11 Surprising Signs Your Partner is a Keeper
Here's how to know if you're in it for the long haul.
He owns a pet
A man who loves something furry likely has a sensitive, nurturing, and soft side. “Pet ownership implies that he’s caring, giving, responsible, and able to make a long-term commitment,” says Stacey Laura Lloyd, health and relationships writer and coauthor of Is Your Job Making You Fat? How to Lose the Office 15…and More! “He places a great deal of importance on companionship, which is a good sign when it comes to other companions in his life, namely you.” Hey, owning a pet can often be as much work as having a child. “Being a pet owner shows you how your guy acts when he has to put another living thing first,” says Cherie Burbach, author of Art and Faith: Mixed Media Art With a Faith-Filled Message, who specializes in relationships and helping people connect. “Does he do the not-so-fun parts of pet ownership with grace and patience? Does he properly show love and affection? Pets allow our best selves to come out.” Also make sure you’re on the lookout for these early signs your relationship isn’t going to last.
He treats waiters and parking attendants kindly
“There’s an old expression: The true test of someone’s character is how they treat someone who can do absolutely nothing for them,” says relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing). “If your guy treats others nicely, especially those in the service industry, this shows that he is a respectful person,” says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. His behavior toward these people mirrors who he is as a human being, say Charles Schmitz and Elizabeth Schmitz (a.k.a. Doctors Schmitz), love and marriage experts and award-winning authors. “If you have observed him over an extended period of time engaging in acts of kindness and consistently treating others how you would want to be treated, that is an excellent indicator that he is a keeper,” they say.
He has good credit
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors (sounds like a bunch of lovebirds, right?) found that couples with the highest credit ratings were most likely to stay together. Researchers speculate that someone who is good at paying bills translates into a reliable partner. “Unless he’s explained unforeseeable circumstances that don’t seem like just excuses, assume that his lack of good credit may indicate a need for growth,” says Jim Walkup, Doctorate of Ministry, a licensed marriage counselor who practices in New York City and White Plains, New York. Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of eFlirt, an online dating concierge service, and author of Love @ First Click, says that good credit speaks volumes about how your mate will handle himself when issues arise in your relationship. “When things get challenging—either financially or emotionally—he’s more likely to be able to handle it if he’s been ‘adulting’ for a while now,” she says. Uncomfortable asking him his credit score? Look around his house. “If his desk is cluttered with unpaid bills or second notices, rethink your relationship,” say Doctors Schmitz. Here are some tips to stop arguing about money with your partner.
You talk about safe sex
If the two of you can have an open and honest conversation about birth control and safe intercourse, that means he takes responsibility for his own health and that of others. You should also be able to tell him if sex is painful. “Good communication is the cornerstone of all relationships,” says Neely Steinberg, a dating coach and personal image consultant. “So if he’s willing to engage in a conversation about what some might consider a difficult or awkward subject, then it’s a good sign he’ll be able to talk about other issues that will come up in the relationship.” If he won’t talk about his past partners or take an STD test, he might not be emotionally ready to get more physical, says Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach on E!’s Famously Single. And that’s a problem since it’s crucial that you’re comfortable enough with one another to talk about sex before you have it. “It’s not something that should carry any amount of insecurity,” says House. “We’re talking about your health, your future, your life. Literally.”
He’s eager to meet the parents
Some men are paralyzed in fear at the thought of being introduced to the parents, especially if you’ve given them a bad rap. But if he sees you in his future, he’ll show a genuine interest and enthusiasm to want to get to know and spend time with your family. “He’s signaling that he cares about those close to you, that he wants to make a good impression with people who are important in your life, and that he’s eager to get to know the people who created and shaped you,” says Steinberg. “When your partner places a priority on meeting your parents, he’s also placing a priority on your relationship,” says Lloyd. “His desire to meet your parents implies that he’s thinking about a lasting connection with you and is interested in strengthening the bond that the two of you share.”
He talks to your squad
He appreciates your friends (especially those the same sex as you) and respects them as people who are full of interesting thoughts. He knows these individuals are an important part of your life and wants to get to know them better. That’s because he’s invested in familiarizing himself with various aspects of your life, including your buddies. “He is excited to learn all about you that he can, including the friends who surround yourself with,” House says. “When he is with your friends, he makes an effort to make conversation, find things that they have in common, engage them and get to know them. Because he cares.”
He’s not in your nightmares
Think about your dreams. The subconscious mind can offer meaning about what’s happening in your life. “If your boyfriend shows up in your dreams, pay attention to whether it feels positive or negative,” says Feuerman. If he’s in weird ones—like he’s sleeping with your bestie—your brain may be responding to the distrust that’s in your relationship by putting it into a nightmare. The same goes for couple sleeping positions—they can reflect your relationship in ways you don’t even realize. But when you’re in a healthy, drama-free relationship, you likely won’t have such negative dreams about your partner. “Don’t undermine how great it is not to feel anxious, uncomfortable or uneasy with the person you’re dating,” Syrtash says. Here are some other signs you could be in a toxic relationship.
He deals with that time of the month
You may be in a foul mood or feel bloated and nauseous at that time of the month. And your period may put a short-term dent in your sex life. “His openness to accepting what you’re going through signals how he will deal with ups and downs for the rest of your life together,” says Dr. Walkup. “If he takes it personally, pouts, or comes across as unsympathetic, you’re getting clear warning signs.” Don’t expect him to know exactly what to do when you’re PMSing. “A guy with a good sense of humor will give you a temporary pass for insane behavior,” says Julie Spira, an online dating expert, CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert and author of the bestseller The Perils of Cyber-Dating. “A keeper will know that the time will pass.” So, if he hands you some cramp-relieving meds or gives your aching back a massage when you have your period (and maybe even offers to pick up a box of tampons if you’ve run out!), stick with him.
He’s not Jekyll and Hyde
Your man doesn’t have multiple personalities. He doesn’t act one way in front of your parents, another when your friends are around, and yet another in front of you. “Pay attention to inconsistent behavior or moods,” says Feuerman. “If he treats you great in front of others but is a complete jerk in private, or has serious mood swings, this isn’t someone you want to stay with.” Rather, your partner is always consistent, a good indication that he’ll be the same person years from now. “If you recognize your partner to be pretty much the same person seven days a week, it’s a sign he’s a keeper,” says Spira. “If he’s kind one day and out of control the next on a consistent basis, it might be time to take a pass.”
You’ve been apart and your relationship has thrived
Whether you weathered a romance across an ocean for a year or spent a few vacations apart, a successful time away from one another is revealing. “A healthy relationship is one where you love to be together, but can survive if you’re apart,” says Spira. You can live you own lives, missing one another across the miles, and still grow as a couple. See if you can stay connected through Skype, FaceTime, emails, calls, or texts. “If he seems not to want to maintain contact, then he may turn to someone who’s near, and this could be a style later on that turns into an extramarital affair,” says Dr. Walkup. But also remember, it’s ok if he isn’t in touch constantly and is giving you some space. “If he isn’t texting you 24/7, but wants you to have a good time, you’ll know he cares more about your happiness than in controlling you and your calendar,” says Spira. Here are tips for staying connected to your partner when you have to be apart.
You make future plans
Planning a vacation together next summer? Being his plus-one at the office Labor Day barbecue? That’s a good sign he’s in it for the long haul. “If he invites you to his nephew’s birthday party in three months or a wedding in six months, that means he plans to be with you by the time those events come up,” says Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach of EZ Dating Coach. Next, check out these surprising secrets of happily married couples.