2 Tests to Determine if He’s Worthy Of Being Your Boyfriend

Paulina is in her early 50’s – thin, blond, whip-smart, and sophisticated. She worked with me last year and came back once she found a promising relationship.

She lives in Boston. Matthew lives in Atlanta. They met online and emailed regularly. Emails turned into phone conversations. Phone conversations turned into flirtation.

A few months later, they got together for a romantic weekend.

And ever since – surprise, surprise – he’s been a little bit emotionally distant.

Oh, he still calls and texts every day – little things like “how was your day?” or “I’m really tired” – but the spark is long gone.

Matthew no longer compliments Paulina. He no longer flirts with her. He mostly talks to her on the phone and complains about his life.

Most importantly, Matthew hasn’t made any overtures to see Paulina since their first meeting.

Distraught, Paulina is desperately trying to figure out how to rekindle their relationship.

Wait. Hold your thoughts.

When we talked about things, I learned that Matthew is a kind, attentive man, but he’s a bit socially awkward. He says things without thinking. Mostly clueless, selfish things, somewhat like a 12-year-old boy.

As a result, Paulina spends most of her relationship wondering why things can’t be better, easier, more fun, more supportive. Why can’t they be the way they were in the first couple of months, she asks?

My answer: Who F-ing Cares?!

As Paulina tells me her story, I get mad myself. Mad because of the way she’s being treated. Mad because she is perfectly willing to ignore it. Mad because she’s not mad at all. She’s just sad. Lonely. Confused.

In short order, I asked Paulina to do three things:

o Tell me what she likes about Matthew. All I heard was negative stuff so far. I wanted to know what I was missing. Paulina thought for a second and said, “He’s simple. He can be sweet. And he does call or text me multiple times a day.”

o Tell me what she loses if she cuts Matthew out of her life immediately. After a bit of deliberation, she concluded that she loses two things:

His daily calls and texts, mostly boring chatter about his life.

Don’t mistake phone calls for dates. A man who wants to be your boyfriend MAKES PLANS to see you IMMEDIATELY.

The fantasy that this once-promising relationship would work out.

Not surprisingly, Paulina was having far more trouble losing her fantasy than the texts.

The third thing I asked Paulina to do when we got off the phone?

Dump him. Because Matthew was failing not one, but BOTH long-term boyfriend tests.

Test 1: Is this fun? Is this easy? Do I enjoy the relationship? Am I happy?

Big fat NO. It doesn’t matter if there was attraction and flirtation three months ago; right NOW, Paulina is Matthew’s emotional booty call. He keeps in touch with her regularly to have a female presence in his life, but conversations aren’t fun, lively, playful, or even interesting. What is SHE getting out of this relationship? Nothing.

Test 2: Is he making an effort?

Big fat NO. Don’t mistake phone calls for dates. Paulina is Matthew’s pen pal. A man who wants to be your boyfriend MAKES PLANS to see you IMMEDIATELY. What are you doing tomorrow? The next day? The following weekend? For Thanksgiving?

That’s what we do when we want a relationship. Anything less, you’re settling for crumbs.

So if you look at your current relationship and find yourself in inner turmoil, chances are there are one of two things wrong:

1) You really don’t like the guy that much. You like the IDEA of the guy, but you don’t actually have a fun, supportive, easygoing partner in life.

2) He’s making no effort to see you, commit to you, or grow your relationship.

Either one is grounds for dumping. If this applies to you, get started now.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    JD

    Agreed – if it’s not easy it’s not working.  I was seeing a guy for a few months and in the beginning, it was easy.  At that time, I wasn’t sure how much I liked him.  When I finally decided he was worth spending some time with after a few dates, suddenly things became work.  I don’t know if he sensed a change – I didn’t feel I had changed my communications with him.  After communication seemed like work I simply said he didn’t seem interested.  He claimed differently so I gave him more chances.  But it still seemed like work on my part and I would be upset when he didn’t communicate so I said his lack of communication made me feel like I didn’t matter to him.  My instincts were right – he said he guessed things weren’t working then (all by texts/emails, not even phone calls) and we should be friends.  I wasn’t surprised by his response and certainly if it upset me so that he didn’t communicate (I was looking for every other day at least, instead of once a week or so) then it certainly wasn’t working.  He was not worth the effort!

