How to Be a Good Boyfriend
According to a completely unscientific poll I just conducted with my girlfriend, men are responsible for 100% of all relationship screwups. The bottom line — you’re going to screw up at some point. In order to avoid the unhappy consequences of just such a mistake, be a good boyfriend. All the time.
Being a good boyfriend requires work on your part, and constant tweaking to make sure your behavior is that of a good partner. Here are six “Dos and Don’ts” to keep you on the right side of your girlfriend. Every relationship is different, but these six rules should keep you in your girlfriend’s good graces, even when you blow it every once in a while.
DO be honest
In every relationship, honesty is the best policy. No matter how difficult it seems, telling the truth (all the time) will make your relationship deeper and more meaningful. If you want your partner to respect you and believe what you say, you have to give your partner that same kind of honesty and respect.
Honesty isn’t always easy. When you have a personal opinion that differs from your partner’s opinion, it may seem like a total jackass move to admit that difference of opinion. The alternative — agreeing with everything your partner says — is dishonest and sets a bad standard for the future of your love. Honesty also allows you and your partner to fix problems before they become nightmarish. There’s nothing wrong with saying “____ doesn’t work for me”, as long as you give supporting evidence and are open to a compromise.
Telling your partner the absolute truth means saying what you like as often as you say what you don’t like. Giving compliments falls under the category of “honesty” — how can you constantly harp on things you don’t like and expect to have a loving relationship? If you’re honest with your partners, expect the same kind of honesty in return. Learning to tell each other the truth is a crucial part of turning a dating relationship into a long term partnership.
DON’T ignore your girlfriend
This seems like an obvious rule, but it is one that too many men ignore.
Ignoring a woman is just as bad as slapping her in the face. Not physicall (or legally) speaking, but in that woman’s own mind, being ignored is like a literal slap in the face. We’re not just talking about the big stuff here, either — you should address the small problems with the same attention you pay to the big ones. If your girlfriend says “Man, I really had a bad day”, don’t ignore her in favor of the TV. She’s trying to express something to you, trying to share her feelings. What seems like a small comment could be her opening up to you in a deeper way than you two have related before.
Your girlfriend is not a mind reader, and she doesn’t expect you to be one either. That’s why she says things like “My mom is driving me crazy” or “My back hurts” — she’s trying to share herself with you, and indicating that she wants to do the same for you.
Communication is more than saying “Please pass the salt.” You hear women complain all the time that their boyfriend “doesn’t listen”. This is more than just not ignoring your woman, this means responding to her, feeling her pain if she needs you to, and listening to what she says rather than offer solutions all the time.
Most men are solution-oriented. When presented with a problem, we can make list upon list of ways to fix it. Unfortunately, women don’t often want you to fix their problem, they just want you to listen. My relationship with my girlfriend really got off the ground when I learned to make eye contact when she talks, acknowledge what she said, and say simply “I’m sorry that happened, that must really suck”, or “That’s wonderful news! I’m so happy for you!”
A conversation should be as close to 50-50 as it can be. Sometimes you’ll dominate a little, sometimes she will. Both being overly quiet (which your girlfriend will interpret as “distant) and being too talkative (which she will think means you are impolite or obsessed with your own feelings over hers) are bad things.
Even if your girlfriend doesn’t want to hear your opinion (which is most likely wrong anyway), she will want to know that you are there for her. The opposite of talking isn’t waiting for your turn to speak — it is listening. As my grandmother used to say — “Listen” and “Silent” are made up of the same letters. Make eye contact, be interested in what she has to say, and share in her joys and concerns.
DON’T be predictable.
You don’t want your girlfriend to be predictable and she doesn’t want that from you either.
Try new restaurants, go to different clubs and bars, and spend as much time as you can exploring the city where you and your girlfriend live. Hating or loving the new location isn’t the point — you create memories with your girlfriend when you try new things together. In order for the two of you to be comfortable with each other (and to prepare you for the inevitable confusion that comes from a relationship), you should be able to do things together without self consciousness or boring pattersn of behavior. Stepping out of your comfort zone is important, especially if you want your relationship to last for a long time.
DO be open and caring
Being open with your girlfriend will show off your caring and kind side, and prove to her that you really care about her thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Openness is a quality that helps to create a more easygoing relationship, and can prepare the two of you for shaky times that may come in the future. To understand what you girlfriend wants, feels, and needs from you, you have to be open about those things in your own life. There’s no better way to prove you deserve trust than to be open and caring with your girlfriend. While “love” is hard to define, it usually describes a combination of deep trust and personal commitment.
DON’T be dependent.
There is nothing uglier than neediness, especially to a woman. If your girlfriend wants something in her life that is dependent on her for everything, she’ll buy a puppy. You’re a boyfriend, not a pet. A good relationship requires the participation of two adults, people who don’t need to be reminded to pay bills or get to work on time. You should be an independent person that doesn’t lean on your girlfriend for financial or emotional support. This isn’t to say that your girlfriend can’t help you with things occasionally, but if she senses that you can’t live your own life without her input, she’ll be turned off. The fact is, you can’t be a good boyfriend without being your own person first.