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10 Signs Your Date’s A Keeper


Does your new crush have long-term love potential? A best-selling author shares 10 key criteria you need to know.

By Karen Salmansohn

ecently I read this fascinating article on evil in The New York Times that reminded me of an ex-boyfriend.

The article highlighted what it called the Psychopath Checklist—a list of personality traits that criminal psychiatrists use to help determine whether
Romance is about personality, and intimacy is about character.
someone could be a hard-core psychopath capable of committing repeated evil and violent crimes.

Guess which traits psychopaths share: Glibness, extreme charm, feelings of high self-worth, pathological lying, being prone to boredom and emotional unavailability.

Ahem! All these adjectives reminded me a lot of a recent ex-boyfriend, who was an adorably charismatic, fun, active, cocky guy—but in the end, turned out to be a lying cheater.

The lesson to be learned: The most important trait to look for in a partner is not sexiness, not an entertaining personality—but (ahem!) good, strong character values.

What all this comes down to is: There’s a difference between romance and intimacy. Romance is about personality, and intimacy is about character. Romance is about the lure of surface chemistry, charm—your socialized self playing with somebody else’s socialized self. It’s superficial stuff and not necessarily long-lasting. Intimacy is about connecting soul-to-soul, character-to-character — sharing your real self with someone else’s real self — and that’s what’s necessary for a solid, long-lasting relationship.

Basically, romance is all that flashy immediate-gratification stuff — like
A relationship will survive not based on how well you get along but by how well you don’t get along.
yummy expensive candlelight dinners, luxurious bubble baths — but when the last bubble pops, who is that person lying totally naked next to you in a plain porcelain tub?

This naked porcelain-tub person is the authentic person — the one without all the fake fancy fanfare — the one who will be there for you in ordinary times and bad times, not just in romantic times. That is, if the individual’s character is up for it.

And how do you figure out if a prospective mate’s character is up for it? Answer the following questions honestly, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time by avoiding the wrong partner.
  1. Is your date kind, respectful and appropriately generous to waiters/waitresses, bus drivers, sales clerks, etc.?
  2. Has he or she confessed to any immoral behavior: Cheating, stealing, lying, inappropriate aggression? If so, how much reflection on this and desire to change has this person shown since then?
  3. Does the person you’re dating have any addictions: Drinking, gambling, shopping? Does he or she want to change—and is he or she working to make change happen?
  4. Does he or she have a lot of lasting friendships or hardly any?
  5. Does your date always tell stories about bad dynamics he or she experiences with other people? Or does he or she seem to get along easily, even swimmingly, with others?
  6. Does your sweetie comment on news stories with a sense of empathy and awareness, or is he or she low on expressing compassion for all that is going on in this world?
  7. Have you witnessed your date doing small acts of kindness (leaving a very big tip for no apparent reason, helping someone with his or her shopping bags)?
  8. Does this person donate time, money and energy to good causes or charities?
  9. Does your date value self-growth—and show this by being open to hearing your grievances, accepting responsibility for problems when merited, and sharing with you how much he or she values learning lessons in life?
  10. Does he or she truly value open communication and know how to listen? When you’re upset or need nurturing, does this person deal with the problem at the speed of life or shut down/stonewall/attack/condescend? A relationship will survive not based on how well you get along but by how well you don’t get along. A couple is only as strong as how well the two individuals can deal with their weakest moments together.
Now that you know these 10 key criteria, you can focus on dating people with true keeper potential—those who, if you invest in them, will pay you back with a lifetime of rock-solid love.


Karen Salmansohn is a life coach and best-selling author of 27 books, including Enough, Dammit and Even God Is Single (So Stop Giving Me A Hard Time). Check out her site at www.notsalmon.com.
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