First of all, bless you, all the boyfriends out there for clicking on this article - that's the first step out the way already:
1. Make an effort
That's literally the crux of everything, and if it's good enough for Queer Eye's Tan France, it's good enough for all of us.
2. Show interest in her life
3. Discover what your love language is
How do you express affection? How does she like to be loved? I mean this in all the emotional, spiritual and carnal implications of the word, so don't be embarrassed and do the next step:
Ask her what's bothering her, ask her what she wants for dinner, what her favourite colour is, and whether she prefers to watch Love Island on catch up or live.
5. Learn from her, listen to her
I shouldn't have to explain this one.
6. Clean every now and then
And not to sound like your mum, but she shouldn't have to ask, and being surprised after a long day of work with a spotless house, or even room, can go a long way. I promise.
7. Offer to make her a meal, or cook together
A shared bonding exercise can lead to other shared bonding exercises, and culinary gestures are as intimate as they are tasty. Hopefully!
We're not talking Daddy Warbucks from Annie here, but being able to give your significant other something significant, meaningful and representative of how you perceive her is not only kind, generous and fun, but also moving. She should be able to treasure your gifts, big and small. Sometimes it will be an expensive bracelet, sometimes it will be bringing her a Gregg's sausage roll at work. Go figure.
9. Surprise her!
We all love to be surprised, and if you can arrange either a small gathering or a fun activity that gets you both out of town and out of your comfort zones, it can be the best thing since sliced bread and you don't have to break the bank, either.
10. Express opinions, challenge her
Your girlfriend doesn't need a doormat to agree with everything she says or not challenge when she's being irrational. We always need someone, to be honest with and that we can trust to know when we need a nudge in a certain direction. Don't let her die her hair purple the night before going to a wedding just because she's feeling insecure about meeting her old university friends again. She will thank you, in time.
11. Share in her interests and hobbies
Offer to take her to the tennis courts, or watch Love Island with her (can you guess what show I'm currently binging?). She's sat and watched you play FIFA that many times, I'm sure you can manage the same in return... which brings me to...
12. Give and receive
Again, in every respect. Whatever she is giving in the relationship, you should be able to recognize that and mirror back an appropriate response so that she knows her gestures are felt and understood, and that she is taken care of too. Also applies to the bedroom.
Honestly, this is the easy one to say and the hardest one to practice. When she's grumpy and you don't know what to do. Ask. I did that one before, but it also means risking yourself, making yourself vulnerable, and being truthful. Don't always say what you think she wants you to say, it will become performative and sometimes situations call for two different perspectives for you both to grow as a couple and as individuals.
14. Don't be afraid to argue
The most worrying thing about relationships is when there's no turbulence or arguments because that's impossible. Someone isn't speaking their mind and that is the biggest no-no of a relationship. Do disagree, it's healthy.
15. Irritate her by all means, but don't hurt her
Be playful, but don't hit on her insecurities just because she trusted you enough to share them. Never do something that you consciously know would hurt her. It shouldn't need to be said but I will because I know it still needs to be said.
16. If you are feeling lost or hurt, tell her
If she is inadvertently or consciously causing you distress or harm, know that you can also call her out too. It's 2019, guys, we've got to know what's best for us. Particularly if the issue is easily resolved or discussed, this is important to ensure both parties are comfortable and safe.
17. Don't cut yourself off or get too possessive
We all love a show of aggression or protection because it shows that you love and value us, as people. Not as objects that are 'yours'. Make sure you know where the line is, and don't cross.
18. Make friends with her friends - be open!
They might be annoying but they love her as much as you do, and she will love having you all together - making the effort is so key because if her friends turn on you, you might find yourself up a creek with no paddle in rough patches.
19. Introduce her to your friends too
Try to behave consistently as you do when you're alone with her as you do with your friends. Don't belittle her or dismiss her, be respectful, even if it may feel like two worlds colliding or you're embarrassed.
20. Use your instinct!
I don't know what your relationship is like, don't listen to me! Make sure, first and foremost that you know her and will always act in her best interests and you can't go wrong. And if you do?