How do you tell if you’re compatible with someone? At Get The Guy we often give the advice “never, ever, ever, ever, ever settle”, but what does that really mean? How do you know what your standards are? And beyond that, if a guy has met them?
In this week’s article, Steve poses 9 probing questions to see if your guy is right for you. If you’re currently unsure about the guy you’re with, this can be used as an incredibly powerful reflective tool. Enjoy!
(Photo: Quinn Dombrowski)
Should you always stick to your standards?
Do you even know when a guy is violating your standards?
The idea of ‘sticking to your standards’ is common advice in relationships, and Matt and myself have championed it many times on this blog.
I’m always afraid, however, that people could get the wrong message.
It’s easy for us to say: If he doesn’t meet your standards, then walk away.
But the story of any good relationship is more complex than that. Relationships are full of pros and cons. Sometimes a guy will do one or two things you can’t stand, but at the same time he’ll do things that make him irreplaceable and make you want to hold him tight forever.
People think when we talk about standards, we mean: Don’t settle for anything less than perfect. But that would be crazy. Anyone could see that such a formula would be disastrous, if by perfect we mean ‘someone who will make me happy ALL the time, believe exactly what I believe, and do what I would do in every situation’.
Anyone who has been in a serious relationship knows that relationships are not about eliminating conflict, but about managing it.
How do you decide then, whether your partner is meeting the standards of the person you should be with in the long-term? What if you’re not really sure what standards you should take on right now?
9 Easy Questions To Test Whether Your Partner Meets Your Standards
There are unconscious standards we have for every area of our lives.
Some of the areas that affect our relationships are our standards for Lifestyle, Friendship, Generosity, Closeness, Sexual/Physical Affection, Loyalty, Health, Work, and Family.
I want to target these nine areas now and lay out a general diagnostic approach for figuring out how to apply these standards in the form of some simple “Yes” or “No” questions.
In any great relationship you’ll be able to say YES to at least eighty percent of these.
If on the other hand, you’re answering NO to more than half of them, then you are probably looking at a partnership that is going to crumble in the long-term.
This is a pet theory – so it’s not exactly (or in any sense) scientific.
But these nine questions are meant to highlight general areas of dissatisfaction – and your answers will help pinpoint potential problems that are a common source of conflict for you. If you’re single right now use them to acquire greater understanding of the standards you should look for in a potential partner when you meet one:
Question 1: Do I like the way my partner chooses to spend their free time? (Lifestyle)
Believe it or not, this matters.
Not because it’s your business to know every single minute of how your partner spends his day, but because a good deal of his free time is going to be spent with you. That means if his idea of a relaxing Saturday is to go to a sports bar and get drunk on a weekly basis, or sit home and play Xbox all weekend, when all you want to do is read books and go to the gym, after a while this conflict will grate on you (or him).
The point is: Your lifestyles don’t have to be the same, but they do have to be compatible.
If either of you feels like spending time with the other person means constantly doing things you don’t want to do, that’s going to build resentment pretty quickly.
Question 2: Does my partner have a healthy way of communicating a problem in our relationship? Does he ever show signs of remorse for bad/unreasonable behaviour? (Friendship/Communication)
Arguments are fine, and many studies have shown them to be a sign of a healthy relationship.
Too many arguments though mean either you or your partner probably have an unreasonable way of communicating problems. Moreover, when you do argue, notice how your partner approaches conflict. Does he fight dirty and call you names? Does he get furious and become impossible to reason with? Does he just run away and ignore the problem?
All of these are big warning signs. Look instead for the guy who wants to understand your point of view, even if he disagrees or finds that view ridiculous. Find the partner who is naturally inclined towards teamwork, and you won’t feel like you are having to solve every difficulty alone.
Also, when tensions have finally been quelled, see if your partner (a) shows signs of wanting to make amends and (b) is willing to admit some fault.
If he never does either, be very very wary.
