16 Things Your Boyfriend Should be Telling You

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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.

  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.

  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!

  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 : )


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