3 Relationship Experts Reveal What Men Of Real Integrity Do Differently

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Integrity is a concept that seems concrete enough. As a character trait, it means someone is reliable, honest and morally upstanding. It's an admirable quality, a laudable goal. Who wouldn't want to be known as a person of integrity?

Upon reflection, though, its meaning becomes a bit nebulous. Does possessing integrity mean someone is also kind, compassionate, patient and empathetic? Not necessarily. After all, reliability and trustworthiness — foundations for integrity — can have very different implications, depending on your worldview.

To borrow from popular cinema, would an organized crime boss from the Godfather trilogy define integrity the same way self-appointed ethicist Hermione Granger would define the concept in the Harry Potter films? 

Integrity, then, is subjective. Yet, one of the most important aspects of socialization is a commonly held understanding of what makes someone a "good" person. 

This is especially true in the dating world. How can a woman know — really know — if a man is what he seems? How can she be sure that the initial blush of attraction will be affirmed by the knowledge that the potential romantic partner in question is a man of integrity?

Fortunately, there are a few behaviors and habits that distinguish real men of integrity from those who might fit in well with the Corleone crime family. We asked a panel of YourTango relationship experts to share their ideas on how to spot a man of integrity.

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Here are examples of the traits men of integrity share, according to three relationship experts:

1. They are honest, forgiving, and generous

I can immediately pick out three things that men of the highest integrity do differently. The first is they can keep a secret that is in your best interest to be kept. The second is they can forgive you even if they can't fully forget. They will honor you by not bringing the issue back up. And the third thing is they will never expect you to carry the full money load in the relationship. Even if you are the main earner, they will find ways to let you know that they are taking care of you.  

Here is a small vignette: Joel came home from a deployment in Afghanistan. Joy and he were engaged and very much in love. Yet loneliness overtook him while he was overseas and he had a short affair. He never told Joy.

They happily married. Later on in their marriage, Joy embarrassed him by sharing some intimate moments they had with her girlfriends. She told him and he was very hurt. He never forgot that episode but forgave her.

Joy earned much more than he did as a job recruiter. Had returned to being a car mechanic. However, every weekend he brought her a bouquet of flowers and always made sure he had saved the money for their two kids to go away to camp in the summer so Joy never had to worry about that burden. They were and are a happy couple.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, positive psychologist, author, filmmaker

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2. They are trustworthy and reliable

Men with the highest integrity say what they mean and mean what they say. They consistently keep their word as integrity is a value held in high regard. Integrity in a relationship is one of the best traits both men and women can look for, especially for someone who has difficulties trusting others.

Having integrity is highly attractive, healthy, and sexy as men who have integrity also have confidence. The two traits usually go hand in hand. Men with the highest integrity, for example, do not ghost, call when they say they are going to call, make plans and follow through as their word has value.

Another trait that usually accompanies integrity is honesty. The combination of these three traits, integrity, confidence, and honesty, can allow for the foundation of a healthy, satisfying, and fulfilling relationship. Usually, men with this level of integrity will expect the same values in a potential mate, partner, friend, and family member so get ready to step up your values.

Dr. Susan Pazak, clinical psychologist and life coach

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3. They communicate openly and demonstrate appreciation

Men of the highest integrity tell you where they stand, are truthful, and show they care about you with concrete actions that reflect appreciation and understanding. 

They also are clear about their limitations and boundaries. If they are uncomfortable with something, they are open about it; that can lead to a frank conversation that helps with amelioration or at least mutual understanding. 

In sum, all this reflects a man’s self-awareness and honesty with himself, the foundation of integrity.

Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., career & life management consultant, author

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Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for Experts and Wellness with YourTango.