20 Things Men Should Never Say to Their Wives or Girlfriends
Let there be no doubt, guys. There are certain things you say that trigger us. They tap into hurts from childhood, struggles with our fathers, pain from past romantic relationships, and deep-seated insecurities about ourselves. If you're a decent guy, you get jolted by our charged response, wondering what you said wrong and wanting to make it right. If you're a bad guy, you say them (consciously or unconsciously), to hurt us, get a rise out of us, make us look unhinged, and feel in control. In my half century of life, I've dealt with guys from both camps, including a nurturing husband who'd never say or do anything to hurt me and a verbally abusive father who called me fat and stupid and gutted my self-esteem. With that history in mind, here are 20 things I believe men should never say to their wives or girlfriends:
I joke with my husband and teenage sons that I'm 99.9% sure I'd get found not guilty by reason of insanity if I killed someone who had shushed me. My father would do it to me as a child and now I have a visceral reaction upon hearing that sound. I feel the outrage of the shy and quiet girl I was, getting silenced by her cruel and overbearing father. I know I'm not the only woman out there who got hushed as a child and remains damaged because of it. Don't say it, guys!
2. Calm down!
There are no two words as condescending to a woman as these. When a man uses them, he's adding kerosene to an already raging fire. Whether she's right or not, a woman wants to believe she's staying in control even when emotional. Saying calm down points out she's failing and makes her feel self-conscious and enraged. She wants a man to see her as passionate, not unhinged. Many females interpret calm down as a way for guys to put themselves in a superior position: wise and rational.
3. Are you having your period?
When my father asked me this when I was a teenager, the answer was almost always a resounding yes, but there was no way in hell I'd admit it. Guys, if your wife or girlfriend is overly emotional because of her menstrual cycle, how about showing some extra compassion and support instead of asking this snarky question? She'll love you for it!
4. You look so tired.
My sweet (but sometimes clueless) husband would say that to me often when I had a toddler and a baby. I wanted to say, “Guess what, Einstein, I am tired so why don't you pitch in a bit more so I can get some sleep! Saying I look awful doesn't help!"
No woman on the face of this planet would presume to tell a man to smile. But guys – even total strangers – don't hesitate to tell a woman (especially a young, pretty one) to do so. Listen, guys, no female owes you a smile like a puppy owes you a wag of its tail. Give me a break!
6. Let me educate you on this matter.
This patronizing phrase has become popular of late. I suggest it's not wise to use on anyone, but especially a woman. As soon as she hears it, she shuts off to anything that follows. She doesn't want to get placed in a subordinate role: teacher to student. She doesn't want to get "schooled" by anyone, especially her husband or boyfriend.
7. The silent treatment
Giving your wife or girlfriend the silent treatment is a red flag, indicating hostility and immaturity. It shows you're not ready for relationship, and no woman should tolerate it.
Listen is a common way that politicians and news pundits begin their remarks. However, when my husband starting using it with me, I got offended and asked him to stop. I was already listening and didn't appreciate getting ordered to do so. I didn't like getting told my role in the conversation was strictly as a listener and not a contributor. While it may work on television, it's off-putting in personal relationships.
9. You shouldn't feel that way.
Some men don't decipher the difference between: I feel...I think...I believe...but women most definitely do. When I was growing up, my father would discount my emotions, saying: “You shouldn't feel that way.” That frustrated me to no end because I couldn't control my emotions any more than I could control the weather. When he dismissed them, I felt dismissed. We all have a right to our feelings. If we don't acknowledge them and get them acknowledged, we may develop serious health problems such as depression, anxiety, overeating, and self-medicating.
10. You're too sensitive
I'd hear this all the time from a former boyfriend and eventually realized he disliked one of my most commendable traits. Being sensitive is a positive thing, meaning “having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of other's feelings.” Writers, painters, and poets are all sensitive souls. Being thin-skinned is a totally different matter. That's when a woman takes everything personally, gets her feelings hurt all the time, and has you walking on eggshells. Run, don't walk, from a thin-skinned woman!
11. You have "daddy issues."
Don't go there, guys, unless you're a licensed therapist. A woman doesn't need your two cents on this touchy matter. My father was a jerk and I have problems because of it. But there's no quick fix for years of cruelty from a parent. Instead of diagnosing me, why don't you show me that not all men are bad?
12. Why do you ALWAYS do this or that?
None of us always do anything and, when you suggest we do, you create a breakdown in communication because we get defensive. Don't stockpile grievances and dump them on your partner at one time: “You always leave a mess in the kitchen... You always spend too much on clothes... You always are too tired for sex.” Be a grownup and discuss things as they happen.
13. This game is SUPER important.
I grew up in a household of sports fanatics so I heard this a lot. When the Oakland Raiders would lose a game, my father would stay in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Look, if you love sports, fine. Enjoy! But don't make it into something it's not. In the grand scheme of life, it's largely irrelevant – entertaining but not earth-shattering. Accept that or you look like a shmuck.
14. Any racist remark
If you make a racist comment, any woman worth her salt is out of there like a cheetah after a gazelle. We don't need that hate in our lives and we're offended you'd think we'd stand for it. Crawl back under your rock!
15. Gossip and make catty remarks.
We women get enough of that crap from our girlfriends. We want a man with more character. Real women admire men who elevate the conversations to topics that are significant, not petty and personal.
16. Don't get angry!
We all feel angry at times and need to express it in healthy ways. For decades, women have gotten the message that anger is unattractive and unfeminine. Therefore, we've suppressed this “ugly” emotion, causing us undue grief. Therapists say unvoiced anger causes depression, anxiety, overeating, and over-medicating.
17. I'll call you.
Guys, don't give a woman false hope and have her sit by the phone. That's far more hurtful than telling her politely after a date, “I had a good time and it was nice to have met you.” Saying you'll call when you have no intention of doing so is cowardly.
18. You're just like your mom.
A former boyfriend of mine said that to me once, and it took five years of therapy to recover. Look, guys, most women don't like being compared to someone older than they are even when it's meant as a compliment. Comparing a woman to her mother is a sure-fire way to squelch her sex drive. Just saying.
19. Ridiculing other women.
When I was in my early 20s, I had a boyfriend who loved to ridicule other women – their hairstyles, their clothes, their voices. I admit now with great shame that I would laugh at his comments and feel superior to those gals. But when we broke up, I was on the receiving end of his mocking and learned my lesson.
20. My life was crap before I met you.
A woman wants to know a man can handle his life whether she's in it or not. She doesn't want to feel responsible for the happiness of another. She doesn't want to feel captive in a relationship, fearing her partner will fall apart if she leaves.
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