By the time I was 23, I had given up on love. That might sound melodramatic, but it’s true. Already I’d had my heart broken once and been through an epically awful breakup. When it came to dating, I was done.
Taking myself out of the game made me feel safe. I decided that my chances were over, and it was better not to hope for love at all.
Yet at the time I made this resolution, I’d already met the man who would become my husband. At 23, I swore off love, and at 24, I was happily married.
What happened? The short version is, I learned to look at people differently. I gained confidence to see beneath the surface, to prize integrity over drama.
Without further ado, here are my top 5 ways to tell if the guy you’re dating is the real deal.
1. He treats other people with kindness and respect.
Notice that this is about how he treats others, not you.
While of course how he treats you is important, in the beginning of a romantic relationship both people tend to be on their best behavior towards one another.
It’s easy to get a great first impression, to fall in love with someone who treats you like royalty for a little while.
But if you want to know how this guy is going to treat you over the course of a lifetime, look at how he treats other people. Sooner or later, that’ll be you on the receiving end of that behavior.
A big part of why I fell in love with my husband was how he treated the adults with special needs who were our housemates at the time. He treated them with respect and dignity, and that meant a lot to me.
Is your guy’s tone harsh and cutting when he speaks to his parents? Is he rude to the waiter? To quote Dave Barry, “A person who is nice to you, but not nice to the waiter, is not a nice person.”
2. He is patient.
Not to go all Biblical on you here, but there’s a reason that the first line of that popular passage in First Corinthians chapter 13 is, “Love is patient.”
Is the guy you’re dating patient? Does he bear with you when you forget your coat and need to run back, or does he scowl? Does he freak out during a subway delay, or does he make the best of it?
Patience is what enables you to bear with each other in your faults and foibles.
My husband was patient in his love for me. He took time getting to know me before making a move; he showed respect, so much so that at first I thought he wasn’t interested in me!
At the time I was much more familiar with guys who wanted the whirlwind romance. But when you find someone who’s worth your time, you’re willing to go at a steady pace.
3. He shows up on time.
This might sound minor, but it’s major. Showing up on time demonstrates respect for you and the kind of self-governance that will help you both in your life together.
If the guy you’re dating is always running late, it means that he doesn’t have a handle on his own commitments. Conversely, if he tends to show up when he says he will, that’s very promising.
4. He is willing to face reality head-on.
When we were getting engaged, my now-husband asked me, “What are your outstanding debts? Do you have any prior felony convictions?” I laughed, but he was dead serious.
He wanted to go into marriage with eyes wide open. He wanted to know how much I owed on my student loan, because he understood that paying it back was an effort we’d undertake together.
Look for indications that the guy you’re dating is willing to face reality, particularly in the area of finances. If he has no idea how much money he owes, that’s a problem. If he is paying down debt and budgeting and spending consciously, that’s great.
5. He supports your dreams in visible ways.
It’s easy to give lip service and play the supportive role: “Sure, of course you should go for that dream job!” What’s much harder is offering the kind of practical help that makes dreams reality.
So, ask yourself: does the guy I’m dating support my dreams in tangible ways?
Does he show up at your art gallery opening, or does he flake out? Does he encourage you to go to bed early before a big event, or does he subtly sabotage your success by begging you to stay up late?
When my husband suggested that we convert one of the rooms in the historic home he owned into a writing room to support my dream of authorship, I knew I was a fortunate woman.
“Everyday Life in Utopia”
I love this phrase from Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home: Everyday life in utopia. If your guy is the real deal, that’s what you get to experience.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your shared life will be perfect. You and your partner are human, so sometimes you’ll fight and get on each other’s nerves and forget to buy bananas at the grocery store.
Even people who are “the real deal” go through hard times. (Just last week, I had no bananas for breakfast. Come on!)
Seriously though, if you share enough of life with someone, you will go through some dark times. You will struggle. You will feel the truth of that great line from The Princess Bride: “Life is pain, highness, and anyone who says differently is selling something.”
