For the most part, girls have a higher dating IQ than do guys. Dating IQ is basically knowing how to date, what to do, what NOT to do, how to be a good girlfriend, etc. Women are usually more communicative, so they talk and share with each other. Dozens of teen and women’s magazines, and television programs, such as Oprah, Lifetime Network, “The View,” and many more, provide women with relationship advice. This isn’t to say all this advice is good or even right, but there’s a lot of information women can refer to.
For many years, men only had Maxim and Spike TV, which aren’t exactly going to help them become a better dater or boyfriend. And since men don’t traditionally sit around and talk about their feelings, many guys have never had anyone explain to them how to be respectful, compassionate, empathetic, and loving in a relationship.
So let me help all of you out there who have a desire to become the best boyfriend you can be. You’ll be so good that when your girlfriend tells stories about you and what you do, her other girlfriends will sigh in jealousy and admiration!
1. Learn to Communicate Effectively
Effectively communicating is the number one thing you should do in any relationship and at any age. However, the ability to communicate effectively is a skill that needs to be practiced. Many teens (and older guys) struggle with what to say and how to say it. That’s OK — that’s normal. But if you shy away from it and don’t try and practice, you’re never going to get good at it. Plus, this will set the stage for your relationships going into the future.
Talking about how you feel is never a weakness and is actually a huge strength. No one knows how you feel until you let them know. Girls love it when you can express what you are thinking or feeling. You’re not going to get teased for it. Communication bonds people and brings them closer.
No matter how long you two have been together and no matter your ages, open communication is key to a successful relationship.
Learn to start phrases with “I think” or “I feel.” Also, if you’re upset, learn to say it in the right way. For instance, if your date talks too much about you to her friends, don’t say “Don’t talk about me to your friends! I hate it!” Instead say something like “When you talk to your friends about us, it makes me sad because it’s like you don’t value our privacy.” You’ll get much better results.
If you need some ideas, check out “Beyond Texting: The Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication for Teenagers” by Debra Fine. If you’re a little older, try “How To Talk To Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” by Leil Lowndes. (And, just to let you know, my mom bought me books like these all throughout high school, college, and beyond, and they helped me a great deal. Thanks, Mom!)
2. Figure Out What You Want in a Girlfriend and Relationship
Granted, this is a something people work on until the end of their lives, but it’s important to start thinking about this as early as you can. For instance, if you’re really into sports and love to play on teams, work out, and do half marathons, you usually want to find someone who enjoys the same things you do. If you started dating a girl who really just likes to stay home, chill out, and read, it may create tension. You can’t badger someone into liking what you like, and it isn’t going to make you a good boyfriend.
Take some time to think about what you’re really looking for in your dating and love life, eliminating things that aren’t actual dealbreakers (like different movie opinions).
It’s also totally OK to have different likes and hobbies. You can learn from each other, and it can give you some time to do your activity on your own. And, as such, don’t chastise her for wanting to go out shopping with her friends if that’s something you don’t enjoy doing. Be happy that she has friends she can do that with instead of dragging you along!
3. Master the Fine Art of Compromise
Compromise is one thing I see a lot of couples, of all ages and sexual orientation, struggle with. As an example, a friend of my wife (let’s call her Gina) started dating this new guy (we’ll call him Steve). I liked him (still do!) as I was getting to know him, but one particular argument/request for advice stood out to me.
See, Steve is a very clean and organized person. Gina is not. At all. They had been arguing because Gina would leave dirty dishes in the sink whereas Steve would always wash them after using them. So, knowing what I do, he asked me “It takes two seconds to wash and put the dishes away. But she just leaves them there for a few days and then washes them all together. Who is right?!”
In relationships, things aren’t always black or white, right or wrong. There’s a lot of gray area, and you need to be willing to give as much as you take.
