How To Be a Good Boyfriend: 20 Ways to Up Your Relationship Game
You’ve found someone, it’s going well… but you can’t help the nagging voice that wonders if you’re doing right by your partner. No matter what stage of relationship you’re in, it’s completely natural to wonder how to be a good boyfriend. In fact, wondering if you’re a good boyfriend is a worthwhile thing and you’re certainly not the only one to do so. Let’s look at the qualities of a good boyfriend, how to be a good boyfriend, and how to avoid being a bad boyfriend.
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What does it take to be a good boyfriend, anyway?
There’s no iron-clad list of rules on how to be a perfect boyfriend – different people want different things. However, you can’t go far wrong by being willing to communicate with your partner, respecting them as a person and being willing to admit to your mistakes while forgiving theirs. Kindness doesn’t hurt – in a survey by the University of Göttingen, nearly 90% of women say kindness is the quality they value most in a partner1
20 Tips for being a good boyfriend
While you might have an idea of what a good boyfriend is supposed to be like, what does it look like in real life? For anyone wondering, ‘how to be a better boyfriend?’ here are 20 ways to take your relationship to the next level.
1. Make time for your partner
We’re all busy, but part of how to be a good boyfriend is making your partner a priority. Whether that’s waking up a little earlier so you can have breakfast together, cutting down on time with friends so you can spend it together, or sending a text when you’re stuck late at work or on a trip, it’s important to show you care.
TIP: A weekly or monthly planning date with your partner can help you both spend more time with each other.
2. Be honest with them
Truth is one thing, brutal honesty perhaps another. But as a general rule, it’s vital for how to be a good boyfriend to be honest with your partner, even if it means hard conversations. When you’re honest, you give the other person insight into your needs and the opportunity to help fulfill them.
TIP: If something small is bothering you, speak up right away rather than letting resentment build until it becomes a major argument.
3. Have your own life
It can be tempting, especially in the early stages, to make your partner your whole world but that’s neither healthy nor sustainable. Part of how to be the best boyfriend is the ability to retain your independence while still being part of a team. You should continue your hobbies and your relationships with family and friends regardless of the state of your love life.
TIP: Carve out time for regular friend dates or time with family just as you carve out time with your partner.
4. Trust your partner
A major rule when it comes to how to be a good boyfriend is to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Believe her when she says that guy is just a friend, tell the green-eyed monster to shut up generally. Your partner chose you – have faith in the strength of your relationship and it will get stronger.
TIP: If you can’t help but be jealous, think about professional advice for how to deal with it in a healthy way.
5. Do your share
Did you know that eight out of 10 married women do more housework than their husbands?2 Even if you don’t have a ring on your finger, sharing chores is important – a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center says sharing household chores is key to a happy marriage3. Doing the literal work is a major part of how to be a better boyfriend.
TIP: Don’t wait for your partner to hand you a to-do list; sit down together and figure out what chores both of you mind least, then do your fair share.
6. Listen to your partner
When someone you love is hurting, it’s natural to jump in and want to solve their problems. However, your partner may just want you to listen while they vent. Practising active listening – being present in the moment, asking follow-up questions, withholding judgement or advice – will make your partner feel supported and loved much more than donning your cape and rushing in to save the day.
TIP: Wondering how to be a good boyfriend? Ask if your partner wants help brainstorming solutions, or just a friendly ear.
7. Be vulnerable
One of the keys to a successful relationship is being able to open up despite the risk of getting hurt. It’s not easy to be vulnerable, but doing so not only strengthens your relationship, it gives them the opportunity to take care of you instead of just the other way around.
TIP: Start small by asking for help with something simple or setting a boundary about an issue that’s not that important to you.
8. Be supportive
Wondering how to be the best boyfriend? Support your partner no matter what, whether emotionally – listening to them when they talk about bad days, holding them when they cry – or in more concrete ways, like having dinner ready after a long day or taking up the slack at home when they’re busy at work. Even if you don’t understand or share their goals, it’s important to be their No1 fan.
TIP: Hide little notes of encouragement in their bag or lunchbox, or take care of a chore so it’s one less thing to deal with.
9. Be attentive to their needs in bed
Sex is an important part of relationships, which means it’s also important when it comes to how to be a good boyfriend. Luckily, there are ways to become better at it. Listen to your partner and be willing to take feedback. Try different things and see what works for you. Most importantly, remember that consent is key – not just for your partner, but for you as well.
TIP: If your sex ed has been a little lacking up until now (or even if it wasn’t), try reading some of the books on this list.
10. Take care of yourself
While it is true that men are more visual than women, that doesn’t mean guys get a free pass on how they look and you should always make an effort. Dressing well (not necessarily expensively), grooming, and paying attention to diet and exercise habits are all ways to show your significant other you care.
TIP: Ask your SO if there are styles they like on you so you can incorporate them into your wardrobe.
