In response: How can I be a good girlfriend?
December 27, 2006 3:28 PM   Subscribe

In response: How can I be a good girlfriend?

I am not usually a "girlfriend type" and tne longest relationship I have had has been for 4 months so this is all new to me as well. "Lawd if youre listening...heeeeeeep!"- H.B.
posted by Meemer to Human Relations (28 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: in response? how about reading the existing thread about this very topic. This is too open-ended and chatty on its own.

A lot of what is in the "How to be a good boyfriend" thread applies here as well.

I would say the biggest pet peeves for me are:

1. Playing mind games: Let him know how you feel.

2. Holding his conduct up to a higher standard than your own: Example is that you throw a fit if he wants to hang out with a female friend, but see no problems in hanging out with your own male acquaintances.

3. Getting your ideas of what a good relationship is from the movies: Couples fight and don't always make lavish romantic gestures towards each other. As long as he treats you well and you two are compatible, give the guy a break.

4. Monopolizing his time: Both parties in a relationship should have external friends and interests. If the two of you only have each other, then the odds of a lasting relationship fall considerably.
posted by reenum at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2006

Sex and sexual orientation really shouldn't matter, unless you have a chromosomal, reproductive, or genital situation that needs to be taken into consideration - if that's the case, be honest and forthcoming about that situation.

Stereotypes are terrible for people; don't play the "tee hee girls shop and nag" game. The other thread's got perfectly good information for you.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2006

have your own passions and interests, it'll help you be more understanding of his
posted by Salvatorparadise at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

In response: How can I be a good girlfriend?

First thing is to ask your boyfriend this question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:47 PM on December 27, 2006

Honesty counts for so much. If he does something that annoys you, tell him. Don't let it slide and remember it for the next three months, getting more and more irritated about something that he's completely forgotten. If he does something you like, tell him. Just be honest. Also, feel free to tell him what you want. If he's at all willing to be a good boyfriend, I'm sure he'd love some tips on how to do it. If you like back rubs or flowers or suprise pizza deliveries when you're at work, then tell him.
posted by twirlypen at 3:52 PM on December 27, 2006


I'm joking. ...Well, I'll pretend I am.

Really, my advice is to treat your partner as a good friend, who is just a little bit weirder than all your other friends. Don't smother. Don't coddle. Give attention and support, and don't let little things bother you too much. There is no perfect partner or single "soul mate" in the world that you have to meet. We're just people.

You will get annoyed. You two will have disputes and fights. Don't let them simmer for long, and try to make up as soon as possible. Don't ever let yourself get into a contest of pretending not to care about the other; saving face to your partner isn't as important as being in a happier relationship.

Oh, and while "How can I be..." is a good question for us, it may daunt some people. Ask such open-ended questions sparingly. Some of dislike collective navel-gazing and "relationship questions." If you have to ask such things often, then it's possible the relationship isn't right for you.
posted by cmiller at 3:53 PM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sex and sexual orientation really shouldn't matter

... yeah but it does. Different doesn't automatically mean demeaning ("the "tee hee girls shop and nag" game" as you say). Men and Women are different-- and both are equally as quirky, awesome, difficult, fun, enigmatic, wonderful.

sorry for the derail.
posted by menace303 at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2006

Never say the following if asked `What's wrong?'

"If you can't figure it out, I'm not going to tell you"

Keep away from those sorts of mind games. I've not been exposed to them much but it is infuriating, and is designed to cause irritation rather than to help resolve a problem.

Fortunately my partner is straightforward like that most of the time, so I will find out precisely what is wrong.

As a fairly literal minded guy, this enables me to deal with it :)

Also, I think most guys fear the question `What are you thinking?' (asked not out of anger, asked when perhaps laying together on a couch, being quiet) , because it's quite possible for our brains to run on idle and not be thinking much at all.
posted by tomble at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2006

1) Men rarely notice the subtle clues women give about how they are feeling. A man will appreciate hearing what you are feeling much more than trying to figure it out from hints.

2) Do not be offended when he does not want to spend every minute with you. Many (not all) men reduce stress by doing something distracting like playing games, watching sports, etc. Many (not all) women reduce stress by talking about exactly what is stressing them. Understanding this difference in how to deal with stress and issues is important.

3) If he asks you "what do you want to eat?" or "where do you want to go?" it is because he wants to know. There is no alternative reason.

