02/15/2013 11:16 am ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

Dating Advice: Want to Know What Kind of a Man he is? Look at His Friends

Sometimes, it's hard to find a good man... and sometimes, we are so desperate to FIND a man and be in a relationship that we can overlook things. But I have really learned over the past few weeks that if you want to know the true quality of a man, you should take a look at his friends.

I think that the friends we chose are a direct reflection of who we are, and so it would make sense that the friends a man chooses reflect who he is.

I admit that I am 100% guilty of not taking this advice in the past. I met one ex-boyfriend after his married best friend hit on me ("but that's OK, because even though he hits on and picks up girls all the time he never actually sleeps with them." Phew, that's a relief). Then, there was the guy I dated whose best friend actively encouraged his alcoholism (trying to keep my ex happy and drunk so he could continue to live with him rent-free and freeload). And the guy I dated whose friends all made a group pact that they would never get married and egged each other on, chiding one another about it constantly (I know... what was I thinking?) And another who told me about more than one of his friends' bachelor parties where friends cheated on their wives. I mean, come on. If these were the friends these exes of mine were choosing, what does that say about them (ugh, and about me for being with them), seriously!? But, I digress. I just wanted to throw some examples out there in case they struck a chord with any of you ladies.

I already know what a wonderful man my boyfriend is. We've had almost a year and a half of ups and downs and learning about each other. And, I have spent time with his close friends on vacation, at weddings and over drinks, and always really liked every single one of them AND their ladies (which, come on girls, is important and also tells a lot about a guy!) But what I witnessed over the past few weeks: a) overwhelmed me and b) made me fall even more in love with him. My boyfriend's sweet, loving, incredible mom passed away very quickly and unexpectedly. He asked me to let his friends know. And their outpouring of love and support moved me to tears. ALL of them, within just hours' notice, dropped whatever it was they were doing or had to do and showed up to be with my boyfriend (even coming in from out of town). Over the week, they were in touch with me often asking what they could do for him, how he was doing, checking in on him. His friends were the last ones to leave the gathering after the funeral, and were the ones who stayed to help clean up afterwards. They surrounded him, literally and figuratively, with love. I am not kidding, I felt the love from them, which is often a hard thing for men to do -- you know, be emotional and stuff.

Yes, all these guys were man enough to be emotional... to listen to my boyfriend's pain, and for some to even cry themselves in the pain of this loss. To me, it is a strong man who can actually open up and be vulnerable, and that is the kind of man I want -- one who isn't afraid to feel and express his feelings. And, if his friends are capable of that, then I know that he is capable of that. (Don't get me wrong, they are also dudes who are capable of talking about porn, regaling each other with detailed stories of past sexual exploits, eating Mexico's largest burrito in under five minutes, drinking endless tequila shots and having all night jam sessions), but when the going gets tough, they're not afraid to be vulnerable (or clean up a dirty kitchen after a funeral). And neither is my boyfriend.

When I spoke to a few of them and told them just how moved I was by their love and support, and how amazing they were, they all had pretty much the same answer -- they wanted to be to my boyfriend the kind of friend he has always been to them... and these are all childhood and college friends who have maintained this solid connection throughout many years. =As if I didn't already know my boyfriend was the man I want to be with, this sure sealed the deal for me.

If you're only dating for the hell of it, then none of this matters, of course. But if you're dating someone that you think might be long-term or serious relationship material, it is crucial to know what kind of man he really is, underneath. What are his morals? What are his values? Not just, does he like the same sports as you or does he also like to go wine tasting, but truly, what is he made of? Take a look at his friends. They will show you. Are they the kinds of guys that would do anything for your boyfriend -- and I mean, REAL things, not just like filling in for a missing player on their baseball team or being a wingman on a night out (which is all fine and good too). But, here, I mean, the things that matter. Would they really BE there for him? That kind of loyalty and support is a testament to who your boyfriend is, because if they would do it for him, he would do it for them.

I know too many single ladies whose whole world is consumed with finding a guy... whose sole topic of conversation is one of devastation that they're still single. Ladies, I'm telling you, please stop. When you operate like this, you may settle for anything. You may ignore all the red flags. But please, don't. I am telling you as a woman who waited, who didn't settle even though society and my own fears told me there was something wrong with me because I was "still" single, I'm telling you as a woman in her (GULP) mid-thirties... that the right man is worth the wait.

I believe the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So if a man has friends with sketchy or questionable morals and values, wouldn't you think that perhaps he does too?