What Makes a Good Boyfriend

This post was inspired by a post that my friend has on her blog. Read Caitlin’s post here.

Lady Gaga can make awesome dance tunes about bad romances, but let’s be honest, no one wants to have to deal with those. Sometimes, a girl can put a lot of effort to make a relationship work, but it still doesn’t. This tells me that the issue is on the other side of the court. While I’m far from being the perfect girlfriend, I’ve had my fair share of relationships, and I’ve made this list of what it takes to be a great boyfriend.

Be a gentleman. I risked stating the obvious because the obvious is easily overlooked. Being a gentleman is not just about opening doors for me, walking street-side, or letting me order first at a restaurant. A true gentleman also understands the importance of respecting my boundaries. These may be limits that I set myself or other people set for me (say, my parents). If a relationship is going to work, my man has to know his place because I will definitely have one just for him.

However, a good boyfriend will also…

Let me be a 21st century woman. This means that I will take his opinion but not always follow it, that sometimes I want to pay for my own meals, that I will pursue a career of my choice, and that I will settle down and have children when and only when I am ready. I will value him more as a lover if I know that we are also equals. Though I may be guilty of subscribing to stereotypes of domesticity, I need him to know that I do so because I love him, not because I think it is the woman’s place.

Be my best friend. Again, I risked stating the obvious. No relationship can last if the couple are not friends with each other alongside being lovers. It is important to find the perfect balance between “I love you like crazy” and “I love spending time with you like crazy.” So, sometimes I will drag him to the mall but not want to make out aftwerwards, or ask him to pick out a dress that you might not see me debut, and (even!) tease him in front of our friends and family to get some laughs. We’ll have fun, both in our little world and the real world in which we move around.

As all good friends, however, I will need him to be around during the down times too. There will be moments when I will be at my lowest, when I will want to get angry at the entire world, and when I will want to sit in silence. When these things happen (sometimes all at once!), a great boyfriend will magically transform into my best friend who will have tremendous patience to wait out the storm with me.

Give me some breathing room. Even though being in love means that the both of us can’t get enough of each other, a good boyfriend will let me cultivate interests other than each other. He will not hold it against me if sometimes I will go to events and “neglect” to invite him, or if there are aspects of my life that I do not always share with him. It is nothing personal and it is not compartmentalizing either. I just need to be my own person, not just be that-guy’s-girlfriend. So if sometimes I do not answer his texts right away, if I forget to return his calls, and if I seem to be having as much fun without him as with him, he’ll know that it’s just my life running its course, and that what really matters is that at the end of the day, he’s the only man I would want to come home to.

Know when to lie to me. This is a tricky one, and it takes a master of subtlety to pull this off flawlessly. Ladies, let’s be honest, sometimes we ask “trap questions.” One such question is “Do I look fat?” There is really no good answer to that question, because if your man says no, you’ll just think he’s lying and if he says yes, well, you’ll think he’s a douchebag. While women should just resist asking such questions altogether (for the sake of our relationships!), a good byofriend will know when his honesty really counts. If I’m asking him questions that suggest I’m fishing for compliments, I am probably doing just that and a great boyfriend will gratify me.

There will be times, however, when I will ask questions that require my boyfriend’s honesty. If my eating habits are putting me at risk for, say, diabetes, or if my politically incorrect jokes are doing more harm than good, I expect that a good man, a decent man will let me know. I would like to emphasize the importance of this when it involves saving face. A great boyfriend will know that a temporary ego drop is more tolerable than the loss of a social life.

Surprise me. No matter how small, surprises let a girl know that she was in a guy’s mind. I myself am a sucker for something both pleasant and unexpected, especially when I am feeling crappy (see “Be my best friend.”). And really, surprises just tell me that I am worth the trouble, worth the thought, and worth the time.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is really easier said than done. Relationship dynamics change over time. Let me put that another way: couples get over the honeymooning phase. When that initial spark of intense attraction is lost, some of the things either partner does can suddenly go from cute to annoying. If a couple is going to stay together, they both must know better than to get worked up about little things. A great boyfriend will know that some things are not worth the argument, not because he will not win them (because I will let him win some of them!), but because arguments over small stuff strain our relationship needlessly and, in extreme cases, even force the both of us to say or do things that we both will regret. And really, is it really that bad if I don’t let you listen to Justin Beiber in the car? No.

Don’t be scared to talk about the future. This is probably one of the more important ones for me. I don’t really understand why talking about the future can send guys running in the opposite direction. Is a future with us really that unthinkable? Anyway, there are two reasons I think this is important. First, talking about the future (it does not have to be a future with me in it, really) lets me know that a guy has some kind of idea on where his life is headed. Regardless of whether I am in it, a great boyfriend will not be afraid to share his dreams with me and will let me do the same. Secondly, at some point, a couple has to decide whether the relationship is worth the investment and talking about the future is a great way to find that out. When a couple talks about the future, they are able to figure out whether they have a shared vision of the future. If a couple learns that they have the same dreams for the future, then all is good. Otherwise, all is still good, because the two of them can either talk it over or end the relationship. Either way, they save themselves enough trouble (and money!) by figuring out the direction in which the relationship will go. So boys, don’t be afraid! It is for your own good. :)

Let me know how valuable I am. Some men seem to have this thing about communicating their feelings. While I am not really big on coercing people (I neither have the patience nor the skill), I reserve the right to force my man to tell me about how important I am to him. Why? Simply because it’s good to hear. That and because I live in constant fear that I am going to get dumped for the next Prada-wearing hottie who comes along. Little, old, sale-wearing, flower-child me could never compete with that. It’s good to have a guy who will tell you how valuable you are, because sometimes you will forget, and because you deserve to know.

Stand up to your friends and family for me. Even though a couple often finds themselves in their own little world, the two of them still move around in the real world, and therefore move around real people. In a perfect universe, my boyfriend’s friends and family will love me to pieces, and my friends and family will absolutely love him. It would be like that, in a perfect universe, but we don’t live in such a universe. He will probably get enough “I don’t like her” from the people important to him to make him rethink about being with me. I’m okay with that, but a good boyfriend will let these people know about why being with me is not so bad. When a man stands up for me to his friends or family, I know that while he values their opinion, he also sees me as an important enough aspect of his life to fight for. Personally, I need a man who will do that for me, because I will always, always stand up for him.

There you have it, my idea of what it takes to be a great boyfriend. Doctor Flash has actually written up a response to Caitlin which I will put up here as a guest post. I haven’t read it, actually. Should be good fun.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Update: How to be an Awesome Significant Other « Background Noise

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