How to Court a Good Man: What to Do—and What Not to Do

How to Court by Ketu Gajjar

A reader said there were no good guides to courting a good man. So Thomas Fiffer wrote one.


There are millions of good men out there. Millions.

A good man, as the saying goes, is hard to find. Well, not really. There are millions of good men out there. Millions. Good men whose intentions are honorable. Good men whose behavior towards women is kind and respectful. Good men who appreciate love and value commitment. Good men who hew to a code of morality and decent conduct in their personal and professional lives. Good men who don’t need to be bad boys to prove themselves. And these good men are not hiding. They’re everywhere, in plain sight. The young cashier at the supermarket who asks how your day is going. The guy jogging along the bike path who smiles as you pass by. The weary commuter coming home on the late evening train with a bunch of flowers on the empty seat next to him. Some of these good men are already taken. But many are not. Many are available and looking for a good partner—a person who shares their values, appreciates their efforts, and treats them with respect. Recently, a reader wrote in to The Good Men Project and asked if we could provide her with a guide to how to court a good man.

I have known him all my life and had a crush in all the beginning years. And now we actually talk and hang out sometimes. Although I am not sure how to show an interest without being too forward or overbearing. I’m just not sure and never really find any GOOD articles on how to approach a man of genuine interest in an adult context.

So here’s our answer. A list of five attributes and behaviors a good man looks for in his partner, and five he studiously avoids.


What to Do

There’s no greater turn off than his catching you in a lie about something a few weeks or a few months into your relationship.

1. Honesty. This is the absolute deal-breaker for a good man. He doesn’t need to know all your secrets, at least not at the beginning of your relationship. But there’s no greater turn off than his catching you in a lie about something a few weeks or a few months into your relationship. We all have dirty laundry—things we regret in our past, dysfunctional family members, financial issues—and it’s crucial to be truthful about these from the start. A good man is unlikely to ask too many probing questions or interrogate his potential partners, because he wants to see you in the best light. But if he does ask, or if you’re hiding something for fear he won’t want you if you disclose it to him, you’re much better off getting it in the open and clearing the air before your relationship progresses. Good men are genuine, willing to be vulnerable, and open to intimacy with someone they trust. But if you make them feel duped, they’ll turn and walk away.

Deserving something is different from feeling entitled to it. Deserving means he knows his own worth.

2. Respect. It’s not just that a good man likes to be respected, it’s that he knows he deserves it. Deserving something is different from feeling entitled to it. Deserving means he knows his own worth. If he keeps a tidy house or apartment and doesn’t like dishes left on the table or laundry thrown on the floor, don’t make fun of his habits; respect the way he treats his home. If he has activities he values that aren’t your cup of tea, don’t mock him for interests that may seem odd to you. And if he draws a boundary—around his time, his money, his family, or his degree of emotional involvement with you—respect it. Common wisdom says that women test men all the time, but men test women or any potential partner, too, in their own way. A good man doesn’t want someone who’s stepping into his life so that person can walk all over him.

Your time with a good man is valuable, and he wants to use it to create intimacy.

3. Attention. A good man craves your attention, your genuine interest in his personal and professional life, your focus on him, and your eagerness to learn more about who he is and how he got to be that way. And it’s not just your sexual attention or flirting that he desires. When he’s talking or telling a story, he wants you to listen and not be texting a friend or answering emails. If you’re meeting for a date, he wants to be greeted warmly and not feel that you’re distracted. If you’re living together and he’s coming home to you, he wants you to be emotionally available. If you’re not, he may take refuge in watching sports or other distractions, which will make you feel rejected and start a cycle of resentment that can easily kill the relationship. Your time with a good man is valuable, and he wants to use it to create intimacy.

A good man wants to know what you like and don’t like, because—wait for it—he actually wants to make you happy.

4. Your preferences. A good man wants to know what you like and don’t like, because—wait for it—he actually wants to make you happy. Your happiness gives him pleasure. If you’re wishy washy or just go with whatever he likes thinking your accommodating nature will please him, you’re setting yourself up for problems later when you start to feel resentment because your real needs aren’t being met. A good man wants to meet your needs. He needs to meet them. He knows that meeting them is the key to maintaining a successful relationship, and since he can’t read your mind, he needs you to tell him. He’s also not afraid to say no, which means you don’t need to worry about being too needy or demanding. If he can’t do it or doesn’t think it’s wise or appropriate, he won’t do it. He wants to please you, but only in ways that are healthy for each of you and for the relationship.

He wants you to have your psychological act together before he gets serious with you.

5. Emotional health. Chances are a good man has been in one or more relationships with emotionally insecure or dysfunctional partners. These people have radar that shows them all the good men in a hundred-mile radius. They seek out men who are patient and tolerant, who will put up with their crap, who won’t walk away when things get tough because they love strongly and feel responsible for their partner’s welfare and well-being. A good man who has some experience under his belt has learned to spot the warning signals and to be wary of the red flags. He doesn’t want a rescue mission. He doesn’t want be your whipping post as you work through your anger over your shitty childhood. He’ll take care of you when you’re sick, hold your hand when you’re lonely, offer his shoulder and his handkerchief when you’re flooding with tears, and pick you up when you fall to pieces, but he wants you to have your psychological act together before he gets serious with you.


