As much as we try to fight it, we collegiettes may be hard-wired to seek out bad boys. From the tattooed, motorcycle-riding hipsters to the frat bros with lists of past hook-ups that rival phone books, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. Unfortunately, this tendency doesn’t just harm us; it also sells short the under-appreciated (but totally deserving) majority: nice guys.
Since Mr. Nice Guy has earned himself some extra love from us ladies, we should work on spotting him in the crowd. Don’t be fooled by pretenders! Read on for the seven foolproof ways to know if he’s a good egg. Do it for the sake of the sweethearts.
1. He has a Good Relationship With his Family
Friends come and go, but family is forever. Though he may gripe about a little sibling or roll his eyes when his parents bug him about how he should do his laundry more often, a good guy stays on good terms with the people who raised him.
“The best way to tell if he's a good guy is how well he treats his mother,” says Carole Lieberman, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them, and When to Leave Them. “If he treats her with respect and shows her love and affection, it's a sign that he's a good guy.”
A guy who values important relationships in his life is likely to be open to building new ones, and once he and you get together, he’ll value you, too. It may not be easy to tell what he thinks of his family since he’s living away from home, but asking questions about his childhood will show you where his heart is. Watch how he interacts with his parents and siblings at family weekends and on-campus events (without being creepy!). If he’s talking a lot with them—and not bickering—he’s probably got a good thing going with the ‘rents.
2. He’s Good With Kids
While you aren’t hunting for the father of your children, that doesn’t mean you should be ignoring the major red flag of a guy who can’t stand things that are small, cute, or fluffy.
“I'm always so impressed when a guy is great with little kids,” says Anna*, a senior from Syracuse University. “I think it says a lot about his patience [and] temperament, and shows he doesn't take himself too seriously to let loose!”
Lieberman agrees. “Although it's almost a cliché, you want a guy who likes animals and children,” she says. “It shows how compassionate he is to those who are vulnerable.”
Plus, you want to be able to pet puppies and coo over chubby-cheeked babies without putting your man on edge. Is that really so wrong? If he winces at the idea of babysitting or is totally uninterested when you point out a cute toddler, he’s probably not a fan. If, on the other hand, he mentions that kids love him, or he’s game to make googly eyes at the baby across the restaurant, you’ll know you’ve found a good egg.
3. He’s Respectful to People He Doesn’t Need to Impress
Whether it’s the waiter, the bartender, the cashier, or just someone on the street, interacting with an individual like this creates one of the best opportunities for you to gauge whether your guy is a keeper or not.
“He's a good guy if he treats strangers with respect,” says Briana, a senior from Georgia College. “After all, he doesn't owe them anything.”
Shira, a junior from Franklin & Marshall, knew that her current boyfriend was a good guy when she saw how he acted in restaurants. “He treats everyone with a lot of kindness, especially those in service professions,” she says. “He'll always leave a nice tip, even if it's takeout, and thank everyone who helps him.”
If he’s making googly eyes at you but then badmouthing the person who’s serving him his meal—or worse, snapping at a waiter when they’re face-to-face—you should reevaluate your guy. “Seeing how your guy treats people he doesn't need to impress will show you his true character,” says Leiberman. In this case, he’s probably only respectful when it suits him—which means he’s definitely a dud.