When I do the washing up, I sing. It makes the chores less painful, and it means that for ten minutes or so, I can flush out the bit of my brain that won’t usually shut up: the bit that tells me I have a million things to do and that I shouldn’t be wasting time on showtunes.
Sometimes I can hit the high notes, and sometimes I wail off-key. The quality of the singing is not important: it’s about the fun.
And so, when my partner opens the kitchen door and pops in to put the kettle on, I need him to do something which goes against all of his immediate gut instincts at the time: I need him to not make me stop singing. No ‘cut it out’ gestures, raised eyebrows or putting his fingers in his ears: I need an absence of mockery or distaste. To not just to tolerate my fun, but to love it. He knows how to be the best boyfriend – he doesn’t have to sing along, or tell me I’m good enough to go on Xfactor (I’d be one of the people they feature in the ‘you’re having a laugh’ section early on in the show), because it’s not about the singing. He just has to love the things that make me happy, even if they make me look like a dick.
I appreciate that, when I’m halfway through the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, that is no mean feat.
Sing like no one’s listening
It’s really important though, because if you can love my enthusiastic singing, you can love all the other bits of me that might be annoying or tricky or unphotogenic. The way I snore and talk in my sleep, the panicked way I run through the station to make sure we’re ten minutes early for a train, the way I come home late at night and fling my shoes across the room before lying face-down on the carpet.
The way I fuck.
If you want me to fuck you like I really really want to, I need to be comfortable that you’re going to embrace it. No ‘euurgh’s or ‘what the fuck?’s or ‘I don’t think you’re doing that right’s. Embracing and loving the weird things as well as the standard ‘suck dick, sit on cock, orgasm, high five‘ things.
Sometimes men ask me how they can find a woman who is kinky and imaginative and open to lots of new things in bed. I have a much much longer post coming on this at some point, but my initial gut reaction is to tell them this:
You may already know one, but it’s possible she doesn’t want to tell you about her passions. Maybe she wants to sing loudly in the kitchen. Maybe she wants to dance at that wedding. Maybe she wants to get naked and hump you with enthusiastic passion in the middle of the living room floor. But she’ll struggle to do any of these things if there’s an ‘ouch, please stop that’ look on your face, or if she’s heard you laugh when she’s fucked something up.
A long time ago someone asked me if he should tell his girlfriend that she was bad at giving blowjobs. No – God no. Never. Because saying ‘you’re bad at this’ is the exact opposite of encouraging. We get told all the time that certain things are ‘not good enough’ – as well-meaning friends and relatives take metaphorical red pens to half of our lives. Don’t tell someone what they’re doing wrong – tell them how to do it right.
‘I love it when you do X’ will always be more effective than ‘you’re bad at Y.’ Because if you hurt someone over Y, they’re unlikely to try Z.
How to be the best boyfriend (partner, lover, whatever)
So, what’s the most important quality in a partner?
I think it’s enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for me and what I do, even when I do it wrong. Enthusiasm for trying again, and failing again, and laughing together on the sofa. Being as comfortable with someone’s quirks as you are with their successes. Let me sing in the kitchen, lie face-down on the carpet when I’m drunk, and whisper my weirdest fantasies in your ear.
Syrupy e-cards encourage us to ‘dance like no one’s watching’, but we know that someone usually is. If you want someone to really open up about their deepest fantasies, their most exciting secrets, and all the fun they’ve dreamed of having, you need to smile even through their fuck-ups. Don’t wince, or groan, or imply that someone’s failure means they should never have tried, or that their fun is less important than the way they come across: enjoy the times when they let themselves go, and do something for the sheer, sparkling fun of it.
No matter how bad I am at it, make sure I still want to sing.