Why Being Called ‘Girlfriend Material’ Isn’t A Compliment

The point of dating is to find someone whose personality and goals for the future fit in with yours. We do it because eventually, we want to be someone’s girlfriend. That’s why on the surface, the phrase “girlfriend material” seems like a good thing and something we all want to be. But on a deeper level, it’s actually not really a compliment at all — in fact, it’s kind of an insult. Here’s why.

  1. It’s completely subjective. All your friends might think you’re “girlfriend material” without a doubt, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to meet a guy who agrees. Objectively, you have some of the traits of a good girlfriend, but what you need is a guy who looks deeper than those surface-level traits and is still interested in spite of all your flaws. We all have different tastes, dealbreakers, and qualities we’re looking for in a partner, so there are literally a million different definitions of the phrase.
  2. It’s nothing but a cliche. If a guy tells you you’re totally girlfriend material, your first reaction should be a solid eye roll. Is that the best compliment he can come up with? If so, he either doesn’t realize how unimaginative he is or he just doesn’t care. You can do better. If he’s trying to say that you’re everything he’s been looking for in a woman, maybe he can single out some specific qualities of yours that he admires. It’s really not that hard.
  3. It’s incredibly vague. What does girlfriend material mean exactly? Since it means something different to everyone, you’re never really sure what his intentions are when he says it. Does he mean it in a physical way? Does he mean you have a similar personality to other girls he’s dated? Does he mean he wants to date you or possibly marry you or a girl like you? There’s no way to really tell.
  4. It’s often followed up with a “but…” The girlfriend material compliment sounds like something a guy says when he genuinely thinks a girl is great, but he’s just not interested in her like that. Maybe he’s trying to soften the rejection, but it ends up coming off as less than genuine and like he just needs an escape route from the current conversation.
  5. It doesn’t mean he wants to date you. A guy could think you’re fantastic — funny, smart, cute, fun to be around — but that doesn’t mean he wants to date you. So basically, he thinks you’re girlfriend material but he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend. At least you know he thinks you’re good enough for someone. Great.
  6. It implies your value rests on whether or not a guy wants you to be his girlfriend. You have plenty of great qualities that have no bearing on what you’re like in a relationship. You could be super ambitious, smart, and a great friend but if you aren’t what he’s looking for in a girlfriend, he’ll write you off without a second thought. You’re either girlfriend material or you’re not. There is no in-between.
  7. It puts emphasis on certain “expected” traits. What is girlfriend material? Does it mean you can bake a decent pie or you’re always up for hanging with the in-laws? Does it mean you never say no to anything he wants to do? Good girlfriends are expected to act a certain way, but what if you’re looking for more of an unconventional relationship?
  8. It assumes you care about being worthy of the girlfriend title. Who says you give two craps about being considered girlfriend material? Maybe you don’t want to be anyone’s girlfriend — and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t ever try to change yourself to fit into the good girlfriend mold, because the right guy for you will love you as you are.
  9. Guys say it to put off committing. As in, “You’re totally worthy of being my girlfriend, but I just don’t want a relationship right now,” or, “If I was looking for a girlfriend, I’d choose you for sure.” Those may sound like nice things to say — and he probably means them that way — but you’re still left single and rejected by a guy who thinks you’re great, but not great enough to make him want to give up the single life.
  10. It’s not an accomplishment. There’s a lot more to life than being the kind of girl guys want to date. All you need is one guy, after all, so to hell with all the other ones who don’t think you’re worthy of being called their girlfriend. They aren’t worthy of being your boyfriend either.

What does being “girlfriend material” mean to guys?

“Girlfriend material” is a phrase that gets thrown out there in the dating world all the time, but what do guys mean when they use it? Obviously, different guys have different ideas of what makes a woman a catch, but there are some common traits they look for when dating. We asked a few guys what this term means to them. These are the answers they gave us. The way they describe it, it doesn’t seem so bad, right? (Insert eye roll here.)

