Looking back, it seems so obvious to me. Of all the qualities I was looking for in a guy, of all my “must haves” on my quest for finding Mr. Right, I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the three things that actually really mattered.
1. He's available, both physically and emotionally.
He's physically available: This means he’s not involved with anyone else, doesn’t have a wife, girlfriend, or an ex that he’s still going back and forth with; basically he doesn’t have someone he’s still involved with in any way, shape or form. It also means he’s got room for you in his life. Meaning that everything he's got going on, including his career, academic pursuits, sports, side interests, hobbies, hanging with his buddies, etc., all allow for enough time for him to be able to include one more very important priority – a relationship with you.
He's emotionally available: This means he’s emotionally ready to be in a committed relationship. He’s worked on any issues he may have had, he’s done playing the field, and he’s mature enough to recognize what it is he’s looking for in a partner. Read: he’s not scared of commitment, knows what he’s looking for in a relationship (and it’s realistic), and he's willing to be real and vulnerable enough to let you in.
And, most importantly, he's available for the kind of relationship that you want. This one can be tougher than it seems - for example, if you want kids and he doesn't, then he's not available for the type of relationship that you want. This is where it's critically important that you know exactly what you want in a relationship ahead of time.
2. He treats you the way you deserve to be treated.
I remember being so focused on how I was coming across, how desirable and amazing I was, and all that I was putting out there to show him how great I was, that I rarely stopped to consider what I was getting out of the relationship. And how he was treating me. And if I had, it would have been easy for me to see that the relationship was clearly not what I wanted.
So look closely at how he’s treating you, what he’s saying (and not saying). Things like how much of a priority you are in his life and whether or not he’s really considerate of your needs. Like whether or not he's completely honest, trustworthy, stable and reliable. It's also important to look at how well he treats others – if he treats others badly, then you can be pretty sure that's the way he'll be treating you at some point.
3. He's really into you.
This one is important for one main reason: If he's not really that into you, then you're the one doing the chasing and even if you do coax a reasonable facsimile of a relationship out of him, it will never be what you truly want and it will most likely dissolve over time. The bottom line is that you both need to be into each other. You know that you're into him otherwise you wouldn't even be considering it, but you have to make sure he's really into you also.
The tricky part is knowing when he actually likes you for who you are and what you are and not just for your physical attributes. If he doesn't seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with you and just being with you, at least much of the time (many people need their individual space, but let's be reasonable), then it just won't work long term. You have to be real about it – looks fade and the initial passion wanes, but if you truly like being with one another then the attraction and passion changes into something that actually grows over time.
And that's what you really want.