How to be the best boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/lover

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

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 she’s heard you laugh too loudly 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 always want to sing.


  • *hugs you*

    Well said, lady.

  • Very nicely phrased.

    I prefer the Joseph soundtrack as a washing-up singalong, myself.

  • Funloving Girl says:

    Well said and so true. When we feel truly loved and accepted for who we are, we feel safe. And that’s when the magic happens and fantasies and dreams are shared… Sad that so many do not understand this. They are missing out.

  • Yingtai says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. You’ve just given me a near-death experience, you know? The last ten years of my life flashed before my eyes.

    Although I think I’m going to have to meditate on my tells. I mean, my whole kink is emotional masochism, and my absolute favourite thing is whacking at my off-the-charts sexual inhibition. Hmm. I guess there’s more to it, but that’s the wild part. I have no idea how anyone would know I am open to all this stuff when I dress like a Mormon. I’ll have to ask future partners to psychoanalyse me. :)

  • Elle Belle says:

    Rose tinted glasses I loved your blog! Why did it have to go? X

  • RB says:

    I think this is why, with the benefit of hindsight, I realised that my first boyfriend was such an idiot. Because at the time we were both so sexually inexperienced, he treated any kinky ideas I had as silly (and refused to enact any of them), and even saw some aspects of sex as pretty mystifying (calling it ‘odd’ that I was so wet and hardly ever going down on me, or kissing me after I’d been sucking him); and because he was the first person I’d ever had sex with, I never thought about how problematic it was that he could be so negative. God knows why I stayed with him for so long.

    It’s only through being with men who take such JOY in sex, in the creativity and silliness and pure fucklust of it, and who encourage my kink and listen to what I want and make such fucking good, encouraging noises when I’m touching them, that I’ve learned to be unashamed about what I like. This post reflects that exactly. Sing and be spanked until you scream. x

  • Love this post. Love it.
    My ex was always able to bring me down in really sly, subtle, passive aggressive ways; death by 1000 cuts, while pretending to be ultra supportive.
    Took me years to realise what he was playing at, but at least I’ll never make that mistake again.

  • My hubby is great at this, he even cheerfully eats the culinary disasters that I serve up with disturbing regularity, despite being an infinitely better cook than me.

    The kitchen is definitely not where my talents lie, unless it’s bent over the counter, taking it roughly from behind.

    Katie xx

  • Right on. No body likes to feel insulted or put down by not doing something well, especially when it comes to sex. It is always best to be constructive like you said and let them know you like something but please try this or something. The only drawback is that some people never try to stop doing it how you don’t like it and continue administering unnecessary pain. They may do this out of feeling foolish or being insecure, but it can happen.
    Men would like a woman who allows them their song as well. Don’t look at him like he isn’t a man no that you heard him or seen him perform! Sometimes, a man feels judged to quickly and easily by a woman for what is really not an important issue. Remembering that can save you girls some lash-backs.
    I just thought of the oldie but goodie. The golden rule, Treat others how you want to be treated. I think more living like that and our relationships will heat up in no time!

  • Jill says:

    I love this. The little acts of love and acceptance do matter.

  • Riennnnnnn says:

    This is great, I also find cleaning easier if I put on music that makes me want to dance. I might look like an asshat sashaying around with the bin bag as my dance partner but it makes a terrible task way more tolerable and the time passes faster!

    How can you open up to someone if they are constantly judging you and putting you down or dismissing your coping mechanisms?! I certainly don’t know or want to find out.

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