  1. You get along with their friends. Not everyone is going to be best friends — that’s just human nature. However, there are a lot of guys who are reluctant to relationship label to someone who can’t get along with their friends. It’s important to note the difference between tolerating a night with your boyfriend’s friends and actually enjoying hanging out with them. The latter is more apt to be girlfriend material.
  2. You have a sense of humor. This should be obvious but it must be stated. If you can’t laugh and enjoy yourself around someone, what’s the point? This doesn’t mean the two of you need to have an identical sense of humor. However, you need to be willing to laugh with them and not be so uptight if you want to be girlfriend material.
  3. You’re willing to commit long-term. Girlfriend is not a temporary job; it’s for the long haul. Guys need to get the sense right away that you’re at least open to committing to something long-term. Yes, some of them are notorious game players as well, but a guy who’s looking for a woman who’s girlfriend material won’t be playing games. Instead, he’ll let it be known that he’s looking for the real thing.
  4. You trust a guy implicitly. There can’t be a relationship without trust. Most guys aren’t pinning the girlfriend label on someone who doesn’t show this very basic investment. If you’re someone who’s always expecting the worst from a guy, giving him the third degree, or checking the texts on his phone, you’re probably not the kind of girlfriend he wants. Then again, if he doesn’t act trustworthy, he doesn’t deserve trust.
  5. You’re his friend too. This will sound corny, but you can’t spell girlfriend without the word friend. That doesn’t make things platonic, of course. Still, sometimes being a girlfriend means getting along and being comfortable around each other. You know, just like you’re old friends. Guys don’t want to be uptight or pressured to be on their best behavior. They want a girlfriend who’s comfortable to be around as if they’ve known each other forever.
  6. You’re comfortable with yourself. Insecurity is almost always a complete turn-off. Guys don’t want a girlfriend who’s constantly worried about her appearance and asking them to reassure her. If a guy is dating you, trust that he approves of the way you look. A girl who’s comfortable with herself and doesn’t obsess over her appearance definitely has potential. Confidence is sexy, apparently. And while that’s true, the idea that men expect women to have zero insecurities seems a little obnoxious.
  7. You’re independent. There’s a fine line between spending a lot of time with each other and being a clingy girlfriend. A great girlfriend will have a life outside the relationship because that’s part of what makes you interesting. Yes, guys want to spend time with their girlfriends, but being too needy or dependent on the relationship is not a good look. Neither is calling a woman who wants basic effort “clingy,” but let’s go with it.
  8. You surprise them. Someone who is always finding ways to keep life exciting and just a little unpredictable is definitely girlfriend material. Of course, it’s also on us guys to bring you some pleasant surprises too. That being said, a girl who’s proactive in trying to surprise her guy will not only make for a great girlfriend, but she’ll also encourage him to match or one-up her surprises with some of their own. In a perfect world, sure.
  9. You’re authentic. Guys can usually tell when you’re being phony or superficial. Spoiler alert: That kind of person definitely isn’t girlfriend material. Most guys say they just want you to be yourself. They don’t want you going out of your way to be someone you’re not because then you end up in a relationship with the wrong person. Just be real with them. And, of course, be the version of yourself they’re looking for. Whatever’s more pleasing to them.
  10. You’re easy to talk to. Of course, physical attraction is important when us guys look for a long-term girlfriend, but it’s equally important (perhaps more important) that they feel comfortable talking to you. You should be interesting to talk to and also willing to open up, and obviously the same goes for guys. If having a conversation feels like work, you’re probably not going to be girlfriend material. Guys may be guilty of liking a pretty face, but they also need someone that’s easy to talk to, they say. Doesn’t seem like they’re asking for much, eh?
By day, Courtney is a digital marketing copywriter living in Toronto, Canada. By night, she's a freelance lifestyle writer who, in addition to Bolde.com, contributes regularly to AmongMen.ca, IN Magazine, and SheBlogs Canada. Want to chat about relationships, Stephen King or your favorite true crime podcast/documentary/book? She's on Twitter @courtooo.