And right there is the issue; there is no wrong and right in a relationship. Everything is a give and take. If your girlfriend could choose any movie to watch, she might choose the well-received “The Fault in Our Stars.” If you could choose any, you’d pick the classic “Ninja Scroll.” But you both know the other would hate your choice, so you compromise on “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
Sometimes, if you want to be a great boyfriend, ask her what she’d love to watch if she could pick anything, and be ready to say yes to whatever it is. You’ll surprise her by agreeing and become the bestest boyfriend in the world. And you never know — you might actually end up enjoying it. (I totally did not cry watching “The Notebook.” It was just that someone was cutting onions nearby…)
4. K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Ask any happy couple what one of them loves about the other one. Almost 100% of the time their answers won’t be about grand gestures, surprise parties, or lavish gifts. They’ll be about the little, simple things that are done every day. Things like carrying her bag, picking up something you know she’ll like at the corner store, or even taking out the trash. These small gestures constantly reaffirm your feelings for her.
Being a good boyfriend doesn’t mean making all of these grand gestures — your girlfriend will appreciate the little stuff like helping with the dishes or taking the trash out.
You want to make her life easier, you want to make her happy, and you like it when you can ease her burdens. Dozens of those little things will add up to way more than one or two big romantic days. Make up a cheesy poem for her. Ask her how her day was. Offer to help her with something. In the award-winning book “The 5 Love Languages,” these are referred to as acts of service. Small things you do for her will keep gently fanning the flame of love.
5. Understand That Time Away From Each Other is a Good Thing
Many times in that first flush of love, you want to spend every minute with the object of your affection. And you should because it’s great! But after a bit, it’s important to have time away from each other. For one thing, most likely, you each have hobbies or interests that are different. She may never enjoy welding, and you may never enjoy knitting. So you two should do your own thing sometimes. When you meet up again, you have fun stuff to talk about to each other.
Spending time apart is a good way to focus on your individual passions. Plus, it allows you to start missing each other.
Also, time with her friends and family doesn’t take anything away from her relationship with you. Just as you want to go hang with the boys sometimes, she also wants to have her girl time. Don’t keep checking up on her, and don’t try and make her tell you where she’s going all the time. Cultivate your own personal time so when she’s doing something else, you can catch up on your Anime shows, beat King Koopa (again), or go for a bike ride. Spending time apart is a great way to miss each other, develop positive feelings of looking forward to seeing each other again, and allows you to talk to each other about what you did when you were apart.
6. Be Respectful of Her Online Presence
This is very important as this will be how her friends and family get to know you. Once you guys are dating, it’s totally cool to check out and interact with all of her social media accounts. But you want to play it as the supportive and proud boyfriend just hanging out in the background, letting your girl shine.
What I mean by this is, don’t comment on everything she posts. Don’t challenge or argue with any of her contacts. And never (EVER) air your dirty laundry or argue with her via public sites. What you should do is make sure you like some of the things she posts, especially the stuff she’s proud of. Congratulate her when she achieves something so others can share in her happiness. And make friends with her friends.
You don’t need to stalk her profiles or comment on everything just so people know you’re together. And be careful about what you post on her walls because her friends and family can see, too!
Understand that because everything is basically archived somewhere on the web, that anything you say can and usually will get back to her. So if you do need to vent sometimes to your friends, which is totally normal and necessary, make sure it’s not done in a way that it can get back to her. And, finally, just remember her mom, priest/rabbi, BFF, and siblings will see anything you post, so keep it all PG-13 rated!
Being the Best Partner is a Never-Ending But Rewarding Process!
Learning how to, and continuing to be, a good boyfriend, eventually fiancé, and then husband is a lifelong journey. I’m still figuring out how to be the best partner I can be, too. But, if you can follow these six tips, they’ll get you a long way down the line!
For a second opinion and to have some fun, you could take some quizzes to see if you are, or will be, a good boyfriend. AlltheTests.com, ProProfs.com, and GoToQuiz.com are just a few websites where you can find them. Enjoy!
Hunt Ethridge is Chief Marketing Officer of LiveDatingAdvice.com, co-founder and senior partner at International Dating Coach Association (IDCA), and the senior coach at New York Dating Coach. You can follow him on Twitter (@huntforadvice )as well as his website www.HuntForAdvice.com.