What Makes A Good Man “A Good Man?”

August 27, 2012  |  



How many times have we heard, or even said one of the following statements; “Good men are hard to find,” “There aren’t any good men available,” “A majority of men are homosexual or on the down low,” or “All good men are already taken.” These statements and many others have more often than not been said by woman of all races, creeds and color for a number of reasons. However, what I want to know is what is the definition of a good man? What does he look like? Does he carry himself in a certain manner?

There are a variety of adjectives that can describe and define a good man, but are these adjectives based on what he has, or who he is? Most women may initially define a man as good, or a good catch based solely on his exterior; meaning we have the tendency to focus first on the way he looks, his style of dress, what kind of job/career he has, so on and so on. But do these things truly define a good man? The answer is no. Now don’t get me wrong, these characteristics are nice to have, but they should not be the primary or the initial focus of a man, nor should they increase his value. The makings of a good man are not his outer possessions, but they are within his internal character.

As women, me included, it is imperative that we learn how to look in a man, rather than looking at him. And not only that, but we must learn what to look for inside of a man because his internal characteristics are what make him who he is. But I believe this is not simply a question of what we as women desire in men, but it is a question of what our morals and values are. Do we value physical and exterior qualities more than we value internal qualities? Or is it that we don’t know what characteristics to look for in a man? But then again, it could also be a question of how many women were raised to view men.

I recall a case study I conducted of one hundred women from a wide range of ages, socio-economic, religious, and educational backgrounds. The study asked women to list the top ten traits/characteristics (ten being the least important, one being the most important) they desired in a mate along with a brief explanation as to why these particular traits were vital to them as a woman, and the results were as follows: 10. a tie between intelligence and being physically fit, 9. selfless, 8. a tie between faithful and financially stable, 7. a good communicator, 6. a tie between career/goal-oriented and loving, 5. respectful, 4. a tie between family-oriented and honesty, 3. attractive (as in good looks), 2. God fearing. And the number one trait women desire in a mate is a sense of humor.

Other traits and characteristics women desired were: romantic, legally employed, outgoing, trustworthy, a good lover, understanding, loves children, open-minded, educated, stylish, supportive, dependable, great personality, a leader, caring, a great listener, likes to travel, tall, a friend, spiritual, affectionate, a good cook, strong, patient, independent, helpful, healthy, Christian, loves his mother, a protector, mature, a great provider, and disease free. While all of these traits and characteristics make sense, and reveal what different women think defines a good man, my questions and concerns are what traits matter more to women, and why? And how do we as women truly define what a good man is? Many times a lot of women measure a man by standards they set based on what they have (the independent woman), what they don’t have (the completion seeker), and what they desire to have (the potential gold digger), so on and so on. Rather than doing this what women should do is measure a man for who he is by observing his character, his good works, the way he speaks and interacts with people, so on and so on to see who he really is and begin to define him from who he shows he is. Good men are not hard to find, they are not all taken, and yes there are plenty available to have a productive and prosperous relationship with. It just depends on how one defines what good is. Ladies, what characteristics do you think define a good man? What matters more to you?

Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin

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  • Dova

    Geez, listen to some of you. I wouldn’t want to date any of you. So negative towards the opposite sex. I’ve had my share of losers, but still….maybe your problem, girls and boys is that you’re too critical. If some of you looked in the mirror, I bet you’d find that you exhibit some of the same behavior you complain about so much.
    I can’t speak for all women, but I can speak for myself. I don’t have a lot of experience to draw from and I’ve been at my happiest single. But I think what would change my mind was if I could just meet someone genuine. There are so many fakers out there. I’m beginning to value honesty more and more because it appears to be a rare quality.

  • How interesting. How sad.

    As has been pointed how by many a commenter below, there is no single definition of a “good” man. The term is so trite and overused as to be meaningless at this point. However, let’s play with this concept and what it may really be attempting to say.

    First, the sense of humor really does seem to be an overriding factor. I think this is the one area where I notice that most women’s desire (as given by the list of above factors) does match their actions. As for the other 9, I have observed a huge disconnect between what many women say they want and what they actually pursue.

    Yes, humor was #1 on this list and intelligence was last (10th), as if I needed my odds of meeting a “good” Black woman to be lower. I’ll add that my personal preference is for Black women. I must be more masochistic than I thought.