  2. 2
    Greta

    I love this post because it makes everything just that simple. 
    I was hung up on someone a couple of years ago who definitely did not meet Test #2.  Looking back, I know that I was guilty of Wrong thing#1. 
    I liked the idea of him, but he’d done nothing to see me regularly, commit to me or move things forward.  Sure, he wanted to call every day and talk to me about his life, but when it came to making plans, it was more for him to handle.  Mistook chemistry for more.
    Fast-forward to now.  I met a guy in November whom I wasn’t sure about.  There wasn’t instant chemistry, but I liked him.  Since then he has done everything right and nearly according to Evan’s script.  I was ready to bolt a few times early on but hung in there because I kept hearing Evan’s advice about watching what he does, choosing the guy who WANTS to be with me.
    Now, I find myself in a relationship with a guy who, so far, is still doing everything right, making an effort, wants to see me, and genuinely makes me feel that he cares about me and what is going on in my life. 
    Thanks Evan for this post.  It’s great advice for someone in a bad relationship, and a great affirmation for those of us on the right track but feeling a little unsure.  Cheers!

  3. 3
    CAgoldngirl

    Thank you for putting it in perspective for me. My situation is out of the norm, I am in a May-December relationship, with a man who is 27 years my senior, I am 31 (I’ve read your other articles on this topic as well). He just retired from work. He was married once before about 20 years ago, but divorced after 5 tumultous years, ever since then he has just dated women, some have taken advantage of him, even stolen from him, some have just been casual flings, the relationship before me was something he thought was it for him, it lasted a couple years ad was with a woman his age, but she ended up kicking him to the curb as well. Then I come along, we start spending time together, I fall in love with him and he says he is in love with me, but I see no effort on his part, at least not as much as I am puttig in on my part. I spend the weekend with him and we do things together then, but then I leave Wednesday morning, go to work and if I didn’t make the effort to call or text him throughout the week, I really don’t think I would hear from him at all. He tells me he does think about me when I am not with him, he just doesn’t take the extra step to call me ust to talk to me. Am I asking too much to want to hear from him during the week as well? Or even see him? Why am I just relegated to only the weekends? If you love me, or better yet are in love with me, don’t you want to see me always, as I do with you? I don’t know if I attribute it to him just being single for so long that he just doesn’t know how to keep in touch with someone or if it’s because he doesn’t know how to have a relationship, or if his heart just isn’t in it. I’ve asked him if he wants this relationship and he is adamant that he does, but I require a lot more love, affection and attention than just a weekends worth. A friend told me to not contact him, let him come to me, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Another friend has told me we have to “teach” them (men) on what we want. I hate having to play games like that to make someone “see” something though, it should be innate, natural within them.

    1. 3.1
      trutwy

      Your story sounds so parallel to my story. I was just wondering what his ethnicity is and type of work.

    2. 3.2
      Anie

      You are 31 years old!!! He is a senior citizen compared to you. You didn’t like him to begin with.  He is not on your level. Don’t force yourself to settle for this man. There’s a reason he was put to the curb. All you are doing is feeding his waning ego. He is insecure and probably playing the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ game on you! Because that’a all he thinks he can do to attract women. Nobody wants a burden. Move on. You will regret it later when he’s having you as his house maid.  You are teaching him that if he keeps ignoring you, he can get more and more out of you. One day you will wake up and resent him. By that time he’ll be a geriatric patient. And you may be a childless middle age woman. If you want marriage and a family. RUN! These type of men are very selfish. 

  4. 4
    Kathleen

    Great article!!!!  Ive posted the 2 test questions on my wall  Very clear and concise. 
    Intuitively when a guy doesn’t attempt to see me very quickly Ive sensed that wasn’t right Glad to see that so concisely here! 
    Love the articles!!

