1. She doesn’t feel the need to check in with you at every second of the day to see where you are — partially because she trusts you (as trust is kind of important in any relationship) but also because she has stuff to do, too, and she’s going to spend her time accordingly.
2. She carries her own bags if she’s strong enough to do so, not just for the arm workout, but because those things in her arms — from the money in her wallet to the bags she’s hefting — are things she earned with her hard work.
3. She understands that though it’s nice when you open a door for her, it is in no way something we are expected to do in modern society — and she can open doors, both literally and metaphorically, for herself.
4. She refuses to apologize for her body, or change its shape, size, or the way she dresses it for you. If you can’t appreciate it as is, you shouldn’t get to see it naked.
5. She respects the fact that sometimes, she’s not going to mesh with your friends. You’re not going to mesh with all of hers, either, but you can be civil toward one another when hanging out in group settings. You’re not dating each other’s friends — well, you shouldn’t be — you’re dating each other.
6. She notices the little things that might make life easier, not just for you but for you both — but still respects that your space and time are yours, and her space and time belong to her. Micromanaging how you do your laundry is a sacred realm for only your mother, but the woman you’re dating can text you every once in a while to remind you to drop off your dry-cleaning.
7. She shows up when she says she’s going to show up, and supports and provides feedback on all your crazy endeavors. She has dreams of her own, as well, and is going to chase them whether or not you’re supporting her, so you might as well get on board, too.
8. She has some nights with her friends and family, and does not expect you to tag along. Every one of her relationships is important to her. That also involves one-on-one time with other people whom she loves, and doesn’t mean she loves you any less.
9. She is mature enough to talk about awkward and even difficult things with tact, and look you in the eye as you’re having these conversations. You should do the same for her.
10. She honors the fact that sometimes, we’re all a little sappy and get sledgehammered right in the heart by a particularly cry-worthy romantic comedy or love song. She will cry, or get mopey or goon-eyed accordingly. This is human. She will not expect you to be a bird, but maybe she’ll smile to herself while she’s listening to Spotify and you can go ahead and assume a song is reminding her of you.
11. Not only does she ask, but she tells you what she wants and does not want in bed, and doesn’t apologize for not submitting to your every wish. There are two people in that bed, and the point is for both of them to feel comfortable and have fun.
12. She never asks you to choose between her and your family. She understands that both can be equally important parts of your life, and you shouldn’t have to take sides.
13. At the very least, she will try to find common ground with everyone who is important in your life: your boss at those super-fun mandatory work functions, your siblings at family reunions and holidays, your friends when she’s supporting something you’re really into, whatever. If you can’t put your differences aside for a few hours, those are red flags that need to be addressed, and she will spot (and deal with) them accordingly.
14. She orders a burger not because it makes her seem more confident in her body or because you’d like her to reenact some Carls Jr. commercial fantasy, but when she wants to order a burger. (She will also order a salad for the same “because I wanted it” principle, and not because she feels the need to look prim. Besides, salads with dressing on them are always better.)
15. She buys you things she sees in the store and thinks you might like (and with her own money to boot) because she thinks you might like them. She doesn’t have the time to try to force something that isn’t “you” onto your life.
16. She calls you out on your nonsense, and understands when you call her out on hers. We all do things that rub someone the wrong way every once in a while. The hallmark of a strong relationship is being able to talk about it before it festers.
17. She respects that sometimes people need to be left alone to cool down after a fight — she will give you your space, and take her own when she needs to.
18. She isn’t afraid to be the first person to say “I love you.” Well, maybe there’s a little fear there — there always is — but she doesn’t let the bad advice that whoever cares less has the upper hand influence her decisions, because she doesn’t believe in upper hands.
19. She doesn’t compare you to actors, singers, exes she once dated, whoever. Relationships based on lofty expectations will fall flat. It’s better to appreciate what and who you have, and build from that grounded foundation.
20. She understands that love does not have an end game, and that it is not a game at all. Relationships are for their own sake, and while rings and wedding vows and babies are all very important aspects of life and love, your love is not diminished without them.
21. And she finds little ways to tell you she cares, but also does so in ways that are clear and articulated. You shouldn’t have to be a magician to know that she’s thinking of you — when she cares about you, you’ll know, both because she’ll tell you, and because she’s not shy about expressing who she truly is… and that includes the part of her that is in love with you.
Check out our practical guide to finding, friending, hooking up, breaking up and falling in love in the 21st century.