    Returning to this definition of “good”, it is subjective. I know for myself I have 11 – only 11 – deal-breakers. All too often, I find women who have some hand-wavy, ethereal definition of “good”, if they have one at all. Most Black women do not have even the slightest clue of either what they want or don’t want, which probably contributes to the randomness of their poor decision making. Even worse are the women who make every requirement a deal-breaker. By definition, if everything is important, nothing is important.

    I find that women spend an inane amount of time defining the characteristics of the men they desire, populating their lists with absurd requirements. In fact, there are so many deal-breakers on the average Black woman’s list that it is unlikely any regular, flesh-and-blood man of any ethnicity could match such requirements. I do think, as someone else said, that they only want to date Jesus Christ. (As if Jesus doesn’t have more options than even Idris Elba. Take a number and get in line.)

    My canonical example is height. The absurdity of Black women demanding that they will only date men who are 6 feet tall or taller is completely asinine. Only 15-20% of the entire male population of the United States are this tall! 15-20%!! So starting off, the average Black woman has ruled out 80-85% of the men in the entire nation. Of course you can’t find a “good” man, Black or otherwise, if your requirements are that limiting! Then these same Black women have the temerity to be upset that this fictional character doesn’t exist!?!?

    Even sadder — or funnier, depending on your point of view — is that many of these same women are not nearly as relationship-worthy or ready as they’d like to think they are. (This was also mentioned below.) They wouldn’t know a “good” man by their own standards if he fell out of the sky and landed on them! Yet, few of them are as intelligent, fit, selfless, faithful, financially stable, communicative, loving, respectful, honest, attractive, or spiritual (quite religious but religion does not a relationship with God make) as they have the audacity to demand from potential partners. Obviously, I left out a lot of adjectives that many Black women are *not* yet my friends and I find ourselves, out of commitment to Black women and Black families, shut out from even having an opportunity to get to know these women.

    Maybe these women aren’t worth getting to know and maybe they are the women of our dreams, but Black women are so closed off to the possibility of success that it makes me wonder why they complain about failing so often.

    Why do we put up with this again? While I cannot agree with any Black man who chooses to marry interracially, I can surely understand. This is a hell of a lot of difficulty for a murky reward. To use an investing analogy, the ROI of a relationship with a Black women often looks pretty low or even negative. You attract that which you are, and inversely, you cannot attract that which you are *not*. So if Black women want to attract a “good” man, Black or otherwise, they need to start by being that which they seek to attract. (I say Black women only because I’m not interested in or concerned with women of other ethnicities. This is universal spiritual law, however, so the same applies to any woman anywhere of any ethnicity, nationality, cultural background, religious denomination, etc.)

    Here’s another example of the kind of absurdity we (Black men) encounter in our near futile pursuit of a Black female partner. It enrages me to hear Black women talk about the *need* for a Black man to have an undergraduate degree before they will even consider dating him. This one I’m sure has silently kicked me in the rear numerous times, yet most people wouldn’t know that I don’t have a degree unless I mention it. I’ve seen plenty of friends felled as well by this self-limiting belief held by so many Black women when oddly, the exhibit the kind of poor intellectual behavior that denotes them as being uneducated.

    The inverse of this situation is that I can think of so few men I know who should make the cut of the average Black woman yet somehow they manage to, despite not living up to the measures espoused by average Black women. Something doesn’t fit here!! Someone is being dishonest.

    How can a man who meets 8 – 9 of the criteria listed above (and 29 of the 33 “other” traits as well) have so much trouble meeting a woman who is worth *his* time and energy if, as alleged, there are so many single Black women seeking a man with those traits? How many bachelors, masters or Ph.D. holders do I know who struggle to earn even high 5 figure incomes? Too many to name. How many non-degree or associates holders that I know who are on their way to $200,000 annual incomes (myself included)? Far fewer than the latter category, I assure you. (I use income as a proxy here for many other characteristics for simplicity.)

    My relationship coach has spoken of a phenomenon wherein Black women seem to want to live a RHoA lifestyle. He’s told me about many of his Black female clients who think in this way. I call it the “Disney syndrome”. Whether these women bring anything of merit to the relationship is inconsequential, it seems. They want a man who can give them all of that so they can live some fairytale existence but they aren’t deserving of such a lifestyle. They surely haven’t made strides to earn it. They’re in competition with all of the other Black women who have the same goal, clamoring in line to attract the affections of some star athlete or musician, yet they lack the ability to run a simple statistical analysis to realize that the odds are against them. Then again, maybe they just don’t care that the odds are against them, and like having unprotected sex, they just choose to roll the dice.

