Your first problem—being attracted to women, a very weird group of people—is not going to go away. But here’s a problem you can solve: word choice.
You need to know the phrases that, once introduced to her volatile atmosphere, will result in explosion (or quiet contempt—no picnic either). Then you need to strike them from your vocabulary.
Warning: Some of these absolute no-no words and phrases seem so incredibly harmless, you may think we’re kidding. We’re not.
It might seem logical to you to tell a woman who’s freaking out to relax. And if “logical” meant the same thing as “stupidest idea ever,” you’d be correct.
Understand, a woman screaming and carrying on in anger or frustration or panic thinks that her response is 100 percent appropriate. If the inciting situation has anything to do with you, she feels she has a responsibility to freak out extra to compensate for your maddening calm.
So when you tell her to relax, you’re implying that your response—i.e., nothing—is correct. You’re denying that there’s a reason to be upset. You’re telling her she’s crazy.
Women may sometimes feel crazy and joke about it, but anything smacking of accusations of being crazy will be far from soothing.
Say: “I’m just as upset about this as you are. Let’s deal with it together.” This way she knows you’re totally sympathetic. This should help her to . . . oh, God . . . relax.
“ I Love You” (During a Fight)
In movies, “I love you” is usually employed by men during I-love-you– appropriate situations—lovemaking, walks on the beach, airport reunions.
In real life, a woman hears “I love you” most often at that point in a fight when she desperately wants to get to the heart of the issue, and when you desperately want to stop this nonsense and watch Alias—which you don’t normally even watch.
When you come home shirtless from a bachelor party or forget our birthdays and stand there in the face of our rage and crushing disappointment, do you really believe that merely stating the powerful existence of your love is going to make everything okay? Because it’s not.
1. “[Insert detailed explanation of what you did and why you did it.]”
2. “It won’t happen again.”
3. “I love you.” (It’s okay at the end of the apology, just not at the beginning.)
And when you go to a bachelor party, take along an extra shirt.
“ It’s Up to You”
Relationships are full of decisions. You decide where to eat, where to go on vacation, where to send your child to preschool. Most men wouldn’t dream of looking at their wife or girlfriend and saying, “You know what? I just don’t care.”
They would, however, say, “It’s up to you.” And find themselves in a world of hurt they never saw coming.
Men think of decision-making as work without pay. For women, it’s like window-shopping for life’s possibilities, and we want you to help us shop. So when you say, “It’s up to you,” we feel abandoned.
Say: “I could definitely do A or B, but I’m not crazy about C. What are you thinking?” This shows you’re listening, suggests you care, and gets you out of deciding.
“You Knew I Was This Way . . . ”
Well, the truth is that we didn’t. Or we knew deep down, but we were so busy enjoying our fantasy of you that we chose to ignore what was really there.
It’s not your fault. It’s just that when we were little, we spent so much time daydreaming about having the perfect life. Now that we’re actually in grown-up life, we can’t turn off our daydreaming switch.
Telling a woman, “You knew I was this way when you married me” is like saying the way your life is right now is the way it’s going to be forever and ever. And that may well be true—in many wonderful and not-so-wonderful ways. But if she were to accept that, a little part of her would die.
Say: “It frustrates me, too—and I’m working on it.” It’s a lie. That’s okay.
At times, you may be afraid of saying the wrong thing. You may think, If I just keep my mouth shut, I’ll be okay. Well, no. Imagine you’re pitching in a baseball game in which there is no hitter, not even a catcher. You would not enjoy that. Imagine yourself, head hanging, going to retrieve the ball yourself and, once again, throwing it to no one. That’s how we feel when you don’t talk to us.
Say: Anything. Throw the ball back. Throw it badly. Even risk throwing a wild pitch and letting her take an extra base. But keep your head in the game.
THE MAGIC WORDS
When a woman wants to kill you, you have one thing going for you: Deep down, a tiny part of her wants you to make her not do it.
She just might put down the apple slicer if you say one of the following sentences:
“Just tell me everything.”
I don’t think a man has ever actually uttered this statement, so make history. Here’s the thing: Our most violent anger is often the result of anticipating being forced to shut up. So once we’re told we can give our entire, endless account—no rushing or defending ourselves—we cool off.
Side benefit: We also get a little intimidated. We think, Is this part important or interesting or relevant? We edit ourselves.
“You are just so beautiful.”
The trick: You must say it as if it’s just occurring to you at the moment, as if her pulchritude were a rainbow suddenly in your path, the stunningness of which has left you incapacitated, emotionally stunted, but in a good way. Say it as if you can remember little else—certainly not whatever irksome matter you were just discussing.
It works well as an alternative to “I love you”—but, the same way butter makes anything taste better, it’s all-purpose.
“Sorry. It was all my fault.”
So classic. So hard to say. Because it’s never all your fault, of course—and it’s a very rare case in which she shouldn’t also say she’s sorry. Everyone likes to save face, especially men. But truly, there is nothing hotter to a woman than a man who’s willing to admit he was wrong because he just loves her so damn much.
You might feel like you’re losing her respect, but unless you’re always the one to apologize, trust me, you’re gaining it.