True love is not just a feeling.
It proves itself with kind, gentle, patient actions in times of difficulty, trouble, and conflict.
At first a new romance makes life seem almost perfect, but eventually the romance fades and irritations, disagreements, and conflicts arise. The partners often become less considerate and more selfish than before. Unfortunately, many women think they have met Mr. Right, then later find out they were horribly wrong. Don’t let this happen to you.
Bad relationships often cause depression and a great deal of the stresses women face today. Many people continue love relationships that are unsatisfying, troublesome, emotionally abusive, or even violent. Unhappy people and those with an unhappy childhood or abusive past experiences are particularly likely to mistake a false love for true love. Many women stay in an unsatisfying relationship to combat loneliness or depression, overcome inferiority feelings, or feel more wanted or attractive.
Staying in any unfulfilling relationship ties up much of your time and deepest emotions. You gradually become accustomed to unhappy situations, making you an easy target for people who will use or abuse you. Your time and emotional energy are better spent developing interests, activities, ways of meeting people, and a true love relationship. Never settle for less in a relationship. Hold out for what you really want.
What Is Love?
First, love is caring about your well-being, happiness, and growth. Love is not just a feeling. True love shows itself in actions. Love is protecting you from emotional or physical pain, helping and strengthening you, and improving your life, without asking to be repaid. Love is considerate, kind, sensitive to your feelings and needs, unselfish, patient, gentle, tender, respectful, and loyal. Love accepts imperfection in you without being irritable or prone to anger.
A boyfriend who loves you takes interest in your activities, feelings, and ideas. He accepts you as you are and believes in you. He expresses affection and gives approval, praise, comfort, encouragement, and moral support. He performs acts of kindness, helpfulness, and service, even when he must sacrifice to do so. Forgiving you also shows love. Love finds the strength to continue loving, supporting, believing in, and helping you even when it becomes difficult to do so. True love proves itself in times of trouble, when difficulties and hostilities mount, with patience and help.
Nobody can act in perfectly loving ways all the time, but any good, satisfying close relationship includes these kinds of caring, considerate, and emotionally supportive behaviors most of the time seven days a week. Any relationship that doesn’t seem on this level for most of the time every day needs serious work that shows improvement over time or needs eliminated. Judge your man by his actions, not by his words. Many men pretend great love just for sex and treat their women badly. Don’t confuse great sex with love. Even selfish, immature, or physically or emotionally abusive men can be great in bed.
More Advice for Judging Him
How do you decide if a boyfriend is good for you or not? Use the list of questions in the box to find out. These questions are very important in judging your relationship. Answering more than a few of these questions negatively indicates serious problems and suggests you should probably end the romance and look for a new romantic partner. Communication is important in any relationship. Beware if you can’t discuss certain issues without anger or upset feelings. This suggests you will never resolve the conflict.
Questions to Judge Your Relationship
- Is your boyfriend often indifferent to your activities, interests, ideas, feelings, or problems?
- Does he compromise in little things, such as where to go or what to do?
- Is he selfish?
- Have you often been very disappointed, hurt, or upset by him?
- Do you often feel manipulated?
- Can he admit to making mistakes and apologize?
- Can he forgive you?
- How does he treat you when:
- He feels angry?
- Things go wrong?
- You have many problems?
- When you feel upset or depressed?
- Does he show patience in anger? Hit walls, throw or break objects, or hurt animals in anger?
- Does he become angry frequently or unnecessarily?
- Is his anger sometimes very intense?
- How does he treat other people when he feels angry?
- Has he threatened, intimidated, or hit you or anyone else?
- Can you spontaneously say what you feel, or do certain topics result in bad feelings or trouble?
- Is he open to your expressing your needs in the relationship, or occasionally unwilling to listen and discuss things?
- Can you discuss and resolve problems and sensitive issues?
- Do you both compromise or does he always dominate and you give in?
- Do you trust him?
- Is he honest and dependable?
- Have there been many lies or deceptions by not telling the whole truth?
- Do you feel comfortable and relaxed when you are together?
- Can you enjoy yourself and have fun?
- Does he show good judgment that considers the future consequences of his actions on both of you?
- Does he have an alcohol or drug problem?
- Do you respect each other’s values and goals?
- Does he bring out the best in you or does he bring out negative things?
- Does this contribute to your problems, such as depression or low self-esteem?
- Are you both proud to be seen together?
Happy people have personal commitments to the virtues: kindness, helpfulness, generosity, sensitivity to others, loyalty, patience, reliability, responsibility, honesty, work, persistence, good judgment, etc. If he is kind, thoughtful, helpful, and patient with you but not with strangers, things may get much worse after the romance fades, the stresses of life lead to frustrations, and conflicts develop. If he has no strong work ethic or no strong commitment to honesty or reliability, the relationship may become very troublesome in the future.
Never meeting his friends and family suggests he is not proud to be seen with you or he doesn’t want you to know much about his past or present. If he doesn’t see you on a steady basis or he has been absent without explanation several times, he may be lying to you and using you only when no other relationship pleases him.
