First, let’s be clear about how we define “success in love.” We are not talking about men who seem unusually gifted at attracting women, or getting them into bed. We are not interested in time-tested techniques for playing the dating game. The man we want to understand is the one who is able to move beyond dating, to succeed in having a loving relationship strong enough to support a lifelong partnership.
What sets that guy apart from his peers? When considering that question, it is tempting to look for some mysterious, invisible X-factor, like pheromones or divine intervention. But the truth is, men who succeed in love have some predictable traits in common. Here are six to watch for:
1. He sees love as a journey, not a destination. Less than successful lovers often think that winning a woman’s heart is a once-and-for-all event. Not so. Our man does not see his partner as territory on a map to be surrounded and captured, but as an equal traveling companion through life’s adventures. He knows she must be wooed, won, and wowed every day if he hopes to enjoy her company for a few more miles.
2. He is not in a hurry. Since love is a journey with no end, there is no point rushing toward some moment of “arrival.” Men who do so often consider their relationship a “done deal” and stop doing the work to maintain and deepen it. The successful partner understands that it takes time to truly get to know someone and build the trust necessary for genuine intimacy. Always.
3. He holds out for the best. He doesn’t sacrifice long-term happiness for momentary entertainment. In other words, the man who succeeds at love has patience enough to wait for it…even when he’s really tired of waiting. That’s not to say he sits at home alone flipping through TV channels every night. He’s engaged with the world and has his eyes open for signs of romantic possibility. But he knows enough to see a partner’s potential as it really is, not simply as he’d like it to be. He isn’t afraid to move on when necessary.
4. He understands the paradox of generosity. Many men mistakenly equate overt affection and attentiveness—the very things most women say they want from a man—with appearing weak or needy. The playground pecking order is unkind to boys who don’t quickly learn to avoid these things like the plague. So he projects strength through a rough and even miserly emotional exterior. The man destined to succeed in forming a balanced relationship with his woman has moved past all that. He understands that romantic generosity does not diminish him in any way—quite the opposite! The more he gives his partner, the more he receives in return, and the more enjoyable the journey becomes.
5. He keeps his balance. In work, at play, in conflict, in his wants and needs, the successful lover knows how to keep sight of what’s important. He sees the wisdom and value of moderation. He’s serious about his career, but not to the point of neglecting the people in his life. He likes to win but enjoys celebrating his woman’s successes as well. This man steers clear of any excesses that threaten his equilibrium.
6. He sees his life as a self-improvement project. A man who grows defensive and hostile at the first hint of criticism is handicapped from the get-go in a relationship. The successful guy is well aware that he isn’t perfect, which makes him able to consider his partner’s point of view in a conflict. He’s ahead of the curve and never stops growing, learning, and reaching. He’s no push-over, but when he is wrong, he owns it and does what is necessary to make things right.
These characteristics are easy to spot if you are a woman looking for a man worth investing in. And they are possible to cultivate in yourself—if you want to be that man.