    IF by some chance they are chosen and eventually discarded (replaced, as it were) by a man who has abundant options, they want to be angry at all men instead of realizing that the failure was theirs. It was a failure of their priorities, a failure of their thinking, a failure of their beliefs and a failure of their actions. This is the definition of a woman who does not accept responsibility for her life. Often by this point, we find she’s caring for a child (or multiple children) as well.

    Then at some point, usually when its too late to make a difference, she wants to find a “good” man. “Good” wasn’t important before but it is now!?!? Sorry, you had your chance. You (over)played your hand — poorly — and lost. Maybe in your next lifetime you’ll learn the lesson earlier.

    All the while, she’s now passed up by men who never previously would have made her radar. Men like me. Its quite amazing how options have become more plentiful as I have gotten older. However, I’m a discriminating man. I don’t want every woman and I have no such need. I just want and need one – the one whose faults I can live with.


    This whole process is exasperating. And disappointing. And maddening. And saddening.

    It truly does seem as if Black people want to remain in the state that we have gotten ourselves into. History is what it is and what has been done has been done. Most of the damage to the Black family, the damage done in the last 40 – 50 years, has been by our own hands. May God have mercy on us all.

  • Elle Royal

    This question is so hard to answer that having a good man just became unimportant to me and is no longer a requirement of my man.

  • C

    I mean to oversimplify, but this is a question that’s particular to the woman you ask, isn’t it? For one woman a man with a good job is a good man. For another, any man who is a good dresser is a good man. These aren’t personality traits, but just to show that good varies from superficial to spiritual.

  • psylocke_2001

    “He’s a good man Savannah!” What movie did I get that from?

    • Lena

      Waiting to Exhale!

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  • FromUR2UB

    There is no person who is right for everyone. Being a good man or woman doesn’t mean a person will be a good fit for every other good person. Clearly, this is complicated, as indicated by the number of attributes deemed important by different women, in various orders. Furthermore, regardless of how “good” a person may be, he can’t be flawless. I can think of a number of characteristics or habits that might cause me to eliminate a good guy. He smokes, for example. I couldn’t handle smelling that all the time. He’s a mama’s boy or allows his family to interfere in our relationship. A little problem with personal hygeine, as in, doesn’t believe in it. He might be an otherwise great guy, but those are little things that would challenge my tolerance level. But, one person’s trash can be another person’s treasure.

  • Big Mike

    See, this is the problem with dating:

    Look at her survey -she asked ALL types of women what they liked in men, and the #1 thing they all said was ‘sense of humor’. The problem with that is women will ignore ALL of his other faults if he is extremely funny/charming. THIS IS THE ENTIRE PROBLEM right here! Women are attracted to it, but if you have a charmer who is a TOTAL BUM, you have to let him go, no matter how much it sucks….maybe he could have enough of the other traits to make him worth your while, but often times he doesn’t. Women will try to ‘make it work’ when it really never stood a chance.

    My advice to the ladies – find the man that will make you swoon, but make sure he measures up in other qualities, too.

    My advice to the fellas – learn a sense of humor quick.

    • Nope

      I figured a sense of humor was #1 because most women aren’t funny themselves.

      • Kayo

        No. Our society teaches us that women can’t be funny and that male humor is superior.

        • Big Mike

          Both of you are off base.

          • Kayo

            Not at all. You just don’t agree.

        • Nope

          Hell, a lot of women don’t think other women are funny. A lot of times women don’t support their own outlets, then want to cry foul and scream victim. Female comedians, women’s sports (WNBA being a big one), etc., etc. If we all want to actually be honest, the product really is sub par in SOME cases.

  • Ann

    I think a good man is all those things and: provider, legally employed, not a womanizer, respectful, he does have to be able to conversate (not having a foul mouth), I don’t like a man who stays drunk and high all the time, supportive and sensitive toward my needs and I can be sensitive to his needs.

    • Jakob Kattner

      I only drank for three months the entire 36 years of my life, so I can understand where you are coming from. A guy who drinks all the time and does drugs all the time may not be fun for someone who is only an occasional drinker – especially if the guy has “issues” when he gets drunk.

