Published On: Wed, Jul 8th, 2009

Mr Right vs Mr Right Now

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By: Rebecca Keller

There comes a point in every relationship when we ask ourselves “Is this thing going anywhere?” Sometimes the answer may be excruciatingly obvious—like if the man you’ve been seeing for two months has you on a rotating date schedule with at least two other women (that you know of), or he still introduces you as “my friend, so-and-so” after six months of more-than-friendly activities. If you have any doubts about your relationship, chances are you already know that your man is probably not the prince for whom you’ve been waiting all these years. But what if the signs aren’t so clear, and the question that could ultimately make or break your relationship looms over you like a dark cloud? Men, at least the commitment phobes, tend to scare easily, and a statement such as “We need to talk” may send an insecure man running for the hills, at which time he will curl up in the fetal position and suck his thumb until the big, bad serious-conversation monster (you) leaves him alone. There may be some small ways for you to determine for yourself if your man’s in it for the long haul, without having to play Russian Roulette with your love life.

Here’s some clues:

He keeps a toothbrush at your place. If his toothbrush stands proudly next to yours in the toothbrush holder, he at least plans on coming back to your house some time soon. The very presence of his toothbrush is proof that he’s given some thought about a future with you in it—a future that he intends to have past tonight. Of course, if he doesn’t keep a toothbrush at your place, all hope is not lost. He may be using your brush, which could be considered charming—in a disgusting kind of way. If he thinks you’re close enough to be sharing a toothbrush, you’ve reached a level of intimacy that some couples never attain.

Your favorite overnight attire waits for you.He has a certain t-shirt and boxer shorts ensemble that you like to wear when you sleep over at his place. If you’re ready to go to sleep and said outfit is folded—or maybe just piled—and waiting for you on your side of the bed, he’s had premeditated notions of seeing you again—at his place, in his clothes. If he expends any kind of energy on you when you’re not around, he’s probably thinking about you more than he’d like to admit. And that’s a good sign.

He switches radio stations when you get into the car. He likes hard rock, and you like R&B. You know this, yet his radio is blaring Usher’s “Burn” when he picks you up for your date. This could mean three things. 1.) He got confused. 2.) He was too lazy to change the station after the last time you were in the car. 3.) He knows what you like, and he’s willing to take one for the team to ensure your happiness. If he’s hard core hard rock, he probably wouldn’t listen to R&B if he didn’t have to, and he most likely did not get confused. If he let’s you pick the station, he’s willing to give up something that less-into-you men would never consider. Which also pertains to television watching. If he lets you choose a show, even if it isn’t all the time, this is still a major event worth noting. He’s compromising something that most men consider very sacred, and the fact that he’s sharing the power with you is a big deal.

While we’re on the subject of music . . .

He sings along with you singing along with the radio. Instead of wasting his energy telling you how tone deaf you are, or turning up the volume to drown out your voice, he warms up his vocal chords and joins you in the accompaniment, knowing quite well that he can not carry a tune. He’s willing to make a fool of himself in front of you, and men don’t easily joke around with pride. And if he doesn’t know the words and still sings along—well, that’s something special.

He plays with your pet even though he’s allergic to animal fur. He’s willing to risk watery eyes, blotchy skin, and a swollen face to hang out with you. Even if he doesn’t exactly play with your cat, he’s become accustomed to being in the same room as Princess, and he may even sit next to her on the sofa occasionally. He’s immersing himself into a part of your life that’s important to you, and he’s putting his life—or at least his appearance—on the line to do it.

He keeps an endless supply of your favorite foods/drinks in his house. You like cream cheese on your bagel in the morning, and cream cheese makes him gag, yet he designates an entire drawer in the refrigerator for the stuff (basically because he doesn’t want any of his food near it, but still). He keeps both mild and hot salsa in his fridge because he knows you don’t like anything too spicy. He’s opening his kitchen to you and your favorite things, instead of just forcing you to eat what he has lying around, which, let’s be honest, may sometimes be taste-bud suicide. And if he starts to clear off a shelf in his cupboard for your cereal and crackers, he may start making room in his house for more than just your food.

He cooks meals to fit your tastes. He has an amazing recipe for chili, but you don’t eat chili because you have an inexplicable aversion to kidney beans. He makes dinner one night—chili—and you find yourself reaching for the Easy Mac, until you realize he’s made this batch sans kidney beans. He’s altering recipes for you now, which is another sign that he knows what you like—better yet, remembers what you don’t like—and plans accordingly. And you can’t really go too wrong with that.

He remembers what you said four months ago. It’s your first holiday season with your man, and you’re slightly nervous because he hasn’t asked you what you wanted for Christmas. As it turns out, he bought you a bunch of things you’d said you wanted at one point or another. But here’s the kicker. You brought up most of these things in a fleeting conversation which you barely remember yourself. If he remembers what you told him yesterday, it’s a good sign, let alone something you said months ago. This means he’s filling space in his memory with things that he feels may be important to know in the future, and these things have something to do with you. Statistically, you should be in good shape if he remembers firsts and important dates, and he hasn’t mixed up any of your important dates with important dates of other relationships (i.e. accidentally wishing you a happy anniversary on his ex-girlfriend’s birthday).

He still seems to like you even after he sees your post-exercise appearance. No one looks like a supermodel after working out, and if he pops by unannounced, or invites himself along on your daily jog, he will inevitably see the side of you that you’ve been meticulously covering with make-up and primping. If he still asks you out after he’s seen your ever-attractive matted hair and the fountain of sweat pouring off your body, then he’s a keeper.

Of course, there are other signs—some obvious, some ambiguous—that your relationship is moving forward: He offers you a key to his apartment, he introduces you to his parents (and is lovey-dovey with you in front of them), he calls you during guys’ night out, etc. These and other small gestures speak volumes about a relationship’s potential for advancement. However, no sign is fool-proof, as some men have learned to manipulate the system for their own personal gain, and these Mr.-Right-Nows blend in with the Mr.-Rights (but they aren’t undetectable, so don’t feel hopeless). In a world where no one—man or woman—wants to jeopardize a good thing because the alternative seems a bit too daunting, being able to identify the positive signs in your relationship without uttering the phrase, “Do you see a future for us?” may be an integral part of keeping your relationship alive. Even Mr. Right can get scared by a verbal declaration of commitment, even if he’s been planning your future in his head for months.

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