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The L-word is so easy to say, and yet once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. It fundamentally changes how your partner sees you and how you see him. Such a powerful word comes with a lot of responsibility, though, and if the guy you’re with doesn’t check off these basic qualities, he’s not worthy of hearing those three little words from you yet:

1. HE’S STRAIGHT-UP ABOUT WHAT HE WANTS FROM YOU.
Let’s be honest — we’ve all had those BS almost-relationships. If you’re not even sure if you’re actually with this guy, you’d better not go spilling your innermost emotions to him just yet. A real man — one who is worthy of your time — will tell you where you stand. He won’t beat around the bush or try to tip-toe around the subject. He will be straightforward and honest from the start.

2. HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING IN THE BEDROOM.
Any lady who sits there naively proclaiming that ‘sex just isn’t that important’ is fooling herself. Having a healthy, thriving sex life is at the core of any romantic relationship. You need it, and so does he. Trust me, you will get hella bored if it’s not even there from the start. If he can’t prove himself in the bedroom, don’t go telling the guy you’re “in love” or things will only go downhill from there.

3. HE’S OFF TINDER (AND ANY OTHER DATING APPS) FOR GOOD.
Is this man still window-shopping for a better option? If you’re Mrs. Right Now rather than Mrs. Right, you should cut this guy loose ASAP. You deserve way better than to be treated like an option. You’re the main event. If he can’t see that, he doesn’t deserve your love or your time.

4. HE’S NOT ABOUT TO GET A SIDE CHICK.
How well do you really know this guy? Can you trust him to be exclusive with you? If there’s any reason to suspect that he’s a cheat, don’t take a risk on the guy. Cheaters don’t change. It doesn’t matter how much you’d like to believe they do — they don’t. Forget telling him you love him — you shouldn’t be breathing the same air as a man who’s ready to two-time you.

5. HE KNOWS YOU’RE MORE THAN JUST A CASUAL HOOK-UP.
Have you had “The Talk”? No? Then what the hell are you thinking? If you’re under the impression that saying the L-word will bag you an official relationship, you’re out of your damn mind. Your love isn’t a bargaining chip. Don’t you dare try to use it as one just to get what you want.

6. HE’S GOT YOUR BACK WHEN STUFF GOES DOWN.
What happens when things start to get real? Does this guy run away and hide, or is he right there beside you fighting the good fight? If you’re not sure whether he’s got your back yet, there’s no possible way you can love the guy. He’s still got oh-so-much to prove.

7. HE CAN HANDLE YOU AT YOUR BEST… AND WORST.
Like Jekyll and Hyde, we all have two sides to us (though hopefully not in quite such extreme measures). Up until now, this guy’s probably only seen you at your sweetest, smartest, and loveliest, but what about your not-so-good days? Has he seen you freak out because someone ate your candy bar or cry because you saw a cute animal on YouTube? No? Well, you might want to hold off on declaring your undying love for a while, then.

8. HE’S NOT A TOTAL DOUCHE TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
He might treat you like a little princess, but what about the people around you? How this guy treats your friends and family says a whole lot about his real personality. If he can’t be bothered to get to know them, he’s not worth your affections. A man who really cares about you will want to make the right impression on the people that matter most to you.

9. HE RESPECTS YOU WHETHER YOU’RE ALONE OR WITH HIS BUDDIES.
When you’re alone together, a guy will always treat you like his number-one priority. After all, what’s the man got to lose? If you want to know how he really feels, though, you have to watch how he treats you when his friends are about. A lot of guys have an instinctive need to show off to their friends. If he does that by putting you down, he’s not worthy.

10. YOU PLAY A LEADING ROLE IN ALL HIS FUTURE PLANS.
You might think that this relationship can go the distance, but is this guy really on the same page? When he talks about the future, are you in it? Does he make plans with you more than a few weeks in advance? If you’re not a central part of this guy’s future, he doesn’t deserve your present. Don’t give up the “love” just yet, yeah?

By Charlotte Grainger for Bolde

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