In general, men are simple creatures compared to women. Most (not all) women think faster, understand complex social situations, and are more empathetic than men. A man will tell you exactly what he wants if you simply ask him.
posted by Argyle at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2006

Rule number 1 that I've finally learned, much to my delight (and to the enormous benefit of my relationship): do not pout or sulk. If you are upset about something, say so. It is 100% unreasonable and unfair to expect your SO to read your mind -- and then to punish him, and to continue making yourself miserable to boot! -- because, naturally, he can't.

Honestly, if you're pissed because he's late (again), or because you had a shitty day at work and he hasn't even asked, or because you're having cramps, just say so. Be direct about what you feel and need. You won't be driving him silently crazy, and as a bonus you'll soon discover if you have a cool partner who will respond to your needs respectfully, or a jerk who can't handle them.
posted by scody at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

God yeah, whoever said don't play mind games is bang on the money. I'm fairly sure I've said someting similar in previous relationship threads as it's something I believe makes life suck more. The whole 'playing it like a game' thing - not gonna end well.
posted by chrissyboy at 4:06 PM on December 27, 2006

Previously: Tips for a new relationship
posted by occhiblu at 4:27 PM on December 27, 2006

It's interesting to see how many people are answering the slightly different question "How can I not be a bad girlfriend?"

I say: let him know how great you think he is. People like that, especially when you mean it.
posted by escabeche at 4:40 PM on December 27, 2006

Assuming you're in a traditional heterosexual relationship:

Spell everything out explicitly for your significant other. Don't expect him to get hints, infer things from your tone of voice, or "just know."

"I would really like this watch for my birthday and it would make me happy if you bought it for me" is likely to get you what you want. "Sigh, I wish I had a watch" and "Gee that's a pretty watch" and even "I wish I had this watch" won't necessarily get through to him.

If he hurts your feelings and you don't say anything, he also won't know. "It hurt my feelings when you did X, because it made me feel like Y" is the best way to deal with hurt feelings.

Don't be afraid to have opinions and be decisive. At the same time, let him make decisions, voice his views, and be an equal partner. (i.e., don't be a pushover, don't be bossy.)

If you're not in the mood, don't automatically rule out sex unless you're REALLY not in the mood. Give him a chance to seduce you. Most of the time, you'll both be happier.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2006

This needs to be restated for truth/emphasis:

In general, men are simple creatures compared to women. Most (not all) women think faster, understand complex social situations, and are more empathetic than men. A man will tell you exactly what he wants if you simply ask him.

There are two corollaries to this is:

(1) Men are not mind readers.
(2) Women are often too subtle in expressing the things they are most concerned about.

If you have a need that is not being met, state it explicitly, and give your partner the opportunity to respond.

The basis of any good relationship is honest communication.
posted by mosk at 4:51 PM on December 27, 2006

I think I first came across this rule on metafilter, but it's solid gold:

If he does something wrong, and you don't tell him, you're not allowed to be angry.

It applies to both partners, naturally.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:23 PM on December 27, 2006

I'll do my best to answer this for you.

A great girlfriend will encourage her man to achieve his best, give him the fuel and encouragement to succeed, be there queitly and supportively if he feels he's failed, and share in his successes with genuine enthusiasm. Threesomes and other party tricks make a man smile, but genuine support will nestle you into a special place in his heart, long into a life together, or years after the relationship came to pass.

Encouragement and fuel can come in many forms... thoughtful backrubs and enthusiastic sex, thoughtful gifts like tickets and tasty things. Attention and conversation.

If he makes an attempt to be thoughtful... has planned ahead for things, brings by a sweet surprise, or goes out of his way to make time, thank him... I don't mean a bj in the washroom.. I mean a genuine look him in the eye and say "Thanks.. You're a very thoughtful person. I'm happy to be your girl". This goes a really long way to him wanting to do such things well into a relationship.

Helpful tips:
Have a bit of patience if your guy is burned out and not in the mood to talk.. when tired, conversation is a lot more work for men then women, generally. It doesn't mean that he isn't interested in connecting, but timing needs to be right.

Before everybody jumps in saying these values are sexist, I also want to be clear that I think these types of things are to be expected by both people from a good partner. Whether you guy is a good boyfriend is another story.. Hold yourself to a high standard, expect the same in return,and though it might take longer, you'll do well.

