“Where did all the good men go?” I asked myself this on a weekly basis in my early twenties. After a couple of difficult heartbreaks, I bought into the radical feminist narrative that good men are rare.
Misandry is ugly, and it’s everywhere. If you buy into this radical feminist dogma, it’s easy to think that good men are as rare as the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Though it’s tempting to let a bad breakup make you bitter (or hesitant to enter another relationship), I wouldn’t recommend buying into the hating men is "cool” trend or swearing off men forever.
Why Do We Think Good Men Are Rare?
When you picture yourself going through a breakup, it’s easy to imagine something dramatic, like the uncontrollable crying, screaming matches, and sulking alone at parties wishing the other person would come back in Taylor Swift’s All Too Well: The Short Film. Though it’s possible to experience a breakup like this (especially when you’re younger or coming out of a toxic relationship), it’s also possible to experience a mature, mutual, and healthy breakup.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes you grow apart. Sometimes you realize that you just weren’t meant for each other. Though pop-culture has convinced us that there’s always a good guy and a bad guy in a breakup, that’s not always the case. Sometimes he can be a great man, but not the man for you.
Modern dating culture tends to conflate goodness with compatibility.
Unfortunately, this can make the breakup even more painful. Taylor Swift says it perfectly in her song “Happiness,” where she sings, “Nobody tells you what to do when a good man hurts you.” In a mutual breakup, you have nobody to blame because nobody is truly at fault, but it feels like it would be easier if you could just write him off as a jerk and let yourself grieve and move on.
So He’s a Good Man, but Is He Right for You?
So you break up, even though he checked every box on your list. Handsome and smart? Check. Good with the parents? Check. Good values? Check. So, what gives? Well, just because he's a great guy doesn't automatically mean he's the greatest guy for you. See, we often equate goodness with compatibility, and that's a mistake.
The Good Guy
When we’re in the early stages of a romantic relationship, we’re usually looking for the good qualities that we would want to see in any person – friend, family, or romantic interest – like kindness, respect, honesty, humility, etc. Each instance where our date demonstrates an admirable quality we get more invested, thinking maybe he really is the good guy for me. But having these virtues is only one level of discernment, an important level, but it’s a more universal one.
The misguided belief that good men are rare might motivate you to lock him down the second you find one, ignoring that there’s a difference between a good man and the right man for you.
The Right Guy for You
So you found a good guy. He’s kind, humble, a hard worker, and has a great sense of humor. Now what?
Sometimes when we find someone with admirable qualities, we’re so excited and struck by the “rarity” and our good luck to find this guy that we want to lock him down without going through the deeper and more personal level of compatibility discernment. But no matter how many “kindness is cool” shirts we see, compatibility matters more. Compatibility is how we know if this good guy is the right fit for us.
Compatibility is how we know if this good guy is the right fit for us.
That’s why we have to ask the deeper, sometimes harder, questions: What are his values and political beliefs? Is religion important to him? What are his goals? What’s his ideal lifestyle? Does he want kids in the future? How does he deal with debt? Do you enjoy some of the same kinds of recreation? These are the types of questions you should ask when you want to get serious with a guy to avoid potential heartbreak and wasting each other’s time if you don’t align on the essentials.
Time will also give you a clue to what you need to know. What can seem exciting and romantic at first may start to become dull and predictable in a few months. If there's no attraction beyond the initial sparks, that's okay. The right guy won't seem boring after three months, six months, or even six years. True love deepens over time, and sometimes that's the only way to tell what's true: time.
Despite what we’ve been conditioned to believe, there is such thing as a healthy breakup, and good men are everywhere. Though it takes work to separate a good man from the right man for you, it’s worth it in the end to find your perfect match.
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