If “How To Be A Good Boyfriend” Was A Class, Here’s What It Would Teach Guys

Wouldn’t it be great if guys had to take a class called “How To Be A Good Boyfriend” while they’re young so that by the time they get out into the real world, they aren’t running around slaying hearts and ruining living with reckless abandon? While that’s unlikely to happen, that’s no excuse for being a bad partner. Here are some pointers men should keep in mind.

How to be a good boyfriend

  1. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, be honest about your intentions. This will be a repeated theme throughout the course but the first lesson will be on honesty about intentions. Way too many guys still think it is no biggie to date a girl and not inform her upfront that he’s dating other women at the same time or just wants something super duper casual. We’ve gotta teach these young men the significance of being honest about what they want! Think about all of the heartbreaks we can prevent by simply encouraging more future boyfriends/dates/partners to be honest.
  2. Make sure you figure your crap out before getting into a relationship. This is all about not bringing your baggage into a relationship. Obviously women are guilty of doing this too, so maybe it’s completely unfair to gear this lesson particularly towards men. Still, in my experience, women tend to at least be in the process of sorting their baggage out when they happen to get into a relationship. Way too many dudes just breeze right into women’s lives without a care in the world, baggage happily at their side. The lesson here? Reflection and therapy can do the world some good.
  3. Make your living space a place your partner can feel comfortable. I once lost it on a boyfriend who insisted on making us go back to his disgusting bachelor pad after we’d been out at the bars. I hated going there because it made me feel icky. The kitchen countertops were sticky, clearly uncleaned, and full of day-old bowls of cereal and crumbs. His bathroom never had any hand soap in it (ew) and the place generally smelled musty. I lost my marbles on him and explained to him that if he wanted me to spend time at his apartment, he needed to spend more time making it inviting for me because I deserved it. My apartment was never gross and I made an effort to tidy up for him before he came over because I took pride in my space. Eventually, my words sank in and he stopped living like a frat boy but it took a while. If he had this lesson in college, however, I’m confident that things would have gone much differently!
  4. Figure out how to express your feelings. One of the best things that the #MeToo movement has uncovered is the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity. We all know it when we see it. It’s ultra bro-ness. It’s treating women like they’re subordinates. It’s keeping up with this standard of machismo that encourages men to be hard on the outside, to hide their feelings and to never express themselves when they are vulnerable. Newsflash, this is bad for relationships. My course would teach men that expressing your feelings doesn’t make you less of a man. It makes you a thoughtful, considerate, caring human being.
  5. Avoid the urge to mansplain. Mansplaining irks me deeply to my core and I am certain that men would be better boyfriends if they stopped themselves before they did it. But in order for men to stop doing it, they need to identify when it happens, how it operates, and how it makes women feel when they do it. It will be great — we can have a roleplaying exercise so that men can understand exactly how irritating mansplaining is.
  6. Understand the patriarchy and its toxic legacy. Before some of you scoff, no, the intent of this is not to throw feminist theory at guys—it’s to educate men on their privilege in our society. I find that while many men understand that they have male privilege and where that comes from, a lot more of them don’t understand the social history of male privilege as it pertains to patriarchy and societal institutions that have systematically held women back for centuries. Guys will be better boyfriends with this knowledge because they’ll recognize the deeper significance of treating women with respect, supporting our career ambitions, and fairness in a relationship.
  7. Be accountable and take responsibility for your actions. This lesson is basically a primer in how not to treat your girlfriend like she’s your mother. Mothers are wonderful people. They nurture us, care for us, and buy us things. That being said, guys should learn early on that a girlfriend’s job isn’t to replace his mother. They must learn that growing up and taking responsibility makes them more attractive and better boyfriends almost instantly.
  8. Be a modern gentleman. This one is all about dating in the modern world. Future boyfriends will learn why ghosting is absolutely unacceptable behavior. They’ll also learn how to properly slide into someone’s direct messages without being gross. Decency is at the heart of this one.
  9. Step up and be consistentGuys need to learn that being consistent is one of the best ways to be a good boyfriend. A partner who’s reliable and consistent is usually someone who isn’t selfish and cares about other people. If they learned nothing else, I hope that they would take this particular lesson and apply it in their everyday lives and relationships. That’s the hallmark of a good boyfriend.
  10. Don’t take days to text back. Yes, you’re busy at work. Things are hectic, you have to hit the gym, yada yada. There’s no reason you can’t take five minutes to text your partner back. Even if you’re just telling her you’re busy and will get in touch later, she’ll appreciate the gesture. No one likes being ignored.
  11. Give your full attention when you’re together. Don’t sit scrolling through social media when you’re hanging out. Put your phone down and give your partner your full attention. Obviously, you don’t need to stare into each other’s eyes for hours on end. However, if you’re supposed to be having quality time together, you shouldn’t be ignoring each other the whole time.
  12. Show a bit of affection when you’re alone and with others. You don’t have to love PDA to treat your partner like she’s your girlfriend rather than a stranger when you’re in public. A little affection — holding her hand, giving her a kiss on the cheek — goes a long way. It makes her feel valued and appreciated. A good boyfriend wants his girlfriend to feel that at the very least.
  13. Pull your weight around the house. This is a biggie. If you live together, she should not be in charge of all the housework. She shouldn’t have to “nag” you to take the trash out or wash your dishes instead of piling them in the sink. Do your part around the house because you both live there. It’s only fair.
  14. Encourage her independence. If you’re the jealous type, you need to get over it. Your partner shouldn’t have to tell you everything she’s doing and every conversation she’s had and with whom. She was a whole person before you met. That should continue even though you’re together now. Encourage her to be her independent, badass self. That’s why you fell for her in the first place, right?
Marie is an ambitious millennial woman, leading a corporate life by day and doing her best to live, laugh and love.