What is a good guy, anyway?

As is the case with most females, much of my lunchtime conversation with my coworkers revolves around the men in our lives–who got into a silly spat, who was the recipient of a romantic gesture, who’s on the brink of calling it all off–you know, girl talk.

Whenever I have run into issues in the past, or have been wallowing in the backlash of a breakup, my girlfriends will always say “Hannah, you just need to find a good guy who treats you like you deserve to be treated!”

The question is, however, what is a good guy, anyway? I don’t believe that I have ever dated a true asshole (minus my ex-husband), but clearly I have missed the “good guy” mark or I would be married with kidlets by now.

I have talked with several men who bemoan their own breakups, wondering how they, the “good guy” could have been dumped so heartlessly. Are they really a “good guy?” Or are they just giving themselves the title so they can fuel their victim fire?

After much contemplation, many conversations, and several personal observations, I have concluded the following:

A good guy cares, and is not afraid to show it. I remember having relationship troubles and asking my married friends for advice. One of them said, in the midst of our conversation, “My husband cares about every inch of me.” In that moment, I was incredibly jealous of how confidently she could make that statement. She could not have done so, however, without said husband having shown her, without a doubt, that this was the case. I have met several men who claim to care about the person that they’re with, but when it comes down to actually showing it, they shun open displays of affection and love.

Every single human being needs reassurance of how their partner feels. Some need more than others, but there are no relationships that could happily survive if either one of the halves neglected to show their true feelings. And truthfully, I personally feel like you can’t NOT show your person how much you care–when you love someone, the desire to show love is always aflame, even if the execution is slightly off or unconventional.

A good guy is there when the chips are down. Life is full of surprises, some amazing, some heartbreaking. However, if you are a good guy, you are there through it all. And by there, I don’t mean “in the same space”. I mean being there emotionally, mentally, and physically in both the small bumps and giant waves. A good guy is always trying to think of a way to make the burden lighter and share the load, and will do what he can to not contribute to it.

Sharing in someone’s life is easy when it’s roses and sunshine. But many guys’ true colors show when they’re faced with adversity or when they see their partner crumble under intense pressure. Finding a good guy means finding someone who is there for you in ways both large and small, someone who is willing to hold your hand and listen to you vent, and someone who will stand and shoulder the pack with you when you’re ready to soldier on.

A good guy is considerate. It really doesn’t take a whole lot to keep a girl happy, contrary to the beliefs held by the majority of men who cannot seem to stay in a good relationship. Consideration is truly the basis of a good partnership. Little things, like hanging up your towel versus leaving it on the floor, showering an hour earlier than normal in the evening so you won’t interrupt your partner’s sleep, picking up dinner even after a long drive so they won’t have to leave the house—those little things seem inconsequential, even stupid, but to truly be a good guy, the moments where you choose to benefit your partner will far outweigh the moments that you do not.

Consideration is more about treating them how they want to be treated rather than treating them how you’d like to be treated. For example, you might not care that there is a pile of dirty washclothes mounting in the shower, but they might think it’s the grossest thing in the world. The difference between a good guy and a not-so-good guy is that the former will gladly take care of the pile while the latter will shrug and say “doesn’t bother me.” A good guy always takes his partner’s reasonable likes and dislikes into account in his actions.

A good guy is consistent. Out of all of the “good guy” characteristics, I feel like this one is the most important. A man can be considerate, caring, and there for you, but if it’s only when HE is in a good mood, or only when he’s in town, or only when you’ve performed certain tasks for him, he isn’t a good guy. Being a good guy to the core means that his partner can count on him to treat them the same way on a day to day basis, regardless of what is going on in their own inner world.

Of course, being consistent does not mean being robotic–life does happen, people do stress, and mistakes are made by everyone. However, a good guy will always get a pass during those times because of the equity they’ve built up over time, whereas another not-so-good guy might get a bigger negative reaction than the situation warrants because he has not built up similar goodwill.

Overall, there are about 3.5 billion men on this planet, all with unique personalities, interests, and goals in life. You don’t need to fit a certain mold to be a “good guy”, you just have to have consistent consideration, care, and support for the one you love. Trust me, a woman who’s treated right walks through life with a certain grace and glow that can only reflect positively on the man in her life. And let’s get real, being a good guy is just a more specific phrase for being a good human. And there is nothing that can’t be surmounted if you are striving to be the best you can be every single day.

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