Ms. Klof is a native New Yorker. She works as a licensed therapist and specializes in couples and sex counseling.
Is Your Man A Keeper? Some Foolproof Guidelines To Weed Out Those Chump Boyfriends:
I have shed many tears over men I didn't even really like that much. I didn't cry because I saw long-term potential in our relationships. I didn't even cry because they treated me badly. I cried because I lost the game. I wanted, above all else, for him to want me. It didn't matter if I thought he was corny, unattractive, or less-than genius. My focus narrowed in on winning him over, and on making him mine. What I was going to do with him once he was mine I did not consider, but the truth of the matter is, it never usually got that far.
I am a lousy game-player. I am needy, thin-skinned, considerate, and empathetic. I have never had the will to sit on my hands and let him call me if I wanted to talk. When I liked someone, I told them so, and even if I didn't like him, I told him I did, since I have always hated hurting anybody's feelings. I know that I am not the only girl suffering from my inner-marshmallow. For many of us, it is not in our nature to play games, particularly when our hearts are at stake. I have seen many of my beautiful, smart and successful friends fall apart over some dud boyfriend who wouldn't commit.
So I have come up with a few hard-won guidelines for those of us who are not inclined to jousting with the opposite sex. Trust me, if you take an honest look at your situation, you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache.
The First Encounter
Although I am not convinced that love-at-first-sight actually ever happens, the first time you meet a person, you have a first impression of them. Do not underestimate the validity of your first impression. The first time you meet someone, you look at them with fresh eyes. After you have connected with this person, your view is no longer subjective. Emotions get in the way and skew our perceptions.
So, if you see a guy with a beer in each hand, chances are he's a drinker. If this guy is your boyfriend your brain might try to tell you that he is Mr.Straight and Arrow, because that's what he has led you to believe. Think back on your first encounter with your man. Were you attracted to him? Did he seem open, friendly and warm?
Although everyone has made inaccurate assumptions about people before they knew them well, the general sense that you get from a person when you first meet usually gives you a pretty accurate impression of their personality and style.
I've discovered, to my surprise, that I am actually a pretty traditional girl as far as my beliefs about relationships are concerned. In heterosexual relationships, whether it is right or wrong, I think men should be the ones who ask for a date, they should pay for their date, open the door for them etc. I also consider myself a feminist.
But in our culture, men are taught to do these things when they truly like and respect a girl. Watch out for a guy who doesn't even offer to pay for the first date, this guy has no manners! Once we can get past all the game-playing, it is important to be treated respectfully, and to treat your date with kindness and respect in turn.
If a man does not call you within the first two days of meeting you or after a date, he has made a major faux-pas, and the majority of times it is best to forget about him. If you are regularly dating a man, he should make a point to call several times a week to see how you are doing. If he only calls late at night, or when he wants to hook up, he is not a winner.
It is not respectful to call anyone past nine or so at night unless you are truly intimate friends, family, or lovers. If he doesn't call regularly, at reasonable hours, he is not thinking about you or your feelings. It is ok to call a guy after a date to thank him, but if he doesn't call you back after a few days, he is sending a negative message your way. Don't waste your time.
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First Kiss and Hooking Up
Your body is not a commodity! Just because someone buys you dinner, it does not mean you 'owe' them any kind affection in exchange. You may not love your body, but it is the only one you will ever have, and if you respect it, men will respect it too. Don't let your insecurities devalue the worth of your health and well-being.
Physical affection is only love-making when it is mutual. Forget about blue balls, or any other nonsense you have heart about 'leading someone on.' Unless you directly promise someone a sexual favor, you are not responsible for their sexual frustration. A real man, a keeper, will only want to have sex with a woman after he is 100% sure that the feeling is mutual, and he will be intent on pleasing her. Never ever let a man wheedle you into believing it is not necessary to practice safe sex.
