Look, I know you think you’re a hell of a guy. I’m sure you are. I’m sure you’re just dandy. Just a great guy, the best, just huge, fantastic, love it. But there’re definitely things that a lot of guys could do better, or could simply not do.
That’s not because of some vast deficiency in us men, but it’s because we just aren’t that thoughtful sometimes. But with a little bit of extra effort and some planning, you can raise that grade of B+ boyfriend all the way up to an A-. I’m not sure how you get to an A, but I assume it’s some sort of thing involving wizards.
Alright, I’m 100 percent on the train of ‘Oh my god. It’s a toilet seat. It’s not that hard. Do you just put your ass down on things arbitrarily and hope they’re stable?’ and I’ve got in a lot of trouble for it. But for women, they do everything with the toilet seat down. Just do it, alright?
1. Remember to tell her she’s pretty.
I assume you think so, so don’t forget to remind her. Even if it’s something simple like telling her she looks great before a night out, or just saying, “You’re so beautiful” when you see her and think it. It’s worth reminding her.
2. Thank her for the things she does.
One of my universal life lessons, inside and outside of a relationship, is to always say please and thank you. If she makes dinner? Thank her. She gets you something? Thank her. Seriously, thank her. People don’t do this.
3. Put the seat down.
Alright, I’m 100 percent on the train of “Oh my god. It’s a toilet seat. It’s not that hard. Do you just put your ass down on things arbitrarily and hope they’re stable?” and I’ve got in a lot of trouble for it. But for women, they do everything with the toilet seat down. Just do it, alright? Don’t argue. It’s not worth the fight.
4. Take care of the little things.
If you don’t live together yet, and you know you’re getting dinner, jump on Yelp and find a place with reservations and make them—or know where you’re going to order from based on her likes or dislikes. If you live together, perhaps spruce up the place. I’m not talking a full clean, but if there’s a few cans or plates lying around, give them a wash. If she’s got to make a phone call to refill a prescription, or maybe just needs one picked up, go get it if it’s not so much effort. Or just get the mail. Get in the habit of doing stuff like this because it’s the foundation of a good relationship.
In a conversation with your girlfriend, do me a favor: Take a second when she speaks and is telling you something, about her day, about her life, about something bad or good that happened, anything really, and don’t interrupt.
5. Learn to cook Sous Vide, and her favorite foods.
Big secret here, guys. I’m an OK cook, but once I learned Sous Vide, people started thinking I was amazing at cooking. Why is that? Because it’s amazing food done in the easiest way by me, the stupidest person. There’s a bunch of history and science crap I won’t bother you with, because I don’t understand it and it’s exhausting to write out, but for a few hundred bucks you can get a setup that will make just about anything you cook amazing.
Here are the basics: You get at thing called an immersion circulator, a plastic pot from Amazon (a 16QT camwear thing) and a vacuum sealer to put your food in a plastic seal (I like this one). You seal the food in a bag, set the circulator to a certain temperature, put the food in the water for whatever time a Google search tells you, and out comes evenly-cooked, quality food that has lost no juices or anything. Throw it in a pan if it’s a piece of meat to get the effect you’d get roasting in a pan. It takes up a lot less space, too.
Now, why am I specifically calling out this? Because it’s really hard to screw up. As long as you seal the food correctly, the margin of error is 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the food. Everything is exact. Set a temperature, and that’s the temperature the water stays at, cooking the food inside to that temperature. You can make the best steak ever, or the best vegetables ever, and anyone eating it would think you had actual professional training versus, much like my good self, just reading basically the instruction manual on a toaster.
6. Oh my god, listen.
It’s bordering on an Internet meme that men interject and force themselves into/over conversations with women, and you’ve probably done it yourself. I’ve done it a lot. I talk too much. My heart’s in the right place. I have an idea about what the person has said, a story that might help, just generally something of interest, something they’d like. In my head it seems like my interjection is a great idea, but it isn’t. In fact, most interjections aren’t a great idea.
In a conversation with your girlfriend, do me a favor: Take a second when she speaks and is telling you something, about her day, about her life, about something bad or good that happened, anything really, and don’t interrupt. When you feel that bubbling feeling inside that says, “Oh man, I’ve got something here,” just keep it there. Save it up. Save it up and don’t say it immediately the second she stops speaking. Wait a second for when it’ll fit. If you’re super excited, say, “I’m sorry, but I’m so excited I have to tell you [thing],” for sure, but let her finish whatever she’s telling you first.
7. Start learning about what she’s into, what she does and who she is.
This isn’t about knowing her birthday or her favorite color. If she works in a specific industry, don’t just say, “Oh yeah, I remember Shelly from accounting is a huge bitch and you hate her.” Try your best to pick up a book or read a website to learn the basics about it. This also will help you (versus feigning it as many guys do) develop a real interest in what she’s into. Even if it’s something totally different to what you do—floristry, science, real estate. It’s part of learning to support her over her life. You don’t have to become an expert in her field by any means, but even a little bit of effort to understand will mean that when the inevitable bad day comes around, you will be a lot, lot more there for her. You’ll understand what hurts her, or elates her, and be a better guy.
8. Put down the phone when talking. Holy shit, guys.
I am guilty of this. I am the most guilty man. Despite thinking I can respond to an email while listening to my girlfriend speak, I can’t! Sometimes I’ll be able to get by and get the details and understand, but most of the time I’ll lose vital information. I need to stop doing this, and so do you. This goes for gaming devices, mobile phones, laptops and any other kind of interesting thing. Hell, even the television.
If you’re in the middle of a board meeting and she needs you to comfort her that there’s no kitty heaven, well, you’re OK to not get back to her. That being said, there’re way too many guys I know that simply don’t step up when it comes to a bad (or really bad) situation.
9. Start the dossier.
Write down things she likes, dislikes, her favorite brands, her favorite foods, birthdays, anniversaries, names and birthdays of family members—anything that’s pertinent. You won’t remember everything, or in my case very much at all, so do this to keep up. Then make a Google Calendar to remind you of all of these events, so that you’re suddenly this ridiculous machine that can remember things. If she has a problem that you set reminders, simply tell her that you can’t know everything and you have a bad memory. You care enough to try to remember and you found a way to do so.
10. Finally… Be reliable and consistent.
It’s pretty good advice to be on time for anything, so if you are having dinner with your girlfriend, you should be there on time. Heck, try and be a little early. Even if she’s not.
But guys sometimes have trouble with priorities. If you’re in the middle of a board meeting and she needs you to comfort her that there’s no kitty heaven, well, you’re OK to not get back to her. That being said, there’re way too many guys I know that simply don’t step up when it comes to a bad (or really bad) situation. Or just a bad day. I don’t like talking on the phone, but if a bad day takes place I’ll always—despite knowing it is an effort and it fills me with dread picking up the telephone at any given time—at least offer to do so. For my girlfriend, at least. As importantly, if I can’t talk that moment I tell her as quickly as possible and try my damndest to help through text. People put being “reliable” and “present” on this grand pedestal of being instantly, magically available in an unrealistic way, when it’s really about caring enough to keep an eye out for them.
This also means keeping your promises, and if you can’t, telling them why and being communicative. You’d be amazed how many arguments can be avoided by simply saying the how and why of a situation the moment you see it happen, versus bottling it up or trying to hide it. She is, I hope, someone you at least really like, so it’s your job to stay on top of your shit in the relationship.
Photo Credit: Twenty20/@aubreeplodinec