Relationships of any kind are complex and require ongoing work. To be a good boyfriend, it’s important to put in the work to unpack what it takes to be in a committed relationship. This work becomes the most rewarding when you are in a space where you can work together with your partner.
Being a good partner (whether boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse) requires a lot of humility and vulnerability as you challenge yourself and work on your blind spots. These tips can help anyone wanting to be a better partner. It’s crucial to have patience with yourself and recognize that blaming others or having them carry your issues won’t work long-term. Being a better boyfriend means that you and your partner are on the same team, and thus you treat them as such. They don’t teach us how to be a boyfriend, as they can apply to any partner in a relationship, be it a girlfriend, wife, or husband.
Some essential skills these tips will give you in your own life include:
- Knowing how to build a healthy relationship
- Ability to address signs of emotional neglect
- Avoid toxic relationships and abusive relationships
- Identify codependent relationship
20 Ways to Be a Better Boyfriend
Here are 20 tips on how to be a good boyfriend:
1. Listen to Your Partner
It can be easy to think you are listening but comprehending and digesting what your partner shares make your conversations much more meaningful. Consider your partner’s words and perspectives as a chance for you to learn more about them. Take every opportunity to remember and know what they mean so you can reference them later. Listening to your partner helps them know you genuinely want to know what they have to say and are actively considering their perspective. It improves emotional intimacy and trust.
2. Connect Daily
It can be easy to get lost in the grind of the day-to-day work that we forget to check in with our partners. If we know they are going through something big, it’s important to give them the chance to share their thoughts even if it seems like they are doing fine. You and your partner deserve love from a place of concern and support. Knowing that you remember important things in their life will improve your emotional intimacy and make it easier for them to come to you for help.
3. Practice Non-Verbal Communication
Much of our communication is non-verbal, and it can be hard for your partner when you are physically distant. Sometimes this is beyond your control as we all have responsibilities that will call for physical distance; however, being physically present with your partner is essential.
Some examples of non-verbal communication include:
- Holding their hand
- Sitting close to them
- Looking at them in the eyes
- Gentle touches
These small gestures show you are present and provide a sense of safety. It can also be validating and reassuring, so pay attention to your non-verbal communication.
4. Understand Attachment Styles
Attachment styles are essential to consider when you are in a relationship. Your partner may have a different attachment style that conflicts with yours; if that is the case, what works for you may not work for them. Taking time to learn about yours and their attachment styles can give you new ways to connect in more meaningful ways for both of you.
5. Learn Each Other’s Love Language
Understanding love languages teach us how we need to be loved, but sometimes our love language may not be what our partner needs. It’s not fair to assume your partner knows your love language, so expecting that they should know when you have never shared it with them is a recipe for pain.
6. Respect Their Mental Health
Understanding your partner’s mental health issues is a love language we should practice more often. It is the most profound way of truly understanding who your person is and their story. It can be hard to know if the experiences that shaped us were indeed the same, but the emotions felt can be universal, such as pain, grief, and hardship. It’s crucial that when dating someone with depression or dating someone with anxiety, you must be mindful of how their mental illness impacts them and learn the proper ways to communicate when they have symptoms.
7. Show Empathy
Being empathetic is a skill that takes time to develop. Empathy doesn’t mean that you try to point out your partner’s gaps in understanding, as this can be very invalidating. It doesn’t mean you play devil’s advocate because it’s not a time to challenge your partner. Empathy means creating a space of emotional safety for your partner to experience their emotions and receive support–no feedback, no advice, no solutions.
8. Offer Validation
Even if you don’t understand or agree, validation’s purpose is to confirm that their perspective is correct because it’s real for them. We all need to be seen and heard, and confirmation from your partner can go a long way. As a boyfriend, it’s paramount to know that you influence your partner’s well-being and that what you say matters. Understanding this and depersonalizing the act of validation is critical because your partner is separate from you and will likely have different perspectives.
9. Fight Fair
Fights will happen, and a lack of conflicts doesn’t mean your relationship is healthier than with arguments. It’s in how we handle our disputes and how we manage to repair our relationship once a disagreement happens. Suppose one partner hits below the belt while the other tries to de-escalate. In that case, it will only make it more challenging to navigate the discussion to a solution.
Some crucial tips for being a fair boyfriend in a fight include:
- Recognize your limits in a fight
- Develop fair fighting rules
- Learn how to deal with relationship conflict
10. Structure Your Conversations
Having rules around when and where a difficult conversation will occur can be constructive. It gives both partners a chance to calm themselves if they are nervous, and gives them the time to think about their response, so one isn’t surprised or blinded. It levels the playing field by having structured conversations that involve thoughtfully planned responses and respect for each other’s time.
11. Be Responsive, Not Reactive
In the heat of the moment, it can be hard not to be reactive; however, that is when it is crucial to be responsive. Your partner’s pain is an opportunity for you to either be reactive and defensive or be supportive and acknowledge that you hear them. It’s not your job to fix your partner’s emotions, but it’s inappropriate to become angry at them for having them.
If this is something you are doing, consider why you need to fix it or why you become angry–it can point you towards some healing you need yourself. Responsiveness and acknowledgment can help you both feel connected and ensure you don’t say something that you will regret.
