Since 2016 was...not the best for humanity (especially women), no one has time for men who have both bad opinions and bad footwear (boat shoes, ditch 'em.) May boyfriends everywhere strive to be a little better this year.
1. Don't make birth control just her responsibility.
Do you know what it’s like to deal with the symptoms of PCOS or endometriosis, which birth control greatly helps with? Do you know that getting an IUD can have complications ranging from serious depression to nausea-inducing cramps, so just getting one now isn’t always an easy fix? No? Might I suggest: always having condoms (and never arguing about not wearing one), offering to split the co-pay on her pills if the cost goes up, and letting her properly vent when she needs to, which in the coming years, might be often.
2. Stop doing that high-pitched voice when you're imitating a woman.
You know the one. It's used to voice CEOs and cheerleaders alike, a shrill, mocking tone meant to throw all women (and even gay men) under the same umbrella of "Feminine = Bad." You probably don't realize you do it but think about it: Do you lower your voice to a deep growl when you're quoting any straight man ever? I guarantee Darth Vader gets a more flattering treatment than your own mom does.
3. Don’t judge her for what she chooses not to watch anymore.
Anyone who has ever dealt with a modicum of sexual harassment (probably most women you know) can tell you how horrible it feels to experience it, but then also watch the same guy constantly receive praise and accolades from others, regardless of his behavior. So no, I don’t want to watch Johnny Depp movies now, even though I had approximately seven to nine posters of him in my room growing up. And I’m not telling anyone to arrest Woody Allen; I just can’t watch Manhattan and not think how weird it is that an adult man unquestioningly dates a teenage girl (coupled with Allen’s real-life allegations.) So stop saying, “But Manchester by the Sea was so good!”
4. While you're at it, reconsider some of your own heroes.
While sexual misconduct allegations are alarmingly common in Hollywood and politics (with often little or no consequences), rape and assault charges in particular seem almost commonplace in sports. It's a bleak and familiar narrative: Athlete commits assault, athlete is arrested, athlete goes free. While you can't fix the justice system all by yourself, you can voice your concern with how our society uses athleticism.
5. For the love of all things holy, stop wrinkling your nose when you hear the word "feminism."
Feminism is the belief that women should be equal, feminism is the belief that women should be equal, feminism is the belief that women sh—OK, but for real, how hard is this concept to grasp? How much work is it to rewire your brain and realize that women aren't trying to be the "dominant gender," or that feminism combats toxic masculinity and actually makes men's lives better too? Look at men like Daniel Radcliffe or John Legend. Do they look crushed by the weight of the feminist cause, or are you just an idiot?
6. Read and watch more things by women.
That famous John Waters quote that goes, "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!" should be revised to say “books written by people other than Hemingway, Kerouac, and Bukowski.” Go through the last things you’ve read or viewed and note how many are by white men, who historically have always had their voices published and heard the most. Pick up Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in prep for the upcoming Hulu series. Male authors too: If you haven’t read Junot Díaz or Haruki Murakami, you are not only missing out on an expanding worldview, you are missing out on some of the best writing out there.
7. Call out your gross friends when they're being gross.
It doesn't have to be this moralistic talking-down to: All you have to do is respond to your friend's "joke" about how "drunk women are just easier" with "wait, I don't get it." Keep doing it over and over again until he's crushed by the weight of his own insensitive jokes and dumb impressions. And then maybe, IDK, make new friends because what are you really gaining from this guy anyway?
8. Get better at oral sex.
If you’re going down on her and have (1) never read a tutorial or (2) never asked her to guide you through it, you are probably not very good at it. Rest assured that literally no person in the history of people has ever negatively responded to “so...how can I make you feel good?” And if your partner has trouble verbalizing how to give them an orgasm, there are very detailed books to make you a confident cunnilingist for the rest of your life.
9. Give junky TV a chance or just stop complaining about it.
Can you let me watch The Bachelor without the added commentary track of “how can you watch this” and “you know it’s all scripted, right?” Yes, I know it is garbage. It is also entertaining, suspenseful, somehow consistently unpredictable garbage, just like, you know, sports. That final rose is my champion ring, and after a long day at my full-time job, I should be able to marinate my brain with a little dose of nonsense without you making judgments about my intelligence. Go watch grown men very authentically throw each other around in costume instead. Or loosen up, grab a beer, and join me on the couch. ;)
10. Stop complaining about your exes already (unless, of course, I ask for juicy deets).
As someone who has gone on a few promising first dates and heard a full speech on every woman who’s ever hurt him by the time I’m on my second overpriced cocktail, I've got to say: STOP. It screams the very obvious “I’m not over her,” but it also says, “I have so few problems to help me feel sorry for myself that I need to cling to every breakup/woman who didn’t like my joke about Lena Dunham.” You can compliment my room without bringing up how much you hated your ex’s clothes on the floor, because I would like to think I’m cool enough to warrant stand-alone, non-comparative praise.
11. Be extra nice to your girlfriend if she feels period-crampy.
On top of never, ever pinning your girlfriend’s emotions to her menstrual cycle (though you are probably beyond all hope if you do this), a nice thing you can do is go pick up tampons when she’s on the bed with a heating pad. Or happily indulge her with chocolate cake covered in pretzels and ice cream. Or a card. Or compliments. Anything. You will be boyfriend of the year for many years to come.
12. Do at least one small thing a day without her asking you.
Any guy with half a brain will take a woman out to a nice restaurant or get her a birthday gift that isn’t a Starbucks card. You may think that surprising your girlfriend with a Canada Goose jacket is peak romantic, but I’m pretty sure a $900 coat can’t sneakily make the bed while I’m in the shower, or rush to do the dishes before I can, or surprise me with a cheese plate *sniffles* without me even asking. *WEEPS WITH LOVE*.
13. Practice self-care.
By that, I mean, go to therapy already. Poor “go to therapy!”—a genuinely wonderful, life-altering piece of advice often refashioned to be the final insult of a scream fight. But 2017 has no time for mental health stigma anymore, and if you haven’t gone yet, go, even if you think you’re completely fine. (Note: It is often the people who say they don’t need therapy that, you guessed it, really, really do.) But also do all the other things to be the healthiest form of yourself that you can be: Drink less beer, stop reading Reddit until 2 a.m., do some form of exercise at least once a week (even if it’s like, bowling.) OK, pick one of those things. ONE. You can do it.
14. Buy light gray sweatpants.
#GreySweatpantsChallenge is one of the only big trends from the last year that deserves to be carried over to 2017. You're welcome.
Follow Julia on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.