How To Be A Good Boyfriend, According To Boyfriends

25 real guys weigh in on what makes them great partners.

good boyfriend kissing his girlfriend's neck Getty

What does it take to be a good boyfriend? Every relationship is different, but if you want to know how to be a good boyfriend, there are things you can do that will make you stand out as an especially great partner.

But instead of citing another stuffy study on how to do deal with relationship problems, we collected some advice from a group of the best boyfriends ever — 25 of them to be exact.

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From smelling good to being a better listener to genuinely paying attention to her needs, interests and, get ready to take notes, fellas. After all, you can't have a great relationship unless you're a great boyfriend.

How to be a good boyfriend, according to men

1. Be patient.

"It takes patience to be a great boyfriend. Patience within yourself to teach your partner new things and patience to learn new things from them. Building relationships together takes time. Don't rush it."

He's right, it takes time to develop the trust, love, and communication skills necessary to have a truly great relationship. If you're crazy about someone, it's easy to want to rush them into something neither of you are really ready for. Try to take a breath and let things unwind in their own time.


You can ask for what you need in your relationship without rushing things.

What to avoid: Don't be so patient that you don't get your needs met. Ask for what you want and need in the relationship.

2. Show her you're interested in her.

"It always helps to be conscious of how your partner is feeling, ask questions about a person's day, and show interest. Another thing is just about constant, open two-way communication."

Pay attention when they're speaking and show that you appreciate what they're saying by affirming what you hear.

What to avoid: Don't chase after your partner or crowd them. You can show interest without seeming desperate.

3. Pay attention to little things.

"I try to listen to what she is saying and then really remember one or two things. Maybe something she has really been wanting, or something that I know I could buy her that would make her life easier. In the beginning, I asked what her favorite flower is and made a note of it in my phone, this way when it came time for me to get her some, I knew exactly what it is without having to fish around."


These are the types of things women brag to their friends about. Be the guy your partner brags about by paying attention to even the littlest things.

What to avoid: Don't keep score about the negatives, only the positives. Take note of the great little things that happen all day long, but try to let go of the little things that bother you.

4. Put your partner's needs first.

"I believe understanding how to be a good boyfriend is something only a few men can understand. It's putting somebody else's life ahead of yours because you want to, not because you have to."

If you've been single a long time, it can be hard to switch from "me first" to "you first", so try thinking of it this way: When you put your partner's needs first you're building a healthy relationship that you'll both benefit from. So really it's "us first".


What to avoid: Make sure you're not putting your partner's needs first in order to use that against them later, or in hopes that every little thing you do for them will be reciprocated. A great boyfriend is giving, kind and thoughtful because it's the right way to be, and it comes from love. Not to get something from it.

5. Provide her with emotional security.

"Being a good boyfriend is always being there for the one you love, listening to her when she wants to talk, providing her with emotional support in all she does, taking her side, making her believe she looks beautiful when she doesn't feel that she is, holding her tight when she doesn't feel good, and not making her cry."

A great boyfriend is someone who can be relied upon consistently to listen, brainstorm with, and be a source of support no matter what comes along. Forming a strong emotional connection is key to security, and it's so worth it.

What to avoid: Don't offer and then withdraw yourself as an emotional "safe place" for your partner. Be consistent. The inconsistency of your support will make the relationship less secure and will build up mistrust between you.


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6. Make her laugh.

"Try to make your girlfriend laugh and smile all the time!"

You don't have to be a comedian to make someone laugh. Just keep things light and fun, and you'll both laugh more together than you did apart.

What to avoid: Don't be the court jester. Nobody likes the guy who has to be funny all the time or the center of attention at every party.

7. Don't be afraid to give her tough love at times.

"Good boyfriends should not be afraid to tell their girlfriends when they disagree with them or give tough love. A good boyfriend should be his girlfriend's best friend and biggest critic. The dynamic of a good relationship relies on both partners knowing that there is unconditional love between them. So if one partner can't take criticism well or does not like the level of love being given to them, the relationship won't work."


In a great relationship, the two of you can be kindly and lovingly critical when it's required. It's all about how you deliver your message and your timing.

What to avoid: Don't be critical about things that aren't important. Choose your battles. Things that aren't important: her weight, her looks, or her wardrobe. What's important to her? Ask her how you can help her be accountable to herself — not to you — and what would be meaningful in her life, rather than hurtful.

8. Let go of the reins.

"Do whatever the woman wants."

It feels good to let go sometimes and let someone else make choices. Whether it's dinner or what apartment you're going to rent together, give it a try.


