With love, as with gambling, you need to know when to hold and when to fold. Ponder these nine considerations before proposing to determine whether the long-term potential is strong.
By: Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey
Women are notoriously bad at recognizing “The One.” We nurture dreams of marriage after one great date. We abide by draconian rules about who’s our “type.” And, most of all, we fall over and over again for men who are the human equivalent of dirty-water dogs.
Conversely, we’re experts at knowing a good woman for you when we see her ─ it’s embedded in the female genetic code. And, just as important, we can spot a bunny boiler in the making.
You’re at a disadvantage, especially when smitten. Which is why you need our list of questions you must ask yourself about your gal before offering her a permanent position. Our grading scale: Three strikes is forgivable, otherwise neither of us would pass our own test. (Em is not terribly quick on the credit-card draw when out with her fiancé, and Lo’s gym visits are rarer than an Amazon River dolphin.) Four strikes is a bit sketchy, though, and as for five or more ─ don’t make us say, “We told you so.”
- Are you the center of her universe?
It might feel nice to be worshipped for a while, especially if you’ve just been dumped, but that’ll get old fast ─ particularly when she calls four times during the season finale of The Wire.
She’s a keeper if … she has at least one non-work-related hobby she’s passionate about. It means she knows how to have fun without a man and that she won’t need you constantly by her side. And if she continues to make time for her own friends (loyalty is good), she won’t freak out when you plan a poker night.
- Has she insisted on paying for some dates, or at least the drinks?
We know an uptown sort of lady who boasts to her friends, female and male, “I have never had to pay for a drink in my life.” According to her retro worldview, men pay for everything, and her boyfriends wait on her hand and foot while she watches Desperate Housewives.
She’s a keeper if … she likes treating you sometimes. It means she’ll approach relationships in a more egalitarian way ─ and when she says she’ll take you for richer or poorer, she’ll mean it.
- Has she always exercised?
If she still has her seventh-grade swimming trophy and a collection of 10-K T-shirts, chances are she’ll work out for decades to come, which means the great butt and killer legs that first grabbed your attention are here to stay. But those who go on exercise binges (is that a Tae Bo tape?) or fad diets, only to lose interest quickly, are destined for saddlebags. And if, like the girlfriend of a certain friend of ours, she stays slim by eating a plain celery stalk for dinner every night, pack her a nice sandwich before you dump her.
She’s a keeper if … you can set your watch to her 30-minute gym visit. An active lifestyle means way more than having shuffled through a half-marathon 6 years ago.
- Does she ever surprise you?
A just-because present, perhaps? We know it sounds hokey. But we’re not talking about a throw pillow bearing a photo of the two of you and the inscription “2gether 4ever” (unless it’s a gag gift, in which case she’s hilarious and a total keeper). No, we mean the little things that say she’s thoughtful and likes the idea of taking care of you.
She’s a keeper if … she notices that you’re out of shaving cream and buys some; you arrive for a date and she’s cooking, with a good bottle of red already breathing; she initiates sex.
- Does she hate her job?
Our friend John dated a woman who always complained about work. “Turns out,” he told us, “all that criticizing was just a cover for being hopeless at her job and her excuse for not getting off her butt to improve the situation.” She wouldn’t take responsibility for her own happiness, so she tried to find a sense of purpose in him ─ a burden nobody needs.
She’s a keeper if … even if she’s not in her dream job yet, she has a plan for getting there.
- Does she always agree with you?
Yawn. You want a girl with an opinion. Not an annoyingly constant devil’s advocate, but someone who will hear out your position and defend her own. A study found that couples who have heated spats but then make up have a better future in the sack than best-friend couples who never fight. Sparks are hot.
She’s a keeper if … once in a while she plays Ann Coulter to your Al Franken. Or Maureen Dowd to your Rush Limbaugh.
- Are your Zodiac signs compatible?
Trick question. If she cares, worry.
- Do you have a sneaking suspicion that she may be brighter than you?
That’s a good thing. We’ve found in our own love lives that relationships are best when each thinks the other is a bit smarter. Life is richer with a woman who can teach you a thing or two. There’s a difference between a woman who says or does impressive things and one who says or does cute things.
She’s a keeper if … you’re in bed and can’t get something she said out of your head ─ and it wasn’t when the two of you were talking dirty