  5. 5
    Betsey

    With all of the situations described here I’d say that it’s OK to accept the man on his terms. As in, being phone buddies, the sometime girlfriend, the stopgap in his life. As long as you recognize that that’s what it is and continue to pursue what you want, being open to other guys who might be a better fit. Because it doesn’t seem to me like there’s anything to dump here. You don’t have to pick up the phone when he calls if you don’t like listening to him go on and on about himself–you’re choosing to do that. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have male friends who aren’t into being lovers with you. Unless you don’t like him on any level, in which case you wouldn’t want him even if he were really into it, right?

  6. 6
    K

    @JD your story certainly resonates with me.  I was in the exact situation a few months ago except he didn’t even bother to tell me we were done in any form.  I too was unsure for a few months and he put a lot of effort in and I grew to like him.  Then it all stopped.  Eventually when I brought it up suggesting that if it didn’t feel easy/natural anymore we could certainly stop trying or be friends.  He insisted he still wanted to get to know me better and spend time with me and we both agreed that as adults we could be honest with each other and not play games. And then poof.  I should have realized in the last month he wasn’t making any effort to spend time with me and it didn’t matter how it all started.  Definitely bookmarking this one.

  7. 7
    Maya

    Wow, Evan… you keep surprising me. Nice article. :)
    This can happen with someone, who lives next door. Wants to see you every day. Calls you every day. Claims he needs you. When you meet, he dumps his daily crap on you and really doesn’t ask , how your day has been…
    God Bless you.

  8. 8
    Blondie

    to CAgoldngirl, as a 64 year old lady speaking from my age compared to yours, please be aware of some health issues he may have at his age. I met the most wonderful man several years ago, we were just perfect for each other but … he has a serious medical condition and normal sex relations are not possible for him without causing some fairly nasty side effects, as I found out. It wasn’t a good experience for either of us, in fact it was quite upsetting all round as we liked each other very much.

    I met a nice guy my own age several months ago who IS interested in a relationship. He is doing all the work, asking me out again before our date is over and has also asked me if I will go with him to 2 family weddings coming up in the next 2 months. I’m following Evan’s good advice and it’s working. There doesn’t seem to be lots of chemistry but I’m looking at him with a different attitude, he’s a real nice guy and he’s interested in me.  
     
    I’m not saying your guy is in the same boat but 27 is a big age gap and 10 years down the track he is going to be a lot older (and a pensioner) and you’re still going to be a young, sexy, energetic woman of 41.
    Sometimes these May/December relationships work out but think again of the long run. Do you want to have kids with a partner who wants the same, be able to do things together with a partner for the rest of your lives?
    From what you have said your guy just doesn’t seem too keen in escalating the relationship, that should tell you something.
    Only you know what is really going on with your guy but I think you would be better moving on and finding a guy who wants a relationship, kids and a life with you.

  9. 9
    Kathleen

    Betsey I don’t think this article was designed to say its a bad thing to maintain male friendships  Its about qualifying a guy to see if he’s worth the emotional investment if your goal is to have a boyfriend . What I like about the simple test questions are if you answer honestly it will save you heartache,  angst and time. So dump him if he fails and if you were wrong he would come back after you anyway. 
     

