1. He’s actually your boyfriend.
I know this seems obvious but if you’re reading an internet list about him and whether he’s your boyfriend and he won’t allow you to actually call him your boyfriend, he’s probably not a “good” boyfriend. Good guys are good people and good people know who they are and what they want and are confident enough to go after it — whether it is a relationship and a family or (for now) working so much they don’t have the time and energy left to invest in that — but either way, you’ll know. There’s no shadyness present.
2. You feel lucky to have him.
He’s the kind of guy that you’re excited to bring around your friends or take home to meet your parents — and you don’t need to coach him in the car on the drive there. You trust him to make a great impression because, why wouldn’t he? He’s a genuinely good person and people can see that. You’ll never have to have those awkward apology phone calls where you say something like, “Nick is a good guy but he just isn’t social/gets angry sometimes/doesn’t make a good first impression.” He’s not perfect by any means, but he doesn’t have such glaring faults that you need to apologize for him every time you bring him around people.
3. He’s had to work for it
It’s actually a much safer bet to date a guy who isn’t model looking or born into a rich family, it’s easy for people in those circumstances to fall into the entitlement trap. They are used to being handed things that make them happy instead of problem solving and figuring it out on their own. Unless your guys has done the work to grow out of that, a fair indicator you’ve got a good boyfriend is that he’s earned the things he has through his own work.
4. He knows how to fight.
A good fighter is the single most underrated quality a romantic partner can have. This can make or break the relationship regardless of all the other factors. A bad boyfriend fights to win an argument, because his ego is tied to him being right and you being wrong. A good boyfriend fights to improve the relationship, to work out the issues you two are having, to find a solution that makes both of you happy, not to “win.”
5. He’s proud of himself.
A person who is proud of the person they’ve become has likely done a bit of work to get there. They believe in self-improvement. This means that he’s going to identify the things he needs to fix and not rely on you nagging him to do it. Over the course of a lifetime, that’s beyond priceless. Not only is it great that he cares about himself, but your relationship will be healthier. It’s difficult to be attracted to someone when you also feel like you are their mom, figuring out their life for them and trying to motivate them to live it.
6. You trust him.
A woman’s intuition is right more often than it’s wrong. If you don’t trust him, your gut is probably telling you something your brain hasn’t figured out yet. A good boyfriend always passes the gut test.
7. He keeps his emotions in check.
This isn’t to say that your man doesn’t experience emotions, just that he doesn’t let them run unchecked. He doesn’t go into an anger episode when you’re late, or become uncontrollably jealous when another guy pays you attention. He’s grown up and he acts based (mostly) on reason, instead of knee-jerk reactions.
8. He isn’t difficult to please.
Very particular, judgmental people are very difficult to be in a relationship with because they are always looking for what’s better — and when a relationship gets difficult (as they all do from time to time) they’re the kind to cut and run instead of fix it. When they do stay, they’re focused on what’s wrong, or what could be better, instead of being grateful for all the things they have and how much love and pleasure they get out of the relationship.
9. He laughs.
A good boyfriend laughs — a lot. He laughs in bed, over coffee, to lighten the mood when bad things happen. Life isn’t that serious and the best partner to have is one who realizes that at the end of the day, you will always have each other and that’s not a bad way to live.
10. You don’t have to tell him what to do.
I live by this Sloane Crosley quote: “If you have to ask someone to change, to tell you they love you, to bring wine to dinner, to call you when they land, you can’t afford to be with them.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying in unhealthy relationships because you think you can fix the person, but life is too short for fixer upppers. If you’ve done the work to be a mature, happy, loving person, you deserve the same. You don’t deserve someone you have to badger to say “I love you” or introduce you to their parents or (god forbid) marry you. A good boyfriend does this on his own, because he is passionately alive, because he loves you, because he cares about being a good person, because he already is a good person.