The best “boyfriend” I ever had never used the label

Or bought me flowers. Or even texted every day.

artist: Urban Cake Lady

We distract ourselves with bullshit.

We make up play-pretend lists of stupid shit we think we need to make a decent partner. But shit’s not real.

Here’s a short-list of just some of the shit that too many of us look for that DOES NOT equate “good boyfriend:”

  • Texting every day and always texting back, ideally immediately (I already know he’s thinking about me)
  • Taking us out on “Dates” with a capital “D” (ooh, dress up!)
  • Paying for everything
  • Walking on the street side of the sidewalk and other old-school chivalry
  • Making good money, dressing well, having a nice apartment and/or car
  • Having the same hobbies
  • Buying flowers or other little gifts
  • Buying nice hand bags, foreign travel or other big gifts
  • Feeling butterflies in our stomach (at best, this feeling is superficial; at worst, some experts suggest it’s actually a sign we should run)
  • Complimenting us or “making us feel beautiful” (the latter is more on us than him)
  • Committing quickly
  • Committing formally — having the DTR convo, labeling himself our “bf” and us his “gf,” then introducing us around town accordingly

The problem with all of this is that they are markers, not makers, of a relationship.

Jumping straight to these is a short-sighted short-cut, and missing the point. People look for them as evidence because they’re easy, objective things (he either does or does not do them) to point to, but the issue is that it’s all so fucking easy to fake.

Any number of dudes can run through this list. And in fact, the truly toxic ones have perfected the act.

The most toxic guy I ever dated (who, incidentally, was obsessed with being “the perfect boyfriend” and wanted me to often reaffirm this in words), did all of the things on this list — took me on Dates, bought me surprise flowers and other gifts for no reason, upheld old-school ideals, shared my hobbies, paid for everything and, yeah, labeled us and always texted back. He swore up and down he’d never loved anyone like me, and went out of his way every day to “show it.” (He also made good money, drove a nice car, owned a home and lived in a luxury high-rise —“high-quality” markers so many want.)

But guess what? Despite all this, it turned out he was a complete codependent. And all kinds of emotionally-abusive fucked up.

You can build an entire “relationship” buttressed with labels and little gifts and lovey nicknames, but that doesn’t make the soul of it any stronger.

I don’t give a fuck about dates or what he wears and drives — he could drive a beater and wear t-shirts and we can drink at dive bars for all I care. I don’t give a fuck whether he never buys me flowers, I can go days without him texting, and I couldn’t give two shits if he never wants to use the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”

Because that shit’s all so easily faked, and does not a real relationship make. You can’t imitate the important shit — the sort of shit that only the solid AF dudes have down pat.

Here’s what actually matters in a partner (and what my best — albeit non-labeled — lover actually did):

  • Being secure, reasonable, and straightforward as fuck. The dude had solid self-esteem and emotional stability. He never manipulated — ever — and he was never clingy or whiny; didn’t demand affirmation, make excuses, lie, get defensive, or seek revenge; he never struggled with jealousy or attachment or crippling anxiety. He actually listened when I shared something, took responsibility for his own mistakes and, good god, apologized appropriately, without ever adding “but…” He was above all logical and dependable, which made him rugged and sexy AF. He may not have made grandiose romantic gestures, but he also didn’t fuck with me or fall short. So while he never bought me flowers, he also never bought flowers for the sake of manipulation or easy-outs, and I’ll happily choose fewer flowers in exchange for a solidity I can trust. He had one baseline and he stuck the fuck to it, and that’s worth more than all the romance in the world.
  • Thinking. This guy was nothing if not a critical thinker. He knew facts, sure, but moreover he understood how to problem-solve raw; would approach shit and circle around it like a herd dog on sheep and come away with something within minutes, regardless of his knowledge going in. Totally sexy and refreshing as fuck. I didn’t have to explain shit to this guy over and over, and I never had to worry his views would be skewed. He was incredibly attentive and in tune with all that was me, and yet — see above — balanced enough not to let it all get to him. He figured out on his own how to make me happy and then just went and did it. But — again, see above — never in a way that got grabby.
  • Being a friend. Pretty straightforward. Shit’s kinda nice. 👯 🙌

I would take all of this over any car and any cute gesture any day of the week. I would happily go a lifetime without calling each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” as long as I get this shit either way.

Keep your labels and lilies and Louis Vuitton and leave me the shit that actually matters in love. ❤

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