16 Things Your Boyfriend Should be Telling You

Good Men Project, 16 Things Your Boyfriend Should be Telling You, Relationship Advice, Communication, Relationships, RLS Section

Mark Radcliffe reminds us of the importance of communicating love


Dear Ladies Who Are On The Fence About Whether Or Not to Dump The Guy Who’s Taking You For Granted: here’s what you should be hearing from the guy who’s worthy of your time. Maybe not right away, but within, say, 3-6 months. Otherwise, hit the “next” button. For the sake of both you and all the guys out there who are waiting for you to be single again.

1) I adore you. This isn’t about sex, this isn’t about desire. This is about how you make me glow whenever you walk into a room, glad that you just exist, whether I’m the guy beside you or just someone admiring you from twenty feet away.

2) You inspire me. I love how you’re living your life, what you’re devoting yourself to, how you’re spending your time, what path you’ve chosen, how you deal with the people around you.

3) I respect you. You’re the first person I think of when I want a serious opinion on something. Anything. From topics like “Am I being an asshole here?” to “Which is better, MadMen or Breaking Bad?”

4) I just love kissing you. Ok, so, years from now, if by some awful paragliding accident we both end up paralyzed and have no use of our lower extremities and can never get it on again, I’ll still feel pretty good about it as long as I can just kiss you as much as I want.

5) I don’t want to change you. Yes, there are some things about you that I don’t get. That I don’t love. But you’re you. And all the other stuff that comes with you, I would never want to lose. So I don’t want to disturb the equation. I want to keep it intact. And just help it grow.

6) I accept your drama. Sure, you’ve got some anger issues with your mom. Or dad. Or sister. Or job that you’re trying to get out of. I can handle that, even when it’s a bit exhausting. I even support it. None of us is drama-free, me especially. I respect that you’re fighting against something.

7) I’ve totally got the hots for you. As in: seriously, can we get these clothes off already? I’m dying here. We should really find our way to the nearest bedroom. Or kitchen. Or rooftop.

8. I love that you tell me off sometimes. Seriously. I may not always admit it, but I respect it. I’m full of bullshit sometimes, and I like to know you won’t take it. If I’m gonna have someone by my side, I better know she didn’t just fall for the first guy that came along, and she’ll keep holding me to my higher standards. I don’t want a pushover.

9. You’re on my mind. Constantly. Especially when I’m supposed to be thinking about something else. When I’m at work, giving a presentation, watching a movie with my buds. There you are, all in the middle of my shit, outta nowhere. And yet, I can’t help but smile.

10. You captivate me. You have my full attention. I’m not thinking about her. Or her. Or her. Just you. Oh, and that presentation I have this week. And my taxes that are due. But mostly just you.

11. I forgive you. The other day, you were completely crazy. Seriously, you went off the deep end about something. You blamed me for something I didn’t do, or didn’t actually say, or didn’t actually think. But hey, you’re human, you’re allowed a ‘gimme’ now & then. (As am I.) And look, with all the beauty you bring to my life, I’m still coming out way ahead.

12. I love you. Sorry to get all heavy on you, but it’s true. While the last guy you dated for three years could never say it, I’m telling you now: I love you. You’re wonderful. I want to be more like you. I want others to be more like you. I want whatever kids we might hypothetically have together to be like you. You’re my idea of a fantastic person. I want to help you be as ‘you’ as possible.

13. I can’t stop talking about you. You’re not some little secret I keep. Or hide. You’re my favorite thing on the planet. I told my mom about you before we even had our first date. I told my buddies about you immediately after our first date (didn’t wanna jinx it). You’re a story I could tell over and over and over again.

14. I see my future with you. Sure, I may not say this right away—I mean hopefully I won’t say this right away, for fear of scaring you off—but I’m thinking about it. We men, we can be planners, we can project, we can get ahead of ourselves. And me? I wanna get ahead of myself with you.

15. I just need to hold you. I may not always feel like having sex. I may not always feel like kissing. But I just need to be kinda near you. Be next to you. Be unable to lay away from you on the bed without wrapping myself around you. I don’t even understand it, frankly, but I do. So accept it, please. It’s something that something inside of me knows I need.

