Sometimes you can know from the start that he’s a keeper. It’s always the small things that blow his cover. Here’s how to know if you’re in it for the long road.
He owns a pet
A man who loves a furry pet definitely has a sensitive, 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.”
Owning a pet can often mean 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.”
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 always shows how 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 found that couples with the highest credit ratings were most likely to last. Researchers explain that someone who is good at paying bills it is also 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.
“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 Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of eFlirt, an online dating concierge service, and author of Love @ First Click.
Additionally, you don’t have to ask him about his credit score, you just have to look around his house. “If his desk is cluttered with unpaid bills or second notices, rethink your relationship,” says Doctors Schmitz.
You can talk to him about safe sex
If you can have an open and honest conversation with him about birth control and safe intercourse, that means he’s the kind of man that takes responsibility for his own health and that of others.
“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.”
Moreover, if he doesn’t want to talk about his past partners or take an STD test, he might not be emotionally ready for a new relationship, says Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach on E!’s Famously Single. “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 wants to meet the parents
Some men are paralyzed in fear at the thought of being introduced to the parents. But if a man truly sees you in his future, he’ll be interested in spending 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 enjoys talking to your squad
If he appreciates your friends, respects them and enjoys spending time with them, he’s definitely a keeper. He knows these individuals are important to you, so he shows interest in getting to know them better. That’s because he’s invested in familiarizing himself with various aspects of your life, including your friends. “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 deals with that time of the month
You may be in a bad mood or feel bloated and nauseous at that time of the month. “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.”
However, you shouldn’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.”
Additionally, if he hands you some cramp-relieving meds or gives you an incredible back massage, stick with him because he’s one of the good ones.
He’s not in your nightmares
Dreams can often tell you 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 more present in your bad, weird dreams, like he’s sleeping with your best friend, it’s because your brain may be responding to the distrust that’s in your relationship by putting it into a nightmare. “Don’t undermine how great it is not to feel anxious, uncomfortable or uneasy with the person you’re dating,” Syrtash says.
You’ve been apart and your relationship has thrived
Whether you were forced to live a romance across an ocean for a long period of time or spent a few vacations apart, a successful time away from one another is always revealing. “A healthy relationship is one where you love to be together, but can survive if you’re apart,” says Spira.
You can live your own lives, missing one another across the miles, only seeing each other on Facetime, and still grow together as a couple. “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.
However, 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.
You make future plans
Planning a vacation together next summer? He’s asking you as a plus one at the office Labor Day barbecue? That’s always a good sign showing that 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.