And yet – if you choose someone who is the real deal – there will be so much goodness in store for you too. You will also get to look across the table at the guy you love and think: thank you, thank you, thank you.
That’s my wish for you: gratitude, and the confidence that comes with choosing well.
Caroline Garnet McGraw is the creator of the free video interview series The Confidence Course: How to Defeat Self-Doubt, Trade Perfectionism for Possibility, and Live Your Dreams.
It's a free crash-course in confidence from people who are giving back and playing big, and I’m honored to be one of the 33 all-star speakers!
The roster includes Olympic Gold medalist Samantha Arsenault Livingstone, #1 New York Times bestselling author and TED speaker Adam Grant, double-platinum, ARIA award-winning musician Ben Lee, and of course the owner of this website, Your EZ Dating Coach, Mike Goldstein.
During this series on Dating, Relationships, and Confidence, you’ll learn …
The vital importance of showing up as the real you, which is the foundation of all confidence
Why keeping a list of 5 essential qualities you're looking for can save you time and heartache
One practical way to re-structure your requests for your partner
How to shift your mindset from impressing people to really engaging with them
The mental hack that allows you to find common ground and let go of social anxiety
And much more...
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It was Wednesday night in Manhattan, towards the end of summer, and the air was balmy. I was lying atop my bed, fully clothed, facing the guy I’d met online a few months prior. Tonight was our sixth date. We’d just got back from a delicious dinner at the Vietnamese place next to my apartment.
Six dates was no easy feat in New York. In my experience, budding romances tended to drop off around the two to four date mark. I was thrilled to have met a man who I wanted to continue getting to know, who liked me back. It was nice to lie quietly and comfortably next to him, belly full of Pho.
I told him that I was writing an article (this one), about messages that guys were really into, and asked if he had any ideas. To my surprise, he immediately recounted a handful of the messages I’d sent him that had struck a chord, and made him want to take things further. Here’s what they were:
1. COMPLIMENT HIM
I wrote: “You Seem Lovely”
Using the word ‘lovely’ was particularly British of me, but the main point is, he loved being complimented. What man doesn’t want to be told that he’s hot, funny, or has great hair? I get an especially high response rate online when I open a conversation by telling a guy how cute he looks in his pictures. Compliments make people feel good, and people always want more of what feels good.
Anything complimentary works, but make sure it’s genuine, and try not to overdo it. There’s no need to stop the compliments flowing when you start dating – flattery works wonders at all stages of relationships.
2. RAISE A SHARED INTEREST
I wrote: “Have you seen the Calder exhibition at the Whitney?”
One of his dating profile pictures was baseball related, which I knew nothing about, and another was at Storm King sculpture gallery – where I’d been, and loved. Rather than asking an obvious question (“so you like art”?), I made it specific. This conveyed that a) I also liked art, and b) I had new and exciting ideas. It also planted the seed for a fab second date…
Whether it’s a hobby you’ve picked up on from his online profile, or just something you know he’s into, bring it up. Ideally, choose something you’re also a fan of (or at least curious about), as you’ll have more to say about it. Not sure what his jam is? Ask him! He’ll be pleased you want to know.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE DIRECT
I wrote: “Here’s my number, lets go out”
This was his all time favorite message of mine. He loved that I took initiative, and didn’t wait passively for him to do the asking. It said that I was keen, a sure thing, and didn’t want to play games… it also implied that I had better things to do than to waste time (which I did).
Try throwing old-school stereotypes out the window and tell him you like him. Don’t hesitate to move things along to an in-person date – momentum is key. If he asked you out the first time, make the move to suggest date number two. If he’s feeling you, he’ll love the forwardness; if he’s not, it’s better to find out sooner. No matter what, he’ll be flattered.
4. SHOW YOU WERE LISTENING
I wrote: “Good luck with the presentation today”
He thought it was amazing that not only had I paid attention to his big upcoming presentation, but that I was sweet enough to send him a message the morning of. He said that this was one of the moments he knew he really liked me.
