I was recently giving a girlfriend of mine some advice on a situation with her guy. She very sweetly told me she wanted to know everything I know about relationships, so I promised to send her an email. When I sat down to write my blog this week, I realized that I still owed my friend that message and thought I should share not just with her, but also with my readers some of what I’ve learned from years of dating and countless books on the subject. I think the single most important piece of advice I can offer is how to know if a man is boyfriend material. Girls, you can save yourself a lot of tears if you hold out for a man who meets the following criteria:
Does he give, protect and cherish?
Relationship expert Dr. Pat Allen who says a good man should give, protect and cherish his woman.
Is he giving?
From a spiritual perspective love is about giving and we should always freely give love, but here on this earthly plane, a woman should never give more materially to a man than he gives to her. Giving is actually a masculine gesture where receiving is feminine. Some women will want to please a man and buy him gifts, treat him to dinner or even clean his house. They may appreciate these kind gestures, but a man’s heart cannot be bought. In fact, when a woman gives too much, Dr. Allen says she emasculates the man and takes on the male role in the relationship.
I’m sympathetic to men dating in today’s economy, but a man who is really interested in you will want to pick up the tab so he can impress you. Pat Allen says that even male animals want to impress the female of the species by using food as a display strategy to show her that he is a good hunter, provider and partner. So if you pick up the tab during the courtship phase, you will be going against biology!
Once you are in a relationship, if your guy doesn’t make a lot of money, it is nice to offer to pay sometimes or offer to cook for him, so he doesn’t spend his entire paycheck wining and dining you. However, in the courtship phase, when he’s trying to win your heart, he will want to pay to for dinner. If he expects you to pay before you are in a committed relationship, he’s either not trying to impress you (which is not a good sign so early on) or he wants to be the feminine energy in the relationship (the one who receives).
One of my girlfriends was dating a guy who would slide the check towards her every time the bill came after they ate dinner at a restaurant. To me, this sounded like a guy who wanted to be the feminine energy in the relationship, which is okay if you don’t mind being the masculine. However, like most women, my girlfriend was not comfortable being the masculine energy in the relationship.
Dr. Pat Allen says that a feminine woman’s role is to provide fun, and to respect and appreciate her man. So once you find yourself a masculine, giving man, be sure to make him feel appreciated and let him know how grateful you are for all the sweet things he does for you.
Does he make you feel safe?
No matter how strong and independent we are, a woman always wants to feel protected by her man. Years ago, I had an ex-boyfriend who seriously stalked me. I was out on a date with someone else, and my ex kept blowing up my phone. The guy I was having dinner with cowardly asked if my ex-boyfriend got into fights. Needless to say, that was a major turn off for me!
The men I loved most in my life were the ones who always made me feel safe and I knew I could call them with any problems. And not that they did, but they certainly weren’t afraid to get into fights.
Is he cherishing your feelings?
A good man should also cherish his woman’s feelings. If you tell your guy that something he did hurt you, he should take that to heart and not do whatever it was that was hurting you again. If he doesn’t really care that he hurt you and keeps doing what he wants without considering your feelings, then you are not being cherished. If he doesn’t start cherishing your feelings, I recommend finding a man who does.
Is he a man of his word?
One thing I can not stand is a guy who promises me the world and doesn’t follow through. It is very important to me that if a man tells me he’s going to do something, then he does exactly what he said he would do. Even small things like calling when he says he will are a testament to a man’s character. You don’t want a boyfriend full of empty promises–you want a man of his word!
Does he make your life better?
A hairstylist once told me to never commit myself to a man unless he makes my life better. This may seem like a no brainer, but in my early twenties, I actually had a boyfriend who made my life worse. He created a lot of unnecessary drama and didn’t have my best interests at heart. Always remember, a boyfriend should enhance your life, not the opposite.
Is he happy when good things happen for you?
Sometimes in relationships, one person will become jealous when something good happens to his or her partner. This jealousy is, of course, fear based. Usually, a man may feel that way because he is afraid if his girl has newfound success, he might lose her. In a relationship, both partners should grow, so beware of a man that wants to hold you back.
An example of this occurred this past summer when I told the guy I was seeing that I landed a gig writing an article for a magazine. Instead of being happy for me, he commented that now I would have even less time for him. Although he was a person who in general did wish for my success, in this instance, he was more concerned that I would have less time to spend with him since I do require several nights a week alone to write. However, it wasn’t a total deal breaker for me, since he was very encouraging for the most part, but my ideal man would have been more excited that I was making strides in my career than worried about how my new assignment would affect him.
Do you love who you are when you are around him?
Does your guy make you feel happy, free and beautiful or does he stress you out and make you feel insecure, anxious or maybe even jealous? You want a man who makes you feel completely loved and secure, a man in whose presence you become more radiant and energized, a man who ultimately makes you feel like a love goddess.
Does he inspire you?
This is a big one for me! We are put on this Earth to grow into our best selves, and our partners are meant to help us along in the process. Last year, I was dating a man who was cute and fun, but after the initial newness wore off, I remember telling my mom that although I really liked him, I wasn’t sure he was good for me long term because the only thing he inspired me to do was to drink more.
It’s like Jack Nicholson said in the movie As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.” I’m a bit nerdy, so I like a guy who can teach me something, whether it’s filling me in on politics or world history, teaching me about spirituality or recommending great books to read. However, a man could inspire you in other ways, whether he makes you want to be better in business, live a healthier lifestyle, volunteer for charity or simply to be a kinder, more compassionate person. Basically, you want your guy to make you a better woman, whatever that means to you.
Does he spend weekends and holidays with you?
If a guy is serious about you, he will want to see you on the weekends and spend holidays with you. If it’s your birthday, he will use the occasion as an opportunity to win your heart and will take you to dinner and bring you a present. If you celebrate Christmas, it’s right around the corner, so see if your guy gets you a gift. Remember, it’s about the thoughtfulness of the gesture, not the gift itself, so don’t judge a guy too harshly if you didn’t get a Louis Vuitton bag or Louboutin shoes. If he asks to spend New Year’s Eve with you, he gets major boyfriend points! A man who wants to be your boyfriend couldn’t stand the thought of you kissing someone else at midnight. Birthdays and holidays really have a way of weeding the boys out.
Has he talked exclusivity?
Unless your guy has told you that he’s not seeing anybody else and wants you to be his girlfriend, never assume he is your boyfriend. Unfortunately, lots of hearts are broken this way. I was talking to another blogger who writes about love, and she told me she feels it is a woman’s job to make a man commit. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have to make a man commit to me. In my experience, every man that wanted me to be his girlfriend was very clear in making it known.
When a man is crazy about you, he won’t want to share you with anyone else and will ask you to be exclusive. If after several dates, he’s not asked you if you’re seeing anyone else, he might not be looking for a girlfriend. Keep in mind, a boy could like you a lot but just not want to be in a relationship, so please don’t take it personal if that’s the case.
If things are starting to get physical, you may have to bring up the subject first because if it’s a boyfriend you’re looking for, you don’t want to find out after you’ve slept with him (and now feel attached) that your guy is just looking for fun.
Girls, if after reading this list, you realize your guy isn’t boyfriend material, don’t become disheartened. You aren’t simply looking for any boyfriend–you want someone wonderful who will adore and cherish you. If your guy didn’t make the cut, have faith that the universe will send you someone better. As for these boys who need to step up their game if they want to be with you, they can always be members of your platonic man harem, but exclusivity only belongs to the man who proves he deserves it.