"Is He a keeper" checklist

All women talk about this--the Is He a keeper or just practice for the real thing talk. Is he someone you can have fun with, but never make the mistake of falling in love with? Is he intense, passionate, unpredictable, exciting, but NOT husband material? The problem is that sometimes a woman gets into it for the passion or fun and ends up feeling more. Or she may think he's the real thing, only to find out that there are some potential deal breakers if she stays. Then she will be faced with the task of figuring out if He is a keeper or if she should throw him back into the dating sea and wait for the right fish to come along--and she needs to do it before she gets in so deep, she doesn't know how to get out.

Therefore every woman should utilize an "Is He a keeper" checklist. However before you create one of these, you should start with another list, one that details what you "must-have" and "can't live with" in any future relationship. Anything can be included, as this is about really thinking through what you value most and what, if anything, you believe would be a relationship deal breaker for you. Here is an example:

Must have

Strong work ethic
Values family/friend relationships
Believes in God

Can't live with

Poor employment history
Substance abuse issues
Doesn't want kids
Divorced and/or has children from previous relationship

Once you have a good handle on what you most want and need, you are ready to create that "Is He a keeper" list. This is basically a simple set of questions covering what you see as the pluses and minuses the guy you are interested in and/or already involved with brings to the table. It's useful to do this in two columns, so that you can view each in detail and also see the big picture when you weigh one against the other. Does one greatly overpower the other? Does one contain small things that you really had to stretch your imagination to come up with, or one or two that are glaringly obvious and definitely give you pause? Here is an example:


Attractive Smart
Makes me laugh
Likes animals
Never boring


Poor attention to grooming, dress
Sketchy work history
Handles finances poorly
Has a quick temper
Unsure about marriage and kids
Hard to have a serious conversation with

Now you can look at how well you line up. How well do his pluses match up with your must haves? Is something important missing here? What about the minuses? Are there any that you know you just can't live with and/or don't see any compromise for?

If you have questions about how to interpret your list, this is where open and honest communication comes in. If you are only casually dating, a few general questions regarding his career aspirations, family goals, religious beliefs and/or any lifestyle issues you may have flagged as potentially incompatible can be asked. His comfort in answering an appropriately asked question that is in line with your relationship stage, will tell you a lot. If he changes the subject or offers a non-answer, that is an answer in itself. If overall you see many positive attributes, you could continue to date for a while and ask your questions again later on to see if his earlier attitude had more to do with the newness of the relationship than with something deeper.

If you are in a relationship, it is very important for both of you to discuss your wants, needs, life goals, and values before moving into commitment and/or marriage. Otherwise, you could fall into that trap that too many couples do where they move forward with assumptions that are based only on what they thought the other person felt or wanted, only to find out that too late that their expectations do not line up with reality.

Knowing what you must have and can't live without from a future partner or relationship is not the same as having a specific mate shopping list. We are not talking about height, weight, income, etc. We are talking about the big things on both extremes of the continuum. Everything else in-between usually has wiggle room for negotiation--and with a willingness to compromise and a genuine concern for one another's happiness, workable and satisfying outcomes are probable.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Relationship Deal Breakers"
List of more "Compatibility Issues" articles

"Golddigger, jiggilo, or fiscally savvy?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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