  10. 10
    Mujerfeliz

    I´ve been into that situation so many times, but I think I finally learned the lesson for the way I got over my last “attempt”: 
    I met this guy online, he was divorced for 1.5 years and he insisted he was ready for a new and stable relationship. 
    I wasn´t sure he was my “type” physically, but his way to reach me out (many texts every day, one daily phone call and 2 hours of MSN conversations), was convincing me the guy was really into me. 
    We met, I didn´t feel a strong physical attraction (I was expecting that, because by the pictures I wasn´t sure he was the kind of man I like ) but I was comfortable enough with him for wanting to see him again and to see where things could go.  
    The guy was all over me for around 3 weeks, the same level of contact, and plans to see me at least twice a week (I was still a bit worried on the physical part, because I´m a very sensual  person, and after 5 dates, I still wasn´t too motivated to spontaneously kiss him or touch him).   One night I invited him to have dinner  at home, I made an incredible recipe,  I dressed myself as if we were to go out, we danced and had wine.   There was no sex that night, but enough intimacy to made me feel things could be on the right direction after that. 
    Guess what?… After that date, the guy vanished the whole next day, to the point I was getting  really worried, I waited patiently (not really) for his call but at 8pm I was concerned enough to call him, when we talked, he said he thought he was getting a cold and had spent the whole day in bed.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt although he was perfectly fine the night before.   
    The next day after that? the fluent contact was over.  One daily call, no more text and MSN conversations.. after a few days like that, and a very cold date in the middle of the week, I told him I thought things were going nowhere and his answer was:  “I don´t want to hurt you, because I feel I´m not really ready for the kind of relationship you want”… WTH?… I even wasn´t into him at the beginning.. and “he didn´t want to hurt me?” … give me a break!!.    After that comment I stopped taking the iniciative for any kind of contact, and one day he just didn´t appear anymore. 
    Do you know what?… I´m better without him, because I´m sure that if I had accepted his “new” way to reach me out, or just had had sex with him, today I would had feel like crap. 
    Thanks Evan, your advices regarding relationships are finally getting imprinted in my brain, and I´m taking the right decisions and not wasting my time anymore.  
     

  11. 11
    Dawn

    Haha…seems so very simple. If we aren’t having fun, what’s the point? So why do we make things so complicated. With all the single people out there…odds are in our favor that something better will come along.
     
     

  12. 12
    Spiral

    Wise and succinct, as always, Evan. I wish you were my big brother.  :)

  13. 13
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach for Women Over 40

    Evan – you are so awesome! You have such a way of making things simple – and they really are, once you step back and look as an uninvolved observer. I talk about this with my clients all the time. Your questions where truly masterful!

  14. 14
    Sherel

    I think sometimes women get too emotionally vested and focus on the destination rather then the journey.    If you meet someone kick back and just see if you can have fun initially.  Don’t stop living you life just make  room to see how it goes.  If it’s no fun don’t bother.  I think mentally women are saying well he seems like he fits my type to be marry. Without really seeing if there is a real connection.  If not, NEXT!!!!  Don’t waste time. If it don’t fit don’t force it!

  15. 15
    Cindy

    Wow! I had to read this twice because it’s soo true and everything you’ve said is exactly the guy I’m seeing. I have been seeing him for 3months, in the start things were great and effortless to make plans, communicate and it was fun spending time with him.

    In the past month I have only seen him twice, so pathetic, he hardly makes effort to see me, but he still keeps in contact thru txt. Ive realized
    now that I’m wasting my time with someone that’s keeping me at arms length when I want
    something more and a relationship. I’ve now decided to not see him anymore. I want to say to anyone reading this- if your in a position like this then leave!

  16. 16
    Ilona

    LOL YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!  This is a perfect test and I really needed to hear this.  

    I wish we could clone you.

  17. 17
    Sari

    Done and done.

  18. 18
    Betsey

    Kathleen 9: My point is that men aren’t just “boyfriends” or “potential boyfriends,” good or bad. They’re people–more than just the role we want to cast them in. So if she likes him and has an emotional connection with him, does she have to dump him completely just because he isn’t boyfriend material for her and her “relationship goal” is to have a boyfriend? 

    I would put it this way: So he failed the boyfriend test. No surprise there–he never was her boyfriend and never said that he wanted to fill that role in her life. Maybe he likes making friends with people and has fleeting flirtations and casual sexual relationships. She’s not into that. OK, we get it. But if she likes him and gets something out of their ongoing communications, she can take it for what it offers, even if it isn’t a boyfriend relationship. 

    If you’re only open to men who will be your “boyfriend” then you aren’t open to men. So you can’t complain if, true to their gender stereotype, men are only open to you if you have sex with them.  

  19. 19
    Lara

    Betsy@18: At work we call what you’re talking about ‘managing expectations.’ Sometimes we have to tell our clients that what they’re asking for isn’t feasible and we have to tell them what is feasible. When we explain they’re usually OK with it because most people are satisfied with getting what they expect, even if it isn’t everything they want. True, people still want everything they want, but if you tell them truthfully ‘not here, not today’ and explain why, they aren’t going to be upset. If they want to move on, they are free to do so. 