  • shogaz

    Every woman wants to find a good man but the question is, are these women prepared to be a good woman for the man they date? The fact that this statement is made so often make me feel as a man that all women are already perfectly place for a man and he is the one to make the adjustment. It goes both ways. A good woman may be difficult to find too. If the women could stop nagging and complaining and stop judging their man because another man hurt them in the past, they will find a good man. A good man walks away from drama while a snob stays because he has nothing to lose. So women should blame themselves because their attitude is what attracts the snobs and then they figure all men are like that. I found a good woman and she found a good man too and we couldn’t be happier because neither of us complain about anything. We just accept life for what it is and respect and make each other happy.

    • relationshipdna

      Couldn’t agree more. Most women simply aren’t great partnership material either. They think they are and assume it is the Man’s job to come and and complete them or fix whatever is ailing them. It’s no wonder why so many are chronically single or end up in all sorts of drama filled relationships. The question really should be, ‘what makes a good person?’

    • Jakob Kattner

      I really do not mind drama actually. It kind of gives me a purpose with a chick instead of sitting around bored. But I do agree that women should be just as good to a man as a man should do to a woman. And removing drama is not the only way to be good btw. You can have retarded drama and still be a good person in the heart and soul. Respect, compassion, friendship, trust, and just plain old being there for eachother when times are tough is a good thing.

  • applesauce585

    How he treat other people is also important! You got some attractive men that are rude, and unkind to others. A definite turnoff.

    • FStubbs

      Those kinds of guys never seem to lack for women, though.



    • Darryl Lomas

      And you’ll probably scare the hell out of them wit all dat ebonics u is spittin.. No wonder some women can’t find them

  • Very interesting article. It gives me some insight about what some women think of us.

    • CarlaKah

      I feel like I’ve met enough men that could be considered good by some of my friends or family members just not by me. I define good as a man I would like as my lover, life partner and father of my children. The type my father would like to see me with. The type I would want my son to be (I have no children but you know, IF I did then…). A liar, cheater or big baby cannot fit into this category…. according to me. I’ve got enough women in my life, who feel you need to try your best to “make it work” with a man you love (even if he cheated or lied about having kids ). I have an equal number of men in my environment who would leave in a heartbeat when being betrayed like that. Obviously it’s all about what you consider fair.

  • Nope

    According to a lot of lists most women basically want to date Jesus.

  • A good man is a man who makes sure his kids are provided for, protected & grow up psychologically healthy. That’s it.

    Women don’t know & can’t define a good man until they are 40 & washed up. And the men that treat them well get tossed to the side for the more dominant non-committal kinds. So, we cannot gauge a woman’s word or her dating history on what a good man is.

    • B

      “washed up”, I pray you are not a woman. *SMH*

    • CarlaKah

      SMH. You only speak of the kids. What about how he treats the woman he loves? If he takes good care of his kids, but mistreats his woman, he is indirectly mistreating the kids by teaching them first hand how to mistreat a woman. They, growing up thinking that’s normal, will have to deprogram themselves in order to not either become a man like that or fall for a man like that. GIT.

    • regularblkman

      @Adonis… I concur completely! A review of their dating history is a more accurate picture of who or what she values. Words are wind and utterly meaningless.

      I hate to say this… but this issue of assuming that a man who takes care of and cares for a woman is weak is inherent in american society. Its backed up by the number of women who consistently choose the “Bad Boy” until they get older and realize that the man they should have considered is a ship that has already sailed.

      It is what it is.

    • Jakob Kattner

      I would have to say that is the only thing I agree with. 40 and older seems to be the wiser women in my opinion. I being unfortunately a good man myself. And women seeing good men really does not happen. lol. The naturally go after a the wrong people and men do the same for women. And also good is not defined by money btw.

  • Nope

    “Good men are hard to find”

    “There aren’t any good men available”

    The real question is why aren’t you getting or keeping these good men…? **crickets…**

    • CarlaKah

      Define good

      • Nope

        However a woman defines a “good man” for herself, why isn’t she landing that type of man.

