The Tipping List
8 Things You Should Never Say to a Man
“Are you OK?” and 7 others that will push him away rather than reel him in
Since the genesis of male/female relationships, both genders have struggled with exactly what to say. And when to say it. As women and, more important, equals to our male partners, we should feel free to say what’s on our mind – whenever it’s on it. But there are pitfalls that even the most vocal women may want to avoid. After all, when Eve sauntered up to Adam, did the words “What are you thinking about?” pour out of her apple-munching mouth?*
1. Are you OK? Totally acceptable to ask after your beau has emerged from the little boy’s room after a blinding night of boozing or a ruthless review from his boss, but to play this card after a fight or a “necessary discussion” will hinder, not help, the situation. Especially when you ask it over and over and over.
2. No girl can be that thin. Replace “thin” with just about any adjective (pretty, down-to-earth, fashionable), and you’ve got yourself a compliment begging to be paid. Guys like confident girls (maybe there are some similarities between the sexes after all) – no need to put down or compare yourself to a fellow sister just to make him respond with an obligatory “Well, you have a great body too.” Make him notice you because of you.
3. It’s only a game. You might as well open a guy’s fridge, dump every beer out of it, and replace them all with wine coolers … during the Super Bowl. A majority of men take sporting events VERY SERIOUSLY and actually believe that a) their team’s loss may cause a remote Hawaiian volcano to erupt and destroy half the planet, b) when their team loses, they lose, too, because they are, in fact, a part of the team, and c) Jenny McCarthy’s boobs are real (I couldn’t resist). Trust me. Don’t. Say. These. Words. Ever.
4. Do you know anyone for my friend? It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to your husband, your best friend since kindergarten, your downstairs neighbor, or Great Uncle Sal – this puts every male in an uncomfortable position. If he does have a single pal, then the pressure is on him to get his friend on board, find out afterward how it went, and report back (the added layer is figuring out how to let you and your friend down easy if the date resembled the infamous zipper scene in There’s Something About Mary). If you must go this route, suggest a group outing and do your darnedest to downplay the setup. For everyone’s sake.
5. What are you thinking about? Ah, the girlie phrase that out-girlifies all others, including the classic “Do I look fat?” which now takes a close second. There is never a time when you need to say this, and it’s typically used when women feel they have to fill a silent gap in conversation. Instead, embrace it, enjoy the quiet moment (before he’s back talking about, I don’t know, sports), and, if you really do need to know what’s on his mind, pinpoint specific issues.
6. Relax. This one actually goes both ways, meaning that women would rather change their car tires every day for a year in white Chanel couture than hear these five lethal letters muttered under a guy’s breath. But why does it push all our buttons? Isn’t the other person only trying to diffuse a potentially hostile situation by throwing “relax” out there? No. They’re just as frustrated, but are trying to be the bigger person by offering a simple one-word solution that, at face value, is nonthreatening and mature.
7. It was only one time. And indeed, it might have been. But any story you have to qualify with this statement is better left for brunch with the girls. Or for confession. That means the tale about that one night you made that one mistake with that one guy – no matter how hilarious – should stay in the vault, along with any other doozy that involves alcohol, an ex and cake batter (that’s a totally random example, of course).
8. Be honest with me. This one could go oh-so-many ways. None of them good. These four words make a man’s stomach knot up even more than if you’d said “Let’s go to brunch with my 10 best girlfriends and then get mani-pedis.” If you’re trying to get his read on something casual, like a new dress, tacking this on sends him the message that his opinion of the dress could be make-or-break (just be prepared if he just doesn’t get the whole empire-waist thing). If it’s about something more serious, such as the DTR (define the relationship) talk, just ask him outright. Boys can become men and give their genuine opinion – if they’re given a chance.
*The author would like to thank the various men in her life (past and present) who contributed to this piece – either by giving her the unmistakable, unforgettable “I can’t BELIEVE you just said that” face or by rapidly shooting off a list of grievances when they were solicited on the topic at hand.