Being a good boyfriend

I hear women complain about their boyfriends everyday, and especially every night because we usually drink.

The thing that used to bother me is that women having these conversations don’t often think about leaving. They rationalize that their boyfriend isn’t a bad guy per se he just has some flaws, they still love him and know that he loves her.

I understand the fear of being alone, the fear of loss of a relationship but most of the time when I listen to people complain it doesn’t feel like they are simply scared to leave, it feels like they think their partner isn’t working on some aspect of themselves that they easily could be.

And that they are loving passed these flaws, not entirely in spite of them. Pretending the behaviour isn’t truly a part of the person they love, merely a mistake they aren’t aware of yet.

At the drastic end it’s this thinking that keeps people in abusive relationships for so long but acknowledging that not all imbalanced romances are inherently abusive I’ve given this some consideration.

I can sympathize with being flawed and loving someone, I know what that feels like, it discomforts. 

When you love someone they start to feel near perfect, they have flaws but they’re so amazing in their assets and grace that their flaws simply don’t effect how you feel. 

Which is scary when you think about yourself. Most people, no matter how they present publicly, see their own flaws writ large when they think of themselves and their merits as innate and basically ubiquitous. So the romantic equation people in love feel is I am so very flawed and they are so glorious this does not compute. It’s why love feels amazing, it feels lucky, it feels magical when someone loves us.

What happens to a lot of people though is they can’t feel secure because of that. If it’s just luck and magic that brought this loving person to you then it could just as easily go away.

This is what causes some people to act controlling, jealous, or needy. 

Controlling behaviour we all understand. It’s the boyfriend who questions the way you dress when you’re going out without him or the girlfriend who always wants to know where you are and when you’ll be home.

Good people don’t do that out of sheer respect for autonomy. 

(And if you’re rational enough you know there’s no point in trying to prevent someone from cheating on you, if they’re willing to then the relationship is meaningless whether they go through with it physically or not. Unless of course you think you’re partner is so gullible they could be tricked into accidently fucking someone)

The neediness issue is less obvious though. The other strain of complaints I hear all the time is how inept people’s partners are, how they can’t do or don’t understand the simplest chores, they don’t remember important things, etc.

I suspect there’s unconscious tatic there. If you can demonstrate how much, how deeply, you need your partner maybe they won’t leave you. This touches a bit on what I wrote about nice guys a while ago and wanting the depth or intensity of love to be the value of love. 

Once in the relationship it’s how codependency is manifested.

It’s of course toxic and awful and my insight might be overly sympathic but because I constantly worry that I’m toxic and awful I think about it a lot. If you don’t see yourself as desirable, and there’s such an imbalance of desirability, you’re going to come up with strategies to hold on to that person. And unconscious strategies are always path of least resistance, and are almost always time bombs, monsters hovering in your peripheral vision you tell yourself to ignore.

Therefore I have always taken concious action to be a good boyfriend. Not by simply not being controlling – which is the bare minimum and makes you a neutral boyfriend at best – but by trying to be desirable. Whenever I feel my girlfriend is so fantastic I can’t believe she really loves me I tell jokes, I have fun, I engage in intelligent conversation, I work out, I get dressed to look good, I engage my social circle – rather than try to ‘keep her now that I’ve got her’ I aim to win her over everyday. 

And, because that’s some saccharine sounding shit, it also liberates me from feeling she’s the only person who will love me.

Rather simply not being as bad as recognizably bad boyfriends I aim to be a good person, worthy of love instead of just trying to horde it.

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Singer/songwriter, jerk.

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