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How to Spot a Good (Or Bad) Guy
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Is it possible to know if a Guy is a Good guy or Bad Guy within a few Dates? I seem to think so, but you have to know where to look and what you are looking for.
After the demise of my first marriage, I thought about advocating for the use of signs people would hang around their neck making you aware of everyone’s character flaws.
Like the ones Kelly Preston’s Character, Jane talks about in the movie For Love Of The Game.
“You know, I always thought that men and women… should just carry around signs. If you’re poor and you can’t afford it, you would make yours out of cardboard and string. And if you’re rich, you could have it lettered in gold leaf… or pounded out of tin by Mexican craftsmen. It doesn’t matter. But you wear them around your neck, see? And they say things, like ”shallow” or ”horny.” It just– It just would be a hell of a lot easier.” – Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston), For Love Of The Game
I suppose I was somewhat cynical about Love and pretty confident that Good Guys didn’t exist. Besides, I had spent so much time on men who were nice one moment and then controlling the next I started to assume they were all the same. (Is Your Spouse Abusive? Read This if You’re Unsure.)
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The truth is, what they taught us about Abuse in high school doesn’t paint a clear enough picture of what abusive relationships look like, much less how they start. Abusive or harmful relationships start out remarkably similar to good ones. So, how do you know? How can you tell if a Man has good character or is lacking in empathy?
The answer is:
You can’t say by the first date, but I imagine before the second one you’ve had a few phone calls, exchanged a few text messages. Therefore you should be able to see Red Flags by the second date, if not before.
Likewise, you should be able to tell if he’s a good man by this time too.
Read my Series on Leaving an Abusive Spouse Here.
Here are my definitions:
Has empathy towards other human beings. Is unlikely to exert control over you in the relationship. Is self-sustaining, meaning they can maintain a Job. They have good friends because they know what it means to be a good friend.
Lack Empathy towards others not limited to just other people but possibly animals as well. May at some point in the relationship attempt to control you and your children. May struggle with self-sustainment; can’t keep employment or good friendships.
I know what you are thinking:
Well that’s OBVIOUS! I would never date a man who doesn’t have a Job or any friends or is mean! Pfft.
Oh but my dear, you just might if you don’t notice his true colors right away.
I remember learning that to hit in a relationship was abuse and needed to be reported, etc. The problem with this lesson is generally once the physical violence of hitting occurs in a relationship the damage has already escalated to high. It is much more difficult for a survivor to leave. (Read How To Embrace Failure and Start Over This Year!)
When I started dating again there was a long list of things I wanted in any future man of mine including and not limited to:
– A good laugh
– Doesn’t wear dad shoes.
Shallow as those requirements might be, I also had an extensive list of character flaws I knew I couldn’t handle. I’m no relationship expert by far, but I am in a very happy and not controlling relationship these days, and I don’t think that’s by a happy coincidence. I made a conscious choice when I picked my current boyfriend, and it wasn’t just because he laughed often and had non-dad-shoes.
Signs He’s A Good Guy…
A Good Guy: Never Speaks Poorly about His recent Ex or Any ex for that matter:
Of course, some anguish, and possible bitterness for an Ex is expected. Eventually, we discussed in detail what we felt was the demise of our previous relationships, ways we contributed to it and reasons we were likely incompatible with our exes. What he didn’t say is what actually spoke volumes about his character. If a man spends a reasonable amount of time blaming his ex for his past failure of a relationship, or talking about her, that’s not a good sign. You should make sure before entering into a relationship with such a man that he is capable of self-reflection. Even in the worst of one-lover-scorned-sort of relationships, everyone plays a role. If he either hasn’t forgiven her or hasn’t moved on from it, he’s likely not ready to be mature about it in general.
A Good Guy: Enjoys his independence and encourages yours:
At the beginning of most relationships once feelings form there is always, of course, that Puppy Love stage; where you can’t get enough of each other and want to spend all of your time together. During that stage though, both he and I were capable of setting boundaries and still have lives. Could I quickly call him and say “Hey my friend invited me to come have a drink with her? Do you mind if we reschedule for tomorrow?” Yes. His response: “No that’s fine, I’ll see what [any of his friends] are doing, maybe I’ll go see him.” If the man you are dating seems to want all your time and isn’t willing to share you, ask yourself; is he’s trying to isolate you? (Read Why You are Worth It, and How I Know!)
