It's important that you know yourself, your goals, your needs and wants really well before you can find a great relationship that could potentially lead to marriage.
And the best way to determine if your current or future boyfriend is marriage material is to know yourself, create a checklist of what's right for you, and then test him to see if he fits.
In this article, we'll break down what things you need to know about both yourself and him in order to even consider that next step!
Step One: Know There Is a "Mr. Perfect for You" and That You Can Design Him
Are you still waiting for HIM? You know who I mean:
"Mr. Right". The perfect man that will satisfy all your dreams and make your life worth living?
Yeah, that guy. Well, sorry to break it to you like this but …
Prince Charming, riding on a white stallion, lost his way because men hate asking for directions.
Or he found Princess Charming and got married to her on his way to your castle … or, you know, your apartment.
And by the way, even Prince Charming wasn't flawless. I'm pretty sure he left dirty dishes in the sink and never made up the bed.
Anyway, the point is that PERFECT isn't showing up anytime soon.
Truth is … nobody is perfect. No man and no woman. Perfection doesn't exist in people. But don't feel bad if you have been looking for the perfect man.
I did that for a long time, deathly afraid that if I didn't get him exactly right, I'd failed myself, my future kids, the planet, my Mama, and possibly God.
I was wrong. Don't even look for perfect, because the concept of "perfect for YOU" exists instead. You can plan the guy that may not perfect in the world, but is perfect for and fits YOU well.
The perfect-for-you man of your dreams is not hiding under your bed, though. That would be too easy. Can't have that.
Nope, you are going to have to actively design and then look for him. But don't worry, the search can be fun if you want it to be, and the hardest part is done. You now know you won't find perfect, so the pressure is off!
By the way, are you feeling the whole "not pretty enough" thing sometimes too? Wondering "why am I still single" even?
I did too. However, I learned that although I may not completely fit my society's "standard of beauty", I did meet quite a few men's individual standard of beauty … or was at least close enough!
And that's all you really need. So don't worry. "Mr. Close-Enough-To-Perfect-For-You" might be just around the corner … if you'll give him a chance!
You can plan him. Don't do this by default.
I've noticed that we sometimes find ourselves dating or even married by what I call "by default". That means we find a man, decide that he is the best we can do, and latch on without really analyzing him to determine if he's really right for us or our lives.
Don't fall victim to default. This isn't the time for "get in where you fit in". You CAN plan him. When you do your research and work your strategy, you won't have to put up with the losers!
You'll have a way to know whether he's marriage material … or not!
Now that you know that there is no "Mr. Right" or perfect man, the pressure is off, and you can now have fun looking for what I call your "ideal male". You're also aware that dating by default isn't the best way to avoid the pain of being with a dud. And you understand you can take the bull by the horns and decide what you want your ideal guy to look like.
Now it's time to dive into YOU, determine your dating deal breakers, and decide what kind of guy fits you best.
Step Two: Get to Know YOU: Your Goals and Dreams, Needs and Wants, and Deal Breakers
Did you see the first The Matrix ™ movie? Remember that scene where Neo goes to see the Oracle?
He is trying to figure out if he's "the one" – a Messiah of sorts and the man Morpheus is searching for– and thinks the Oracle can help him decide what to do.
Typical of a good mentor, the Oracle makes Neo find his own way. Before putting him out to find his own answers, she points out the plaque above her door that reads nosce te ipsum.
You should know yourself really well before committing to someone else.
Have you ever taken time to really think about what YOU want for your life? I don't mean what you THINK you want – which is usually what others want for you – or what society wants for you – don't get me started on that, but what YOU really, truly, want for yourself?
Why? Well, understanding yourself is the most important thing you can do before getting deeply involved with another person.
I'm not saying you'll do everything perfectly even if you see yourself clearly. Problems can still happen, and you will make mistakes.
But if you pick a mate based on what you learn about yourself, you will have a much better shot at finding compatibility than if you have no idea who you are and just go into this blindly, hoping it will turn out okay.
If you don't know yourself or your needs well, and hook up with someone before finding YOU first, you may end up realizing that the person you are with does not fit you or your life at all, or at least not enough for things to last very long. Relationship compatibility is CRUCIAL.
Being badly matched could be disastrous, especially if you cement yourself to him by having a child or getting married.
Know Your Goals and Dreams … and Stick With Them
When I think about it, I'm so glad to have been born when I was. We've got so many options now that women in my mother's age range and older just didn't have. We now have the tools and the right to decide what we want in terms of a career, marriage, and family just as much as men do.
