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No More Better Boyfriend Advice

You’ve seen them. 

We’ve all seen them. 

“Top 35 Qualities Your Boyfriend NEEDS to HAVE”

“Top 100 Features You MUST HAVE In Your Future Husband!”

“If Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Do These 47 Things, You’re Missing Out”

Now, before I wrote this piece I  went ahead and googled “Boyfriend Quality List” and a surprising number of articles like the ones listed above came up. They included qualities, and I wish I was joking, such as “he laughs,” “he doesn’t have any addictions” and my personal favorite, “he doesn’t cheat on you.”

Are you kidding me?! These are the brilliant qualities that women are desperate to find in a boyfriend? What would previously have been considered common decency are now attributes which are prized in mates. The phrase “low-hanging fruit” comes to mind. It would seem as long as you have a pulse and the general likeness of a face you’re in the top 10% of available males.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with making a list of attributes which you would want in a future spouse. I think this is actually very healthy. As a former mentor of mine used to say constantly, “if you aim for nothing, you’ll get it every time.” This isn’t to say that you should have outlandish expectations, but doing a self-inventory about your likes/dislikes, interests/disgusts, and personal preferences is never a bad thing. As the Greek philosopher Plato frequently said, “Know Thyself.”

That being stated, there is no list of attributes you can find online that are going to describe what you “need” to find in your mate. In fact, that’s stupid. Some of them, such as “he looks cute with ruffled hair” are completely ridiculous. Maybe you love straight hair. Maybe you’re all about wavy hair. Maybe ruffled hair fills you with homicidal urges and a twitchy comb hand. Whatever it may be— the point is that until you are aware of who you are, no list is going to help you. 

So I won’t give you the attributes you’re looking for. I don’t know you. But I will give you four general categories that you should consider about your future spouse. 

1. Foundation. Let me give you a scenario. You have two young people who start dating. Let’s call them, Josh and Allison. Allison knows herself well, and knows that her foundation in life is her relationship with Jesus. If you asked her friends what she was all about, they would all give the generally same answer saying that she was extremely faithful, loved Jesus, etc. Josh on the other hand, loves burritos. Like a lot. He wears shirts with pictures of burritos, he writes poems about different ingredients, and is quickly on his way to competing on “The Biggest Loser” someday because of his extreme commitment to burritos and burrito culture. When you ask Josh’s friends what he is all about they all say something to the effect of, “uh, burritos?” Josh and Allison are not a good match. Why? because their foundations are completely different. Allison is faithful to her Lord, and every action she takes is based in her love of God. Logically, it would be ridiculous for her to seek a serious relationship with someone who doesn’t have that same basis. Same for Josh— if his spouse doesn’t share his foundation of burritos, then they will have a very bumpy road ahead of them. Surprisingly, people do this all the time. Don’t be Josh and Allison. Know the foundation for your life, and seek that in your future spouse (on an unrelated note— if you ever meet someone whose life is based on burritos tell them to email me, cause that is weirdly awesome).

2. Communication. A couple years ago this guy named Gary Chapman wrote a bestseller called “The Five Love Languages,” here’s a synopsis: the way different people express love and receive love is varied. Seems logical, yes? So, let’s say you feel loved through spending quality time with someone. The person your dating hates quality time, and neither feels loved by it, nor understands the way it makes you feel. Their “love language” is giving gifts. So yeah, you get a few sweet trinkets out of the relationship, but you and your spouse constantly feel unloved. Know the way you communicate, and know the way you feel loved.

3. Physical Attractiveness. I’ll keep this one short— if you’re not attracted to them physically then you should probably not consider them as a viable option. I don’t know what that means for you, i.e. if you want them to be 8 feet tall with red hair, that’s your thing, not mine. Just make sure you find them attractive. 

4. Calling. This past summer during Air Force training, one of the Chaplains in charge of teaching us shared a sad story. He was young and married and felt the call to go into the Active Duty Chaplaincy. Soon after, his marriage was on the rocks. As they tried desperately to fix it, he recalled them arguing about his new career. She said, “You may have been called to Active Duty Chaplaincy, but I sure wasn’t.” Their marriage ended soon after, and he still bares the scars of this relationship. What can we learn from this as people called by God? When you enter into a covenant relationship, you both need to feel the call before you make jumps in career and lifestyle. You are one body at that point, and you will both know what is right. When first starting out dating is there anyway you can know this? Probably not. But it’s something to keep in mind throughout the relationship. 

That’s all I’ve got. Normally I would’ve liked to have 5 general categories because as humans we like being able to count things with one entire hand, but I just couldn’t get there. I hope these help in some way as you go about the current minefield of the dating world. I know it’s not “he should be tall and care about recycling” but It’s the best I could come up with.

James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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