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Today, a question from a man with a plan to be a better boyfriend. Please don't be afraid to e-mail any and all better boyfriend questions, whether you are male, female, a good boyfriend already or a complete terror, even if you think they are dumb questions. I'll be the judge.
Long time reader, first time writer-in-er. I think your advice on being a great boyfriend is really good, but what about the flip side? You know - the age old dilemma of being too good a boyfriend and then leaving no room on her part for the proverbial chase.
How do you balance the two and know when you’re putting too much effort in and coming off as a lamewad?
Dear Mr. Balance:
Some people, in an attempt to woo, sometimes over-woo. But here's a tip: If you do something kind for your girlfriend and she doesn't appreciate it, you are working too hard. It is easy to tell if she is appreciative. You might lie to yourself and say she is trying to be coy, or playing hard to get. But in the animal kingdom, we all display natural reactive behavior. When man, bird, or platypus touches something hot, they recoil. When dog, wildebeast or 12 year old girl tastes something disgusting, they remove it from their mouths. When we do something kind for someone, if they are touched, they show appreciation. If they are not, they don't. If you do something kind for your girlfriend and she does not respond "in kind", then that should be your first sign that you are working too hard. "In kind" can be anything from a genuine, warm smile to a handjob. You might not always get the reaction that you were hoping for, but you should be able to tell if she appreciates you or not through obvious physical cues, if she isn't yet ready to give verbal cues.
As a general rule, don't let too much time go by without doing something nice for your girlfriend. If when you first met, you would take her on a bike ride every weekend, and it was something you both enjoyed doing, why should that stop? Every day, you should do something nice for your girlfriend, because every day, the shittiness of life prevails. As her boyfriend, you should be her best friend. You should be the one person who knows her so well, you could ruin her with a word, but instead you lift her up and give her joy. And she should do the same to you.
Another tip: Though it may be hard to not spoil someone who you are smitten with, it's good to try to match behavior. If she is coy, you can play coy right back. But if you are both always coy, either or both of you are not being honest with the other.
Honesty is important in relationships and in life. If you like someone, or if you hate someone, you should never be afraid to say so. If more people were vocally honest, this world would be a much better place.
A note on hurting someone's feelings: You should have had your feelings hurt on thousands of occasions by the time you are an adult. It happens. It's part of life. Feelings are for hurting. That is why dating sucks so badly - because you are basically giving someone permission to learn you inside and out and that makes you vulnerable to being hurt. You should be prepared
to have your feelings hurt all the time. But you don't have to tolerate bad behavior from anyone. Only you can decide how many times a person is allowed to hurt your feelings before they have reached "too many times". And in a sound relationship, there should be a natural balance of all emotions without either of you having to "try" to do anything.
Finally, it is very important not to get caught up in any chase. Relationships aren't obstacle courses, they are sensitive, intimate encounters with a human animal, which is not so unlike a wild animal. If neither of you can handle that, just fuck random strangers you meet on Craigslist until you are mature enough to love and be loved.
Until next time, remember - being a boyfriend is easy. Being a better boyfriend is easy, too.