Question 3: Does he ever do something just to please you and not also himself? (Generosity)
One great sign of investment is willingness to put himself out. If he can give you a gift, or spend time on something that is meaningful to you, or go out of his way to help you with your work, that’s a huge positive.
But if he only ever does things for you when it benefits him, re-consider how much he values generosity.
Question 4: Does he show signs that he has thought about ways to make your relationship better/stronger/closer in some way? Is he interested in understanding you better? (Closeness)
People who value a relationship want to make it better and better. This can be in the tiniest ways, like simply trying to learn more about what interests you, or trying to involve himself in your life.
Both of these are great signs that a guy has the standard of closeness.
Another thing to look for is any inclination that your partner wants to help you succeed as an individual – not in the sense of pointing out your flaws – but in wanting you to achieve your potential.
Question 5: Do you feel a unique sexual attraction to your partner? Do you regularly feel unsatisfied sexually by him, or feel a lack of physical intimacy? (Sexual/ Physical Affection)
You need similar standards for intimacy. I once went out with a girl who couldn’t bear the idea of holding hands in public and it immediately made me uneasy – I realised right at that moment that we had radically different views on physical affection.
Touching, kissing, hugging, or having sex – choose someone who wants them as frequently (or infrequently) as you do.
But what if you just have different sex drives?
If they’re radically different, someone will be unhappy. But small differences can be made up for by two people who want to please each other and understand how they can make the other happy sexually.
Most minor imbalances can be solved if both partners value teamwork and want to please each other.
Question 6: Is your partner proud to be with you, and do they defend you when you need defending? (Loyalty)
A guy can take time to introduce you to his friends, but once he does, he should support and defend you, and should want to involve you in other parts of his life.
Question 7: Does your partner value their vitality and exercise as much as you do? (Health)
It’s exhausting to deal with someone who doesn’t care about their health as much as you do. If you can encourage and inspire them to adopt a better standard, all the better. If they’re not interested and would rather stick pins in their eyes than see the inside of a gym, it’s a long struggle ahead.
This doesn’t mean you if you’re a hardcore vegan you should enforce your precise standards for eating with your partner. It just means having someone who, like you, values health, even if their methods are different.
Question 8: Do you and your partner value drive and ambition similarly? (Work)
You don’t need the same level of success, but you do need to both have a compatible approach to work. It’s hard enough keeping yourself motivated and driven, let alone trying to do it with a partner who doesn’t see why you bother working so hard.
Remember though that two people can be ambitious in different ways. Not everyone needs to be a hotshot, and very often there are people who are better supporters than they are leaders, and that’s what makes them work well together, just like in a company.
But if one person ‘values’ ambition and the other doesn’t, it will be an issue later on. (Trust me on this one).
Question 9: Do you value being close to family? (Family)
You don’t both have to be close to your actual families (since many people may have very good and healthy reasons for not being close to their parents), but you do need to share a similar love and fulfillment from family life.
This may just be indicated by his desire to create his own family, or in him looking out for your parents or siblings in small ways.
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The questions above are by no means exhaustive, but just listed for reference as something to think about when approaching a long-term relationship.
Some will be easily met by your partner. Others you’ll have to work on. In a future post I’ll address how to deal with a partner if you want them to be better at meeting certain standards.
If your guy currently falls short of these, and you think you can at least educate him on how to better meet some of your standards, then go by all means go nuts. Some guys just need to know what your standards are so they can strive to meet them.
But as I said earlier, if he fails on 4 or 5 of these, then forget about it – changing someone else’s fundamental outlook is hard work, and you’ll save time by just looking for someone else who shares more of your standards already.
As ever, the best thing you can do is be honest with yourself early on and choose your partner well to begin with. It will save you a thousand arguments in years to come.
Or you can always try to perform a reverse Eliza Dolittle – just take a lazy, selfish, stingy, flakey guy with no prospects or values, make him your full-time project and tell your friends you’re going to ‘change’ him. Good luck with that.
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