Our mission: To find out exactly what men are looking for in a good girlfriend. Impossible? Not exactly. We simply turned to Lisa Daily, syndicated relationship columnist and author of Stop Getting Dumped, who promises to help readers find and marry "the one" in three years or less. Daily followed her own advice and married her dream man, who proposed at the top of the Eiffel Tower after a six-month courtship. Now, she is determined to help other single gals do the same. A dating guru, Daily interviewed—and continues to do so—hundreds of bachelors to find out what makes a woman marriage material in this day and age. Here, Daily dishes about the 10 traits every man is looking for in a serious girlfriend:
1. She has a life of her own—and it's pretty good to boot. Ladies, this means that you take care of yourself, pay attention to your personal style and find time to hang with your fabulous friends and family. You seek adventure by traveling. And you take in life's pleasures—from indulging in dessert to walking through the park on a sunny day. "You don't expect your boyfriend to be your entire existence," says Daily. In other words, you're not waiting for some man to show up, so you can get your "real life" started.
2. She never makes the first move. This issue has been debated to death, and there is no true consensus. But Daily says that she strongly believes women should never, ever pursue a man. Instead, she suggests waiting for the man to initiate and plan dates. Her reasoning: If the woman is always the one calling, she will never know if he is really interested in her or if it's just convenient for him. She may find herself questioning the relationship every step of the way. Men simply aren't programmed to think like that and therefore are better suited to the chase, Daily says.
3. She is sexy without being trampy. This means something different at the beginning of the relationship than it does down the road, Daily says. In the beginning of courtship, a woman should refrain from making any comments that are overtly sexual. She also flirts by using nonsexual touch like placing her hand on his forearm or even the knee but only briefly. When the relationship gets more serious, and presumably more intimate, sexual touch and public displays of affection are more appropriate. At this point, it's okay to play footsie under the table.
4. She waits to have sex. Yes, the sexual revolution arrived long ago and few people expect a "pure white bride" nowadays. But sex is still a pretty big step for couples. Daily says that many women don't even realize just how much sex changes the dynamics of a relationship. When women have sex, they release a hormone called oxytocin (also referred to as "the cuddle hormone"), which some scientific researchers believe makes women feel extra warm and fuzzy for their sex partners. Daily warns that if women do the deed too soon, they might make too much of a relationship that barely ever existed outside of the bedroom. When you inflate the significance of a relationship, the man often bolts. Daily's advice is to wait at least one month into the relationship before having sex with your new man.
5. She does little things to show she cares. Daily has one friend who noticed that her traveling salesman boyfriend never had time to get his shirts washed, so he would just go out and buy new ones. Her friend started to drop off his laundry at the dry cleaners once a week. Daily herself cooks for her husband. "It's as if he doesn't even know where the kitchen is," she says. "But that's not to say that he starves when I'm out of town." No, you do not have to turn into June Cleaver. The bottom line is that you should want to do the little things that let him know you care and you are paying attention to his individual needs. And he should do the same for you. Daily boasts that her man scrapes the ice off her windshield on cold winter mornings!
6. She should be her boyfriend's best wingman—err, wing woman. Help him to look good in front of the boss, advises Daily. Laugh at his jokes and help him shine when it is important. Of course, again, he should do the same for you.
7. She never turns on the pressure. This one is important. Men have a distinct aversion to any sort of pressure, says Daily. Therefore, women should avoid calling and/or emailing him many times during the day or dropping hints about the future. In fact, keep the dreaded M-word (marriage) out of your vocabulary all together. "Men don't want to constantly take the pulse of a relationship," says Daily. "They would rather just enjoy it."
8. She does not take any crap—from anyone. A good woman never accepts bad behavior. Guys respect women with whom they can't get away with anything. If he knows there's a penalty—like getting thrown to the curb—for a serious violation like cheating, he'll respect you more, and he will be far less likely to do it. You should also never even bother to date married men, those who already have girlfriends or anyone who verbally or physically threatens or abuses you. Period.
9. A good woman always chooses a good man. That means that you should look for someone who is honest and dependable. He has to treat you right. If he says he is going to be somewhere, he is there. Chivalry is not dead, by the way. "Good manners are a deeper window into what kind of man he truly is," Daily says. You should also have compatible views on money (which is the number one thing couples fight about). Even though they say opposites attract, savers should think twice before shacking up with wild spenders.
10. She knows that love is the biggest part of the mating equation. Just how does a good woman know that she has found that crazy-for-you, toe-curling relationship? Daily says that some women have an "a-ha" moment, while love simply sneaks up on the rest. "I believe the feeling includes a unique sense of comfort and acceptance and the feeling that someone else's happiness is as important to you as your own," Daily says. "A certain amount of toe curling is key as well."
Francesca Di Meglio is a contributing writer for iVillage. Follow her on Google +.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.