However, despite having goals and dreams, we sometimes get so caught up in a relationship that our own lives take a backseat. We end up giving up our dreams for relationships and marriage, children and family.
Now, if you have a family with a man that's right for you then maybe these sacrifices are worth it.
However, they are never worth it with the wrong man, so always keep your goals in the front of your mind and don't let the wrong guy take them from you.
So what are your goals and dreams?
Think about the things you want to do with your life. Your goals can be in any category, including career, travel, health, spirituality … anything at all. It's up to you. But to get you started, I suggest you look at these areas.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Do you have a specific career in mind? Is there any special education you want to achieve? Anywhere in particular you want to work? Maybe even start your own business?
What about fun? Have you always wanted to travel? Where to? How long? Don't be modest; anything is possible!
Do you have any specific body or health goals? Want to lose a bit of weight? Gain weight? Gain muscle? Run a marathon?
Do you feel a lack in your spiritual life? Want to attend church more? Study other religions? Memorize a holy book or two? Become a Buddhist? None of the above? Don't forget this is about YOU.
Do you want kids? No kids, but more dogs? A cat or two? A llama? Plan your own family goals!
The point is that these are to be YOUR ambitions and no one else's. Let your imagination have some fun.
Now that you've considered your goals, let's look at what you want and need in a relationship.
Decide on Your Needs / Wants
I hear some of you asking: "wants or needs … what's the difference?"
Well, when I say needs, it's exactly that. Those are characteristics you can't really live without. Wants are nice, but not crucial. You can go on without them if necessary.
I have several friends who are single and looking for a good man. A couple of these ladies wanted to buck the trend of just dating whoever came along.
Instead they really studied themselves and then decided what type of man they want. They began to examine what type of guy complemented them and quickly discovered what they would and would not tolerate in a mate. I suggested they document their needs and wants to decide if the next guy would fit them.
For example, one friend, Josie, decided her ideal guy would know how – and be willing to – cook some of the meals. He had to be thoughtful, emotionally available and like to talk things out after an argument instead of hiding out and pouting.
She also realized she needed him to be on the same page as her spiritually, and that he would have to be an avid church attendee. He also should love and want children like she did.
Clearly, getting involved with a man who had none (or barely any) of these characteristics would result in serious arguments and almost guaranteed problems in Josie's future.
So she wrote her requirements on a checklist, and if potential dates didn't meet her minimum needs, she politely said thanks, but no thanks.
By doing her work up front, Josie was able to avoid a lot of the painful frustrations of dating the wrong guy. She hasn't found the "right one" quite yet, but she's successfully avoided several really wrong ones.
So what are your wants and needs pertaining to him?
Like Josie, do you want him to be spiritual or religious? Look back at your goals list. Does it have any things on it that you want to do and he should match? For example, if your goal is to become a Buddhist, should he already be one, or be open to it?
Should he want kids? Should he want pets? Do you already have a pet and / or or kids and the "children" have to sign off on him?
Next, you will discover that some of your wants / needs will have nothing to do with your goals. They'll be all about his personality traits, which we'll cover in a bit.
Be Aware of Your Deal Breakers
Speaking of wants vs. needs … deal breakers – like needs- are crucial. These are the characteristics you must have – or avoid – for a relationship to work.
A huge deal breaker that I have encountered in my work has been the differing desire for children. If that's you, just be upfront about it.
If he wants kids and you don't, that's okay, but you two aren't compatible. If you want them and he doesn't, then it isn't going to work. Children just aren't something you can compromise on.
Another deal breaker I recommend you consider is ANY type of abuse. Even if it seems "mild" or that he's "just playing", mistreatment is a red flag and it's better to be single than dead. Too many women have ignored the signs and ended up paying with their lives.
Are there other deal breakers on your mind? Then put them on your list.
Now That You've Listed Them, Look for Your Needs, Wants, Dreams and Deal Breakers in HIM
If you're currently dating, does your current guy fit any of the items on your checklist so far?
Remember to be honest about this. Be aware whether you see these attributes because you want to, or if they are really there.
Be honest with yourself, put the emotion aside, and find out who he actually is. Time out for the fantasies and soap operas. This is serious. If he really doesn't fit – even if you really want him to – strike him from consideration. Doing so doesn't mean he isn't a good guy, he's just not the right one for you.
Step Three: Look for Generally Good Traits in Him
Remember I said earlier that you also needed to consider his personality traits too?
Now it's time to look into whether he has good personality traits or whether he shows some relationship red flags you need to steer clear of.