Make an effort to remember what he tells you, and proactively reference previous messages or face to face conversations. It shows that you listen, that you’re thoughtful, that you’re bright, and most importantly – that you care.
5. BUILD ANTICIPATION
I wrote: “I can’t wait to see you later”
Who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this message? He told me it conveyed that I was thinking about him, and was enthusiastic about our time together. It also suggested a sense of urgency and passion, which was hot.
This message can be adapted to incorporate just about anything you ‘can’t wait’ to do with him later – be as risque as you dare! Everyone loves something to look forward to…
When he relaid these five messages, at first I was underwhelmed. Was this not common sense? Apparently not. He said I’d be surprised how few love prospects ever messaged him this way. I wondered why…
My first hypothesis was that some women still think men should put in the upfront effort, and do all the message wooing. Well people; it’s 2017, and I think that’s plain lazy – not to mention it reinforces unhelpful, female disempowering gender norms.
My second hypothesis was that in today’s tech-heavy, fast-paced, choice-laden society, many don’t bother to communicate thoughtfully and consistently. Attention spans are shortening, and we are quick to move onto the next thing, or person. People just don’t have the patience to nurture new relationships via messaging.
I believe messaging can make or break a fledgling romance, and that sending considered, personal and positive messages is your best-chance approach. He will love any message that makes him feel special, interesting, heard, or desired. Wouldn’t you? Ensuring your zesty texts stand out in his inbox is a surefire ticket into love territory.
On that note, I’m off to write an important message… a suggestion for date number seven:
Hey handsome (1). Is the week as crazy as you feared? (4) I’m keen to pick up some cherries at the market you told me about (2). Free Saturday…? (3) Looking forward to seeing you again *insert blushing smiley face or cherry emoji here* (5).
Simple, right? Remember: a little effort goes a long way in the messaging universe.
About Your Author
Amelia is a British dating & lifestyle blogger, living her New York dream. Think Carrie Bradshaw but raunchier, and a lot more Jewish. Follow her blog, She Made the Move, for tempting tips on dating, eating and everything in between...
"I don't want to be a nag." - Every Woman. "I don't want you to be a nag either." - Me
So every woman is terrified of being a nag. Rightfully so, because a woman that nags will send any man headed for the hills. But, a woman who sets boundaries can do it in a sexy way which will have men begging for more.Ready to learn how?
Watch this video:
So let's first understand why setting boundaries is going to enhance your relationships and then I will explain how to implement.
Men want women to make dating easier. What this means is men want women to give them a roadmap to their heart. If you tell him what you want, what you need, the guy that cares about you will do it. Now, many of you will say, "I don't want to tell him, I just want him to know." My response is "good luck." I am a professional dating expert and I can promise you I have no idea what my girlfriend wants on a random Tuesday. But, I love when she tells me, "I had a tough day today, will you give me a hug?"
This is the scariest part because your biggest fear is turning into the naggy woman. So let's talk about proper implementation and improper with some examples.
Improper - "You never call me. I feel so unimportant to you."
Correct - "You would make me the happiest woman in the world if you called me a few times a week. You are such a great guy, and I know you are busy at work but I would feel so special if you found a few minutes just to say "hi."
Let's go back to Why?
Why is setting boundaries so important. If you do not feel heard in the relationship eventually you are going to snap and either leave the guy, be unhappy in the relationship, or lash out by yelling at your guy who probably had no idea he was doing anything wrong.
On the flip side, men LOVE when women communicate what they need. Yes, the busy guy may initially not be so excited that he needs to stop work to give you a call a few times a week. But after some time he is going to crave it. He is going to look forward to the part of his day where he gets to take a break and catch up with his best friend and lover. However, you are never going to get this unless you ask for it and most importantly ask for it in the right way, coming from a place of happiness and how to become even happier, not a place of complaining and nagging.
So I will leave you with this. If men like when you set boundaries and obviously you would like to be true to yourself and speak your mind what are you waiting for? Stop sitting on the sidelines and build your perfect relationship! Remember, setting boundaries is sexy!
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