“Finding a partner who has his act together is as important as having hot sex,” says Dr. Sonya Rhodes, PhD, a New York City-based psychotherapist specializing in relationships and co-author of the forthcoming book The Alpha Meets Her Match: How Strong and Successful Women Find Love and Happiness Without Settling. “I always tell clients that what matters is not what he/she says but what he/she does.”
The challenge is seeing your potential partner realistically—not just through your own lens of expectations. Though learning about a new person takes time, there are some simple ways you can find out if your new crush is an actual adult human being versus an attractive disaster area. Read on…
Check out your date’s social media habits. “One red flag for me is grown guys who talk about Facebook-related drama or use social media way too frequently,” says Lynn Gilliard, Brooklyn-based author of Let Him Chase YOU. “When you are doing productive things in life you don’t have much time for that type of stuff.”
How many pairs of shoes does she have?
“Believe it or not, this is a great indicator of whether she has her act together or not,” says Dan Nainan, a New York-based comedian. “Because someone who has a closet full of expensive shoes and makes a modest salary is not someone I could consider for a serious relationship leading to marriage.”
See if he or she can make and keep a plan. “Queries about someone’s living situation oftentimes lead to more detailed conversation about money and stability,” says Kristen L., founder of AndThatsWhyYoureSingle.com. “I also pay attention to their ability to schedule plans. If they couldn’t confirm anything until the night before or morning of I filed that away and then waited until we met to get a better idea of their life style.” Dr. Rhodes agrees: “If he cancels dates at the last minute or doesn’t show up when he is supposed to—ditch him. He is going to disappoint you one time too many.”
Does he take care of his health?
“If he has a medical issue, does he go to the doctor?” asks Dr. Rhodes. “Is he constantly complaining about physical pain? What does he do about it? Is his approach adult-like or is he in denial? There are important clues here as to whether he is managing his life in a healthy way.” You don’t want to have to hound someone to take care of themselves, so make sure your potential relationship partner can handle his or her own health.
Pay attention to how they express emotion. “An emotionally healthy person makes a great relationship partner; they have their inner ducks in a row, which affects how they handle life’s challenges,” says Tina Gilbertson, a licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon. “A lack of positive or negative expression most of the time is a bad sign. So is the One-Note Wonder: He’s always angry about something, or always cheerful no matter what happens. When the chips are down, you’ll need a partner who can handle his emotions without shutting down or going off on you.”
“Since we can’t begin a first date by asking, ‘what’s your credit score?’ we have to pick up on subtle clues to determine whether or not someone has their act together,” says Suzanne Casamento, CEO of Fantasy Dating, LLC. “Do they speak with confidence when it comes to their work and goals? For example, you might ask, ‘So, what do you do?’ And your date might say, ‘I manage a restaurant’ while glancing out the window. Or your date might smile and say, ‘I manage a popular restaurant. We serve small plates and the best fish tacos you’ll ever taste. We’re going to make the Top 10 restaurants in the city this year.’ Which response gives you the idea that your date has their act together?”
Still Married? “If he or she has been separated for several years, acts as if they’re divorced, but is actually still married, they don’t have their act together,” says April Masini, relationship expert and founder of AskApril.com. “You’d be surprised how many people write me for relationship advice because someone who is ‘basically’ single—is actually still married. Your date’s legal marital status is a sign of having his or her act together.”
Does she maintain eye contact with you when you are talking? “Research show that competence and trustworthiness ratings were significantly higher for people who exhibited high eye contact,” says Patti Wood, MA, CSP, and author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma. “It seems quite obvious that eye contact is important, but if someone looks at you while YOU are talking research shows it a strong indication that they are confident in themselves and open and interested in what you are saying.”
Are her car and apartment dirty?
“A messy home and a messy car are both signs of a messy life and careless attitude,” says JT Tran, California-based dating coach and author of I Did It My Way: The Modern Asian Man’s Guide to Complete Social Success. However, there is a difference between a little clutter and total chaos. If she needs a half hour to find her keys every day, she’s probably on the chaos side of the spectrum. Proceed with caution.
It’s all about goals. “If they have obvious concrete goals that they are working towards, this shows their character,” says Amanda Wozadlo, Founder/Co-Owner of Thedatingstylist.com “If they really don’t know what they want in life then they don’t have their act together.”