16. Thank you. For existing. For being you. For having your smile. For having the laugh that you do. For laughing at the things you do. For not laughing at the things you think are too stupid. For having a point of view and a strong sense of self. For wearing that amazing skirt the day I met you. For not wearing it when I introduced you to my mom. For having your standards. For getting pissed off when something matters. For showing your appreciation when you see beauty. For just existing. Seriously, I may never even get a chance with you, and if so, so be it. I’m just glad the universe made you. It makes me feel a lot better about the place I live in. But, barring that, come here please. I need to kiss you now. And for a while after that.


image credit: Flickr/Photos-Change-The-World

Other articles by Mark Radcliffe:

 17 Reasons I’m Still in Love With You

Don’t Fall in Love. Fly in Love

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe is a writer living in New York City. He has a weakness for bourbon, jazz and girls who can drive stick. You can read more of his essays here: www.theradcliffescrolls.tumblr.com and http://markradcliffe.com.


  1. I didn’t read this like a checklist. I think it’s about the underlying theme of love, desire, respect and admiration that should be the foundation of a happy partnership. Yes, some of it’s over the top, but he’s a writer so accept this is meant to entertain as well as lay out how the author feels about love. Personally, I think that many women settle for less and less. I married a man who ended up being gay, dated a guy who cheated and carried on a whole life with someone else, and the reason I ended up there twice was I ignored the missing, crucial pieces of a love relationship that the author outlines. Love, desire, respect, admiration–when you feel these for someone, you’ll express them whether you intend to or not.

    • Don Draper says:

      Remember, it does say, BOYfriend…it’s not a bad list, and worth doing…but it reads a little bit more like infatuation, rather than LOVE. “I think about you all the time.” Been there, done that — it felt good. I discovered, too late, that it was INFATUATION. True love is passion, but its markers are more in the line of patience and endurance, than of kissing and dreaming about how perfect our life is going to be.

  2. 6) I accept your drama. Sure, you’ve got some anger issues with your mom. Or dad. Or sister. Or job that you’re trying to get out of. I can handle that, even when it’s a bit exhausting. I even support it. None of us is drama-free, me especially. I respect that you’re fighting against something.

    Two different authors I realise, but this made me think back to Alyssa’s Geeks vs Jocks article.

    Where the genders were flipped, and it was apparently entirely fine to get rid of a guy because drama.

    Drama is not worth putting up with forever, if it never stops, or no attempt is made to fix it.

  3. The only one of these my boyfriend says vocally is “I love you.” He’s not very vocal with affection, but he does seem to show all the rest of these points with his actions. It certainly makes a girl feel good when she catches that look in her boyfriend’s eye that means more than the words would have.

  4. I don’t go out of my way to comment on bullshit very often, but sometimes I am compelled.

    I’ve been seeing a woman for approximately three months now and we get along quite well. We have great sex, enjoy hanging out, share quite a few interests and generally have fun when we are together. We are also still getting to know each other.

    I definitely hit some of your points: I respect her, I don’t want to change her, I like kissing her, sometimes just cuddles are great. However, there’s no way in hell I’m about to start fawning over her with “I love yous”, “I adore you”, or try and say with a straight face that I can’t stop thinking or talking about her. Even after six months these things may not be true. That’s not to say that I never talk about her, or that I never think about her, because I do. But I’m also a fairly quiet and reserved person and I don’t spend my free time with friends gushing about my girlfriend or ignoring what I’m doing while thinking about her.

    Without getting too deep into the other points, this is mostly stuff that is common sense style relationship filler and things that don’t necessarily need to be said. I mean, really, “Thank you for existing”? What. The. Fuck. If I said thanks for existing and I just need to hold you and lay near you, I think she’d laugh at me. This is a woman that’s an individual and so am I, and you can’t fit either of us in your cookie cutter mould of how a relationship is supposed to work.

    Frankly, this whole list feels like it was written based on fairy tale ideals. I can respect the intent behind it, but to expect reality to conform to it is patently naive and shows the author either is the one in a million man who goes through this rigamarole because he defines himself around pleasing a caricature of a woman or has never actually been in a real long term relationship.

