quick-tempered, whether he is the type who stands up for what is right or tries to see what he can get away with.
Character includes things like honesty, integrity, courage, and loyalty.
Note: if he cheated on someone else when he got together with you, he may very well do the same thing to you—run.
Whereas character has to do with morals and a generally agreed upon sense of right and wrong, compatibility has to do with individual differences where there is no “right” way to be.
The question is simply: Is he a good fit for you?
Do your personalities and lifestyles mesh well together? It’s often said that opposites attract—but also that birds of a feather flock together. In many ways, it’s easier if you find someone whose temperament and habits are similar to yours.
However, one of the benefits of being in a relationship is having someone whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own.
For example, a shy guy may be glad to find an extrovert who can carry the conversation at parties. If she’s really a talker, she may appreciate that he’s such a good listener. But beware when differences are too stark.
The same things that attracted you in the beginning could be the things that drive you nuts down the road—like the social butterfly who is now frustrated that her homebody doesn’t want to go out, or the Type A guy who loved how his girl was such a “free spirit” until he had to start living with her messes.
Differences such as these need not be insurmountable; when a morning person marries a night owl, they can both get their “me” time when they feel most energized—but only if the two are willing to accept each other as they are, rather than trying to change one another.
Ask yourself: If he never changed, would I be happy living with him for the rest of my life?
Do you like the same things? Do you have fun together?
Sure, he needs his time with the boys, and you need your time with the girls, so it’s fine if he likes to go fishing while you’re getting a mani-pedi.
But if the two of you are going to build a life together, there ought to be several activities you enjoy doing together, so that you don’t have to choose between doing what you love and being with the one you love.
If you hate sports, you may not want to be with a man who wants to watch 3 hours of baseball every day for 6 months (7 if his team makes the post-season!).
On the other hand, if you share his love for the game, it can be something you enjoy together, not something you compete with for his attention.
Hint for ladies who aren’t into sports: if you can’t find a guy who doesn’t care about them either, consider one who follows just one football team. It’s only 3-4 hours a week for 16 weeks!
Do you and your man agree on what is important in life? Do you share the same priorities, goals, and aspirations?
It will be hard to share your life’s journey with someone who’s headed in a different direction.
- If you strongly value family and having children, then it will be important for you to be with someone who also wants kids.
- If you are concerned about career advancement, financial security, and saving for the future, you’re most likely to flourish with a partner who shares your ambitions and also likes to plan ahead, not someone who spends freely with a live-for-the-moment mentality.
- If your faith is something that anchors you and guides your life’s decisions, then you will maximize your long-term happiness by sharing your life with someone like-minded.
Do the two of you communicate effectively? Frequently? On a deep enough level? One of the most common issues that brings couples to counseling is poor communication.
Sometimes it’s because they have stopped making time to talk or never really knew how to listen to each other in the first place. Sometimes it’s because they’ve fallen into the rut of only talking about schedules or the kids. Sometimes it’s because she wants to talk about feelings, and he doesn’t know how.
In a healthy relationship, both partners feel comfortable expressing themselves and feel understood when they do.
You don’t have to have a deep heart-to-heart every day, but it’s important to feel close, connected, and comfortable talking about the things that are important to you.
Caution for online daters: the anonymity of the internet can make it a lot easier to open up quickly.
Be sure to pace yourself with self-disclosure. Make sure he communicates well in person and is still talking about things that matter even after you’ve covered the getting-to-know-you stuff.
The difference between happy and unhappy couples is not whether they fight; it’s how.
If your relationship is characterized by frequent knock-down drag-outs, it’s a definite red flag. If there’s yelling, name-calling, or any kind of violence (including throwing things or punching walls), beware.
If you are with someone who’s less overt but tends to turn things back around on you or belittle you, that’s a problem, too.
Surprisingly, never having a single disagreement is also cause for concern. It could mean that one or both of you is avoiding conflict—and possibly stuffing anger or resentment that will come back to bite you later.
In healthy relationships, people are able to talk about their differences in a way that is constructive and often makes them feel closer—even if they don’t get their way in the end. Be very cautious about making a commitment to someone you’ve never had a fight with.
Once you have an idea of how he acts under pressure, ask yourself:
- Does he fight fair?
- Does he treat you with respect even when he’s upset?
- Is he able to admit when he’s wrong, or are you always the first to apologize?
- Are the two of you able to come to some kind of peaceful resolution, even if it’s agreeing to disagree?
The 7 C’s are a lot to think about, and it’s best to consider them over time, as many things don’t surface until after the honeymoon phase of the first few months is over.
The key is to discover his true colors. Actions speak louder than words, so pay attention to his behavior, not just whether he tells you what he thinks you want to hear. You’ll get a better read if you don’t tell him everything you’re looking for—just see what he has to offer and then decide if it’s a good fit.
You can use these questions as a guide to evaluate the quality of your relationship and whether he’s right for you.
But it also helps to look in the mirror and ask if you like what you see.
- Does he inspire you and bring about the best in you?
- Do you like who you are when you are with him?
If the answer is yes, he just might be a keeper.
Dr. April Minatrea – www.freedomc3.com
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