How Many Of The Top 10 Great Boyfriend Traits Are You Checking Off, Pal?
1. You’re An Active Listener
Active listening is a skill. Poor listeners simply nod along while the other person is talking; thinking about what to say next rather than really taking in what’s being said. Focus instead on allowing your girlfriend to fully say her piece, whether she’s telling a small, throwaway story or delving into a deep and meaningful relationship. Failing to listen to your partner is disrespectful and limits intimacy. Practice listening to your girlfriend without interrupting, one-upping or playing devil’s advocate.
2. You’re Good In Bed
Sex is important to women, too. It’s usually the one thing that separates platonic relationships from romantic ones, and if your sex life isn’t on point, it’s unlikely that your girlfriend will be completely satisfied. Fortunately, being good in bed doesn’t mean having a huge dick or porn-star stamina, it simply involves open communication, open-mindedness and a commitment to your girlfriend’s pleasure.
3. You’re Committed
Unless you’re polyamorous, having a girlfriend means opting out of sexual relationships with other people, and fidelity is a basic requirement for any boyfriend. It’s up to you to set the parameters for what counts as a breach of trust in your relationship: for some, kissing will be crossing the line, for others, obvious, disrespectful flirting will spark a serious argument. Be clear about the boundaries from the start, and stick to them. However, being a great boyfriend involves more than just meeting the minimal requirement of not cheating. Committed boyfriends factor their girlfriends into their future plans, introduce them to their friends and family, and avoid keeping the relationship a secret (a classic sign of flakiness.)
4. You Take Care Of Your Appearance
Being drop-dead gorgeous is the domain of only a select few of us, but every guy can make an effort to be well-groomed and tidily put together. It’s pretty simple: Great boyfriends make a reasonable effort to dress well, smell good and groom their body hair. You’d expect the same from her, no?
5. You’re Empathetic
Relationships aren’t always smooth sailing and slurping each end of a single strand of pasta until you’re kissing each other’s marinara-stained lips. Sometimes you or your girlfriend will hit rough patches in your own lives, or there’ll be tensions within the relationship that calls for a solution. Empathy is a crucial gel in good relationships and a skill that all great boyfriends have mastered. Expressing empathy doesn’t always mean you have to go into “fix everything” mode, which many men are liable to do. Often it’s better to say, “I’m so sorry that’s happening to you” or “That must be hard, I’m here for you.” Here’s how to be empathetic in a nutshell: (1) Listen actively (see No. 1 above!); (2) Imagine yourself in your girlfriend’s shoes, and (3) Express genuine care and concern.
6. You’re Funny – And You Let Her Be Funny, Too
A shared sense of humor and ability to bond over hilarious things is a key quality in any strong relationship. However, it can be a drag for women to be with men who consider themselves comedians but steamroll or ignore our own jokes and witty asides. True banter occurs when both sides riff off each other, and the idea that women aren’t as funny as men is a stale, sexist and long-disproved trope. Make room for both of you to tickle each other’s funny bones — it’ll be much more fun for both of you that way.
7. You’re Interested In Learning
You don’t necessarily need to be fresh out of Harvard Law School, but an interest in learning and self-improvement is attractive to women, and will round you out as a person. It’s difficult to be with someone who’s stuck in their ways, uncurious or committed to outdated ideas or values, so make sure you’re exercising your brain, whether you’re following blogs, listening to podcasts, taking classes or just reading plain old-fashioned books.
8. You’re Giving
An important component of being a great boyfriend is being generous and helpful. Generosity isn’t solely as a monetary thing: you can be generous with your time, effort and compliments rather than simply throwing loads of cash around (although if you have loads of cash to throw, it’s unlikely to hurt!) Great boyfriends make sure their girlfriends don’t have to take care of everything, and help with relationship admin such as housework and planning dates. Let the following metaphor guide you to relationship bliss: “if you’re not sure whose turn it is to take out the trash, make it your turn.” (Hint: it applies to more than just trash!)
9. You Communicate Constructively
Within relationships, you’re always going to encounter difficulties where you’re both beating your head against a wall trying to understand each other. The only way to get around this is with open, honest communication. It can be useful to frame the discussion using “I” language to avoid casting blame and to foster deeper intimacy; for example, “I felt insecure when X happened” or “I love it when you tell me Y.” Try to think of your conversations as a path to mutual satisfaction and growth, rather than antagonistic affairs with one side needing to win or be “right”.
10. You’re Kind
Most men know that it’s a relationship basic to be kind to your girlfriend — it’s not rocket science. However, great boyfriends know that it’s important to be kind to everyone. Women rate it a turnoff when men are rude to service workers, so the way you treat other people counts in her assessment of you. She’s likely to be looking closely at how you treat her friends and family as well as your own, because after the honeymoon phase wears off, this is the best indication of how you’ll end up treating her.
That’s all there is to it, really. No bells and whistles, no snake oil — just the same good, honest personal characteristics your mom has probably been trying to drill into you for years. Put some effort into cultivating these qualities and not only will your romantic relationships improve, all your relationships will improve, and you’ll certainly qualify among the ranks of the world’s great boyfriends.