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Contrary to popular belief, there are guys out there who want to be husbands and fathers. It may be hard to see them through all the hooking up and hanging out, but they are out there if you know where to look.

How do I know this? Well, over the years, our Gentlemen Speak contributors have had a lot to say about commitment—why they want it and how to know if the guy you’re dating is looking for it.

In fact, Victor Stevens tells Verily that he has observed the dating scene at length as a musician performing at bars. Time and again as he scans crowds full of both couples and singles looking for a hookup, he says all of them can’t get enough of songs about fidelity and long-term romance. It may be a small sign, but it’s an important one. And it goes to show that even if a little disguised, there are men out there who want to commit.

With a little bit of help from our Verily Gentlemen, they can be easy to spot. We’ve rounded up the five essential things you need to know about how to tell if a guy is ready to commit, straight from the guys themselves.

01. You can ask him without actually having to ask him about commitment.

Verily contributor Justin Petrisek says the best way to find out of a guy is commitment ready without asking, “Are you commitment ready?” is to ask one of these four questions. First, what’s his number one priority? It’s a good sign if his priorities include things like family. Second, does he have a five-year plan? No, you don’t need to know the details of his projected career path, but you should be aware if he plans to settle down anytime in the near future. Next, how is he dealing with baggage from his past? Everyone carries emotional weight into their relationships, but if he can’t let go of his, perhaps he needs to work some things out before you two go any further. Finally, if you’ve been dating long enough, don’t be afraid to ask where he sees the relationship going.

02. Even if he doesn’t tell you, he’ll show you if he’s ready.

A guy might not walk around with a sign broadcasting “husband material,” but if you pay attention carefully, you’ll get a pretty good idea whether he’s looking for commitment before you two even discuss it. Verily contributor Isaac Huss tells us there are many indicators that can tell you if your guy is ready to commit or not.

For example, the very first indicator of his willingness to commit comes from one meaningful word choice. Does he ask to hang out with you, or does he ask you out on a date? Huss explains that the word “date” is an important signifier of a future committed relationship. If he’s not afraid to label it as a date, then he’s less likely to shy away from being your “boyfriend,” and later, your “husband.” You should also ask yourself questions such as, Is he committed in other areas of his life? Is he loyal to his job? Does he follow through with his family? If he pursues his passions with dedication and refuses to give up easily, you know he’ll treat you the same.

03. If he can’t commit to the little things, he won’t commit to you.

Huss also says that he’s definitely not ready to commit to you as a girlfriend or a wife if he won’t even follow through on little commitments. Ask yourself, Is he dependable? Does he show up for dates on time? Can you trust him to do what he says? Can he commit to anything other than himself?

If dating to get to marriage is important to him, he’ll be intentional, consistent, and communicative. He won’t shy away from being exclusive or defining the relationship. If he doesn’t act like he’s committed, even if he says he is, don’t expect the relationship to progress further.

04. He may just need a little patience.

Being flaky or refusing to commit with no explanation is not excusable. But if you and your guy talk about commitment and he seems hesitant, he may bring up some valid points. Maybe the relationship needs to continue to develop naturally before you slap a label on it, or he needs to deal with his own baggage first so he doesn’t unload it on you. Verily contributor Johan Khalilian explains that if your man has personal issues he needs to work through alone, postponing—not ditching—commitment could be doing you a favor.

Many of us carry the scars of our family dynamics into relationships. As a guy who has struggled with commitment issues in the past, Khalilian suggests that if your guy is afraid to commit because no one in his family has done so successfully, but he’s willing to push past his fears, he just needs your patience. As long as the two of you are on the same page, you can work through anything delaying the next step.

05. He needs to know you’re ready to commit, too.

As nice as it is for the guy to make all the first moves, you’ve got to open up and let him know that you’re looking for commitment as well. Huss explains that if you want a guy who is willing to commit to you, you need to be up-front with a guy about what you’re looking for—in relationships and in life.

This doesn’t mean saying on the first day “I hope this relationship progresses toward marriage,” but don’t be ashamed to explain that you’re ready for a committed relationship when you meet the right guy. By showing a little courage and letting him know what you want in a relationship, you can weed out the commitment-phobes from the men who are ready for marriage too.

If looking for marriage-minded men has left you wondering where the good boys go to hide away, know that your search isn’t in vain. If you ask the right questions and date with intention, the question of commitment won’t be such a mystery.

Photo Credit: Jess Hunter