Are you with a genuinely good person?
Sure, you’d like to think so, but should you just trust your intuition?
Aren’t there times when they do things that make you wonder?
I think this is normal in all relationships. We all want to be together with someone who we think is a good person, but that doesn’t always mean that society at large will agree with us.
This may be because different people have different values.
Values can basically be defined as the things you think constitute good. So, if my values and yours differ, won’t our concepts of what is good also be different?
One cross-cultural study suggests that this is precisely true. It found that different cultural groups placed more importance on different virtues, so “goodness” seems to have a strong cultural component.
At the same time, however, many qualities were found across cultures, and these can be seen as the average of human goodness.
So, if you’re wondering about the person you’re with, here are eight signs your partner is a genuinely good person, according to psychology.
1) They’re trustworthy
When you think about a good person, I’m sure you think about whether you can trust or rely on them.
For most people, this means that you can believe what they tell you. If you were to lend them something, they’d return it. If you were going to arrange to meet somewhere, you know they’d turn up.
Our trust is also constantly being challenged.
When someone doesn’t meet you on time, you wonder whether they’ve intentionally broken your trust or if they’re running late due to circumstances out of their control, for example.
According to research, we make extremely quick judgments on whether to trust strangers – we’re talking 34 milliseconds! If they prove themselves trustworthy, we give them more opportunities to be trusted, and they can become acquaintances and even friends.
But if they let us down, we rarely continue with any investment in that person and never think of them as good.
2) They’re benevolent
Benevolence is a sort of umbrella term for all those words that kind of mean the same thing: kind, caring, helpful, etc.
We can define benevolence as a positive attitude towards yourself, others, and all of humanity.
For most of us, this is one of the main things we mean when we say a person is “good.”
We picture Boy Scouts helping old ladies to cross the road (is this still a thing?!). I personally think about the time I saw a woman reading an unnumbered 100-flavor ice cream menu to a blind stranger (“What was #57 again?”).
Kindness and caring are hugely important in every culture across the world, and in the study I mentioned earlier, benevolence came third in important virtues after trustworthiness and morality (more on that later).
But interestingly, another study found that good, benevolent people also suffer from more stress, exhaustion, and depression at the workplace. So, while we agree they’re good, their kindness may take a toll.
3) They’re courageous
Most people agree that good people are courageous.
Is your partner?
We often think of the lion as a creature with courage, but is it really, considering its size, fangs, and ferocity?
Courage can be defined as attempting to reach a goal while facing risk, plain and simple. So courage could be running into traffic to pluck a lost toddler out of danger. But it can also be seen in wearing an outfit that expresses who you are even though you risk social ridicule.
Even when the risk is great, we still see courage as a virtue and a key component of a good person.
It’s also interesting to note that people who display courage seem to encounter less stress than people who don’t. So if you’re kind, you might get more stress, but if you’re also courageous, you’ll get less and things balance out.
4) They’re empathetic
Does your partner have the ability to understand themself and others, especially their feelings and motivations?
If so, it sounds like they’re a person with a good amount of empathy.
Empathy is a person’s capacity to “perceive the emotions of others, resonate with them emotionally and cognitively, to take in the perspective of others, and to distinguish between our own and others’ emotions.”
This helps to reduce the distance between us and bring greater understanding and care for others.
Empathy helps improve communication, compassion, and pro-social behavior, all things that we objectively see as good.
So if your partner is able to understand your feelings and the feelings of others, take them into account, and connect with them without using them to gain an advantage, it sounds like they’re an empathetic and good person.
5) They’re considerate
When I think about a person being considerate, I think of them not taking the last donut without at least asking around if anyone else wants it before they do.
I also think about people who blast their stereos late at night as the total opposite.
Being considerate means that you think about the situation of others. You then act in a way that doesn’t harm, inconvenience, or treat them unfairly.
Psychological research has actually shown that even children as young as six years old will often choose to act in considerate ways, much like I’ve described.
When given a choice of snack, they were shown to take a snack that still left a choice for another child, but only if one was around. If no one else was there, they chose the snack that they preferred.
This is the beginning of social-minded behavior that takes other’s feelings and desires into account and is widely considered good.
Remember that if your partner is truly considerate, they’ll not only take your feelings into account but also those of others. You’ll see this in their altruistic and selfless behavior across the board.
6) They’re respectful
One of the major virtues that was indicated by that big cross-cultural study was respectfulness.
This was found in every society studied, although it had different meanings in different places.
In some cultures, this meant showing respect for traditions and deference to elders. In other societies, this meant treating other people equally and being generally polite and courteous to all.
What does it mean within your relationship?
In an intimate partner relationship, respect can be seen as behavior that reveals a partner values and admires the other. There is no disdain or embarrassment in these respectful relationships.
Instead, there is an appreciation of the person, value for their positive qualities, and acceptance of their negative qualities.
So if your partner is respectful to you, they’ll be happy to be seen with you. They won’t criticize you unfairly or blame you for things you didn’t do or can’t control.
7) They’re wise
Wisdom is a sort of ephemeral quality that’s hard to pin down.
We think of wisdom as more than just the accumulation of knowledge but also certainty, experience, good judgment, and productive action.
Unlike pure intelligence, wisdom is considered to be accumulated over time. Therefore, only time will tell if a person’s actions are wise instead of foolish.
But if you’ve been with your partner for long enough, you’ll know whether they have wisdom or not.
If they continually make mistakes and poor choices, they won’t have this highly respected quality.
But if they’re able to use their experience, knowledge, and wit to make good choices most of the time, you and everyone else will be able to see them as wise.
And this is an important component that makes up the character of a good person.
8) They’re moral
When I was just a teen, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture about morality.
It wasn’t what you’re probably thinking.
Instead of teaching morality, it was simply about defining it. In general, we can think of morality as knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.
However, it’s pretty clear that morality differs between cultures and even between people.
But what that speaker went on to talk about is something that’s now referred to in psychology as moral identity.
This identity is the degree to which each person follows their own morality. Do they choose to do what they believe is right, or do they choose to do things even though they believe they’re wrong?
While a whole group of people might essentially share the same morals, not everyone has the same moral identity. For example, in a society where it’s considered good to share, there are still people who believe that but choose not to do it and instead amass incredible personal wealth.
But if your partner is a truly good person, they’ll follow their own morals even if these make them lose out on other benefits in life.
If you recognize these eight signs, your partner is a genuinely good person according to psychology; you can be quite certain that it’s not just you who thinks they’re great!