What Not to Do

He doesn’t like drama or the conflict that inevitably accompanies it.

1. No drama. A good man treasures peace. If your life is all about the drama at work with your awful boss and catty colleagues, the drama with your parents or siblings with whom you don’t get along, the person on the subway or in the store who looked at you the wrong way, a good man is not going to have any part of it. He doesn’t like drama or the conflict that inevitably accompanies it. He’s worked hard to achieve a peaceful rhythm in his life. He’s removed toxic people or placed them at arm’s length. He’s taken responsibility for his mistakes and not blamed them on other people. He’s trying to build a future and a legacy, and he doesn’t have time for an endless soap opera. If your cat needs to go to the vet at 2:00 a.m., he’ll show up and drive you. But if your friend the alcoholic or addict needs to be picked up—again—and brought home to detox or taken to the emergency room, you’ll find yourself on your own.

Throw out every single bit of dating advice from the magazine articles. It’s worthless.

2. No games. Who’s going to call first? How long should I wait to answer his text? Should I disappear for a few days to make him want me more? Throw out every single bit of dating advice from the magazine articles. It’s worthless. A good man despises games. He’s forthright and direct. If you like him, let him know. Ask him out for coffee or a drink. It’s really that simple. If you’re dating and he calls you, he expects you to answer if you’re available or call him back promptly if you’re not. If he texts you, he’s looking for a response, not a waiting game. And if you reach out to him and he doesn’t get back to you right away, it’s because he’s busy, not because he’s ignoring you. If you press him on this or pepper him with calls and texts asking where he is or suggesting he doesn’t care about you, he will break it off, delete you from his contacts, and block you on his phone. And if you test him in a dishonest or disingenuous way or try to set a trap for him, he will immediately discern that you’re a game player. Relationships are about trust for him, and while he understands that trust is earned, he also knows that it doesn’t need to be constantly proven.

If your shtick is that you’re always the victim … you can forget snagging a good man right now.

3. No playing the victim. If you’ve survived any type of victimization, a good man will help you heal. But if your shtick is that you’re always the victim in every interaction you have, that everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault, you can forget snagging a good man right now. Because he knows that eventually he’ll be the one you’re blaming. A good man wants a strong partner who is honest about his or her own contribution in every situation, and he will not allow himself to be unfairly accused or criticized. Don’t be surprised if he calls you on your complaining and tries to set you straight. He’ll give you one chance to grow up, and if you don’t take it, he’ll find someone with greater emotional maturity.

Don’t kiss his feet … unless that happens to be his fetish.

4. No worship. A good man actually knows he’s good. He’s secure and confident. He wants you to like and respect him, but he doesn’t want you to worship him or put him on a pedestal from which he can only fall the moment he screws up and lets you down. If you tell him on your first date that he’s the greatest person you’ve ever met or that you’ve been waiting all your life for him, he’ll humbly deflect your praise and reassure you he’s not perfect. And he isn’t. He doesn’t expect you to be, and your portraying him as perfect is a huge red flag. Honor him, respect him, dig him, be into him, but don’t kiss his feet … unless that happens to be his fetish.

A good man is looking for simplicity in a relationship. He doesn’t need grand gestures to be courted. He just wants to know you’re not going to get hold of his heart then crush it and stomp on it.

5. No assumptions. A good man places a high value on direct communication. He doesn’t want to have to guess what you’re thinking or what you mean. If you’re wondering how to let him know you’re interested in pursuing a relationship with him, it’s as simple as asking him out and showing him you’re an enjoyable person to be with, a person he’d like to get together with again. A good man is looking for simplicity in a relationship. He doesn’t need grand gestures to be courted. He just wants to know you’re not going to get hold of his heart then crush it and stomp on it. He just wants to know that you’re an adult and will treat him as an equal. Don’t assume he’ll pay for everything. He’ll be generous but also appreciate your treats and contributions. Don’t assume he just wants sex. He wants it, but he wants it to be meaningful and intimate, to flow from the two of you coming closer together, not to be used as a crutch to achieve closeness. Don’t assume he’s straying if his head turns when an attractive woman walks by. He can’t help it. He can acknowledge her attractiveness without wanting her. And don’t ever assume you can take him for granted. Saying thank you when he does something nice for you, when he shows you kindness and respect, means the world to a good man. He loves to be appreciated.


We hope this guide is helpful—for the reader who wrote in and for anyone who wants to know how to court—and keep—a good man.

If you’d like to hear Thomas Fiffer discuss this article in a podcast with Family Law Insider host Wendy Hernandez, click here. The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Stereotypes for lunch Sign up for daily or weekly email Photo—KetuGajjar/Flickr

About Thomas G. Fiffer

Thomas G. Fiffer, Executive Editor at The Good Men Project, is a graduate of Yale University and holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a professional writer, speaker, and storyteller with a focus on diagnosing and healing dysfunctional relationships. You can find out more about his publications and services at Thomas G. Fiffer, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter. His books, Why It Can't Work: Detaching From Dysfunctional Relationships to Make Room for True Love and What Is Love? A Guide for the Perplexed to Matters of the Heart are available on Amazon. He lives in Connecticut and is working on his first novel.


