Of all the people in life to give me relationship advice, my equine veterinarian was the last I expected lol. Yet it’s probably the best I’ve ever received and I have a doctorate in couples therapy!
At the time, I was dating a really nice guy from Ireland. As a matter of fact, we’re still best friends. He wasn’t the one for me and vice versa, but because we got along so well I think it was just hard for us to admit that friendship was better than marriage. Somehow my vet, Dr. Lenhert, and I got on this topic and he told me 4 tests that a man should meet or he isn’t the right one.
1. The Ambition test: A man should want to take a bite out of the world
A man, my horse vet claimed, should be ambitious. He should want to shake things up and change the world for the better. However, my vet cautioned, this is something I should judge. He should me ambitious in my opinion and not the world’s or my family’s or my friend’s. Do I see him as ambitious? Do I see him as wanting to make the world a better place and having the energy and gumption to make the change? If you can’t view your man as ambitious, you will never be able to respect him and a man you can’t respect is a man you won’t be able to love eventually.
2. The Old Age Test: Do you look forward to growing old together?
Imagine this. You’re both in your late 90s. Your bones ache, he has a bad knee, your arthritis is too bad to play candy crush on your cell phone and you don’t go out much anymore but spend most of your day rocking back and forth on your porch rockers together. Can you envision yourself sitting together rocking on the porch all day long at 90some years old and still be happy? If you can’t do ANYTHING else except be with the other person.
Does that sound amazing or is there a part of you that twinges? This was what got me about my Irish boyfriend. We did so much together. He lived in Ireland and I got to travel there. We met halfway in new York City for dates. We hiked and explored and met people and just did did did. But when it was slow and it was just him and I…well, it wasn’t right. When all the distractions were gone, I could see that we just didn’t quite fit.
3. The Fight Test: Get in a big fight and see how he responds
Ugh, people hate when I tell them this one. You want me to pick a fight??? I don’t play games. Really? Are you a human being? Everybody plays games and THIS isn’t a game. This is real life and this is serious. This is determining if you are dedicating the rest of your life and future generations of your family to something wonderful or to relationship and maybe even physical and financial hell.
What does a fight tell you? It tells you how mean a person can get, it tells you how they handle problems, it tells you how willing they are to talk things out and resolve issues, it tells you if they can listen to you and make you feel understood or if they just want to win. And let’s be honest, you usually don’t need to pick anything. Most couples have plenty of natural fights to choose from. If you aren’t having fights, that’s a big red flag that you aren’t dealing with reality. Run away from that relationship.
4. The Drunk Test: What does he do when he loses control?
Get him drunk and see what happens. Ok, this was an issue for me. I don’t drink and my Irish guy didn’t drink (the only one in Ireland I think). But let’s talk about the theory. When you drink, you lose inhibition and you lose control. Not entirely, but to some degree, your real self comes out and you can see just how much of a jerk (or lovely angel from heaven) you are hitching yourself to.
Since I don’t drink and don’t date guys who drink, my go to test was putting them on a horse. The first time you get on a horse, you feel totally out of control. You are sitting on a half ton of muscle with no idea what to do to control it. Even a flick of the tail feels terrifying and Lord help you if the horse leans down to eat grass. People lose their mind.
Just like alcohol, fear muddles your thinking and you become totally reactive. Your real self starts to come out. I’ve seen guys become bawling babies or angry, kicking, screaming, cursing maniacs. Both get checked off my list. Point being, if you’re uncomfortable getting someone drunk (which is probably pretty wise), just think of what situation you can put someone in where they are not in total control and then watch to see if a maniac or a good person emerges.
Did he pass?
If you go through all four of these tests and there’s little niggling doubts, at minimum keep investigating. Keep testing, keep trying to see if those doubts will go away, but DO. NOT. GET. MARRIED. until those doubts are gone. In all my time as a couples therapist, I’ve never seen a happily married for many many years couple that felt doubts before marriage. If you go through all four of these tests and you are blown away by the results, go forth and be married. This is the man for you.