What to avoid: Don't surrender your identity. Your partner loves you for you, so don't change. Do what she wants, as long as it's still healthy for you.

9. Be helpful.

"I've found that my partner seems happiest when I do little things for her when I can. The other day my girlfriend forgot to get a card for her mom's birthday, so I grabbed one at the pharmacy and brought it home, I didn't even ask. She looked at me like I was Superman or something."

It makes people feel good to know they have a partner out there to help them with things both little and big. The bonus is that it also feels good to be helpful!

What to avoid: Don't overdo it. You don't have to be a white knight, just be thoughtful.


10. Clean up after yourself.

"I think I'm a good boyfriend because I don't leave my stuff everywhere. My friends seem to fight with their girlfriends about being slobs and it seems like such an easy thing to solve. Just clean up your crap, man!"

Wipe down the stationary bike, put your dishes in the dishwasher, take the trash out ... these are little things, but being responsible for your own messes and your space is part of being a responsible adult. No healthy, dynamic person is going to want a boyfriend they have to parent like a teenager.

What to avoid: If you're already quite tidy, don't be overly controlling about neatness. There's neat and clean, and then there's being a "clean freak" and that's just going to add stress on your relationship.

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11. Make dinner sometimes.

"The main reason my partner thinks I'm a good boyfriend is because I cook almost every night. I'm not a chef, but I like making us food. It's pretty simple."

Doesn't matter if it's boxed mac and cheese or a four-course meal, cooking food is a great way to show love — especially if you make their favorite meal.

What to avoid: Unless you have some sort of arrangement, don't make a big mess cooking and then expect your partner to clean it up.

12. Make the plans yourself.

"It's easy to get lazy and just watch Netflix all weekend, but sometimes you need to go out to a nice dinner or take a weekend trip."

Routines are comforting, but they're also easy to get trapped in. Mix it up and take the initiative to do special things on a regular basis.


What to avoid: Don't try to be a one-man band — ask your partner for input into what would be fun. RomComs make it seem like you're supposed to whisk your partner away on a plane at a moment's notice and sprinkle rose petals on the bed at the hotel when you arrive. But your partner probably has a job or other things to figure out, and wants input into planning a vacation. So make it collaborative — but definitely initiate the planning.

13. Move on from the past.

"Never use experiences with past relationships to base decisions in our current ones. We can use those memories to grow and mature, but never compare the current lover to someone from the past. All human beings are different entities."

A huge number of relationship problems result from bringing old wounds, pain and grudges into our present. Even if you need to seek therapy to move on from the past, it'll be worth it both in and out of your relationship.

What to avoid: Make sure that you do learn from the past. You can look back at mistakes or lessons without getting stuck there.


14. Learn from the good men around you.

"I learned how to be a good boyfriend from my dad, who was a great husband to my mom for almost 40 years. I'm lucky."

If you didn't have a marriage to look up to when you were growing up, you might need to find a relationship 'mentor' to look up to and learn from in order to learn how to be a great partner. There's no shame in that. It may even work to think about a relationship you've seen in a long-running TV show that you admired and think about how you can emulate that, if it seems healthy.

What to avoid: Don't look for someone who fits the mold of what you expect from a partner, even if that worked great for someone else, or in your parents' marriage. Be open to doing something different while keeping the values of your mentor intact.

15. Learn each other's love languages.

"Learning what makes my girlfriend feel loved made me a way better boyfriend. She likes little gifts, even if it's just a cool leaf I found in the yard or something small like that. I had no idea, since I don't care about things like that but it really makes her happy."


Dr. Gary Chapman created a really handy system for understanding people's love languages, and lots of couples swear it's what save their relationship. Find out which of the five types you are, and then talk it over with your partner to learn which one resonates with them. At the very least, it's a cool way to learn more about the person you love.

What to avoid: Don't ignore your own love language. Figure out what motivates you, what makes you feel loved, and how you like to express love yourself.

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16. Be kind.

"Don't be a jerk. That seems obvious but for some reason it's not for a lot of men. Just be nice, it goes a long way."


Unless you and your partner are both equally into sarcasm or snarky humor, avoid snide comments — even when you're joking. The golden rule of "do unto others as you'd have done to you" is actually one of the best pieces of relationship advice out there.

What to avoid: Don't be so nice that you become a pushover. Be thoughtful of other people's feelings, but don't push yours all the way away.

17. Keep your side of the street clean during disagreements.

"Watch yourself when you fight or argue and make sure you don't do or say something you'll regret. I think of it as keeping my side of the street clean. I can't control what she does or says, but I can choose how I respond and if she's mad or being rude, I don't have to respond the same way."