    I do think that women’s expectations of men are usually pretty unrealistic. The reality is that most men out there aren’t interested in our emotional lives (the reason we seek them out, though god knows why), and most men don’t want to be our boyfriends or to marry us. A lot of guys will seek us out for all sorts of other reasons, though, and one of the main ones is to have sex. But we get it backwards–we always think that a man is interested in us for emotional/relationship reasons when chances are pretty high that he’s interested in us for some other reason (and no, not nec sex). If we change our expectations and get real, understanding that most guys are interested in us for something other than emotional bonding in an exclusive relationship, we’ll be much better off, I think. And then we can take or leave what they are really offering instead of what we wish they were offering. And then we don’t have to always cast them in the role of emotionally stunted opportunistic a-holes out for what they can get. 

    In short, we need to manage our own expectations and read men more accurately.      

  20. 20
    Lara

    EMK@20: Laugh! You might not like the conclusion that this leads me, too, though, which is that a lot of women will likely prefer to stay single and give up dating altogether if they get realistic about dating and marriage. If you take away the fantasy about the perfect guy who’s going to offer understanding, acceptance, sensitivity, etc., and get realistic about what men really offer, what motivates women to seek out exclusive romantic relationships with men (i.e., marriage)? I have all different sorts of respectful relationships with men, but I can’t imagine marrying one of them. And it’s because I have all sorts of different respectful relationships with men that I can’t imagine it. I don’t have just one girlfriend and expect her to fill all of my social/emotional needs; why would I expect that of a guy, who is even less encultured to provide that than a girlfriend?

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Aha, Lara…you don’t need a man to fill ALL of your social/emotional needs; just the ones that can’t be filled elsewhere. Which is why it’s okay if you like yoga and he doesn’t. Or you read fiction for pleasure or he doesn’t. Or you’re ambitious and he’s not. You need the guy to be your rock – your loyal best friend who makes you laugh, sticks by you when the going gets tough, and wants the same things out of life that you do. There’s plenty of good men around – they’re just being dismissed because women still feel that a man has to be EVERYTHING in order to be a husband. He does not.

  21. 21
    Lara

    EMK22: That’s what I’m saying. I don’t expect a man to be my everything–I don’t even think it’s possible. Because I don’t believe it’s even possible, I don’t see either how a husband would be so very different from any other rock-like best friend, laugh buddy, supportive, forward-moving person in my life. But I don’t believe that intimacy can or should be legislated. Meaning, I don’t want the government in my personal life, so I don’t want to enter into a legal contract that dictates who has ownership of  my money, who can claim a right to my private parts, and who can make decisions about my healthcare–I’d rather manage all of that on my own, and I do. Other people feel differently about this aspect of marriage, of course, and want that legal default. 

    If you take away marriage as some kind of brass ring, though, women are forced to see men as people and not as a means to some emotional or material end. Better for everyone, I’d say.  

  22. 22
    SalsaQ

    @Lara 23

    Because marriage is a legal contract (or a promise to God) there is an incentive to stick with it when the going gets tough. When someone is overwhelmed in their life there is a real temptation to unload any burden possible, like a relationship that takes some energy to maintain even though it is is more helpful than draining. There is a temptation to turn away, run, and hide when overwhelmed, especially if the relationship hits a small patch where some work is needed. No matter how much I like them and rely on them for support, I imagine how I will have no energy if my parents die, I lose my job and contract cancer all in the same year. Then if my partner needs my sympathy one day during my bad times or we fight, I will be tempted to give them up, even if the partner is helpful most of the time. The marriage means I am more likely stay in.

    The traditional “sickness and health”, “better or for worse”, “richer or poorer” is that promise. God or the nightmare of the courts hold me accountable to that promise.

    Being married will make me be very sure a breakup is the right decision. If I have discarded him in crisis, it is hard to recover because I have shaken the foundation of their trust in me. A friendship will survive a temporary complete withdrawal. A romantic partnership might not.

  23. 23
    JB

    Good exchange Lara & Evan! Bravo!!