Hope this helps.. good luck.
posted by upc_head at 5:25 PM on December 27, 2006 [3 favorites]

One more: Decide what's going to be forgiven, and what's not, and always, always, always be consistent. No "gotchas". This isn't to say that a couple cannot revisit contentious issues repeatedly over time, but changing the rules without lots of consultation is seriously not cool.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:34 PM on December 27, 2006

Random thoughts:

Guys are very simple creatures, much like dogs, and need to be told immediately if you're pleased or displeased with some action. Would you discipline a dog a week later for peeing on the floor? No? So why do you yell at your boyfriend a week after he cussed in front of Aunt Sally? So the big thing is -- communicate, tell us about stuff like that as soon as you can do it without embarrasing both of us, and don't leave it for later, because he'll have completely forgotten what he did by the time you get around to it. Even if you can't say it in a nice way, just say it. Guys don't respect the flowers and rainbows subtleties the way girls do when they talk to each other, and it helps us if you communicate in a way we understand ... namely, grunts and squeals.

In the same vein, consistency is good. Don't change the rules.

Don't get jealous if we hang out with girls. Most of us happen to like girls, and tend to hang out with other girls on a purely friendship basis.

It's Ok to guide us into doing what will make you happy, and then rewarding us. Doing that a few times will clue us in to you liking that particular thing, and we'll continue to do it then when it occurs to us.

Communicate. Did I mention communication? I don't think you can communicate enough.

Emotional stability is important. Seek it in your relationship. Getting to a place where you "know" that you're meant for one another takes work... without having done the work to get to that stable place, you might be suffering from a excess of infatuation.

In return, we might make some demands of you. Even if we've been bad and wore the wrong shirt during that visit with Aunt Sally, please try to be the grown up one in the relationship. It's not an "insult to your creativity and individuality" if we ask you to wear a particular outfit (like a work-related polo shirt) to a work outing, it's a requirement we have to show that we're a "team player" and so is our significant other.

Don't expect a guy to buy you shiney stuff in the first little bit of a relationship. Maybe a year or two down the road.

Don't spend all your time together at first. You'll stifle each other. Don't forget about your other friends, you need to spend time with them too... and not with your schmoopie.

Don't care about "where you are"in a relationship, or "where it's going" ... just relax, have a good time, hang out with us when you want to and go your own way when you want to. If you're having a "are we boyfriend/girlfriend, just fuckbuddies, soulmates, married, casual lovers, etc.?" talk every other week, you're thinking waaaaaaaaaay too much about it.

As time goes on, and you two get more comfortable with each other, he might stop doing certain things that you liked. It's OK, it doesn't mean he likes you less, he just keeps a limited number of things in his active memory at one point in time. Just mention casually that you "really liked it when he did x" and he might start doing it again.

While guys are often stupid and are usually slow, we're not children. We do think of things on our own ... it's just that women think of so many MORE things than we do, and don't usually talk about what they're thinking.

He's not your prince... or to quote The Killers, "He doesn't look a thing like jesus, but he talks like a gentlemen, like you'd imagined, when you were young." ... he's just a man. But he's your man, and if you like him, keep him.

(Sorry if I repeated earlier replies, I started writing this when the OP posted it...!)
posted by SpecialK at 5:55 PM on December 27, 2006

While I can't agree with everything posted above (especially those claiming that men have the social sophistication of canines) I agree with the emphasis on comminucation. However, I think some clarification is in order:

Communication, in this context, means the exchange of information. Just because noises are coming out of someones mouth does not mean they are actually conveying any informational content understandable by other human beings. Even worse (and regretably common) is when those noises are expressing information which is in conflict with what the noise-maker would in fact like to convey.

I am not stupid. I can pick up on body language and oh-so-meaningful sighs. However, I choose to rate this information as far too open to interpretation to be reliable and thus usually discard it in terms of decision making (is she unhappy about something in particular or is it just gas?). I would consider it impolite in the extreme to take out of context and potentially meaningless datum like that to be more important than what someone actually chose to convey via speech.
posted by Riemann at 6:09 PM on December 27, 2006

Since we've not talked sex, and sex is generally a fairly big deal for guys:

Find things to compliment about sex with him. For example, if his equipment is larger than average, feel free to refer to it as "big" even if it's not the biggest you've ever seen. (However, don't exaggerate. Keep it to technically true. If he's smaller, try telling him he's a "perfect fit" or something of that nature.) At the very least you should tell him how much you like certain bedroom activities, especially the things he also particularly enjoys too. Tell him he knows what you need and is the only one who knows how to give it to you. And don't be shy about dirty talk, of course during sex but also whispered into his ear at random times in public.
posted by kindall at 6:22 PM on December 27, 2006

Also, I think most guys fear the question `What are you thinking?' (asked not out of anger, asked when perhaps laying together on a couch, being quiet) , because it's quite possible for our brains to run on idle and not be thinking much at all.