How he behaves in conflicts with other people reveals more about how he will treat you in the years to come than does how he behaves in conflicts with you while dating or during romance. Another sign of trouble is breaking off the relationship one or more times during dating or either person’s seriously considering breaking up. Research shows couples who have broken up or had doubts about the wisdom of getting married divorce more often than do couples who never broke up, nor had any serious doubts about the relationship.
The questions about hitting walls, throwing or breaking objects, hurting animals, frequent or unnecessary anger, very intense anger, threats or intimidation, and hitting concern danger signals that he may eventually become violent towards you. If your boyfriend has ever emotionally brutalized you with chronic insults or criticism, threats, intimidation, temper tantrums, or sexual exploitation, or if he has ever hit or physically hurt you by pushing you, kicking you, or throwing an object at you, get rid of him and begin looking for a new romance. Unfortunately, anger and verbal or physical abuse generally become worse as a relationship continues, increasing in frequency and severity. If he has ever hit you, realize this may happen again and things may get much worse, no matter what he says. Men who commit violence against women are unlikely to stop their violence, even with counseling.
End the relationship, too, if he has problems with alcoholism or drug abuse. These suggest severe problems later on. Wise people end relationships at the first violent or intimidating episode or threat, end relationships with regular yelling or insults, and refuse to become romantically involved with anyone who has an addiction.
Clues to A Man’s Ability to Love
- Can you easily refuse sex when you so desire?
- A virtuous person and those who can truly love, honor the word no.
- Does he have close nonsexual female friends?
- Having these kinds of relationships is a good sign, whereas not having them suggests an inability to truly love.
- How does he feel about women from previous relationships?
- This is an important indicator of things to come.
- How does he treat his parents and family members?
- Men who hate parents or family members, especially their mothers, sisters, or female relatives, or who do not treat them with respect, warmth, kindness, and consideration are likely to make poor mates later on.
- Do his family, coworkers, friends, and neighbors complain about him or report problems?
- Ask them about him.
- If he doesn’t get along well with several of these other people, he may be at fault.
- If he denies having any family, close friends, or coworkers, find out from the police department if he has a criminal history or have a detective check him out more carefully.
Dating and Asserting Your Need
Yelling in anger, avoiding issues, negative labels or insults (such as inconsiderate, mean, or lazy), and regular criticism are important issues. Avoiding issues may involve refusing to discuss them, ignoring, withdrawing, distancing, or giving the silent treatment. If your boyfriend ever does any of these things and won’t work on it enough to show continuous improvement over time, get rid of him. Wise people understand that a person who avoids issues makes a poor partner, so they look elsewhere for someone more willing to work to improve their relationships.
Go slow in romance and sex. Date a variety of people and don’t slip quickly into sex and the dependency of strong emotional involvement. Date any new romantic prospect for months and months before becoming deeply involved, so you can begin to evaluate his selfishness, control of anger when upset, and kindness when disappointed. Trusting a man before he earns that trust is dangerous.
Never marry someone without having known that person for at least one year. Without one year’s acquaintance, you really don’t have enough time to judge how the marriage might go after the initial glow of romance fades. You need at least one year of shared experiences to judge compatibility and evaluate the important issues described here. Don’t count on marriage, an engagement, or living together to improve things or settle a man down. Many men get worse after marriage or a commitment.
Learn to quickly end new relationships that aren’t extremely respectful. Tactfully assert yourself anytime you feel the least bit uncomfortable about treatment you receive. Start with polite requests, then if necessary, repeatedly insist on negotiation and compromise. Use “I feel (an emotion) when (this happened)” statements, but not “I feel you …” or “I feel (an emotion) when you …” statements, which often lead to critical, blaming comments. Define problems in very specific, observable actions (actions, words, tone of voice, and facial expression).
Practice making your needs and desires known, putting forth your opinion, requests, demands, saying no, complaining about treatment you don’t like, and refusing sex when you so desire. Don’t worry about whether you will lose your boyfriend by practicing assertiveness. Losing a selfish boyfriend is much better than risking the nightmare of abuse later on! Never submit to pressure that seems the least bit unfriendly. End the relationship if you regularly find yourself stifling anger, smoothing things over, catering to him to avoid trouble, apologizing despite mistreatment, or receiving unfair blame or criticism. If you don’t do these things, you make it easy for other people to use or abuse you.
Be wary of very jealous men who think you will become unfaithful just because you talk to another man or dance with an old friend. Be wary of men who don’t seem to like your having too many friends, who feel hatred or disgust for women from previous romances or women in their family, or who abuse alcohol or drugs, have spent time in jail, or experienced abuse as children. For your own safety, never fall in love with a troubled man, hoping to change him.
If you have experienced abuse in the past, either as a child or in an adult love relationship, be very cautious in choosing love relationships. Realize that a stable and kind relationship may seem dull compared to a chaotic abusive relationship, with its roller coaster fights and reconciliations. Avoid being extra nice and trying to please when you are angry. Learn to assert yourself in the ways discussed above. Most abused women are unassertive and overly compliant, but many also tend to be overly suspicious. Learn to recognize when slights and disappointments are not deliberate attempts to hurt you.