By way of comments to my last post, To Single Women: Men Don't Change, I heard from a considerable number of women who basically got burned in relationships by guys who turned out to be less Prince Charming than ... Burpy, the Village Dolt.

So that got me thinking about what women might be able to do in order to discover what their potential life-mate is really made of, who the man behind the Dating Curtain really is. So then I thought of these six tests a woman can use to discover whether or not the man you're dating is Mr. Right, or ... Mr. Lite. (No! Mr. Blight! No -- Mr. Mite! Mr. Plight! No, n Mr. Trite!! Okay, moving on. Sorry. I have some sort of ... rhyming dysfunction.)

The Mr. Right Test #1: Get into real knock-down, drag-out fight with him
You can tell just about everything you need to know about a person by the way they fight. You simply do not know someone until you've had a fight with them. My wife and I have saying: A relationship is only as good as its first fight. People go crazy when they fight; what you want to know about your man is how crazy does he go, and how fast--and how much time he spends in Crazyland once he's gone there. If in the heat of a real argument your man does a pretty good job of sticking to the point, or tends to ratchet the hostility down, or if he actually listens to the things you're saying, then that's a beautiful sign. But if he goes vicious, or starts attacking you personally by going after weaknesses that in love you've shared with him before, or (God forbid) gets in any way physical, that, too is a sign. A "Wrong Way" sign.

The Mr. Right Test #2: Go on a cross-country drive with him
People are pretty good at keeping their stuff together for predetermined lengths of time. But you spend two weeks with someone in a car, and it's like dragging Dracula outside at high noon: Who they really are becomes very clear. On a long road trip, there's nowhere for a man to hide. Sooner or later his smooth and yummy outer layer will wear off, and his inner chewy nuttiness will be revealed. Plus, a lot of unexpected stuff happens on a road trip: You get lost, a tire blows, the campsite doesn't hold your reservation, etc. Anyone does well when things are going well; a road trip is sure to show you how your man reacts when things go like they always go in life, which is contrary to plans.

The Mr. Right Test #3: Have him care for you when you're really sick
One (emphasize: one) of the reasons men love women so much is because women are just so darn pretty. Well, get ugly around your man for a change, and see how that works for you. Get biologically ugly: sneeze a lot, and wipe your nose on your sleeve--no, on his!--and cough like you're trying to turn yourself inside out, and keep your hair all matted-up and funky, and just ... exude Maximum Grossness. (Well, maybe not maximum grossness. No need to get arrested or anything.) How does he behave while you're practically croaking on your couch? Is he patient, sympathetic, loving, attentive? Or does he (eventually) act like you being sick is really a drag that he wishes you'd stop? The former, of course, is great; the latter could make for one ceremony-wrecking flashback when the officiate at your wedding says the part about "in sickness and in health." Knowing Our Kind, it's safe to guess that your man has already shown you how ready he is to at a moment's notice play the role of your father. That's cool--or whatever. But what you also need to know from him is how willing he is to step up, when you need it, and assume the role of loving mother.

The Mr. Right Test #4: Watch him around other women
For many reasons we won't here delve into (socialization, hormones, insecurity, nature, the desire to confirm that they're as irresistable as they think they are), men flirt. Cool enough; that's probably how you were attracted to your man in the first place. But once you and he have committed to being together exclusively, the only message your man ever needs to be sending any other woman is "I'm Sure You're Very Cute, But Not to Me." Next time the two of you attend a party, separate from him, and then watch him while he's in Solo Socializing mode. If you see him consistently not flirting with batting-eyed beauties, fantastic. If you do see him turning on his Mr. Spectacular show, don't panic. At some point after the party, though, do talk to him--and for real. Tell him how his flirting with other girls hurts your feelings, and -- worse, maybe -- how it does makes you look like a fool. If he sees and understands the truth of that, and so agrees to never flirt again, that's great: relationships are about honing and smoothing. But if, knowing how flirting does and must make you feel, he continues to flirt with other women, then he's being very clear about not only who he is, but about whom he expects you to be.

The Mr. Right Test #5: Watch how he treats service personnel
Waiters, busboys, doormen, janitors, maids, parking attendants, delivery people, store clerks ... a man's character is revealed by how he treats such people in his life. If towards service personnel or those beneath him professionally your man is brusque, dismissive, or in even the slightest way condescending, then as sure as sharks bite he's going to start treating you that way, too. It's just not possible for a man who doesn't treat everyone with respect to respect you. It's a symptom of a problem he has that you're not going to be able to fix. Get out right away, or go down trying.

The Mr. Right Test #6: Watch how he loses
Everyone wins well: in victory, everyone is gracious, magnanimous, humble, sweet, etc. How a guy loses, however, tells you who he is. Be with your man sometime when he loses a game of some sort that he wanted or expected to win. (Bonus points if you're the one who beats him.) Watch very carefully how he responds to defeat. A real winner knows it's about remaining a winner, no matter the score.

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