    • Mark Radcliffe says:

      Glad you weighed in. I think some of your misgivings with my piece might go away if you don’t read “should be telling you” quite so literally. Maybe I should have made this clearer, but there are countless ways to ‘tell her” these things without actually “saying them,” and it sounds like you demonstrate your feelings plenty yourself in your current relationship. You can “tell her” you’re thinking about her by a simple text or call when you’re out of town. Or “tell her” how much you appreciate her with they way you surprise her by getting her that book you heard her mention once. Or the surprise tickets to her favorite band. And I completely disagree that expecting your parter to feel these things about you is a fairy tale. It’s a series of high standards for sure, but a series I’ve seen met countless times. But only in truly wonderful relationships, which is what I think we should all hold out for. I’ve felt these things about every woman I’ve been in a long-term relationship with. Now, they haven’t all worked out for one reason or another, but that’s for another article. As for equating these actions with “going through the rigamarole,” it’s not a chore at all when you’re actually in love. You just demonstrate these feelings naturally in your day to day actions, verbal or not.

      • Agreed. I think sometimes people read these things too literally.

        There lots of ways to tell your significant other “I adore you, I respect you, I admire you” etc. without necessarily saying the words (although it never hurts to say them.) For instance, my best friend still recalls the first time her now-husband spent the night at her place, she apologized for the half-assembled bookshelves littering the living room that she had been trying, unsuccessfully, to put together. The next morning, she awoke to noises from downstairs, and found him assembling the bookshelves. As their relationship progressed, every time he came over he brought tools, identified a project, and worked on it while she cooked dinner (and since she lived in a ‘fixer-upper,’ there was never a shortage of projects.) At first she was a bit put out by his insistence on fixing things, but he wasn’t the most talkative, demonstrative guy, and she came to realize that fixing things for her was his way of taking care of her and telling her, “I adore you.”

        For my part, I am blessed to have a husband who regularly says and does all of these 16 things – in both words and deeds – and at first, I hated him for it. I felt like he was putting my on some sort of pedestal that I did not deserve to be on. It took awhile, but I eventually realized that the problem was not him, it was me; I believed I was unloved, unwanted, unlovable, and unworthy and respect, and thought others saw me the same way. Fortunately he saw past the thick walls I built around myself and had the patience to break them down, and help me learn to see myself as he saw me (or at least to abide with me as I went through therapy and worked through some serious life traumas. Still working through them, in fact.) Is he perfect? Hell no, and neither am I. We have some bad days. But the good days outweigh the bad.

        Good relationships take work; a lot of us don’t want to believe that. We want the simple, happily-ever-after fairy tales; we don’t think it’s worth the work, we don’t think we are worth the work, much less other people. But here is the thing: when you learn to see past your own bullshit and see that person who truly respects you and who sees you better than you see yourself, you are willing to do that work, because you get back everything you put in and then some.

        “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.”

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear guy who clearly likes men,
        It’s OK.
        Nobody cares.
        I’m sure you have lots of meaningful conversations with your “girlfriend” but women are not that needy, they don’t need to be smothered or reassured constantly, & if they do “Ain’t NOBODY Got Time For That!”
        P.S. try writing some fiction, you seem to have a knack for it

        • Samantha says:

          You are incredibly rude and any girlfriend you have will undoubtedly get tired of your misogynist arrogant and sarcastic attitude right quick. You don’t like the article or agree with it so you imply the author is gay and tell him to go write fiction? THAT’S constructive. Where’s your article on relationships bud? Would the title be “I’m not saying shit cuz I’m a selfish asshole?” Nobody said the words “constantly” and nobody implied that women are all “needy,” which, by the way, many if not most are, and most men are as well. People have needs. Deal with it. The point of this article is the implication that women should not settle for anything less than a man who makes it clear to them that he values and respects them, and that relationships are work and you have to make a point of getting these things across in one way or another. Maybe you should spend less time criticizing and more time reading between the lines.

          • skippy22 says:

            So you calling him a selfish asshole is constructive ? He is labeled a misogynist because he doesn’t want to kiss a woman’s butt every chance he gets. But articles likes these and there are ALOT of them which tell men / women that men should be waiting hand and foot on women are not feminist and are just “normal” and “wonderful”. This is why women heads are so screwed up because they constantly read this load of crap and are raised from childhood with people telling them that they are princesses and beautiful etc.. Then they grow up with false expectations. So they decide to put on a pound of make up the older they get to cover up what they consider “faults” and constantly critique themselves. Believe me, i know a few. I”m not saying that women should not be treated with respect but holy crap, this article is not reality , deal with it. Btw, people having needs and being NEEDY are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

            • Chantel says:

              Dear Skippy22,

              You are an idiot :) Well at least with this you are. I have been married for about a year now and my Husband does every single one of these things. No he is not whipped because I also do every single one of these things to him.
              Women are princesses and they are beautiful, in this day and age women need to hear that more then ever. This article is definitely reality because I and many other women who are in respectful relationships are living that reality.

