Nobody would consciously date a person who’s selfish or who doesn’t specifically care about them. Sometimes, though, emotions, past experience or even childhood trauma can blind you to the point where you put up with lovers or partners who are either selfish or simply not that into you. Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to tell what’s going on. Here are things people who actually care do when they’re in a relationship. These apply equally to both men and women. I’ve just used guys as a reference because it’s easier than writing “he or she” all the time.
1. He asks how you are and means it
Pretty much everyone you meet is going to open with “how are you doing?” Hell, if you’re in the USA that’s pretty much the same as saying “hello”. The key is to actually listen and be interested in your reply, rather than expect you to just say “great” and move on. A guy who cares is going to want to know how you’re doing. He’s going to want to know about your day.
2. He Isn’t dismissive when you complain about something that bothers you
Some people are only happy to hear about your day when it’s been good, but if you bring up something that’s bothering you, they don’t want to know. A guy telling you to forget about the annoying woman who cut you off at the supermarket is not necessarily doing it because he doesn’t care about you (as annoying as that can be when you’ve just had a really bad experience). He probably just thinks that sort of incident is best forgotten rather than mulled over for hours until you’re blue in the face (and he’s right!). On the other hand, if he dismisses a more serious problem without even giving you any emotional support, he might just not be interested in your issues. Compare his attitude towards your problem with the way he handles a discussion about his problems. Does he go on for ages about his issues while silencing yours? Does he expect you to listen and support him constantly? The answer to that will tell you everything you need to know.
3. He respects your boundaries and feelings
Is he selfish in bed? Does he try to pressure you into sex or any sexual acts you’re not comfortable with just because he wants to do them? If so, you’ve got your answer. Someone who cares about you is going to want you to be happy and comfortable. He might even ask you whether something feels good or whether you’re ready to try something and respect your reply (radical thought!). Of course, this isn’t only to do with sex. A person who cares is going to make sure you’re happy with everything from dinner choices to what you do on your date. Someone who doesn’t care is more likely to just make decisions that suit him and expect you to tag along.
4. He doesn’t make everything about him
He doesn’t whine at you about his needs if you’re feeling unwell and he wants to get laid, he thinks about how his actions might affect you before he actually does them, and he works you into his plans for the near / medium / long-term future (depending on how long you’ve been together). Someone who cares about you basically registers you as a person who exists and is important.
5. He cares about your well-being and comfort
He makes sure you’re not too hot or too cold, he asks if you want a glass of water on occasion, he offers to look after you if you’re unwell.
6. He does little nice thing without making a big deal out of it
I once dated an unfortunate string of selfish guys and, having ditched them, started seeing someone new. One day he turned up at my place early. My washing machine had just finished and I was about to hang up my laundry. Rather than wait for me to do it, he just picked up a load and followed me into the other room to help me hang it up. I didn’t ask him, he didn’t offer, he just naturally did it, because it came naturally to him to be helpful. When we think of “doing nice things” for someone, we often think about romantic gestures or giving each other little gifts or flowers. Those are great, but they’re not the only way for someone to show they care. It’s little things like helping with the laundry, or the dishes or the shopping that can show someone is just naturally a caring person.
7. He is there for you when you need him
Someone who cares is going to offer practical help (whenever possible) or emotional support when you need him. The whole point of being in a relationship is having someone on your team. If you find yourself having to face all of your problems on your own without a helping hand from the person who supposedly loves you, it might be time to rethink.
8. He doesn’t use his own drama as an excuse to be a dick to you
Nobody’s going to be 100% emotionally available to you all the time. Sometimes people have their own dramas to deal with, so will need your support or your understanding. If the guy’s dog just died, he’s probably not going to comfort you when you’ve had a bad day at work, for example. On the other hand, some people make their personal dramas a way of life and are always going through some sort of crisis. Friends are expected to come to their rescue, lovers are to drop everything and do whatever it takes to help and everyone’s expected to understand when this person breaks promises, fails to turn up, breaks stuff or any number of other annoying, troublesome things, because: DRAMA!!!!
There comes a point where you have to stop and wonder whether the constant emergencies are nothing more than a passive aggressive act that enables such a person to constantly act like a total dick without repercussions, relying on the kindness of those around them. Make no mistake: this is rarely a conscious act. The results, though, are the same: this person expects to get away with anything because he sees his problems as more important than anyone else’s.
A caring person, on the other hand, realises that everyone’s life has ups and downs and that he doesn’t have a monopoly on hurt, trouble and drama. Unless something really terrible has happened, he won’t let you down because of his own issues, and if he does, he will acknowledge the fact that this was a bad thing to do, rather than expect you to just understand, or throw a tantrum if you don’t.
9. He shows respect by being reliable
If he cares about you he’ll get to your dates on time, call you when he said he will, text you back and generally do whatever he said he’d do. He won’t keep you hanging, play stupid games or cancel your plans at the last minute without a very good reason.
10. He is willing to compromise
Because he knows you matter too and it’s not all about him. If he’s all “my way or the highway”, you know he’s only with you for as long as you keep being low maintenance.
11. He gives genuine apologies when he screws up and actually tries to improve
Everyone screws up on occasion. Even the best-meaning people can occasionally do something wrong. But if someone really cares, he’ll take responsibility for his mistakes and genuinely try to avoid doing the same in the future. His apologies are not meant to pacify you so you can enjoy another round of being taken for granted, but as an actual, genuine apology, followed by a genuine promise to do better and actions that match.