How Can I Tell Mr. Right From Mr. Wrong?

Dear Neil:  I am in a four month relationship with a man who has proposed to me.  We are both 26.  I want to get married and have a baby, and I am leaning toward accepting his proposal.  But I am getting a lot of flack from my parents and others in my family saying I don’t know him well enough and that I should hold off.  We do love each other, have similar goals in life and enjoy many of the same activities and interests.

Some concerns:  He drinks too much, has sex on the mind all the time, is a nerd and is far more religious than I am.  If any of these are taken too far, they would be a major concern for me—and maybe a deal breaker.

How can I determine if he’s Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong?

Dying to Know in New Zealand

Dear Dying to Know:  Dorothy McCoy, the author of The Manipulative Man (Adams Media) recommends you do the following:  First, make a list of why you choose the man you’re involved with.  Some examples are:  good looking; entertaining; exciting; flattering; charming; sexy; self-confident; fun; great body; great lover.

Now write down the qualities and characteristics you seek in a long-term partner.  Some examples are:

  • Reliable
  • Responsible
  • Good natured and easy going
  • Faithful
  • Intelligent
  • Generous
  • Compassionate
  • Emotionally mature
  • Career oriented
  • Flexible
  • Fair minded
  • Financially responsible
  • Stays in shape
  • Loving
  • Will value me above other things—such as work, friends or sports
  • Trustworthy
  • Communicative and emotionally expressive
  • Acts with integrity, honor and honesty
  • Resilient
  • Strong libido
  • Affectionate
  • Romantic
  • Is genuine and real, not false, artificial or put on
  • Is complementary
  • Not critical
  • Educated
  • Good wage earner
  • Kind
  • Non-defensive
  • Able to resolve angry feelings without losing control
  • Willing to confront problems head on
  • Allows himself to be truly known.  Is not hidden or secretive
  • Is in charge of himself and his behaviors

After you complete the second list, compare the two lists.  The second list has traits and qualities associated with a satisfying long-term relationship.  If your first list is drastically different from your second list—or if you can’t honestly answer whether the criteria in list number two fits your partner—that’s a warning sign to look longer and harder at who you are considering for a long-term relationship.

It can take a lifetime to get to know someone.  And this is all complicated by the fact that some people begin a relationship appearing to be polished, charming, sensitive, sincere, communicative and attentive, only to drop that façade and present a radically different persona once they feel safe with you.

So my best advice is to be pretty certain you know who he really is before you agree to marry him.  Or else you’re at risk of proving the old adage:  Marry in haste, repent in leisure.

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