Despite what Disney movies might have you believe, there is no such thing as the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Part of being an adult and living in a mature relationship is understanding that people have flaws and that loving someone means accepting those flaws.
That doesn't mean there aren't things you can do better yourself and the relationship you're currently in. A good relationship is a two-way street, with sacrifices made by both parties.
You may not be able to control everything your significant other does, but these are the things you can do to be a better boyfriend or girlfriend to them.
1. Relationships are 50/50, show some effort.
In relationships, especially new relationships, there's this urge to "play it cool" in order to avoid coming on too strong or giving away too many feelings at once. That's all good, but if you want the relationship to work, you have to get over that eventually.
Show that you care, not just about your significant other, but about your relationship.
2. Be in sync with them, ask questions.
Show that you're interested by asking questions. When your significant other is telling a story, or just randomly because you want to know more about them.
3. Be their safe space, just listen.
Of course, there will be some times when your significant other doesn't necessarily want your input. If they had a horrible day and they need to vent, or if they're upset about something and just need a shoulder to cry on, the best thing you can do is be that shoulder and just listen.
4. Try your best to remember the little things that annoy your partner.
We already said that loving someone means accepting their flaws, but if your habit of smacking gum or the fact that you're always 15 minutes late really bugs your partner, there's no harm in at least trying to do better.
Think of it like this: you're not just doing it for them, you're doing it for you.
5. Be nice, even when you don't feel like it.
Everyone has bad days and bad moods when they feel like picking a fight with everyone they come across, but do your best to never take out your irritation on your significant other.
If they're the person you're closest to, and someone you know you can trust, it can be very easy to get nasty because you know that they'll forgive you for it. Don't put them in that position, though.
6. Sometimes it’s the little things, so make small gestures.
Surprise them with lunch at work or a pair of tickets to a ball game every once in awhile. You don't have to spend a lot of money or a lot of time, but little surprises show how much you care.
7. Be a shoulder to lean on, show concern.
Every once in awhile, we're all faced with problems that don't necessarily come with a solution. When that happens, when your significant other is miserable and there's nothing you can do to fix it, the best you can do is let them know that you're there and that you care.
8. Occasionally offer to do things you don't particularly want to do.
This is called making sacrifices for the sake of someone else. It doesn't have to be a huge, dramatic sacrifice.
It can be something small, like agreeing to go see a movie you're not particularly excited about, instead of the movie you really want to see. Put your partner first as much as you can.
9. When disagreements and arguments occur, resist the urge to make things personal.
Arguments blow up into huge, nasty fights when someone takes a simple disagreement and gets mean. Don't resort to name-calling, don't reopen old wounds, don't yell, don't accuse, and don't say anything with the intention to hurt.
You'll never solve anything that way. In fact, you'll only make things worse.
10. Show loyalty to your partner, even when he or she isn't there.
It's disrespectful to your boyfriend or girlfriend to let your own friends talk trash about them while they're not there -- even if he or she will never find out about it.
Likewise, don't spill intimate details about your relationship, don't mock your partner to your friends, and show your loyalty by treating your significant other with respect whether they're with you or not.
11. Communication is key, share your feelings.
Nothing ruins a relationship quite like the lack of communication. Sharing your deepest feelings is a scary thing because it makes you incredibly vulnerable.
But if you don't tell your partner the truth about how you're feeling, you're doing a disservice to both of you because you're not being honest about where you stand.
12. This isn’t a test, don't keep score.
If your partner did something that really upset you, don't try to "get even."
Likewise, don't allow yourselves to get into fights because "you got your way last time and now it's my turn." It's childish to operate this way and, despite what you think, you'll never come out even.