This article isn’t about scoring your boyfriend (or potential boyfriend) on some imaginary scale of perfection. It’s about not taking for granted aspects of his character that are adding something special to the relationship.
Nobody is going to score a perfect ten, and honestly, just nailing a couple of these can be enough to justify your long-term investment.
These are the qualities I feel are conducive to relationship success from a long-term perspective.
Qualities Of A Good Boyfriend
1. He Doesn’t Take Everything Personally
Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner seems to take every argument or minor slip-up as a sign a breakup is imminent?
I have. It isn’t pretty.
You’ll find yourself justifying things you never even realized happened. You’ll stare woodenly at the ceiling trying to untangle emotional knots you never knew existed. And eventually, you’ll wonder why you bother keeping up with all the drama.
An insecure ex who takes everìything personally because they fear abandonment will ironically cause their own worst fears to materialize (there I go being negative again).
2. He Does The Small Things
Small details are the soul of a relationship. They are a way of showing, rather than just saying, that you love your partner and don’t take them for granted.
Some examples might include:
- Picking up a small gift while out shopping. Showing your partner that out of sight is not out of mind.
- Taking on some of your partner’s chores to relieve some of their workload.
- Recalling small details and acting on them.
- Being consistent (consistency isn’t altogether a small thing, but is made of small events).
If you feel like your boyfriend pays attention to the details and not just the big picture, it’s a sign he is living the relationship in the moment and isn’t just going through the motions.
3. He Knows When To Take A Stand
Nobody gets this right every time, but a good partner will know the difference between standing up for themselves and negotiating. It’s all about knowing oneself and confronting issues in good faith so that they can be resolved.
Your typical needs versus wants debate becomes a great deal simpler when your boyfriend knows what he wants, and is able to communicate this effectively.
If you feel like you know where your boyfriend stands on the issues, even if you don’t necessarily agree, that’s a sign he is doing a good job at communicating in the relationship.
4. He Understands The Need For Personal Space
Co-dependence can go too far. If your boyfriend depends upon you for validation or has deep-seated fears of rejection, he may find it difficult to understand your occasional need for me time.
It is likely he will translate your needing space with a loss of interest and will pull you closer when you’d rather be pushed aside (for the time being, obviously).
This will lead to you to feel chronically tired and suffocated, and him chronically insecure.
If your boyfriend understands that needing some time alone is not a reflection of your feelings for him, but rather a psychological and physiological need, you will have a far easier time keeping both yourself and the relationship fresh.
5. He Respects Your Boundaries
Yes, every relationship will have its own internal rules and traditions, but being overruled and overrun constantly is never acceptable.
You are more than just half of a relationship whole, you are an individual. Having a healthy relationship means functioning not just as partners but also as individuals outside of the relationship.
Erecting strong personal boundaries is a way of protecting both your individuality and the relationship because if you can’t function as an individual the relationship will collapse.
A good boyfriend may struggle with negotiating the correct amount of space (it’s a never-ending adjustment), but he will nevertheless understand why having these boundaries is important.
6. He Argues In Good Faith
Arguments, even heated ones, are part-and-parcel of having something to lose. They are also a sign you care enough to go to war (figuratively speaking) to rectify issues that are threatening you.
I often claim that the opposite of love is not hate–but indifference. An indifferent ex who is full of distant, placating smiles is a hundred times more likely to have emotionally checked out of the relationship than a partner who flips-out impulsively.
A boyfriend who still engages with you emotionally (probably the most poetic way of summarizing a mud-slinging argument), and does so with the end-goal of negotiating a long-term resolution is doing so in good faith.
No matter what your debates look like, if you’re both acting in good faith it is likely that you’ll find the resolution you seek.
7. He Is Consistent
Consistency doesn’t mean predictable. It means being present. It means taking responsibility for our role in the relationship.
Perhaps I am wrong to call this characteristic consistency, but I’m sure you know what I’m getting at.
A consistent boyfriend may not get everything right, he will misjudge, mistime, and slip-up. But when the dust settles he’ll be there, spade in hand, ready to dig the relationship out of the muddy crater it is floating in.
8. He’s Perceptive Rather Than Judgmental
Permit me a moment of armchair psychology with this personal aside.
Imagine two partners. One is primarily judgmental. The other, perceptive. Both archetypes have positive and negative connotations.
To your typical judgmental partner, you are either the best thing ever, or the worst thing to ever happen to them. When things are good, they are amazing. When things are bad, you’ll be lead to believe you are the worst thing that ever happened to them (and at that moment, they really do think you are, this isn’t always manipulation).
The perceptive partner asks themselves why you are acting the way you are acting, rather than just judging it on a personal scale of good and bad. This translates to a greater relationship resilience because while they may not agree with you, they may understand why you did what you did.
This is an amazing asset to find in a partner and encapsulates many of the points in this article. Find someone who judges you through an objective lens, not just their internal subjective one.
And yes, I’m relating to personal experience here and I am not a psychologist, so make of this little rant what you will.
9. He Opens His World To You
Being in a relationship with someone is more than just spending time together. It is the union of two separate galaxies of lief.
Family, acquaintances, hobbies, work, friends, and more. Two entire worlds of experience will clash and mesh together to form an aura around your relationship.
This process can be messy, and throwing together all these external strands can lead to drama.
While these issues can cause some stress, my point here is that a good boyfriend will nevertheless open the gates of this world to you. No matter how imperfect or crazy it is. This is because he now realizes that his world is now also yours.
To shield you, even if it is meant to protect you, from these realities will only mean segregating a part of himself from you. You will always be left with the feeling that you don’t quite know your partner as well as you should.
Please note that I don’t mean to imply that he has to share everything with you. I think it’s fair that he’s entitled to have “his things”, whether that’s a social circle he can retreat to or whatever else. By opening his world I mean being transparent about his world in a way that makes you feel like you’re being cut out.
10. He Takes Care Of Himself
I mean this both physically and emotionally.
Loving oneself doesn’t have to mean admiring oneself. I’m not talking about the kind of boyfriend who fawns over his own image in the mirror or makes fun of you from the towering heights of his self-esteem.
No, I’m talking about someone who values themselves and their progression through life. It means taking care of their physical well-being and at least making an attempt at being emotionally self-sufficient.
The great thing about being in a relationship with a self-aware person is that you can be absolutely sure that their choosing you as a partner is a willing, conscious choice, and not just something they are too lazy to break out of.
It sounds silly. But I’ve met a lot of people who are hooked to the routine of a relationship. Glues to the solidity and sense of place a relationship provides, rather than the empowerment it potentially offers.
Personally, I’d much rather be with someone who feels that the relationship is an ongoing choice than someone who settles in for a lifetime of a comforting and predictable routine.