In the dating world, it can be tough to know what to look for in a guy.
Of course, we know we should try to find a good man, but we also want someone who is attractive, smart, ambitious, funny, loves kittens, hikes, cooks, measures above 5’8, earns good money, and prioritizes us above all else.
Then we stop and think, “Wow. I’m asking way too much here. It’s hard enough to land a date with a guy I connect with. Maybe I should lower my expectations, and hope for the best.”
Most of our lives we’ve probably believed that “chemistry” (a.k.a. physical attraction) is the foundation of a good relationship. Is it surprising that we end up settling for guys that don’t treat us well, just because the physical attraction was there and the timing was right?
The good news is that we don’t actually need someone who meets every one of our secret requirements to be happy. But we do need to find someone who meets the right ones, and it is crucially important that we know what these are.
There is no single cookie-cutter “good man” out there. They come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, and each will have his flaws. You likely already have an idea of what traits are important to you, and what attracts you to a man. If you haven’t already thought it out, take some time to articulate what unique characteristics matter to you. Also, identify the characteristics you don’t want in a man.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, I’ve outlined the five key personality traits that, in my experience, consistently distinguish good men from not-so-good men. There are of course many more traits that are desirable in the person you’re dating, but these are the five that cannot be comprised without great risk.
In this context, I define a good man as someone who will treat you well, build you up, and contribute to your happiness on a consistent basis. Deficiency in one of these areas is a serious red flag, which should not be accepted without serious thought first.
The five key personality traits that distinguish a great guy are as follows:
If a man has integrity, he knows right from wrong and gives a crap about it.
The opposite of integrity is immorality. If he uses people, fails to follow through on promises, or acts with cavalier disregard for the welfare of others, it is a serious warning sign. It indicates he believes other people’s well-being is less important than his own. This man can do immeasurable harm to others without care or regret.
An honest man recognizes the importance of telling the truth and has the strength to do so, even when it creates discomfort for him.
The opposite of honesty is deceitfulness. If he routinely lies about minor things, doesn’t acknowledge the damage caused by his lies, and refuses to take responsibility when a lie is uncovered, steer clear. Trust is the foundation of a loving and secure relationship. Without it, you will constantly wonder where he really was, what he really thinks, and how he really feels. You’ll never know for sure how much you matter to him, which will condemn you to the worst kind of relationship purgatory.
A kind man has empathy for others and conscientiously tries to impact the lives of those around him in a positive way.
The opposite of kindness is cruelty. Unfortunately, cruelty isn’t always obvious up front – but there are small indicators to look out for. Beware of a man who calls you names during a disagreement, puts you down in insidious ways, and seems to take pleasure in the misfortune of others. This type of person is not only toxic but downright dangerous – they enjoy hurting others. This is the most important red flag to look out for.
Respectfulness means treating other people as valid and important, even if they have less than you in terms of money, status, or education.
The opposite of respectfulness is arrogance, which is tied to narcissism. A narcissist won’t ask you too much about yourself but will gleefully talk about himself for hours upon end. You’ll notice he never asks your opinion about what you want to do or where you want to go. Be careful of this man, because he loves himself more than he’ll be able to love you. You’ll always come second to his momentary whims, fancies, and desires – which is not the stuff of long-term bliss.
An authentic man is self-aware and lives in alignment with his values. He can accept different ideas, opinions, and people because he doesn’t feel threatened by them – he knows who he is, and is comfortable with that knowledge.
The opposite of authenticity is insincerity, underneath which lies insecurity. An insecure man will say and do things just because he thinks others want him to. He won’t stand for the things he says he believes in, and he’ll put others down to raise himself up. He can’t be relied upon to do what he says, or say what he means. Insecure people often have a patent sense of inner discontent, and they don’t understand people who are genuinely happy. As far as he’s concerned, he is not destined for happiness, nor is anybody else – including you, if you continue to see him.
Identifying Good and Bad Traits on Early Dates
On a first date, the presence or absence of these traits won’t be blindingly obvious – you are both on your best behaviour, trying to impress one another. However, both positive and negative traits will reveal themselves little by little in his words and actions, if you are paying attention. And you absolutely should be paying close attention to these things on your early dates. This is when you are in the best position to notice and respond to red flags.
A good rule of thumb at this time is to judge a man’s character and intentions based on what he does, not just what he says. Does he promise to call or text you, but you find yourself waiting for texts that never come? Does he speak openly, or does he act defensive and contradict himself on small points? Does he ask you out in advance and follow through on plans, or does he vaguely suggest “hanging out sometime” and then bail at the last minute when you finally do make plans?
It is important to recognize warning signs early on. Don’t ignore them and hope they’ll go away – they won’t. What will happen is that, after enough time, you will become so attached that judgment and caution fly out the window. You’ll become more willing to excuse or overlook problematic traits because you are too involved to let go. But these flaws will come back to haunt you in future, and by then, it might be too late to make the tough decisions you need to make.
But enough talk about we don’t want – how can we get what we do want?
How to Attract a Good Man
The surest way to attract someone with specific positive traits is to consciously cultivate those traits in yourself. It is well known that “like attracts like,” so try to live your own life in accordance with what you wish to attract into it. If you have high expectations for your future partner, you should maintain equally high standards for your own character.
Beyond this immutable law of attraction, we also know that our perspective defines our reality. A negative perspective very rarely pays off – in fact, you’ll notice that negative people often get exactly what they expect. If you’re expecting to meet jerks and assholes, then that is what you will find.
The onus is on you to control your thoughts and expectations. It isn’t easy, and you must work at it every single day, but you will see the results in every aspect of your life. If you aren’t taking full advantage of this incredibly powerful tool called attitude, now is the time to explore what you’ve been missing. If you don’t know where to start, begin with lectures by Lester Brown and then move on to Zig Ziglar.
Positive people tend to attract positive circumstances and people into their lives. They interact more constructively with others, thereby eliciting more positive reactions and creating an upward cycle that gains momentum over time. This doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens to them, but the extent of damage is less severe because they have developed constructive mental habits that help them control the ripple effect of negativity.
Equally important is the practice of good judgment – learning to recognize right from wrong and good from bad as it relates to your life. It also means using your own intelligence and experiences to make good choices, and reject bad ones. Positivity and good judgment make for an unbeatable combination – someone who expects the best and actively creates it for themselves by identifying and avoiding obstacles.
Take some time to reflect upon your own life. Think about whether you have cultivated positivity and good judgment, and whether your attitude will attract the right things into your life. Do you live with integrity, honesty, kindness, respectfulness, and authenticity? Would you be able to give your partner everything that you are hoping he will give you? You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to try your best, and to keep trying, even after a failure.
Lastly, don’t allow yourself to lose hope. When you feel despair creeping in, turn your mind from it and refuse to let it take hold. Do something that soothes your soul and makes you happy. Connect with positive and supportive people in your life. Work on a hobby or project you are passionate about. Do something that helps someone else, because giving is known to improve self-esteem and gratitude.
In these moments, just focus on being the best version of yourself, and give it time. Trust that you will attract a man who deserves you, and you’ll know how to recognize him when he finds you.