I'll mention my top three desirable traits just to get you started. It's up to you decide whether they are also on your list, or you can do without them. I know I've said this a lot, but your checklist is always yours and should reflect you, not me or anyone else.
Trust. I usually trust close family and friends, but are hesitant to extend it to strangers. It takes a while to gain my trust, and I suggest you do the same when dating.
Have you ever heard the expression "measure twice, cut once?". I think it's mostly for carpenters and woodworkers who want to be sure before making a permanent move. You can always take off a little more, but you can't always put it back.
Keeping that phrase in mind while dating wouldn't hurt. Why?
We have to be careful. A poor choice in a mate can have huge consequences in a woman's life, so we definitely have to measure our men multiple times before committing. One of the ways you should evaluate a man is whether you trust him, so be sure to do that carefully.
To determine whether you can trust your partner, here are a few tips:
* Rely on yourself first. Do you normally make good decisions? Yes? Then trust that you will make the right call.
* Depend on your head and your heart. Look for signs. Is he checking out other women when you're together? Does he hang around with trustworthy people or does he deal with shadies?
* Pay attention to what he is telling you AND showing you and then use that information to help you make informed decisions. Talk is cheap. Watch what he DOES.
* Remember that if you have decided that you are going to trust him, then follow through and trust him! Don't sit and worry at night, wondering what he's doing or if he's being unfaithful.?If you feel you have to do that, then a relationship with this guy just isn't worth the stress.
Trust and honesty go hand in hand, so let's talk about it a bit. Find out if your partner is honest before getting too deeply involved with him.
How do you know if your guy is honest?
Take the initiative.
You must be honest if you're expecting it from your partner. Don't hide things, mislead him, or tell little "white lies" that are so easy to rationalize: it's no big deal if I just hide this small detail, etc.
I know an otherwise really sweet couple who seemed to build their relationship on white lies. I think they were trying to "spare each other" from bad stuff, but it ended up backfiring on them. They didn't outright lie to each other (at least in their minds), but those little lies formed cracks in their relationship that eventually caused it to collapse.
Do your homework.
Find out all you can about your partner.
You don't have to be obsessed, but do your research within reasonable boundaries.
I don't think it's necessary to get the cops involved here, but say if you were introduced by a mutual friend or family member, ask that person about your partner. Are they trustworthy? What are they like in private? Find out those types of things and you'll quickly get an idea of their honesty.
You'd ask for a referral and recommendations for anything else you're considering -from a plumber to a lawyer-why not get more information on a potential mate?
Last, make sure he knows upfront that honesty is an expectation and you won't tolerate anything less.
Have conversations about honesty. Make it clear that you are going to be honest and ask him to do the same. It's funny how many issues in relationships can be worked out through simple communication. Just talk.
If you start your relationship on a good, honest foundation, your chances of success increase greatly over those who choose to be dishonest or shady. And if you inform him upfront that it's expected, here's his chance to leave if he can't handle it.
As with anything else, there is risk involved. If trust is earned and then continues, awesome! But if it gets broken, don't beat yourself up and think you failed. You did everything you could.
We all make mistakes, you're only human. Learn from it, move on, and eventually you'll get it right!
I try to follow "The Golden Rule". I try to treat others as I would like to be treated. I want to be respected, so I try my hardest to respect others. It ain't easy all of the time, but it's worth at least trying!
If you have tried giving plenty of respect to your partner, but are not getting it in return, don't forget that you have the right to fix that problem. Don't just take his lack of respect lying down!
Whether that means talking with him about the lack of respect and asking for changes, or deciding this is not worth your time, make sure you don't allow disrespect to continue too long.
To figure out where you stand, ask yourself these questions:
• Does he respect you? If he demeans, objectifies, or degrades you, you're better off leaving. As the investors say on Shark Tank ™: "I'm out".
• Notice the way he treats you when you don't agree with him. Can you appreciate each other's different views without him getting pissed off?
• Find opportunities to be around his closest friends or family. When with familiar people, he will show his true colors eventually. Is he respectful around them?
• How does his family treat you? If they treat you as their equal, not an inferior, that's a good sign. Hopefully, he learned good things from them.
You also need to be honest with yourself regarding how you view your partner. Do you really value him, too? If you find you don't, you need to rethink your relationship.
Step Four: Tidy Up Your List
This isn't the end, it's just the beginning. Your checklist is always growing and changing along with you, so don't hesitate to add or even delete items that no longer fit you.
The point is that your plan reflect you at all times and if used, will allow you to choose a man who is right for you.