Have you ever wished you could tell early on if a man was actually a good man, or just playing one to get into your good graces? I’m guessing the answer is yes.
It can be difficult to tell if you’re with a truly good man when you’re being plied with sweet gestures and pretty words — how do you determine if the source of them is sincere or if he has a seriously good game? But knowing the qualities of a good man might save you a lot of energy, time, and heartache.
While I’m not supportive of manufacturing tests for your lover, there is one litmus test that ought to come about naturally — often, very early on in any healthy relationship. And what happens when it does will tell you a whole lot about whether or not he’s a good man and his character.
If you want to know if he’s a good man (and the one for you), he’ll pass this test without a second thought.
If he doesn’t, it’s reason enough to reconsider your involvement with him.
So, what’s the test?
Tell him no. More specifically, set a boundary. Then wait and see how he responds.
It’s as simple as that.
If he respects your boundary and accepts it without trying to cajole you into doing what he wants, you’ve probably got a good human on your hands.
If he tries to convince you to cross that boundary or blur it a bit in his direction, whether with sweet-talking or logical arguments, that’s the epitome of a red flag.
Your set boundaries in a relationship can be as big or as small as you like. It can be “I’m not going to kiss you on our first date” or “I’m not going to invite you into my home until we’ve known each other for two months.” The important thing is that it’s something that matters to you — something you really want to see through.
Figure out what that is and communicate it to him. He may ask for understanding about why you’ve set the boundary, and if he does, tell him why this particular thing matters to you.
“I’d rather wait to kiss you so I can figure out what I think of you before my hormones weigh-in,” or “I have to live in my home for years to come, and I am careful about who I will have memories of inside of it,” or whatever is true about the limit you are setting.
When you offer your reasoning for the boundaries you set, he should respond positively to it and leave it alone.
His job at this point is to support you in upholding your boundary.
So, if your boundary was no kissing tonight, he shouldn’t be putting his lips anywhere near you: not your mouth, not your neck, not your ears, nothing.
If your boundary was about inviting him in, he won’t suggest watching a movie at your place, or to make out with you on your doorstep and drop hints about taking it inside, or otherwise make it your job to play enforcer.
If he’s truly solid, he won’t approach the boundary again until you’ve given him the okay, and even then, he will ensure he has your consent to cross it.
If he makes standing in your decision difficult for you, drop him. Fast.
Maybe that seems silly. After all, is it truly a negative thing if he wants something (you) badly enough he’s willing to push for it? Yes. It is.
This isn’t about him wanting you, this is about him respecting you.
This about his willingness to respect boundaries. This is about his willingness to place something that’s important to you above his immediate gratification.
If a man can’t see past his own desires in the name of showing consideration for your wishes in the early stages when he’s most likely putting his best foot forward, what do you think is going to happen once he gets comfortable?
How do you think he will treat other, more difficult boundaries you may set in the future? Is he going to be someone who will support you in things that may be inconvenient or slightly uncomfortable for him?
Think hard on that. He’s showing you who he is. Believe him.
Gwen Hutchings is a writer, content strategist, and editor. She works with multiple brands, including Sundance Catalog, Madly Wish, Redmond Minerals, and Single Dad Laughing.