Take a quick glance at your list of exes. Notice any shady traits among them? If you keep dating the moochers, the attention-seekers, and the heartbreakers, then it’s about time you figured out the difference between a pretty face and, well, pretty perfect…for you. The lady you want on your arm long-term won’t use or abuse, so decide whether to make her a more permanent plus-one by taking a look at these 10 signs she belongs in the girlfriend category. If the woman you’ve got your eye on doesn’t make the grade, drop her in a hot second—and play the field again.
1. She’s your #1 fan. Want to write the next great American novel? Break a dozen world records? Good. If she stands in your way? Next! “All men have something they need to accomplish that makes them feel like they’re on track and that their life is worth living,” says dating coach Lauren Frances, author of Dating, Mating and Manhandling. “Whatever that thing is, you better make sure that the women you're with will support you in your pursuit of it. The worst choice that you can make is a woman that cockblocks you from fulfilling your mission."
2. She only flirts with you. Does she make an effort with your friends? Killer. You should date her. But if she makes too much of an effort—with every guy in a ten mile radius—watch your back. “To be in the girlfriend category, a woman should appear confident, easy-going, and not be the one who flirts with every guy she meets,” says dating expert Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating.
3. You think she’s legit cool. If you can’t name half a dozen non-physical reasons she’s a cool human being, it ain’t gonna last. The spark is legit, but all fireworks fizzle with time. If you know her, and would actually want to hang out with her while not horizontal, you can bet she’ll make a good girlfriend. “Infatuation and chemistry are important initially, but if you fall into the trap of being in an instant relationship, it can crash and burn after a month or so,” says Spira. “Take your time and enjoy getting to know each other.”
4. Her wardrobe isn’t exclusively tight and shiny. You do want to be able to bring her home to mom eventually, right? And you don’t want every guy in town to be ogling her, right? “Going out in public with a dress that fits like a blouse won’t score any points for long-term potential,” Spira says. “If you can bring her to an office party without being embarrassed, you’ll be able to bring her home to your family.” Keep that in mind.
5. She’s honest—even when it’s not easy to hear. Your future girlfriend shouldn’t ever feed you a line of BS. You may wish she was into your new mustache-thing or cared about football, but it’s best if she fesses up to the contrary. “If she doesn't tell you the truth, or the whole truth, and her stories just don't add up, it’s a total deal-breaker,” says Frances. If she’s not honest about the little things, she may not be honest about the biggies either.
6. You feel amazing chemistry with her. You get each other’s jokes. You have complementary personalities. You find her crazy-attractive—and that attraction grows, not fades. If that sounds about right, then she’s GF-material. If you think she’s just meh, then do yourself a favor and do her a favor. “Life is too short to be with a woman who doesn't rock your nation,” says Frances. Points for trying to look beyond the glitzy wow-factor, but the best of both worlds does exist. Move on.
7. She’s not plagued by her exes. She doesn’t have to be BFFs with her Little Black Book, but she certainly shouldn’t be mortal enemies with all the men from her past. If she is, the next adversary she makes could be you. “If she hates her exes and is still fighting with them, she isn’t really available to you or is letting you know how things will end,” Frances says. “She should be free and clear.”
8. She respects your faith, family and friends. These three Fs are non-negotiable: friends, family, faith. If she makes it clear she’s not down with any one of them, then you better not get down with her. “This is a weird one that many guys try to rationalize away, but it can be the biggest source of problems down the road,” Frances says. Even if she’s of a different faith, doesn’t have anything in common with your sister, or can’t stand your college buddies, she’ll still respect what you believe, make an effort with your family and be willing to take one for the team every now and then with your friends.
9. She gives you space to breathe. Hate to break it to you, but if you feel suffocated, you are indeed being smothered. “Dump her if she doesn't understand that sometimes you need space, or if she cries, fights, or guilt trips you when you need some personal time,” says Frances. A girl who’s a great girlfriend will frequently give you a kiss and a wave as she heads out the door for manis and pedis with her friends—leaving you to fix cars, play video games or do whatever guy stuff you need to do in your alone time.
10. She’s not your usual type. There’s a reason you have exes, so why keep dating your type over and over again? If you’re suddenly into a tall brunette with a shy streak when you normally go for petite, outgoing blondes, you probably really like her. “Toss the list and be open to the possibilities of someone completely different,” Spira says. If a woman’s hooked you enough to break you from your usual relationship pattern, she’s most definitely worth your time.