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dating and relationships

How to be a better boyfriend

What always works isn’t always what’s obvious. This article gives an unconventional look at how to be a good boyfriend.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

The things that make you good in a relationship are the things that lead to a good life:

  • Work on yourself
  • Know your worth
  • Live by a principle
  • Don’t play crackhead games with your livelihood

The list goes on…

There’s an abundance of information teaching guys how to meet more women and get more “hookups.” Unfortunately for men looking for more than casual situations, there’s woefully little about building successful relationships.

And the information that is available is cringe-worthy at best. Between rom-com cliches and outright misogyny, men don’t have a place that gives real advice for how to be a good boyfriend.

I had to learn the hard way how to treat women in the context of a relationship so we both got what we needed. Without any role models or helpful resources, it took me years to learn on the job, so to speak.

Now, hopefully, you can use my pain as a shortcut to creating lasting healthy relationships.

Here are my best tips for how to be a good boyfriend.

Know your value

Knowing your value helps you create boundaries and sets the expectations for the type of relationship you want to develop.

For some men, any woman will do. This is largely because modern society doesn’t have standards women have to adhere to outside of being attractive or good mothers. If you are like a painful amount of men, this means believing you’ve found your true love simply because your girlfriend is beautiful. Of course, once the initial sparks and honeymoon phase wears off, you discover she’s a nightmare—sometimes too late.

I’ve written extensively on how to determine the right woman for you to help you avoid this pitfall. But choosing well is a side effect of knowing your value and what you want from life.

Another word for this is self-worth. In psychology, self-worth1 is how you measure your own abilities and your ability to perform well in things that matter to you. You can have high self-worth in your physical abilities and low self-worth in a professional setting, for example. Low self-worth translates to low self-esteem and making bad relationship choices.

Try these things to increase your sense of self-worth:

  • Do things that your find fulfilling
  • Build your skill sets and accomplish goals that challenge you
  • Determine what your values are and build those aspects into your life

Develop emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is social lubricant. People who have higher levels of emotional intelligence have more success at work and in interpersonal relationships.2

EQ is your awareness of your own and others’ emotions and your ability to adjust for relationship improvement.3

Be mindful that emotional intelligence is not simply being emotional. It’s your ability to manage your emotions. People who are self-aware and have high EQ understand that their thoughts create their emotions and actions. They also recognize that the things they say and do have consequences. This key skill helps you actively listen to your significant other, defuse arguments before they start, and tap into what you both need to thrive.

What EQ doesn’t look like:

  • Frequently losing your temper
  • Not taking control of persistent negative thoughts
  • Not taking responsibility for your words/actions
  • Unwillingness to change when necessary
  • Passive-aggressive behavior

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

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Keep it fresh

Good relationships are scientifically shown to extend your life.4 Having someone that loves and supports you, increases your sense of wellbeing or wellness and can even make physical pain more bearable.

Building this type of relationship takes time, intention, and growth that can’t be forced. There’s a common belief that the longer you are together, you’ll eventually run out of things to talk about. Meaning you’ll eventually become bored with one another.

But this is only true if you and your significant other stop working on yourselves and pursuing new interests. For example, new hobbies introduce you to skills and social groups that keep your mind growing. It’s also the best way to be a more attractive man, if you’re curious. You’re always facing new challenges so you always have something interesting to discover or talk about.

Date nights are similar. I’m not talking about the rom-com version where you’re recycling the same easy flowers and candy moves. I mean being intentional and actively spending time engaging in new activities. In this scenario, you’re constantly learning new things about one another.

A mistake I see often is couples mistaking proximity for spending time together. Netflix and chill can work, but after several nights in a row, no growth is happening. You need to do things that get you talking and using new parts of your brain. Then by being a good listener and being present you create a successful relationship.

When you’re a good listener, you pick up on little things about each other and refine your relationship accordingly. Small things like new interests and dislikes can create great emotional growth and deepen your overall bond.

That brings us to the next point

Hold her accountable

Maybe the best piece of relationship advice I’ve gotten was to value commitment over the individual.

If given a choice between what makes either of you happy in the moment vs what creates a happy relationship, choose the relationship. By adhering to this principle, you act in ways that serve the relationship and avoid doing things that would hurt it.

Now, this isn’t popular advice online. Social media relationship advice would lead you to believe that all you need to be a good man is to cry with your girl and let her behave any way she wants. But lovers don’t let lovers mistreat them.

When you do what serves the relationship, you don’t let behavior slide that could be potentially damaging to your self-esteem and ultimately, the relationship.

Even if it’s little things that seem innocuous at the moment. Things like passive-aggressiveness, making comments when you hang out with friends, or not taking responsibility for bad behavior.

This goes against the common advice of being your girl’s best friend. Women have historically been with men that can improve their station in life.5 In modern life, this translates to a man that knows what he wants and knows how to take the lead. Read my article on how to take the lead in a relationship for a deeper understanding. One key to remember is to be decisive and to be the person you say you are.

While good relationships tend to develop into friendships, it’s a mistake to try to start off this way. There’s a ‘friend zone’ for a reason. Trying too hard to be your girl’s bestie will likely help you cease to be sexually attractive to her.

Don’t be a white knight

When coming up with tips on how to be a good boyfriend, I couldn’t end without including the phrase toxic masculinity. It’s making the rounds and has got some young guys believing that how they naturally are is inherently wrong.

The term toxic masculinity started as a way to describe powerful men who sexually assualted and abused women with impunity. As it’s made its way through the online filter, the phrase has expanded to encompass all forms of masculinity as toxic.

As a result, male feminists and ‘white knighting’ has become the definition of what some believe makes a good man. White knighting is a man’s attempt to show he is ‘one of the good ones.’ In truth, this behavior is just an outward manifestation of a fear of rejection.

These are the guys that hang around in the friend zone thinking the girl will notice him if he’s ‘nice enough.’ Meanwhile, he’s thinking she’s a slut for having sex with a guy she likes. The guy she will always choose will be the one that makes his feelings and intentions known.

Unfortunately, both white knights and self-proclaimed male feminists are often the ones that are manipulative and abusive.

No quality woman wants a man that panders to her because it puts her on a pedestal that she didn’t ask to be on in the first place.

Bottom line, you can be a great boyfriend and treat women like human beings without idealizing them.

Remember, never stop working on yourself

Building successful relationships takes time, trial, and error. More importantly, it takes choosing to be with the right person in the first place. If you want to be better in relationships, focus on becoming a better man. It won’t solve all your relationship problems, but it will decrease the number of low-quality significant others you’d otherwise meet with.

Make developing yourself a part of your life and you can’t go wrong. Remember these keys when learning to be a good boyfriend:

  • Know your value. If you don’t, develop it
  • Emotional intelligence is cheat code to all healthy relationships
  • Build intentional relationships
  • We over me
  • Don’t pander to women, they don’t like it

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

Get the short free guide here


  1. Ackerman C. What is Self-worth and How Do We Increase it? August 2021. (accessed Jan. 2022) 

  2. Dorrance Hall E. Ph.D. Psychology Today: Building Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships. June 2018. (accessed Jan. 2022) 

  3. Mayer J. Ph.D. Psychology Today: What Emotional Intelligence Is Not. September 2009. (accessed Jan. 2022) 

  4. Mineo, Liz. The Harvard Gazette Good Genes are nice, but joy is better. April 2017. (accessed Jan. 2022) 

  5. Hymowitz K. _Institute for Family Studies: _Whither Hypergamy? January 2020. (accessed Jan. 2022) 

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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