Unless we’ve cut our own hair—this is not common—someone else did something to our hair. It wasn’t us. And most likely we’ve gone to a lot of trouble and expense for it. “I like your new haircut” is infinitely better, and shows you’re paying attention. It’s also far superior to the generic “You look different,” which tells us you’re as clueless as ever.
2) “They both look the same to me.”
We understand you care a lot less than we do about the outfits or the registry dishware we’re asking you to compare. But they can’t possibly look exactly the same, can they? Give us something. Anything. Mentally roll the dice and pick one, so we don’t worry about your vision—or worse, that you don’t care.
A kissing cousin to “Don’t get so worked up,” this generally creates the exact opposite effect you’re shooting for. When you say “Relax,” what we hear is that you think that we’re being irrational over nothing, and this makes us do anything but relax.
4) “I’ve got it all under control.”
Ha! Famous last words. Refrain from using them if you don’t want us to take fiendish delight in your getting lost because you won’t stop for directions (if we’re late, there will be fiendish fuming), or because you’re missing a piece to your flat-screen television because you said you didn’t need to read the assembly instructions.
5) “You’re not one of those feminists, are you?”
Yikes. Chivalry may be nearly dead, but saying this will drive the last spear through its heart. Feminist or not, a woman is likely to be offended by the question. Just be yourself. Be kind, open the door, offer to pay, and go from there. We can choose to accept or share in your generosity.
6) “When are you due?”
Take one second to imagine a woman turning to you and responding, “I’m not pregnant,” or “I had the baby six months ago,” and you’ll understand why you should eradicate this question from your vocabulary. In one nanosecond, innocent—even considerate—curiosity can turn to deadly, if unintentional, offense. And there’s just no way to recover from this one.
7) “You’re being emotional.”
In the heat of the moment this may be true. But unless you want your partner to become more emotional or get angry, you’re better off keeping this observation and its off-limits follow-up question—”Is it that time of month?”—to yourself.
We’ve seen “Jerry Maguire” and most other romantic comedies far more often than you, and while we may (or may not) like cheesy movie lines, they usually fail in real life. We understand that the possibility of romance makes inexplicable things come out of a man’s—and sometimes a woman’s—mouth, but keep the compliments real and honest and sincere and say you love someone when you mean it.
Yes. She should be eating it. Even if she told you she’s given it up.
For the most part, men hate cute. We don’t want to hear about it, we don’t want to see it, and we sure as hell don’t want to be it. If we come down stairs after getting dressed and you tell us we look cute, there’s a 100 percent chance we’re changing. We’re supposed to be your protector, your rock, and cute does not fit into that picture.
2) “We need to talk.”
These four words shut off a man’s brain faster than long division. When men hear you say that they immediately go into flight mode. And anything they can do to get out of this conversation—and better yet, your apartment—they will. There are plenty of other ways to approach a delicate conversation, and getting us in a place where we feel comfortable is a good start.
3) “It’s just a game.”
Actually, it’s not just a game. Sports are a major part of our lives and the outcome has as much to do with our mood as just about anything else. Is it fair? No. Is it right? No. Is it immature? Maybe. But it’s life. Sometimes we just care too much. We understand that it doesn’t make sense, but you should be happy that we’re that passionate about something. Telling us that “it’s just a game” is like us telling you that Oprah’s just a talk show host.
4) “Nothing’s wrong.”
Please don’t tell us nothing’s wrong. The look on your face could make the toughest guy on the planet weep like a third-grade girl and your arms are crossed so tight you might explode. We’re not mind readers; tell us what’s going on. And don’t make us guess because—believe me—you won’t like what we come up with.
5) “I sound like my mom.”
The mere fact that you might turn into your mom someday scares the hell out of us. Don’t say it, even in jest—it’s not funny. We actually believe (and pray) that the saying “every woman ends up looking like their mother” is an old wives’ tale. If we didn’t, no one would ever get married.
No you don’t. You just want us to stop calling you. This is a lot like pulling off a band-aid. Do it quick—don’t prolong the agony. Most of us take “I just want to be friends” as “There’s still a chance,” so if there isn’t just make it a clean break and move on. Everyone will be much better because of it.
Don’t lie to us. We know it does, and we’re doing our best to make up for it in other ways. It’s best just to not say anything at all.
Can you think of any others?