This requires patience and self-control, but is absolutely key to avoiding serious relationship problems and creating a partnership that makes you both feel good.


What to avoid: Don't take abuse. You can set up healthy boundaries and tell your partner what's not appropriate, and still keep to your own values during fights.

18. Be thoughtful.

"This seems like nothing, but I think I'm a good boyfriend because I never eat the last snacks or food in a box if I know she'd want some. Like, if there are five cookies left, I'll eat three so she can have a couple when she gets home from work."

What matters to your partner? Having the kitchen clean before you go to bed? Getting a bouquet of flowers after a rough day? Whatever it is, try to be thoughtful so they know you really do care.

What to avoid: Do nice things like this as long as you won't get resentful. If your partner never reciprocates, have a conversation about what would be meaningful to you, but don't continue being nice if they're not also being thoughtful in their own ways.


19. Put your phone down and listen.

"Spend time and listen to your partner. Even if you think you can multi-task and look at your phone when someone's talking, you're not really listening and she's going to get mad anyway."

This is one of the biggest relationship challenges right now. Everyone is looking at their devices so often, we lose track of each other. Put the phone down and just be together sometimes. Putting down your phone is one of the most important ways to be a better listener.

What to avoid: Don't pretend you're not distracted when you know you are — this is especially relevant when you're at work. It's better to just say, "Babe, I'm in the middle of something and can't give you the right amount of attention right now. Can I call you back?"

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20. Be loyal.

"You can't be a good boyfriend if you're keeping a bunch of other girls as backups. Don't flirt, even on social media, if your girlfriend wouldn't like it. Focus on one woman, make her feel like family, and just be loyal to her."

Loyalty isn't just about cheating, it's also about keeping your partner's secrets, maintaining their privacy and your privacy as a couple, and never putting anyone before your relationship.

What to avoid: Don't be loyal to someone who isn't loyal to you. Respect goes both ways, so set up rules for your relationship that you can both stick to.


21. Smell good.

"Find a way to smell good when you're around your partner. Take a shower, use some good soap. Maybe shop for cologne together so you know what she likes smelling on you. This seems so basic but to be a good boyfriend, you need to smell good."

This guy said it perfectly. Don't get in bed all smelly and stink up the bed. You don't have to smell like a flower to smell good to someone who loves you, but you shouldn't go around stinky all day.

What to avoid: Don't overdo it. Don't douse yourself in body spray like a middle schooler.

22. Cut your toenails.

"Seriously, you cannot be in a relationship with someone whose toenails are like knives that cut you in bed. You're not a caveman, you don't need those tree climbers."


This one is funny but it's also emblematic of the type of courtesies that are meaningful and keep relationships healthy and happy for a long time.

What to avoid: Don't be too "manly" that you're afraid to go to a nail salong for a pedicure. There's nothing unmanly about it, and it can save you from ingrown toenails.

23. Be forgiving.

"There's nothing worse than a person who holds a grudge, especially in a relationship. I don't think you can be a good boyfriend if you hold grudges. It just makes you look so petty. Get over it or break up."

If your partner has done something you really can't forgive, move on. Otherwise, do the work together (or maybe on yourself) in order to move on.


What to avoid: You don't have to forgive abuse. Yes, even men can be abused and no matter who is the abuser or who is being hurt, nobody deserves it.

24. Be generous in bed.

"Focus on her pleasure. You'll get yours, don't worry. It's easy for us to get what we need in bed most of the time, but it's harder for women, so listen to what she wants and focus on her for a while every time you hook up."

Regardless of who your partner is, you want to be the guy she can't stop thinking about after you are together. Even better, be the guy who makes her blush the whole next day.

What to avoid: Don't let your partner string you along just for late-night hookups — unless that's what you want, too. That's not being a boyfriend.


25. Try something new.

"When I met my current girlfriend, she was really into mountain biking. I'm not much of an outdoorsy guy, but I decided to give it a shot to humor her and I actually really liked it. She's still way more hardcore about it than me, but we ride together pretty much every weekend and have even planned a trip where we will spend a day biking. I definitely think that makes me a better boyfriend."

Being in a relationship helps us grow — but only if we let it. You can try a new physical thing, like mountain biking, or you can take it deeper and try a new thing in your relationship — like radical acceptance, total honesty, or truly committing yourself for the first time in your life.

Whether it's something deep or something silly, trying new things is good for you!

What to avoid: Don't give up your interests for your partner's. The balance is important and helps you maintain your identity.


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Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.