1. He’s able to tell you what he really means.

Communication is the key to any great relationship—sure, it’s something of a cliché, but it’s totally true.

In order to be truly honest with you, though, he should feel comfortable telling you his real thoughts (or, if not, he should be able to push past the discomfort for the sake of your relationship).

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2. When necessary, he’s able to listen without giving advice.

Likewise, he should be able to listen, but there’s an important caveat: He should know how to avoid giving advice when you don’t really need it. Sometimes, everyone needs to just vent, and it’s hard to find a partner who can accommodate that. Many people feel prompted to give advice when listening to the problems of others, but that’s not always the best course of action.

With that said, don’t expect him to be a mind reader; great communication certainly goes both ways.

3. He’s compassionate, kind, and friendly…and not just towards you.

If he has a wonderful, accepting attitude towards you, that’s tremendous, but watch how he treats other people. Beware of a guy who seems to treat other people poorly, especially early in a relationship; chances are good that he’ll eventually treat you the same way.

During the early days of a relationship, he might guard you from certain aspects of his personality, so pay close attention to his interactions with others—particularly waitstaff, subordinates, and strangers.

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4. He notices the little things.

Get a haircut? He’s the first to compliment you on it. Feeling worn out after a long day at work? As soon as he sees you, he knows.

Guys who pay close attention to their partners tend to be compassionate, empathetic people. If he’s paying attention, he’s also likely to be invested in the relationship, which is always a good sign.

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5. He’s willing to compromise.

Nobody is identical to their partner. You’re going to disagree, sometimes over major things; you should be able to compromise when necessary.

If he always insists on getting his own way, expect that quality to get worse over time. Look for a partner who can find some middle ground (and make sure that you’re willing to do the same).

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6. When he’s with your friends, he can have a good time.

There’s a ’90s song about this, but we won’t annoy you by reciting the lyrics. Anyway, if he wants to be your lover, he’s got to get with your friends (sorry).

That doesn’t mean that he’s going to painting his nails with your bestie during girls’ night, but he should at least make an effort to have a good time. Beware of a guy who sulks when he’s forced to spend time with your crew.

Guys who pay close attention to their partners tend to be compassionate, empathetic people. If he’s paying attention, he’s also likely to be invested in the relationship, which is always a good sign.

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7. He’s willing to make time for you.

He’s attentive, loving, compassionate, kind, and…never there. Well, that doesn’t really do you any good.

While we can make exceptions for guys who are chasing huge goals (such as obtaining doctorates, for instance, or winning the World Series), you’re not clingy for expecting your man to spend some time with you. If he’s always making excuses on date night, it’s a problem.

8. He’s got career goals (or some sort of direction).

If you’re thinking about building a life together, your careers are certainly a big part of that. However, we’re not saying that you should start stressing about income, particularly in the early stages of a relationship; you should simply make sure that he’s passionate about something other than you.

A healthy relationship isn’t two people fawning over each other, but rather two people working towards their goals and supporting one another along the way.

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9. He makes you try to be a better person.

Here’s one of the clearest signs that you’ve found the perfect person: He makes you feel inspired. When you’re with him, you want to be the best person possible.

You’re better at managing your bad moods, you’re more committed to your life goals, and you’re taking steps to improve your life. That shows that he’s giving you the support system you need for a successful life, and it’s a sure sign that he’s a keeper.

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10. He helps you feel confident.

The key word in the previous point is “inspired.” Your guy shouldn’t ever make you feel unfit or unworthy—just the opposite, in fact. You should feel much more confident in the steps you’re taking together.

Of course, things won’t always be perfect, but that’s what great relationships are all about: that feeling that you’re capable of taking on any challenge, provided that you’ve got your partner by your side.

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11. He values your independence.

Remember, don’t confuse support with dependence. If your partner seems to get jealous whenever you leave the house without him, you might need to re-evaluate the relationship, or at least share your feelings with him.

For many couples, this is a difficult line to walk, but you’ll have a much stronger relationship if you’re able to spend time apart. Great guys will not only respect your independence, but celebrate it as a fundamental part of who you are.

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12. He stays healthy.

He doesn’t have to have a perfect body, of course (who does?), but he should be making an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Remember not to confuse health with physical appearance. People come in all shapes and sizes, and weight isn’t the only factor to consider when assessing determining overall health. However, he should try to eat healthy, get regular exercise, and brush his teeth (gross, but someone had to say it).

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13. He knows how to have fun.

We’ll award bonus points if he encourages you to try new things without being too pushy. If you’re spending a lot of time with him, he should know how to keep you entertained—and vice-versa, of course.

You might have to get creative as your relationship ages. That might mean learning a hobby together, dancing, or at the very least, going out on a date once a week, but hopefully, you’ll both look for ways to cut loose from time to time.

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14. He puts in effort with your family.

Note that we didn’t say, “He loves your family” or “He goes out golfing with your father every weekend.”

Close relationships aren’t always possible, but he should at least make an effort to spend time with your family. After all, they’re the people who raised you, and if they’re important to you, they should be important to him. If he doesn’t express any interest in getting to know them, it’s a potentially significant concern.

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15. He keeps true to his principles.

Beware of a guy that compromises his principles to get what he wants. For instance, if he says that he’s really passionate about recycling, but he takes a job at a plastic bag factory, he could be willing to sacrifice other values—and that could affect you directly in the future.

The good news is that we’re not sure whether there are even any plastic bag factories in the United States, but you get our point.

16. He respects you.

Even if he checks every other box on this list, he’s not a surefire keeper if you can’t definitively answer this question: Does he respect you?

Respect is different than love, but for a long-term relationship, it’s just as important. He should value your goals, passions, and opinions on the same level as his own. You’ll inevitably have occasional disagreements, of course, but they should never come from a place of disrespect.

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