what not to say… to a woman

To many men, women are a complete mystery. We baffle them with behaviors that appear illogical and statements that mean more than they seem. I’ll have been married for six years next week. I still confound my husband sometimes. I know most of you know how to treat women with respect. But there are some smaller details that most guys struggle with. So gents, today I’m gonna give you a few pointers. Specifically, what not to say to your wives/girlfriends/female friends:

“You look fine.” If we wanted to look “fine,” we’d have stayed in our pajamas. Fine is what we dig out of our closets on laundry day. Fine is when we get the wrong coffee order but we don’t have time to make it right. Fine means “well, if that’s the best you can do.” Fine means “I’ll just deal with it.”

A woman doesn’t want to look “fine.” She wants to look “incredible,” or “beautiful,” or even simply “great.” If you want her to be distracted all evening, wondering how she could have looked better, then by all means, tell your wife or girlfriend she looks “fine.” Otherwise, step up the adjectives. Pull out a thesaurus if you have to.

“How much longer is this going to take?” Whether you’re referring to your lady getting ready or you’re out with her somewhere, just don’t ask. Yes, sometimes we take a while to get ready. (That’s as much for your benefit as it is for ours. Believe me, you want us to feel like we look good.) Sometimes we drag you out shopping and you’re sure it’s taking an eternity. But do you really want us to feel like you think spending time with us is a chore?

The minute you ask this question, we hear “Could you hurry it up already?” or “I don’t like spending time with you. It’s boring.” It’s a great way to throw us right into a bad mood. Not to mention, it makes you sound like a petulant child. That’s not attractive in a man. Or any adult, really. So don’t do it. Learn a little patience. It’ll be worth it.

“Just let it go.” If there’s a problem or a situation swirling around in our brains, we can’t simply let it go. Women tend not to forget things as easily as men. That makes us great at remembering to pick up the dry-cleaning or handling a packed schedule, but it also means that problems bug us more than they bug most men. It may be a detail that seems small to you, but it feels massive to us.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking we’re like you. That’s the pathway to relationship hell. When you tell us to let it go, we hear “I don’t care what you’re struggling with. Get over it.” Believe me, you don’t want us to hear that. What we need you to do is let us talk it out. Or let us not talk if we don’t want to talk. Whatever it is that’s bugging us, we need time to deal with it.

“Either one is good.” In the rare event that we ask for your advice on what to wear, it’s not because we think you have great fashion sense. (Let’s be honest. You think “skinny jeans” refers to jeans in a small size.) We ask because we need some kind of input, and you’re the only one around.

We need you to not waffle. There’s really no right or wrong choice. We’re not testing you. We know both options are fantastic, otherwise they wouldn’t be options. Just give an answer (one that does not involve insulting either choice) and then we may or may not go with your choice. Hearing you say you’d pick the black shoes may help us realize we really wanted to wear the red shoes. Don’t be insulted. Your input was actually helpful.

Those are just a few things not to say to the women in your life. If you need a few more pointers (and a good laugh), check out some advice from Tim Hawkins on things you don’t say to your wife.

Even though my husband may be baffled by me sometimes, I’m a lucky lady. He’s learned a ton since we got married. So have I. Here’s to you, babe. I’m sorry for those times I asked you if I looked less fat. (But it was kind of fun to watch you try to figure out what to say.)

So ladies, what do you think? What would you add to this list?



  1. Beth Pensinger
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 17:09:13

    I can’t think of anything to add. I’m too busy laughing. 🙂


    • halee
      Jun 07, 2012 @ 17:22:44

      😀 Laughter is a wonderful thing. I think a couple that has learned to laugh together can survive anything.


  2. Rachelle Rea
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 18:56:43

    Oh, man, totally hoot-worthy!


  3. Debra Weiss
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 19:01:21

    Halee, your list was awesome! I think you covered just about everything. I’d say you should create a manual for men about their wives but I’m pretty sure most of them don’t read manuals anyway. Ranks right up there with asking for directions! 🙂

    I agree with the “Let it go” part. I’m analytical so I need my processing time! I use other people to figure out what I’m going to wear. If I’m disappointed by their answer, I know to go with the other choice.


    • halee
      Jun 12, 2012 @ 16:32:58

      Thanks, Rachelle! I love to help people laugh. 🙂

      Thanks, Debra! That would be a fun book to write, but you’re right – wives would read it more than their husbands. One of the great ironies of my life is that I’m married to a man who doesn’t particularly enjoy reading. Part of that is because he has mild dyslexia. Part of it is because he’d rather be working on something than sitting and reading. (I can kinda relate. I’d much rather be writing than reading.)

      I’m an intense processor too. It’s not that I’m worrying (I don’t worry much at all). But I’m analyzing. If something’s bothering me, I have to figure out why and how to avoid it next time. I’m a problem-solver. I don’t just let problems go, I solve them. Or at least I have to come up with a possible solution. We’re ponderers, Debra. And ponderers come up with great solutions. 😉


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