Men who are not concerned with your health, are certainly not careful about protecting themselves either. Do not risk your life for someone who cares so little about your health. As for whether or not to kiss on a first date, that is up to you. If you want to, go for it! If you don't, that's perfectly ok too. I will say, however, that sleeping with someone on the first date is a mistake 98% of the time.If this guy is worth it, you will have plenty of time for sex in the future. Sex in my experience is only fun and pleasurable when you trust and know your partner. Most men will lose respect for a women if she sleeps with him on the first date. That's a fact.
Rules of the Relationship
If you have been dating someone for a while and you want to know whether or not he is seriously committed, there are several helpful guidelines that I go by after learning the hard way. First, if he is serious about you, he will have no problem calling you his girlfriend in front of friends or coworkers. Any kind of wishy-washyness on this front is a bad sign. If a cute girl asks him whether or not you are his girlfriend, and he says 'sort-of' or 'we're just dating' than this guy is still keeping his options open and is probably not ready to commit any time soon. If a guy has a serial history of cheating, watch out.
Most likely, he will not change,even for you. If a guy is not willing to say he loves you, he is either a wimp, not ready to commit, or emotionally stunted. If you are in a relationship and your man makes you feel insecure about yourself, anxious, or if he puts you down, watch out! You do not want to spend your life with someone who is not supportive, and who makes you question their feelings for you. You should be comfortable and confident around your man. This next one might sound silly- but its true. If your man's natural odor turns you off, you are not a good match. I am not saying you should roll around in his b.o.
But his natural scent should draw you to him, not away. That is a scientific fact. Last but not least, does your man integrate you into his life? Do you know his family and friends? Does he invite you to his home, his work or his friend's parties? If not, he may not be ready to let you into his world. It is a warning sign if after several months, his family has not even heard of you.
Is He a Keeper?
Fighting and conflict are inevitable, and in moderation, an unavoidable part of any healthy relationship. If you are always fighting however, or if you never, ever fight, your relationship will not evolve, and you cannot continue to deepen your bond. Healthy couples are able to express their anger with each other without damaging the other person, and they are then able to work through their conflict and find some kind of resolution. If conflict never arises, resentment will build. If conflict always arises, but resolution never occurs, resentment will build. Jealousy is another unfortunate, yet unavoidable part of life.
But if you trust your boyfriend, jealousy should not become a true problem. If your boyfriend is overly-jealous of other men, or if he tries to censure or control your behavior, he is not a keeper. Jealous men tend to be dishonest men. They assume you operate on the same level as they do. Watch out! These guys are bad news! One good way to determine whether or not your guy is a keeper is to observe his relationships outside of you.
Is he loyal to his friends? Does he keep friends from when he was younger? Is he respectful to his parents? Is he close with his family? You can find out everything you need to know from watching a man with his family. If he is estranged from his family, and has few friends, the likelihood is that he is not a good candidate for a relationship.
A few guidelines that should never ever be ignored:
- If he hits you, even one time, he is not a keeper. No matter what, you do not deserve any kind of act of violence. It is almost never a fair fight between a man and a women, and a man who hits someone smaller than him is pathetic and should not be forgiven.
- Does he drink a lot? Does he do drugs? If your man drinks or does drugs on a regular basis, he is not adept at coping with his emotions. It is almost impossible to make an alcoholic or an addict stop drinking, even if they love you. But it is impossible to have a healthy, happy relationship with someone who is an active alcoholic or addict. You cannot save these people. No matter how much you love each other, you should not engage in a relationship with someone who is drinks too much or does drugs, unless they are actively seeking recovery.
- Safe sex. If he doesn't want it you don't want him. Trust me.
- Consensual sex. If a guy ever pressures you to do something you don't want to do, head for the hills. This guy is a total loser
So there it is girls. Save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted time, and follow my guidelines. The truth is, in our heart of hearts we know if a guy is a keeper. Sometimes, however, we don't believe we deserve a good man. Well, we do. So stop settling for less, ladies, and start raising the bar.