11. Respect their boundaries
Regardless of the genders involved, no means no. Perhaps the most important part of how to be a good boyfriend is understanding the importance of consent, both inside the bedroom and out of it. Boundaries are the foundation of a healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise, and setting and respecting boundaries is key to long-term happiness.
TIP: Sit down with your partner and come up with a list of boundaries for both of you, sexual and otherwise, and discuss ways to work around them.
12. Learn their love language
According to relationship expert Gary Chapman, human beings like to give or receive love differently. These five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch. Figuring out which of these love languages your partner prefers, and which you do, can lead to a smoother relationship.
TIP: Reading Chapman’s book about the five love languages together is a great date night idea, regardless of where you and your partner are in your relationship.
13. Be clear about your expectations
Wondering how to be a great boyfriend? Let your partner know where you stand from the start. Being honest about what kind of relationship you want, where you see things going, and your opinion of major life decisions like getting married and having kids not only builds trust, it means that they don’t waste time on a relationship with someone whose goals are drastically different.
TIP: Before you even start searching for a partner, take the time to figure out what you’re looking for.
14. Keep your word
Go big on integrity. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If for some justifiable reason you can’t, apologize sincerely and make it up to them. You’re an adult and should act like one, especially when it comes to how you treat your partner.
TIP: If you’re worried you’ll forget things, make a note on your phone or even a paper planner.
15. Learn how to fight fair
No relationship is without its quarrels – in fact, conflict is healthy up to a point. The key to how to be a good boyfriend even when you fight is to remember that you’re both on the same team. No matter how angry you are, don’t lash out or dredge up old conflicts. Instead, listen to the other person and see their point of view. If you’re wrong, say sorry; if you’re right, be gracious.
TIP: Using techniques like structured communication can help you disagree in a healthy, constructive way.
16. Do the emotional work
Emotional labor is, as the name suggests, the mental work of keeping a home, or a relationship, running smoothly – planning meals and writing grocery lists, managing relationships with extended family, keeping track of appointments. This work has traditionally fallen on women and is not only unpaid, it’s usually invisible. Taking on more of the emotional work in your relationship is a great way to be a good boyfriend.
TIP: Figure out what you can take off your partner’s plate and do so without being asked or expecting to be thanked.
17. Show interest in their interests
While you and your partner might share interests, odds are that you also love different things. One tip for how to be a better boyfriend? Be curious about the things your partner loves. You could do the activity with them, or if that’s not possible, invite them to tell you about it and why it’s important to them. Remember, though, to be respectful – it’s meaningful to your partner for a reason.
TIP: Suggest a ‘double feature’ – half the time spent doing something you love, the other half something they love.
18. Make an effort with their family
For the majority of people, family is a major part of their lives. One of the qualities of a good boyfriend is the ability to navigate a partner’s family. Regardless of your personal feelings, it’s important to try and get along – these are people who are important to your partner, after all. Take an interest in their lives and show them you’re worthy of their child’s/sibling’s/grandchild’s attention.
TIP: Ask your partner how to get in their family’s good books; they know best!
Communication lets you and your partner learn more about each other, prevents guesswork and misunderstandings, and lets you deepen your relationship, support each other during hard times and makes the good times more enjoyable. Regardless of what stage of dating you’re in, good communication is a key part of how to be a good boyfriend.
TIP: Schedule regular check-ins so you can be sure you’re still on the same page.
20. Remember that it’s a partnership, not just a relationship
If you’re wondering how to be a good boyfriend, the answer couldn’t be simpler. Accept that your partner is your equal, and your dreams and goals are equally important. Put your ego aside and figure out what’s best for both of you.
TIP: Always ask your partner for their opinion. Even if you decide not to follow their advice, make them feel part of the process.
How to not be a bad boyfriend
Even the best of boyfriends has his moments of wondering, ‘Am I a bad boyfriend?’ If that’s something that’s preying on your mind, we’ve come up with a list of red flags.
- You belittle things that are important to your partner
- You don’t keep promises you’ve made
- You never have time for your partner
- You see no problem with controlling or manipulating your partner
- You flirt even when you’re in a committed relationship
- You leave it to your partner to take the initiative every time
- You get jealous when your partner pays attention to anyone else
- You expect your partner’s life to revolve around you
- You’re only concerned about yourself
- You take your partner for granted
If any of this sounds familiar, time to work on your behavior before you wind up an ex-boyfriend.
Relationships are easier when you know how to be a good boyfriend
When it comes to how to be a good boyfriend, it can’t be denied it takes work. On the other hand, sometimes even being the perfect boyfriend can’t salvage a relationship that isn’t meant to be. That’s why you have eharmony – our unique Compatibility Matching System helps you find people who share your values and want an authentic connection, just like you do. Sign up for eharmony and take the first step towards being a good boyfriend today.