  5. Could have done WITHOUT #7. That is so superficial to the rest of the points in the article! Respect should be a CRITICAL part of a relationship. If sex has to be part of it, then some other things might not prove as important as they should be!!!

    You’ve heard the saying ‘Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free’. Same here. If you want to test how solid your relationship is, hold up on the sex and see if either one leaves!

    • Natasha says:

      It’s not superficial. Sex is beautiful in love. Sex is more than just a physical need when you do it with a partner you love and care about. Even the most solid relationship will develop fault lines if the woman decides one day, no sex ever again. And it won’t be because the guy can’t keep in his pants, but because the woman if the woman is crazy enough to unreasonably go back on sex, then the relationship isn’t really making sense to her at all.

      And FYI, the author did mention that even if the guy can’t ever make love to his woman, (paragliding) he’ll be happy just to kiss her.

      I think it is important for us women, to know that our men find us sexy. That they have the hots for us. That there’s something about us that makes them go weak in the knees. It’s not a perverted thought.

  6. I love this article and it’s not because I’m here to brag, but my husband says all these things to me. It reminded me of all the reasons I married him. I just read aloud this article to him, because it reminded of everything he does for me and how much he loves me.And likewise, I think you need to equally spoil your spouse and let them know how much you appreciate them! Even if men don’t say it, they like to be complimented too! Everyone deserves this kind of love! I wish it for the whole world that you can share your life and your love with someone amazing like I have found in my husband!

  7. wellokaythen says:

    Silly question, but I think it’s very important:

    What if you don’t actually feel those things – should you say them just to make the other person feel good?

    This seems like one more list of “The Right Things to Say.” I’m assuming you should only say these things if you mean them.

  8. Um, I can drive stick AND a motorcycle. Because that’s clearly your main criterion for a mate, you should totally call me. :D

  9. My best friend is a male – we’ve been BFFs for a year and he has taken excellent care of me and our friendship. He did almost everything on this list before we became a couple. Once couple-hood was achieved, then he started with the I Love Yous and the romantic stuff like cuddles, but he always thanked me, always appreciated me, and said we would be friends forever.

    In a relationship with him, I shower him with affection & attention; I do everything I can for him because I adore him. (I even serve him his dinner and make 3 meals a day when I’m not at work – Yes, gentlemen, we exist.) In return, he does every damn thing on this list. Not even kidding. We end up in a perpetual loop of mutual appreciation.

    I found the comments on this article insightful and interesting. Having experienced polar opposites in the relationship department, I can assure you that men like those in the article can and do exist. And believe it or not, so do women like me.

    The trick is finding the right love language for your relationship, working with your partner on what type of affection THEY respond best to. My bf/bff and I happen to respond to the same things and it works.

    • I second that.
      As I read the article, I realized my husband does all of those things!
      And I also realize now that if I had read this article before knowing my husband, I would have thought its a bit too fairytale-like what the author is describing. But no people/relationships as good as that are possible and we should all strive for it :)

  10. Thanks for the list. I’ll have it laminated and memorized to save time. On my way out the door, I can peck her on the cheek and then just say a number. It’ll be like calling an audible: “5, 5, Omaha, Omaha, hut hut!”

  11. Talk about heteronormative.

    Men have boyfriends, too, you know….

  12. I just got this off of a facebook post and decided to read it! I must say that this is something all men should memorize. I have been single now for almost 2 years and tried all types of dating. I have found as a women the quality of men out there is frightening. Maybe if they followed some of your ideas and advice on here they would become the stand up amazing men that us single women thrive for! Great read!

    • It truly is frightening. I just want people in my life who are like this! Where do you live? I’m in Australia and I can assure you, the idea of dating is not at all compelling with the kind of offers I have had. Actually, most weren’t even about dating because apparently people don’t date anymore.

  13. Wonderful post, Thnks for sharing.

  14. My only issue with this article is its entirely one-sided. Shouldn’t women be saying the same thing to their boyfriends?