        • CarlaKah

          The goodness of a man isn’t funded on his ability to find or even notice a suitable woman. I’ve heard enough men complain about women as well

  • I remember reading an article in Essence Magazine 10 or so years ago called “The 10 Best Cities To Find A Good Man”. At every listing the first thing listed was the median income of the men there. I’ve still found that how much money a man makes can override any other quality a man may have when it comes to a lot of women’s search for a “good” man. Then again, a lot of sistas hook up with broke idiots with “swagga” so who the hell knows?

    • sheena

      i will be honest and say I have no freaking clue……I’m very spiritual so I used to go for good charactered guys who ma not have all the swag and glam…then they turn out to be broke bums who can’t get by a day without their mama or some other chick aking care of them. Then I tried to switch it up and go for the guys with money, why go thru drama with a broke fool, well rich fools aint noo better. Since then I’ve given up, I date who I’m attracted to and look out for the red flags………dam red flags everywhere with every kind.

      • RegularBlkMan

        I gotta respect this opinion. I really can’t be mad at a woman who wants to choose someone who is financially well off. I really can’t. Especially if she brings something to the table besides good looks and knows how to treat a man well.

        I’m a guy on the flip side of this equation. I don’t date women with kids who are not height weight proportionate and who do not have graduate degrees. No need to put up with drama from someone who has baggage.Drama without the baggage is preferable. ( I wonder how many people will tell me i’m wrong for this).

  • cheekee baby

    I didn’t need that whole article to sum it up. A good man is a man that matches up with your own personal morals, principals, and conduct for how you live your life. He doesn’t have to be rich or 6ft tall or have a 12 inch d**K, do you have a similar guiding principal that you follow? If you don’t it won’t matter how good he looks on paper he is not the good man for you.

    • regularblkman

      @cheekee_baby:disqus Well said. Well said indeed!

  • dontdoit

    Intelligence is number one, because without it you can’t have any of the other traits, except for attractive. And who wants a pretty fool? Not me.

    • L-Boogie


    • Candacey Doris

      Can’t argue with that.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, definitely intelligence and ambition which is the same as having a drive in life. And, good heart. These three things will make any man attractive. The same for women.


    Profess, provide, protect! Theres not enough space to list all the qualities of a good man!!

  • NaturalJem

    1. God fearing 2. Appreciative/Grateful towards his partner 3. Goal oriented 4. Respectful 5. Honest and the other characteristics listed in the article.

    • are you stating that if you are an athiest or ignostic you can never be a good man?

      • NaturalJem

        Hi Jason, i believe the God fearing quality will make him a “better” man….but that’s my preference.

        • CarlaKah

          So he should need something else than common sense to keep himself from doing wrong? Cause an agnostic or atheist only needs values and morals to justify his behaviour…

          • NaturalJem

            Of course common sense which is also included in the Word of God

            • CarlaKah

              Not necessarily. Using common sense is a choice a human being can make regardless of what he fears.

          • Bridget Lee

            ONLY an immoral man needs an outside source for his morality. And having met enough bible thumping men that will not make him any better.

            • CarlaKah

              You know what I DO agree with you on THAT

            • Frost

              What if the blackman is very well traveled and say wants a higher quality women from a morally strict society like say Singapore? How can you ameircan blackwomen compete with that?

    • Kayo

      Being ‘God fearing’ doesn’t make one a better person, just another follower.

      • NaturalJem

        eh….i disagree

        • Kayo

          Of course you would.

          • NaturalJem


      • CarlaKah

        I agree. God-fearing just defines how you view death and maybe also reasons why you live

        • NaturalJem

          It mainly defines how to live

          • CarlaKah

            It doesn’t define if your morals and values as a person are already good enough to choose to do the right thing. Rather you are God-fearing or not.

          • Bridget Lee

            WHERE??? Have you been to church? They are doing a little of bit of everything and calling it saved.

            • Frost

              Alot of the blackwomen I see have all these fantasy requirements. One of them is the 6ft height thing. Most women spend more time rejecting men that are not 6ft tall, but will not spend the time to engage physcially in getting one. This is what many call a high standard, PROCRASTINATION and RUNNING OF THE MOUTH??!!!

  • AmyFinehouse

    Wait…. Number 10 was intelligence?? im confused…

    • intelligenceissexy

      lol I was thinking the exact same thing…

    • Bridget Lee

      Come women have to know the limitation they are working with.

    • smith man

      That is a lie. I have been around black women from many different backgrounds and at different levels and very few of them even mention intelligence.