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How to Be a Good Boyfriend and Improve Your Relationship

A man who's working on being a good boyfriend

So, you want to know how to be a good boyfriend. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve been having some relationship problems. Maybe you’re fighting with your girlfriend a lot, or maybe she recently ended things with you. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a streak of breakups and you’re starting to get existential about it. “What does it all mean” and all that. Though it might not be entirely your fault (maybe it is), you always play a role in your relationship troubles.

Ultimately, if you want a happy love life, you have to be the architect of it. Too many guys go from relationship to relationship, never learning anything, never improving themselves. They’re the type of guys that call all their exes “crazy” (what are the chances?). Then they wonder why they can’t ever find “the one.” Duh! If you’ve found yourself in a loop of falling in love and having your heart broken, you can escape it. You’re just going to have to do some work on yourself.

Plenty of guys don’t want a serious relationship, especially when they’re in their 20s. They’re happy just playing the field and bedding conquests. If that’s you, this article isn’t for you. Enjoy yourself, but be safe. If, on the other hand, you’re ready for a committed, long-term relationship, maybe I can help you. I’m not going to tell you the secret to making women fall in love or anything like that. This isn’t that type of article. This is about how to treat your girlfriend right.

There’s no secret, you just have to put in the effort.

How to Be a Good Boyfriend

Doing what it takes to be a better boyfriend

If you’re wondering how to be a better boyfriend, chances are you’ve been through some heartbreak. Or maybe you’ve never been in a serious relationship, but you want to learn now so you can be ready. Either way, I’ve got some advice on how to do just that. Again, though, if you’re looking for pickup techniques or love potions, that’s not what I’m offering. This is practical advice designed to help you nurture as a man and sustain a serious relationship.

Going the extra mile

The first thing you should understand is there are no shortcuts to being a good boyfriend. If you love someone and you truly want them to be happy, you will go the extra mile for them. If you’re not willing to, then you should ask yourself if you really love them. As they say, love is a verb; it requires action. The key to being a better boyfriend, then, is being an active boyfriend.

Show her love, not just the usual "expected" tasks

A mistake a lot of guys make, though, is treating love like a task to be completed. They buy flowers on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day and book a fancy restaurant for their girlfriend’s birthday. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s also not very personal. To be a good boyfriend, you need to remember that you aren’t just Generic Boyfriend No. 5. You’re her boyfriend.

Get to know your girlfriend

This might sound like obvious advice, but you’d be surprised how many guys know the bare minimum about their girlfriends. They treat their girlfriends like trophies or a piece of art to be collected and admired. You might think that’s complimentary to your girlfriend, but she’s more than just something to admire. You should care about who she is as a person and her inner life. If you don’t, then, again, ask yourself if it’s really love. If it isn’t, it’s not fair to you or her.

Listen to her

The best way to get to know your girlfriend is to listen to her. Really listen. When you first started going out, you probably asked her all kinds of questions and learned some things about her. Keep that up. Be a good listener. Bad boyfriends talk at their girlfriends, not with them. They never reciprocate. She has bad days she wants to vent about. She has music or movies she’s enjoying. She has thoughts on politics. If you don’t give her space to express herself, she’ll grow dissatisfied with you.

How to be the best boyfriend

Hopefully, you’re someone who listens to and respects what your girlfriend has to say. Because, if not, you’re failing to clear the lowest bar of being a decent boyfriend. Even if you do clear that bar, though, that is the bare minimum. If you want to know how to be the best boyfriend, you have to go much further. That can require getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you don’t like talking about emotions.

It’s true, women do tend to be more inclined to talk about feelings than men. Many men were raised in an environment that told them discussing feelings was unmanly and unimportant. As a result, they feel unequipped to express their emotions or to react to the emotions of their significant other. But for many women, a significant part of a relationship is being able to express and discuss feelings. If it’s something that matters to your girlfriend, it should matter to you.

Listening to your girlfriend and being open to emotion-based conversations are two major steps to improving as a boyfriend. If you really want to see your relationship thrive, though, you’ll need to do more. You’ll need to find a way to meet her needs.