    • Yes they should but this is from a man’s perspective so I think that’s why he wrote it this way. Also women have a tendency to sell themselves short and settle for less, probably because we have images of perfect women drilled into our minds every damn day and end up lacking in self-confidence because we are also told this is what men expect.

    • Anonymous says:

      I say these (or similar) things to my boyfriend all the time! If it’s one sided…it’s not the right relationship for you.

  15. My boyfriend of 4 months must’ve read this list :-). I am one of the lucky ones who hears this from my bf nearly daily. Feeling thankful <3

  16. Mark…do you have a sister that helped you write this?
    You forgot the big one…”you don’t look fat, you look sexy.”

  17. I love, support, honor, protect, evolve, encourage, build a better us, inspire, aspire, uphold, exalt, believe, trust, value, soulfully belong and only want you. These are just a few things I feel all relationships need. Both people should have the aforementioned not only said, but shown…

  18. What a great list – I have to take this as an instruction sheet, as none of them happen automatically anymore. Once sex stops, 4, 9 and 15 don’t’ work any more, and the the rest gets buried under a mass of resentment. So the list is a good reminder of how we should behave.

  19. Frustrated woman says:

    My husband used to say things like these but he doesn’t anymore. He says he doesn’t need to because he shows me but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to hear them! How do I get him to start saying these things again?! HELP!!

  20. I will be satisfied if a man says only 3, 5 and 12….

    Those are hard to find now days…

  21. So you want a dog….. why don’t you said so ….
    No serriously, what are the 16 things for girls then … ?
    I am more interested in hearing female oppinions : )

  22. Just one woman’s point of view: if I heard any of these besides the usual “I love you” as he’s heading out the door, my marriage wouldn’t be floundering right now. And if a man ever does start saying/demonstrating these things to me, my head and heart would be his. I’m not fickle, far from it… But to some women, these concepts go a very long way and carry a lot of weight. I thought this article was excellent.

  23. paritosh says:

    the next thing is
    17) Honey, I must get a life apart from the above sixteen.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I always said all the above to my gf’s with genuine affection and I single. Being kind, loyal decent and honest gets you nowhere it seems…

  25. “4) I just love kissing you. Ok, so, years from now, if by some awful paragliding accident we both end up paralyzed and have no use of our lower extremities and can never get it on again, I’ll still feel pretty good about it as long as I can just kiss you as much as I want.”

    I’ll still feel “pretty good.” Really??? How about feel fucking SPECTACULAR that both of you would survive such a horrific accident TOGETHER and be there side by side for each other for a long road of recovery and transformation. Oh wait, sorry, I forgot… that would take actual, true love, commitment, faith and hard work. But no, no one is ready for that!

    Also, it’s such a stupid misconception that people who are paralyzed or who are in wheelchairs can’t function sexually. This article is perpetuating stigmas with ignorance and presumptions. Even if a person couldn’t get hard for some reason… Do you truly need a cock, or a vagina to please your man? Are you really going to deduce and qualify yourself and your bodily worth as a orifice or sexual organ? As though you can’t satisfy and please your partner sexually without these things? UGH

  26. Whipped!

  27. My GF posted this on facebook and I read through it like a checklist. My immediate reaction was insecurity. Why did she post it? Is she trying to communicate with me about what im NOT doing? After calling her she told me I was reading too much into it, it was just a nice little romantic piece that she enjoyed. I think we as men get uptight about these articles because we like to fix things. I dont think you should read this like a checklist and feel insecure if you/your partner doesn’t do EVERYTHING on the list. If they do, fantastic, but If they don’t, then look into what you/partner is TRYING to do. Progress, not perfection.If your man is visibly trying and genuinely cares that is the important thing. Because he will not be perfect. Its obviously a great article, because it invoked an emotional response, positive or negative, that’s what good writers do.

  28. DynamicDbytheC says:

    This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I lost my soulmate to cancer. We had an amazing love just like this for 29 years. I can tell you that at the end he said he loved my all throughout they day. Say it now, say it often…

  29. William Cross says:

    Incredible article! I’d add the following:

    17. Sweetheart now that I’ve told the above, get down on your knees, open your mouth and let me send our future kids down that gorgeous throat of yours!

  30. My man “copy pasted” the exact same 16 things n wrote it to me.. claiming to be his own words! I cant believe I stumbled upon this article today.


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