flash cards for failing boyfriends

Reader S. R. writes:

My boyfriend doesn’t seem to understand what it is that I need him to do when I’m sad, or emotional, or PMSy, or whatever. Usually he does exactly what I don’t want him to do. What should I do?

Dear S.R.:

I have made some handy flashcards for you! Or, well, at least some handy slogans you can print on flashcards and give to your boyfriend. This way when you act in a certain way, he will know what to do. Set aside some study time each night and use the flash cards so he can memorize the proper reaction and won’t have to pull them out when one of these situations arises (although that could be a last resort if he can’t remember).

study hard

All these couples are studying hard! Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The “Situation” goes on the front of the card; the “Response” and “Bad Response” go on the back. Bad response is probably what he’s already doing. Your responses may be different from mine, so feel free to get creative and write your own.

Situation: GF is crying.

Response: Hold her and don’t say anything.

Bad Response: Leave the room, especially with a frustrated sigh.

Situation: GF is overly emotional/freaking out/bitching.

Response: Just sit and listen until she wears down (which she will); then suggest something fun to do together (see a movie, take a walk).

Bad Response: Tell her she’s overreacting.

Situation: GF can’t sleep.

Response: Turn on an old movie and hold her ’til she falls asleep.

Bad Response: Fall asleep on your own, whether she can or not.

Situation: Girlfriend is complaining about PMS or her period.

Response: Buy her chocolate or flowers and tell her it’s a celebration of NOT BEING PREGNANT! YAY (unless you’re trying to get pregnant, in which case… well.. that’s another advice column).

Bad Response: Make fun of her womanhood or talk about how gross it is.

Situation: GF says she’s feeling fat.

Response: Kiss her, hard.

Bad Response: Recommend some exercises she could do or say, “Of course, you just ate that whole cheesecake!”

Situation: GF is frustrated with her wardrobe and can’t find anything to wear.

Response: Pull out your favorite dress from her closet and insist that she wear it for you.

Bad Response: Go play a video game.

Situation: GF has sent you a text message/called you/IMed you.

Response: Respond to all communication as soon as you possibly can. Even if it’s just, “Busy now, more later.”

Bad Response: Ignore it/forget about it. Because that’s what she’ll do to you sooner or later. 

My basic point here is that boys (okay, hell, anyone you’re in a relationship with — girls, too!) need direct instruction a lot of the time, and assuming he’s just magically going to know what you want is not going to work. You have specific needs; if he’s not fulfilling them, he needs to be told what you need.

Yes, there are things that a good BF (for you) would know or like automatically (you probably ought to have similar interests to begin with), but you can’t blame him for doing stuff wrong if you haven’t ever corrected him. Being in a relationship starts with chemistry, but staying in a relationship requires work.

Often, women are more intuitive than men when it comes to knowing what the other person wants (or so they think — it may just be that men are less choosy and/or basically just want sex), so don’t be surprised if you have to do a little teacher-student role-playing. That could add some fun in the bedroom, too. Hm.

If you want to be super fair, have a discussion with him about things you’re not doing right. Be prepared for total honesty. You can’t expect him to make mindful changes to his automatic reactions if you’re not willing to make a few yourself.


6 Responses to “flash cards for failing boyfriends”

  1. 1 christina elena grant
    April 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Best Advice EVER
    Thanks Kat

  2. 2 The T
    April 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Now for the other side of the coin….

    We may act like children sometimes, however you flip a flash card at me and you’ll see a stack of perfectly good paper with writing on it flying all over the house. What happened to the art of manipulation? Gentle, loving forms of manipulation aren’t always so bad. We are not dogs that are to be prompted to mottle through your commands, we react to a situation on our own decisions. Suggesting “oh-so” politely on how to be more delicate would be the right thing to do…

    I’m just saying girls..be careful with your creativity…You’ll find that we are capable of being quite creative with our reaction to such events…


  3. 3 Consuelo
    April 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    This is good Kat. Very, very good. But us guys can’t help but feel we are being yelled at or did something wrong even if you are venting or PMS-ing.

    • April 26, 2011 at 8:48 am

      Oh, I know, and a real woman won’t take her frustration out on her BF. My point was that men aren’t mind readers, not that it’s okay to treat your boyfriend like a dog. And The T (below, I think) is right, too — it’s a give and take, not a command from on high sort of thing. I think it’s silly for women to expect men to bow to their wishes, but even more so if those wishes aren’t ever truly expressed.

  4. 5 Richard
    April 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Ummm, didn’t you mean “Dump him.”

    There’s a more intuitive and hotter man just around the corner.

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