How to Treat Your Girlfriend Right

Getting to know each other for a better relationship

Treating your girlfriend right isn’t just about buying her nice gifts or complimenting her figure. Any man can flatter her, and chances are there are guys waiting in the wings willing to do just that. If you want to hold onto your girlfriend, you need to go beyond the superficial and make that deeper connection. Do you want to know how to be a good boyfriend? This is how.

Understand her needs and love language

The simple truth is that every individual has personal needs. Yes, all humans have essential needs, but that doesn’t mean every person is exactly the same. If you’ve been in different relationships, you’ve hopefully realized that. One girlfriend might have been overjoyed to receive flowers once a week, while another couldn’t care less about roses. Too often, men fail to understand the specific needs of their girlfriend or spouse, instead treating them like generic mannequins. Be better than that.

Have you heard of the Five Love Languages? In short, the concept, created by Dr. Gary Chapman, says that people express and receive love in different ways. Those five ways are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. If you’ve heard of these love languages before, you might have dismissed them as silly self-help drivel. Think again. Understanding these love languages, and knowing which is your girlfriend’s, can change your love life.

If you think “love language” sounds too girly, forget the name. Just think about it logically. Would you rather receive a gift or have someone do something nice for you? Would you rather have a make-out session with your girlfriend or spend hours talking with them? You probably enjoy all of it, but almost certainly there’s one thing you like more than the others. That is your love language. Your girlfriend has one too. Learn it, and learn how best to speak to her in it.

Stop treating love like a competition

Another huge mistake too many people make – men and women alike – is keeping a relationship ledger. When you do something for your significant other, are you adding it to a mental tally? Do you then get upset if they don’t do something in kind? That’s a major red flag. It means you’re doing things not because you care about her, but because you want something in return. That’s not a sustainable way to have a relationship.

If your relationship is a series of quid pro quo interactions, eventually, one or both of you will become bitter. Either you’ll feel you’re not getting your “fair” share out of the relationship, or you’ll feel like she’s smothering you. In either situation, the relationship is headed to a bad place.

Love shouldn’t be transactional. It isn’t a competition in which you see who can do the most for the other. You should do things for the person you love because their happiness makes you happy. Ideally, you’ll be with someone who feels the same. If you start to feel the expressions of love are one-sided, talk about that. Maybe she isn’t a good enough girlfriend for you. Being a mature man means recognizing that not every relationship is the right one.

You need to learn to hold out for the right one.

Building a Happy Relationship

Building a happy relationship

There is no simple rule or trick to having a happy relationship. When two people fall in love, they bring a lifetime of baggage and preconceptions into the relationship. That means there will always be complications and difficulties. All couples fight. All couples make mistakes. All couples find themselves in bad places and have to decide if they’re going to leave together or separately.

As one part of a couple, all you can do is be the best boyfriend (husband, partner) you can be. That means listening to your girlfriend, putting her needs first, and learning how to love her best. You won’t get everything right every time, especially in the beginning. But if you’re a good listener who is open to change and growth, your girlfriend will be much happier. And so will you.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Be a Better Boyfriend

How can I improve as a boyfriend?

If you want to know how to be a good boyfriend, the first step is to ask your girlfriend. You can read books of advice, but, ultimately, it’s your significant other who will tell you best what she needs. Let her know you’re trying to improve as a boyfriend, and she’ll be thrilled to help you.

What makes a great boyfriend?

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for being a good boyfriend. Every relationship requires different priorities and actions, and every girlfriend has her own unique needs. However, all great boyfriends have some common traits: they listen, they communicate, and they’re willing to grow as a person.

How can I be a better man for my girlfriend?

Being a better man for your girlfriend means being a better man in general. Become someone who is interested in the world and other people’s perspectives, particularly the views and feelings of your girlfriend. Most people just want to be truly understood by one person; be that person for her.

How do I show my girlfriend I care?

Listen, listen, listen. There are many beautiful things you can do for your girlfriend, from writing her poems to flying her to Paris. But on a day-to-day basis, the one thing she wants from you is to know you care. Listen to what she’s saying to you, even when she’s not saying anything at all.

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