As an aside, it would never have occurred to me to ask that question, and I was very startled when my boyfriend first asked me that. It doesn't really bother me, but then perhaps that's because he doesn't seem to mind me answering with "uh...I"

There doesn't seem to be much purpose in the question though, I imagine askers never get anything particularly interesting in response, because it's hard not to be caught off guard.
posted by someone else at 6:38 PM on December 27, 2006

Woof! Woof! I am a guy, just for clarification, and compared to my girl (Note that this varies with geographical region, and I live in deepest darkest Texas and am dating a Southern Lady, note teh capitals), I DO have the social skills of my puppy. Note that my girl is a Vet student, and all her friends are vet students or animal people, so I suppose it makes sense that they talk about training the men in their lives like they talk about training dogs. "Oh, he takes redirection SO WELL..." "He's definitely responsive to food and sex."

The guys are off in the corner drinking beer, talking about football, and licking our empty nutsacks.

Part of me resents it, part of me wants another one of those little treats...
posted by SpecialK at 6:43 PM on December 27, 2006

I'm going to be a little more crude than anyone else here. Please forgive me.


Regular blowjobs.

I'm serious.

Not that it's that simple, but sex is definitely important, and if that goes missing from your relationship, you're pretty much screwed.
posted by geekhorde at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2006

Find his interests, and explore them for yourself. You don't have to love every little hobby of his. In fact, having a few seperate interests is good. However, if he's a big football fan, it wouldn't hurt to know his favorite team and how they're doing in the season. Likewise, if he's a hardcore Trekkie, learn to distinguish Captain Kirk and Captain Picard without referring to Darth Vader, but don't feel compelled to know the details of Klingon social hierarchy.

Guys are often straightforward and direct, but that doesn't mean they don't appreciate small things sometimes. Appreciate what he does, don't demand to be romanced. It just isn't the same if you expect it and the whole thing feels forced. Likewise, it doesn't hurt to do little romantic things. Many guys do notice these, and do appreciate, we're just also not as vocal about it. There was a post on the blue a while ago (which I forget the link for) regarding a woman who sent her boyfriend on a specific path to work so he would see graffiti she had posted up throughout town, to the lyrics of "Fly Me to the Moon." Now, this would be creepy for a one-month relationship, but for an established relationship, that's just a touching effort that really says something. I remember, more than a few guys said they would be floored if their girlfriend did that. On the other hand, guys can be irritatingly low-key in appreciation.

Finally, another voice for being honest and direct. Mind games are hostile competition to guys, and hostile competition is the last thing you want in a relationship.
posted by Saydur at 7:11 PM on December 27, 2006

Actually, sex isn't important, intimacy is. Sex and intimacy are related, but are very different. There ARE guys with low sex drives out there... just make sure that just because he doesn't want sex that you still do whatever he DOES want to do that's intimate... "Nah, let's not have sex tonight" doesn't mean "Don't touch me," it just means that he doesn't want to have sex tonight...

Oh, and my last tip:

It's OK to say no if you don't want to do something, but try to find out how important it is to him. You could say No and he's all *shrug*, OK. ... or you could say No, and it crushes his world. But it's always better to say No than to say Yes and be a pill while you're doing whatever it was that you said Yes to together.
posted by SpecialK at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2006

I second SpecialK on the sex vs. intimacy thing. Actually, I second a lot of the advice given above.

IMHO, one of the best traits a good girlfriend can have is being supportive. Appreciate his accomplishments, and cheer him up when he's down. Obviously this advice applies both ways, but I think it's especially relevant in light of the stereotype of men as emotionless, brainless hunks of machismo. Not true. As someone said above, threesomes are nice, but being his best friend will earn you a special place in his heart.
posted by markcholden at 8:13 PM on December 27, 2006

Do not expect to be appreciated for doing any particular thing you do for him, unless that thing is something for which he has already let you know he will appreciate your doing.
posted by little miss manners at 8:23 PM on December 27, 2006

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