I once worked with a guy who was under the impression that whenever a female said, “I’m fine,” then she really meant the opposite.
“Whenever a girl says that,” he said, “Then she means she’s not fine.” He said it with such confidence, so much I-know-what-the-eff-I’m-talking-about assuredness, I almost second-guessed my own “I’m fine’s”. Almost.
It didn’t matter how many times I tried to tell him that wasn’t true for the entire female population he would not back down. “Fine” meant “not fine” until further notice. Which, for him, probably means never.
Here’s the thing: men and women are different. I know everyone says that, and “knows” that, but, really, let the nugget sink in: we are totally distinct entities. Translation: we act differently, and most importantly, we think and speak differently. Whereas most men are straightforward with one another, most women are subtler with how we communicate. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus was a popular book for a reason.
In the early stages of a relationship, communication is always awkward as you’re both trying to get a read on each other (“What does she mean by that?” “Where is this going?” etc.) Throw a foreign language into the mix (because that’s what it is pretty much is) and you’re bound to get some wires crossed.
Sometimes it’s better to read between the lines with your lady, and sometimes (I would argue, most times) it’s better to ask her directly. But, for those who are in need of some assistance, here’s a cheat sheet to help you bridge the gap of communication so you two can start speaking the same language again.
She Says: “I Don’t Want To Ruin Our Friendship.”
She Really Means: “I am not attracted to you.”
She Says This Because: She doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, and she probably doesn’t want to lose you as a friend either (no matter how selfish that may sound).
What To Do: Well, don’t make a move on her—that’s for sure. But, mostly, try to respect her feelings and continue with her friendship. That is, if you can without compromising your dignity, of course.
She Says: “Are You Seeing Anyone Right Now?”
She Really Means: “I enjoy flirting with you and all, but I want to make sure I’m not wasting my time.”
She Says This Because: She’s human. She’s scared of rejection, but, at the same time, she wants to know the 411 on your situation.
What To Do: Be honest with her. If you are seeing anyone else, tell her. If you’re not, and you want to continue seeing her, then tell her that, too. And if you’re pretty sure you just want to see her and only her, then you damn well better tell her that.
She Says: “I Feel Like We Don’t Talk Enough.”
She Really Means: “I think your communication skills suck and I’m tired of hearing about sports scores. I want to know how you feel about us!”
She Says This Because: She wants to communicate with you in a deeper way, but she doesn’t want to come off as “needy” (which, in my opinion, is a horrible word and makes every girl feel like shit, but we know it’s a real thing for y’all, so we try to come off as cool without actually being cool, so, throw a girl a bone…/end of rant). Also, she’s hoping you’ll open up first.
What To Do: She’s giving you the opportunity to be real with her, so tell her how you feel about your relationship. She’s not going to rest until she gets some kind of answer out of you, so you might as well bite the bullet.
She Says: “Why Don’t You Try This (Kiss/Position) Instead?”
She Really Means: “Stop. Stop that right now.”
She Says This Because: She doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, and by telling you, and showing you, how she wants to feel, you’ll both end up satisfied.
What to Do: Oblige her. I mean, hell, she’s banging you on a regular basis, right?
She Says: “Those Are Some Love Handles You’re Sporting.”
She Really Means: “Go to the gym, now!”
She Says This Because: Women struggle with their own body issues, so she would never tell you to drop the pizza and head straight to the gym. She probably is worried about your physical health—and not just your looks—too, so, that’s sweet.
What To Do: This is a judgment call. Love handles usually aren’t deal breakers, but, if you think your woman might be more turned on if you trimmed down, then head to the gym. If not, go for that second slice of pizza.
Basically, what you need to remember is that (most) women usually use a lot of intonation and expressions when they’re communicating, so, if we’re saying “yes” but our face is all like, “no fucking way,” then I would go for the latter.
Except when we say “we’re fine” because we totally are. I think.
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine. You can follow her on Twitter @briannehogan.