If you are thinking of making a commitment in a relationship, take a road trip. The drive should last at least six hours. Any less, and you and your intended can still pretend to be nice people. If you really want to test it out, take a pet or a small child, and try to find the worst traffic patterns or weather available. If, after the end of your drive, you can still look at the other person and smile with sincerity, that relationship is a keeper. Otherwise? Move on. My husband, son and I have just returned from another of our semi-spontaneous road trips. I haven’t stopped smiling yet. (You could accomplish the same thing in an airport, but that’s drastic. B and I have even managed to have fun in airports, with an infant. It’s true love.)
I met my husband on New Year’s Eve, 2001. By New Year’s Day, 2002, I had a crush on him. We were dating by January 24, and got married exactly two years from that first date. Now, I had dated a string of decent fellows and losers, and everyone knows what not to look for in a man, so I’m going to tell you some of the things B did right.
He was nice to waiters.
Always watch how someone treats the staff. If he or she is rude, demeaning, or superior to those serving him or her, that person is not worth your time. If you are the one being rude, check your attitude, honey. It ain’t easy slinging hash for a living. I’ve done it (at Denny’s even!), and nearly every member of my family has done it. That young man you’re giving a hard time might be my nephew, which means you don’t want me to know about it. Capiche?
He was good to his parents, and good to mine.
Watch how a person treats their parents. I met B’s family about a month into dating him, after the memorial service for his grandmother. That’s a great story, actually. He called and asked me if I could join them for dinner at the club. As much as I wish I had grown up as a debutante, I was working at Denny’s (see above) when my classmates were having their coming out parties. Thus and so, I had never been to the club. I was panicked. Meeting the parents? At the club? What would I wear?
I worried about what to wear for three days, finally buying this beautiful dress on my lunch hour the day of, and on my way back to work, my car broke down. I got towed into the dealership, where I promptly fell down the stairs, scraping the hide off my legs from the top of my feet all the way up to my knees. My first thought, “Now what am I going to wear?!”
When I met B’s parents and one of his Uncle/Aunt combos, I was really warmed by how he interacted with them. He was comfortable. He was at ease. He seemed to genuinely like them, and they liked him.
Not every family works that way. You couldn’t get my whole family in a room together if I was getting married–that is, I wouldn’t let them in a room together. I’m not stupid. If you are with someone whose relationships are strained, just look to see that they are treating the situation with respect. But do watch. The way people treat their families is the way you can expect to be treated, should you become their family.
He didn’t sweat the small stuff
I grew up in a family full of hotheads. Tempers flaring everywhere. Mountains made out of every molehill. That was how I expected a man to act. The man I almost married acted that way. The man I did marry? Nah. He saves his temper for when it is necessary, and waves off the rest. Crying over spilled milk? Never. He just gets it cleaned up.
Really pay attention to that temper. Is this someone who is going to lose it and backhand you into next Tuesday? Is this someone who is going to meltdown at the first sign of a problem? Or is this someone who can handle his or her emotions? If he OR she is a hitter, get off the boat.
He had good friends, who were good people, and he treated my friends well.
I’ll tell you what, B’s group of friends are some of the best men I know. I mean that. These are good guys and are exactly the kinds of men you always want to fix up with your really great girlfriends–the kinds of guys you don’t think exist outside of television and movies. Seriously. There is a Ross, a Ted, a Marshall, a Leonard, a Chuck…you get the picture.
The NYE party where I met B, was thrown by one of his friends. Another of his friends was dating (and later married) Renae. Our two friend groups mixed up well enough to travel together, and mix and match for parties and gatherings.
Your friend group says a lot about you. B’s friend group said he was Captain Awesome.
All that stuff makes a difference when you’re living with someone 24/7, and know you’ve got 60 or 70 more years ahead of you. We’re all human, and we all do idiotic things to each other now and then. If we’re partnered with good people, we’ll be better people in how we act and handle their humanity. B’s got his work cut out for him, living with me. Oh, I’m a good catch, but I’m also kind of a brat. I try to make it worth his while.
I hope all of you who want them, find your Mr. and Ms. Rights. I certainly enjoy mine.