African couple cooking in kitchen

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Sometimes studies really state the obvious. For example, a recent report in the journal Men and Masculinities founds that young, heterosexual men tend to have more fun hanging out with their friends than their girlfriends. Shocking news.

Relationships are challenging as hell, especially when you’re in the 20-something phase, trying to figure out the opposite sex and yourself. But what makes hanging with your girl feel like much less fun than kicking it with the homie? The answer is simple: you’re usually not f**king your friend, so you have to actually be compatible. A lot of people—not just 20-somethings—get booed up soley on the basis of superficial attraction and don’t take time to create a true friendship. If don’t have the similar perspectives, complementary personality types, or shared hobbies, chances are you won’t enjoy hanging out. But there is an alternative. Imagine nutting and wanting to linger! Here’s how to get there.

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1 Find the things you have in common. When you like a girl you may fake the funk about being into the stuff she likes just to get close, but that’s really the short game. Whether you’re with someone for a few months or longer, you don’t want to dread spending time together because you’re always doing things you hate. If you’ve been pretending to be into things you’re not, hit autocorrect now and let her know what you’re really into. Maybe it will still be a vibe. If not, do yourself a favor and apply for a demotion.

 

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2 Learn what you can—and can’t—blow off. It’s not just about you. Think of all the times you’ve  done something with your boy (think running errands for his mom or going on a double date with a girl you’re not feeling) because you knew it was important to him. You’ve got to do the same with your girlfriend. You don’t have to say yes to every request, but you should have a running checklist of what matters to her and remember to show up (happily) when it counts.

 

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3 Keep it real. Again, getting along to move things along is a fail when it comes to the big picture. If something doesn’t work for you—think everything from how she posts on IG to her thoughts on systemic racism—speak your mind. Be respectful and appropriate, but honest. You won’t want to hang out with someone you’re one step from telling off.

 

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4 Don’t make sex talk awkward. Whether you’re curious about a new position or want to know about the funny smell you caught when you threw her legs up, you want to have an easy, honest rapport with the person you’re being intimate with. Sex should be a time for fun and exploration—not stress. But you have to put in the work to create that ease.

 

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5 Take more Ls. Do you “man up” with your girl more than you do with your boys? Think about it. How easy is it for you to admit you’re wrong or don’t know something when you’re with your crew versus with your significant other? Work on creating a dynamic where neither of you feels defeated when you’re not right, just like you don’t with your—you get where this is going.

 

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6 End drama at “sorry.” Don’t hold on to old beef as ammunition for new tension. If you have an issue with your girl, address it, hash it out, and then let it go. Think of it like this: How often do you bring up stuff your best friend did five months ago in an argument? Learn to accept apologies and not hold grudges.

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