12. Build Trust
It can be easy to build trust initially, but after a fight or a season of hardship, it’s the most important thing you can do to be a good boyfriend. Building trust during those times can be even more complicated, with raw emotions that can be hard to manage. However, the benefits of trying to rebuild trust help both partners see that they can both still have what they want and need.
Knowing how to build trust can be tricky, primarily if one or both partners deal with trust issues. However, actively finding ways to show they can trust you can be outstanding on the other side of working through the pain.
13. Show Appreciation and Gratitude
Learning how to practice gratitude and show appreciation is something all of our relationships need to go the distance. Especially during seasons of hardship, their presence and commitment to work with you through it shows their bravery and vulnerability, and it’s important to remember that they don’t owe you that. Instead, they are doing it because they love you. Having gratitude for even the smallest gestures from your partner can reinforce that they are being seen and their effort is appreciated.
14. Consistency Is Key
Ensuring that your intentions, words, and actions align is the key to building intimacy and trust. If one of these is off, the inconsistency can confuse your partner and leave them questioning your motives. They will only see what you do, not what you mean to do or say in your head, so consistency is critical to the success of a relationship. It’s not a good idea to assume that your partner knows your intention, especially when it doesn’t translate to words, actions, or both. Asking for feedback on how the meanings of your words and actions are interpreted is a great way to ensure you are doing your part.
15. Set Goals Together
If you have goals that your partner isn’t aware of, you may be working towards a life independent of them. Goal setting in relationships means sharing your big goals for yourself and your relationship to see how it fits together. It means finding ways to make things work for both your happiness and satisfaction in the long term. It is vital to share your individual goals so you can reconcile them if they are not conducive to the futures you see with each other.
16. Recognize Codependency
Codependency is easy to fall into and can be a complex relationship pattern to break, but knowing the signs is essential for a healthy partnership. Learning more about your dynamic and the motivations behind your actions can shed light on your part in a potential codependent relationship. Codependency isn’t always the case in scenarios where we depend on each other for support.
Sometimes one partner will need more if they are going through a difficult time, and it is your job to show up for them. But suppose that becomes a pattern where your partner isn’t capable of doing things themselves. In that case, reviewing how to stop being codependent can be essential.
17. Consider Couples Therapy
Couples therapy isn’t just for those on the brink of divorce or breakup; it’s for anyone who wants to work through things before it’s too late. A good set of partners will want to show up for the common goal of resolving issues. Couples therapy will require partners to create a safe space outside the session to practice new ways of interacting. Without a safe environment, it can be impossible to make a change.
Some tips on how how to prepare for couples counseling include:
- Taking time to talk about expectations
- Being honest about your goals
- Appreciating your partner’s honesty
- Inviting vulnerability
18. Commit Yourself to Personal Growth & Understanding
When we first see someone new versus going years into the relationship, we can easily fall into complacency. You must continue challenging yourself to grow and pay attention to your and your partner’s growing needs. As your relationship grows, your wants and needs will likely change too, and communicating that with your partner is crucial. If you are unsure, your partner will never know, so take some time to spend on your personal development.
19. Have Your Own Life
We all need a support system, but this can’t just be one person. As a boyfriend, you should understand that your partner and your relationship cannot be your only source of support, as that can drain the relationship. We will all have needs from time to time that requires us to lean on our partner and unique connection, but making that the norm will drive intimacy away. Having a diverse support system and hobbies outside your relationship will give you the energy needed to maintain the happy spirit every partner and relationship needs.
20. Reflect on Your Relationship
In any relationship, there will be ups and downs. When that happens, it’s essential to reflect on what happened, what worked, what didn’t, and what to do moving forward. Having a sense of accountability for your part in the struggle and what you both can do moving forward to check yourselves is essential.
Some important things to discuss when reflecting on your relationship include:
- Pain Points
These reflective talking points are crucial to the emotional safety needed for physical intimacy that will make your relationship unsustainable if avoided. Discussing shared values and viewpoints on important topics is vital, given that our perspectives constantly change as we grow and have more life experiences. Reflecting together gives you both opportunities to develop more together.
How Therapy Can Help You Be a Better Boyfriend
Therapy can be a great way to learn how to be a better boyfriend, and there is no wrong time to start. Depending on your needs, you can take many methods, such as individual therapy or couples counseling.
Some of the key benefits of therapy include:
- Being able to share goals
- Learning how to navigate things in healthy ways,
- Having a safe space to share their needs and issues, and
- Resolving conflict in ways where no one is left feeling alone in a relationship
The best ways to find a therapist or a marriage counselor can be daunting, but therapists are here and ready to help. To look for a therapist, check out the Choosing Therapy Online Directory and schedule a consultation to see if a therapist is a right fit for you and your partner’s needs.
Hopefully, these tips can teach you how to be the best boyfriend possible. Just taking the step today to read more is terrific. Learning more about how to do this is key to ensuring a long and happy relationship. Talking openly to your partner can be constructive, and seeing a counselor together can take that even further. It all can make a considerable positive impact on the relationship if it’s clear that your intentions are genuine.