A Good Guy: doesn’t have a drug problem or a Drinking Problem:
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many women I know who met the “love of their life” at a bar, or during their heavy drinking college days and never realized that their partner had a problem. Drinking and Drug problems can become very serious, very quickly. They have side effects as well that directly affect the relationships surrounding the addict or alcoholic.
A Good Guy: holds himself accountable:
The man I am with now spends his time finding solutions to his problems rather than finding excuses to why he has such issues. If things aren’t the way he wants them to be, he doesn’t waste breath telling anyone who will listen to why it’s not his fault that things are how they are. He instead uses his efforts to create solutions. Be with a man who spends his time working on solutions to his problems, not whining about the problem itself. Furthermore, blaming anyone but himself.
A Good Guy: values your Advice and Frequently Asks for it:
They say that a relationship without Trust is unfixable. I go one further and say that Trust can only grow if you both have mutual respect for each other. Valuing my point of view of things or wanting to know more about what was important to me, even when those opinions or viewpoints weren’t the same as his. If the man you are with is incapable of genuinely listening to an idea that does not directly reflect his own, you could have several issues later.Red Flags (AKA Reasons To Run)
I would love to say that I found the right guy right away. The fact of the matter is it’s never that simple. Beyond the signs that the Man I have is indeed a good man and I used the following Red Flags as my cue to let go:
1. A Bad Guy: gets too serious, too quickly in the relationship:
Perhaps as a child or adolescent, we all made the once immature mistake of diving in too deep too quick. As adults, this could be a sure sign that a partner may be trying to rope you in with false promises. If you are being swept off your feet, and he’s already discussing marriage and family before your 3rd or even 10th date you may want to reconsider.
2. A Bad Guy: Pushes boundaries even with Good Intentions:
Does he do favors for you before you know him well? For instance: Does he offer to give you rides when you’ve declined? Does he send flowers to your work before you told him WHERE you work (BIG RED FLAG)? While these favors and notions may seem friendly, they could be hiding an entitlement issue. Meaning: He’s doing these things to create a debt you owe him. If he ever reminds you of all the things he’s done for you, get away! Men who genuinely want to do you a favor, don’t do this. It’s manipulation.
3. A Bad Guy: has a long list of reasons he doesn’t have a Job:
I don’t expect every man to have some amazing Job, but the skills required to get and maintain employment are similar to the skills required to maintain relationships. They take commitment and the ability to compromise even in times it doesn’t suit you. If there is a man out there that wants to call me money hungry for preferring a man who works or is willing to work, be my guest. You are likely the exact type of man I am talking about in this scenario. Excuses don’t make friends, and they certainly don’t get you a girlfriend, or a job for that matter.
4. A Bad Guy’s: Behavior seems selfish:
True story: Upon my first date with my boyfriend I got a good look at the bill when he was signing for it. Not because I wanted to know how much he spent but because I wanted to know how much he tipped our waitress. I was pleased to see he tipped well above 20%. Eventually, he caught me doing this, and he asked why. I elaborated that I wanted to know if he was a good tipper. He wondered why it mattered? To me, it was a small insight into his ego. I had found in the past that men who aired on the side of self-centeredness often tipped poorly. I’m not saying dump him if he’s a poor tipper, I am suggesting you take a close look at his opportunities to be generous. A man who is selfish in small ways is also likely selfish in significant ways.
Consequently, I am no marriage, relationship or abuse expert but my experience has taught me a few things. Unfortunately, that means I had to spend a lot of time with partners who were incompatible with me. Although, I should thank them for teaching me what I didn’t want and giving me a clear picture of what I was looking for. (An Open Letter to the Broke Single Mother I Used to Be)
If you have any wonder if some of the things your man is doing are in fact Abuser Red Flags, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be glad to discuss it with you. I won’t give you advice, but I can help you possibly answer some of your questions about it.
But…What if he changes?
One last thing; Don’t expect people to change. Is it possible? Absolutely. But don’t enter into a relationship on the premise that perhaps if they stay with you, they will become a better version of themselves. Like them, as they are currently, and always hope that they improve on that. We should all maintain a constant and never-ending stream of improvement. Don’t, however, place your bet on it.