  1. There are many of us good single men that are still available, but many women are Very Picky nowadays.

    • I think what you mean is that you need to review the point in the article about not blaming others for your problems. If you do, that indicates you’re less mature than you think you are.

      • Women are very picky these days, even men in relationships know this and say this.

        • Sabrinna says:

          We have the absolute right to choose well for ourselves. ‘A’ good man may not be ‘my’ good man but he could be my good friend and the best possible man for my best friend. Being picky is a positive trait when it saves two or more people from future hurt.

        • “Picky these days” is not an accurate statement. People are the same as they always have been at any point in history: human, and diverse. Women are people, just female people. We are all very different, and that has been true for all of history. Yes: there was a time when society wasn’t safe for a woman who was unmarried, so she literally couldn’t afford to be picky. Men could, if they wanted — to a point. But marriage was about different things back then, and even today in certain cultures that arrange marriage. What was different back then were the *circumstances*, not the people in those circumstances. Today, we look for soulmates. That *should* be an extremely picky process, for everyone.

          The important thing is never to lump all women into one category (or all men for that matter), and never to presume that it’s any of your business why they’re picky. In our society, finding a partner is an extremely personal process, that differs for each person. We pick our own mates, and in theory we’ll spend the rest of our lives with the right one so … well, it would be incredibly stupid not to be at least a little picky. Neither you nor I have the right to resent that pickiness in another person. If they aren’t interested in you, it doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. It means you aren’t right for each other — and it’s far better for that to be admitted upfront than to fall victim to being led on in a relationship that just wouldn’t last anyway. Please, err on the side of being picky, because your heart AND others’ hearts are too precious to play games with. That goes for us all, guys and girls. Because, before anything else, we’re all people, and we’re not that different from one another at the deepest level. Pickiness is not a bad thing … and for those that are “too” picky, that’s between them and their heart. Not anyone else’s call.

  2. Overall a great article. However I would disagree about in What Not To Do, #1 No drama. I’ve always wondered what people meant by this on dating sites. My ex-husband was a diagnosed Borderline, and my oldest son is an actor. Emotions writ large, messy and often incoherent over trivial things is something I have seen frequently. In a mental illness construct ‘drama’ is a destructive thing. But in a normal relationship discussing family interaction, social interaction and other awry emotional connections is not a bad thing. Yes, discussing emotions can make one appropriately emotional. Denial doesn’t make ones life truly peaceful. There are good men who enjoy understanding and problem solving in the interplay of social psychology. In the world of personality theory, good men are not just ‘Thinking’ types, there are good men who are “Feelers’, and I quite frankly prefer the Feelers.

    • Very well said, Lara. There is nothing called “drama” in reality. It is all about whether you have the wherewithal to express the emotion in a healthy manner, release it, learn from it and resolve the situation, or not. I guess most people refer to the recycling of the same old problem and emotion in an unhealthy manner, as drama. Comparable levels of emotional maturity is so important in a relationship.
      Also, as I am traversing a long-ish single run now, I am understanding the importance of spending time away from a primary relationship for a man. I still desire a good partner, but I am not hunting for her, while keeping my options open and also working on myself and doing things that I enjoy. Not putting life on hold. I guess that’s an important lesson for us guys. We wanna get out of the state of needing women to wanting them.

  3. Hannee Chong says:

    I keep reading these articles, thinking there’ll be something new. Lol. It’s actually nothing we don’t already know. The reality is this: You need to have genuine mutual attraction first and foremost. For that to happen, you need to be your authentic self. He either digs you or he doesn’t. I’ve seen lots of good men put up with drama queens, liars and what have you not… To say that, good men are only attracted to ‘good women’ is a myth. Yes, be honest. Yes, respect him as you would like to be respected. But, don’t feel that if you have drama in your life, or still healing from psychological wounds, that you cannot attract or keep a good man. There are a LOT of good men out there and they’re not all the same. Some will dig you, some will not. Just be your authentic self and know that you are worthy of love.

    • on this planet, there are very few ideas that are actually new. the problem isn’t that we don’t “know”, but that we simply aren’t doing it. and we aren’t doing it because we are not bringing it to conscious thought, which is the purpose of these articles.

  4. As I understand the question, the woman is asking how to approach her friend and let him know her interest in him. What you said about respect, attention, not playing the victim, etc were terrific, but they didn’t seem to answer the question. Am I wrong?

  5. I really appreciate this post, except the drama bit. I can’t avoid drama because I’m a union steward and I work in a law office! Lol. And gosh darn it, when you become a caregiver to elderly family there’s drama there too. You also can’t do anything about family members with mental illnesses.

    would I make any of that my partner’s problem? No. But if he’s going to high tail it out of there when I have a rough day and need to talk a bit, he’s the opposite of a good man.

  6. Good women are picky, and thank goodness for it. I date a lot of amazing women, but no passion with them. It will come. They are waiting for the same thing.

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