    This woman lives in Boston and the guy lives in Atlanta? Did I get that right? How or why would he want to be her “boyfriend” anyway when he probably already has a girlfriend living up the street from him? I know there’s men in Boston maybe that’s a good place to start looking for a boyfriend. This isn’t rocket science. I don’t even date women that live over 30 miles from me…LOL

  24. 24
    Authentic online Dating Tips For Men

    Great post, Evan. I think you’ll agree with me that this also applies to men too! So many guys want to be with a woman, and they get so caught up in the pursuit of her that they forget that they are not having fun at all! Furthermore, most men want women that they can’t have. Hence they go for women who are naturally not going to make the effort to be with them. They get caught up in the fantasy of it, as you mentioned in your article about this woman. But having a relationship with a woman who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with her is far more rewarding than any fantasy.

  25. 25
    Lily2

    Great post! @EMK 22…I’m find the opposite problem as a single woman. Have you read profiles of men on Match.com lately? They ALL seem to want a work-out partner and extreme adventure buddy.. along with all the other things a woman has to offer. Ugh, I get exhausted just reading about it. I keep thinking…don’t they know we don’t provide everything? I am fit, adventurous and all that good stuff but I dont want to be that for my guy. I wonder if it a sign of immaturity that men list all this stuff. Maybe should I be thinking about it differently…

    1. 25.1
      Lynn

      @Lily2 – LOL!  I can’t agree more!  What is up with the Men wanting you to work out all the time and with them – and wanting you to be “fit and healthy” – I truly believe #1.  they think we only think men that work out and do extreme sports “win” on Online Dating Sites and #2. It’s their polite way of saying they don’t want “overweight” women – so even if you’re “average” figured – if you’re gonna be with me, I will keep you in shape no matter what.  It is sooooo OLD!  LOL!  I delete every guy who starts out talking like this – He could even be Matt  Damon (ok, well, maybe I will work my butt off with him) :)

      1. 25.1.1
        julia

        yes every other man online wants a woman who runs marathons. Well I work out but don’t run….I think its their test to make sure you won’t get fat.

  26. 26
    K

    @Lara, I have no issues with your preference to not get married.  To each its own.  However, I can explain why although a husband won’t be my end all be all I do want that relationship.  Friendships and family aren’t enough for me.  I have great friends and a great family.  These days the friends are married and have their own families.  They support me, but they can’t have the focus they once did.  My brother is one of my best friends, but he’s now married.  He now focuses more on his career, his relationship and soon his new family.  Before if I was having a tough time we’d drop anything to spend time with each other.  He can’t do that now and I don’t expect it.  I think a partner in life (husband or boyfriend in your case) is a different type of relationship where you are at the center (at least should be).  It’s almost hard to ask anyone else of that.

  27. 27
    starthrower

    Wow is this ever spot on.  I have a male friend who is platonic and he is exactly like the guy in the original post.  He has the safety of a female presence in his life, i.e. me, but he doesn’t have to deal with the relationship type stuff that he doesn’t want to deal with because he knows I have no romantic interest in him.  Of course the good thing here is when I start getting bored or annoyed with his proseletyzing, I can just disappear from the conversation.

  28. 28
    Margo

    Great article, Evan! Very helpful and useful to women.

  29. 29
    Lara

    Salsa@24 and K@28: Yeah, if your social scene is all about people being in couples, not being in one pretty much sucks. And if the only way someone is going to help and support you when you’re down and out is if you are legally joined together, well, that’s one way of making it work, I suppose. I see other options out there for myself, other means to the same ends. But I can’t speak for anyone else. 

  30. 30
    JB

    @Lily2 #27 thanks to the women on here who gave me a tip saying I should put a disclaimer in my profile after listing the activities I do. So now in my profile it says “These are some of the things I occasionally enjoy doing from time to time but please don’t think YOU have to as well. Maybe you can introduce me to some of your interests? I’m very flexible and easy going and love to try new things”
    Does that mean I’m joining her Yoga class? Probably not but I might try it once.

    I’m not asking for a “workout buddy” or anything remotely resembling “extreme adventure”. I want a women to be in a relationship with. If she likes doing some of the things that’s great if not that’s great too.

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