A couple years back, I happened upon my daughter’s “what to look for in a boyfriend” list, as I was cleaning her room. You know the list—the one that girls usually make around the 6th and 7th grade as they begin to think seriously about having a “boo-thang”. I thought it was cool that my princess had specific things in mind (as I encourage my children to always know what they want in life), but to evaluate a person’s value through a filter of respect, provides for a deeper foundation and a long-shot angle of the potential relationship. Respect, everything on the list lent itself to it, yet it wasn’t called by name. “Respect”…what all young ladies should have at the top of their “list”.

What I’m most having to reiterate to my daughter about choosing “the one” is that she needs to arrive at her conclusions by asking herself respect-related questions, not just evaluating the qualities, one-by-one on the list. One of the things I want her to consider is, “Does he respect himself?” While cooing over how cute he is, I urge her to take the time to see that his appearance reflects a sense of self-respect and self-worth—i.e. cleanliness, well-groomed, neat, and fit. To note if his posturings and dealings with others are always be done in a respectful manner. He should have great respect for his mother, and his family at-large. How he deals with his family members speaks to the core of his relationship dealings; to the breadth of personality dynamics that he grew up with. It’s very important to not only talk about these relationships, but to see them firsthand. How he treats himself and others in close relation can provide a lot of insight about how he might treat her.

So then she should ask herself, “How well does he respect me?” If he shows chivalrous respect, a female will likely notice it right away, and that’s great, but I am teaching my girl to look beyond “opening doors” and “pulling out chairs”. That he listens when she speaks, or that he has a positive perspective on women in general—those are indicators. That he treats her with great care and attentiveness are keys to showing her respect. That he supports her dreams, plans and visions with the same passion as his own, that’s respect. Of course, these things are displayed over time, so I remind my daughter of the value in being patient with the process. That finding “it” usually comes after a series of dates, discussions and shared experiences; that she should be mindful to take her time.

Then the burning question that any disciplining parent wants to know, “Does he respect God?” If my daughter is thinking seriously about a guy, the affirmative answer should be obvious at this point, and is honestly at the heart of the matter when determining what to look for. The more respect he has for his Maker and Creator, the more likely he is to love his girlfriend, according to the Word of God. I tell my daughter to be sure his actions line up with his beliefs in every area- spirit, mind, and body – that’s shows his integrity. Experience has taught me that it’s tough to respect a man who lacks integrity, no matter how great the love.

While “love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)”, according to numerous studies, men value respect even more than they do love. That a female displays the utmost respect for her mate is critical to the success of the relationship. It’s important to teach our daughters to be sure they can respect a man’s judgements, abilities, words, his uniqueness, and his differences, as opposed to getting hung up on how gorgeous he is, how nice he appears to be, or how much they love the same band. It’s important that he gives the respect he requires. Sure, it’s cool to have a guy who you love and who loves you, but to have a man who demands, exudes, and exemplifies respect, that’s just downright sexy, and super-spiritual, all at the same time.