While men tend to see things in simple, straightforward, black-and-white terms, women are all about subtlety, nuance and shades of gray. So gentlemen, beware. When you speak to a woman, she’s not hearing what you actually said. She’s hearing what she would mean if she said those same words. Yes, it’s confusing. But we’re here to help.
Here are five things most likely you said that have a whole different meaning for women.
YOU SAID: “You know, I’m kind of tired. Would you mind calling it a night?”
SHE HEARD: “I am not enjoying our date, and I want to go home. I am also reconsidering ever dating you again.”
What you should have said: “You know, I was really looking forward to our date. But I’ve had a really long day, and I have to get up early tomorrow, Are you free Saturday? There’s a movie I’d love to take you to.”
Women are used to backing out of social situations politely to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings. If you offer up something that sounds like an excuse for breaking your plans or going home early, they will assume this is what you are doing. Explain that you truly are tired, and then make it clear that you do want to see her again by offering a concrete alternative plan.
YOU SAID: “You know, I’d really just rather be alone right now.”
SHE HEARD: “I don’t want to be with you. I also don’t appreciate your kindness in offering to keep me company.”
What you should have said: “It’s really cool of you to offer to stay. But I’m feeling overwhelmed/stressed/out of it and I need some time to think. I will call you tomorrow as soon as I get the chance.”
Women tend to decompress and de-stress in the company of other people, so they don’t always understand a man’s need to be alone once in a while. However, women are also all about feelings. If you let her know how you feel and why you want to be alone, she’s much more likely show you compassion and much less likely to take it personally. Remember to reassure her that it has nothing to do with her.
YOU SAID: “I need some space.”
SHE HEARD: “I need a few hours/ days to sort things out, and then we’re back in business.”
SHE MIGHT ALSO HAVE HEARD: “I’d like to go from five phone calls a day to something less... like maybe two.”
What you should have said: Well, that depends. If what you meant was that you’d like to slow down your relationship down because it’s moving too fast, you need to express that clearly. However, if she’s way more into you than you are to her and you feel like you’re being smothered or pressured, it may be best to accept that you’re in different places and end it altogether.
YOU SAID: “I had a good time. I’ll call you.”
SHE HEARD: “I had a good time. I am definitely interested. I’ll actually pick up the phone and call you soon to talk or ask for another date.”
What you should have said: “I had a good time, and it was nice meeting you. I look forward to being friends.”
Honesty is always the best policy. If you aren’t interested, make it clear in the politest and kindest way possible, and don’t say you will call if you have no intention of calling. Better to risk hurting her feelings now than to risk wasting her time, hurting her feelings and ruining her opinion of you down the road, when she realizes you weren’t that into her but didn’t have the guts to tell her.
YOU SAID: “I think we should see other people.”
SHE HEARD: “I found someone better than you, and I either very much want to or already have started seeing her. Sorry.”
What you should have said: “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
If your girlfriend feels more strongly about you than you do about her, and is more invested in your relationship, there’s no way to single-handedly downgrade from exclusive status to non-exclusive status without looking like a first-class jerk who’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. If you want to see other people, see them—but break it off with her first. The exception: you both feel lukewarm or unsure about the relationship and you both want to stay in touch but keep your options open. In this case, be direct and speak about your own intentions; not hers. Try “I want to see other people,” rather than making broad “we” statements under the guise of it being healthy for your relationship. She’ll either agree with you or she won’t, but at least she won’t resent you trying to force her to tow your line.