What He Means When He Says…

by eHarmony Staff

We’re deciphering those key phrases both men and women say — which can leave us totally perplexed!

Man Saying Five: “What do you like in bed?”

This question isn’t just another thinly veiled attempt to get you there as soon as possible. Contrary to popular belief, most men are deeply interested in pleasing their women—and legitimately want to take the guesswork out of knowing what she wants from him. He cares about your fulfillment and is willing to work at it to get it right. But let’s be honest: If a man asks this of his woman, it’s likely he’s also thinking, “I’m hoping you will ask me that too.”

Woman Saying One: "What do you think of my new hair color?"

One of the differences between men and women shows up in how we communicate with each other. Here are five phrases women use that seem puzzling to the men in their lives, along with an explanation of what she probably REALLY means.

You might think she wants to know if it's a good color or not. And she does, but if the truth is unflattering, she wants to hear it from one of her girlfriends, not from you. Unfortunately, it’s likely that none of her girlfriends are around when she’s posing that question to you, so what to do? Lucky for you she’s also asking you a second question, which is “Do you think I’m beautiful?" The question you choose to answer is up to you. Even if you’re not crazy about her new look (or new outfit or whatever she’s modeling), you can praise her overall appearance, which is the real issue anyway.

Woman Saying Two: "Can we talk?"

Hearing these words, you may think you’re in trouble. But it’s more likely your woman is saying, “I want to connect with you.” Researchers tell us that for women, talking releases a brain chemical called oxytocin. This chemical helps women feel connected and bonded. Unfortunately, talking doesn’t release oxytocin for men, so you’re not having the same bonding experience during your “little talk.” But understanding what’s happening in the brain chemistry and emotions of your woman may help you better interpret her request and respond appropriately.

Woman Saying Three: "Do you love me?"

If you do love her, these words may feel like a low blow, indicating failure on your part to communicate your true feelings. But here’s what’s really happening: There’s a good chance that your woman knows that you love her and simply wants the brain-chemical rush of hearing the words. Remember how talking releases oxytocin for women? Having a conversation with you about what you love about her or your relationship releases “feel good” chemicals in her brain. It may not have to do with failure on your part. It’s about giving your woman the gift of a small brain-chemical rush that makes her fall more in love with you as a result.

Woman Saying Four: "I'm fine."

You’re probably thinking she’s fine. And she is, if the words are accompanied by eye contact, physical touch, and a smile. But if she’s looking away or saying the words with tight lips, she’s probably saying, “I’m not fine, but I’m not ready to talk about it.” Many men find it confusing when a woman clams up like this, especially since women have the reputation as the talkers of the species. But even women who need to talk need space sometimes, too. Granted, the healthier approach would be for a woman to say, “Something is bothering me, but I’m not ready to talk about it right now. Can we discuss it later?” But if she goes with the tightlipped “I’m fine” approach instead, you can: (A) keep asking her if she’s okay; (B) let it go and never bring it up again; or (C) let it go for a few hours then gently bring it up again. Sometimes A (within reason) can work. B is probably a mistake. C is a good option because it shows you respect her need for space but genuinely care about her feelings.

Woman Saying Five: "Talk to me about your feelings."

She may be curious about your feelings on the topic at hand, but what she probably really wants is to know you better and feel more connected to you. Men often think a request to share their feelings is a “loaded question,” as if the woman is looking for the right answer. “Fill in the blank with the correct response, or you’ll get marked down.” Not so. Most women ask about feelings because they want to know what’s going on in their man’s heart. And most women will gladly give their partner an A for effort.

We'd love to hear what phrases confuse you - or what you have realized after years of dealing with the opposite sex!

Man Saying One: “I don’t know.”

For many men, this is the vague go-to response to a wide range of questions: Where should we go for dinner? Do you like the red dress or the blue skirt better? What are you feeling right now? Of course, it is always possible that “I don’t know” means exactly what it implies—he hasn’t given the matter enough thought to form an opinion. In matters he considers trivial—like what flavor ice-cream to buy at the market—this response means, “I don’t care, you decide.” But sometimes it is code for, “I don’t want to say, because a truthful reply will make one or both of us uncomfortable.” When the issue is delicate and sensitive, he may be trying to sidestep potential landmines. Ladies, if you feel this might be true, it is up to you to decide how hard to push. Honesty is good—but so is discretion.

Man Saying Two: “Let’s take things slowly.”

To many women, this is a dressed-up version of “I’d like to have as much unattached fun with you as possible before even considering a commitment.” Sure, some men think like that. But most often he is dropping other clues about his inner thoughts. He may be remembering a previous relationship in which moving too fast turned out to be a painful mistake—and he wants to avoid that with you. Or he may feel it is important to be careful with his words, to say nothing to mislead you until he is sure he wants the relationship to advance another step toward commitment. Give him the benefit of the doubt—until his actions prove that to be unwise.

Man Saying Three: "Can we talk about this later?"

Once again, there are cynical men who use these words in the hope of stalling a difficult conversation until it simply goes away. “If I put it off,” he thinks, “maybe she’ll forget about it.” Chances are body language alone will be enough to let you know when that’s the case. Many men, however, really do need time to think before making key decisions or discussing sensitive subjects. And they don’t want to process their thoughts and feelings out loud. Especially when emotions are beginning to rise, he may want to take a break and calm down before saying something he’ll regret. Don’t assume a postponement is always the same thing as avoidance.

Man Saying Four: “I just need to hang out with the guys tonight.”

Of all the supposedly freighted phrases men utter, this is among the most misunderstood. Most of the time, it carries no hidden meaning at all. It is probably not a euphemism for, “I’m tired of you” or any variation of that sentiment. Spending time with other men is a legitimate need that has nothing to do with the quality of your relationship or his desire to be with you. Do your best to resist filling in blanks that don’t exist.

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