News flash! Guys have feelings too. Behind their sometimes brawny, often aloof exteriors, they actually have emotions that can be hurt far worse with words than with sticks and stones. Think you have the inside scoop on what's going on inside your guy's brain? Think again! You could be breaking his heart and crushing his ego without even knowing it.
If you value your relationship and want to avoid an explosive fight over a whole lot of nothing, there are just some things you should never ever, ever say to a guy.
1. Aren't You Going to Get That?
Many women expect men to pick up the check, especially on a first date. Many men probably expect that they'll have to pick up the tab too. Indeed, a survey revealed that over three-quarters of people in heterosexual relationships think men should always pay for the first date. This dynamic tends to linger, even as the relationship matures.
But this is the 21st century and we have come to expect a certain level of gender equality. While there's nothing wrong if the man volunteers to pay for a date, it could send the wrong message if you voice your expectation that he has to pay. In his eyes, you might come across as an entitled gold digger who's only after his money.
You're almost better off letting the check linger on the table like a piece of spinach stuck in your date's teeth. You can't help but stare, yet you're too afraid to say something.
2. It Happens to Everyone
You're getting intimate. Things are getting hot and heavy in the bedroom when he runs into some problems downstairs. Cue the sad trombone.
The situation is awkward enough and letting him know that other men can and have suffered the same fate isn't going to make him feel any better. If he's straight, the last thing he needs right now is to think about another man's flaccid privates, let alone an army of depressed men with flaccid privates!
Opening the lines of communication is certainly important, but it might not be the best idea when you're in the moment. Instead, redirect his attention by being intimate in other ways and who knows? He just might surprise you.
3. Do You Even Know How to Change a Tire?
Every man knows how to change a car tire. And a man who doesn't know will never admit his ignorance, even if his brow is drenched in sweat, his hands are black from brake dust, and he's trying not to look like a total lug nut, all the while not realizing that he needs a key for that wheel lock.
Rightly or wrongly, to question his ability to change a tire is to question his very manhood. When he hears those words, he'll think you see him as less of a man. Rather than getting frustrated and standing idly by, offer to lend a hand. He'll probably refuse it, but it's better than questioning his masculinity.
On a similar topic, never ask a dad if he even knows how to change a diaper. He might, he might not. But when he's elbow-deep in the mess with bodily fluids all over his clothing, he'll realize soon enough just how important it is to know.
4. It's Just a Game
The dishes are piled high in the sink, the hamper is over-flowing with dirty laundry, and your lawn looks like something straight out of The Jungle Book. And yet, your guy is plopped down on the couch, cheering on his favorite team and screaming at the referees through the TV. You tell him to get off his butt and do some chores, to which he answers that he's watching football. You say "it's just a game," and he shoots you a scowl with livid eyes that pierce through to the darkest corners of your soul.
For him, it's not "just a game." Professional sports can hold a much more profound meaning for many men. Maybe he's living vicariously through the physicality. Maybe he's reliving that one time in high school when he scored four touchdowns in a single game, before he resigned himself to a life as a women's shoe salesman in some mall in the suburbs of Chicago.
Maybe it's a tribal thing.
As far as gender stereotypes go, saying it's "just a game" is equivalent to a guy saying, "it's just a dress" or "just a purse."
Gender stereotypes aside, be honest. You'd probably be upset if he downplayed one of your passions. Instead, either express some interest in his passions or simply give him the space to enjoy the game. He can make it up to you later.
5. It Must Be Nice Your Wife Pays for Everything
Yes, there is still a "wage gap" in America, but the number of women who have become the primary breadwinners for their families is steadily on the rise. The number of full-time stay-at-home dads is growing too. Dads aren't "playing mom" or "giving mom a break," just as much as moms aren't "playing dad" when they climb up the corporate ladder.
And while money should never be the defining factor for what a partner contributes to a relationship, it can be awfully emasculating to point out this inequality. No man wants to feel devalued like he's just some boy toy (hairy back and pronounced gut notwithstanding) for his spouse.
Indeed, any sentence that starts with "it must be nice" is going to be laced with some passive-aggressive connotations. It must be nice to stay home with the kids. It must be nice to have so much free time. It must be nice to have such a supportive partner. And so on. Instead of pointing out where he's not contributing, highlight where he is, or where he is seeing success.
6. Why Can't You Be More Like Judy's Boyfriend?
Nobody's perfect. Guys are going to make mistakes and have shortcomings. Probably on a frequent basis too.
What's important is to focus on your own relationship and to stop comparing it with others. You might only see the good side of "Judy's boyfriend," the perfect version of himself that he (and she) portrays on Facebook. If you have a heart-to-heart with Judy, you might learn that things aren't quite what they seem. He may offer romantic gestures and help around the house, but he may also have the unfortunate habit of digging his knuckles into his nostrils as though the Maltese Falcon was buried in there, anxiously waiting to be unearthed.
You want him to buy flowers for you more often? Tell him that. Don't tell him how nose-picking Jeff is superior to him.
7. You Have to Choose: Your Mom or Me
The bond between a mother and her son cannot be put in direct competition with the relationship between a man and a woman. They're not the same and telling him that he has to choose is like asking if you'd rather lose a hand or a foot. You'd really rather keep both, because they're both valuable. And it's not like your mother is made of tea, crumpets and rainbows either.
This is true for any important relationship he may have in his life. It's not a zero-sum game where he has to choose; it's about creating a win-win where everyone can be happy. And if this means enduring another awkward dinner at his parents' place, so be it. It's just another bonding opportunity for the daughter she never had, right?
8. Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?
You're setting him up for doom. His palms are getting sweaty. He's getting heart palpitations. He has entered an intense state of panic the very moment you uttered those terrifying words, because he knows he can't win. He's frozen in fear.
If he says you do look fat in that dress, can you really deny the fact that you will inevitably get angry and flustered? Do you really think you won't spend the next two hours looking for imaginary folds and rolls in the mirror? And if he says that you look great, you'll probably just wonder if he's being honest or nice. You can't trust his opinion when you've put him in such a sticky situation.
Don't ask for an opinion you're not ready to hear. It could be a lot better if you gave him a clear multiple choice question. Does the red dress or the blue dress look better?
9. Do You Think She's Pretty?
Even worse than asking if you look fat is asking if he thinks another girl is pretty. Because you totally want him to check out all the other girls walking down the street. Yes, that's a genius idea.
All you're doing is shoving him between a rock and a hard place. He knows he can't win. He knows he can never provide a response that will result in a positive outcome. If he says that he thinks the other girl is cute, then you might start comparing yourself with her. What does he see in her? You might even follow up by asking him if he thinks the other girl is hotter than you. No good can come of this.
If he says that he doesn't think the other girl is attractive (when you obviously think she is), then again you might question his sincerity. You might think he's lying to avoid your wrath and you might start to wonder what else he could be lying about. Why is he sweating? Are his hands trembling like a Chihuahua stuck in a Minnesota winter? No good can come of this either. All it does is lend itself to jealousy and resentment, igniting meaningless fights for no reason in particular.
The Importance of Communication
Even the most progressively minded men still value their masculinity, so it might be best if you avoid taking jabs at their egos. The basis for any healthy relationship is open, honest and clear communication. Choose your words carefully and you should be fine. And maybe let him indulge in a little Monday Night Football now and then...