There have been many books written about the ways men and women communicate. While men and women share much in common, they often express it a little bit differently. Women are more verbose in nature and men tend to use fewer words leaving women guessing at their end game or intentions.
This article is written with the intention of breaking it down in simple terms of 7 common relationship phrases women and men use and what they really mean. Hang on tight — you’ll enjoy the ride and learn more in this quick read that will help you the next time you and your SO (significant other) reach an impasse.
While women often say what we mean, we sometimes include some extra sentences and actions, leaving our SO lost in the wind literally and figuratively. Men, on the other hand, may say less and show more with their actions, but their limited communication can leave you struggling to understand their true intentions or stance on a matter.
So let’s attack this from both sides and get to the bottom of what men and women say versus what they really mean:
1. “I’m fine.”
What women mean: Men, I realize that hearing your woman say she is “fine” makes you think she probably is fine because if you were saying the same, you’d mean exactly what you were saying. But, in woman-speak, more often than not this usually isn’t the case.
The key here to find out if that “I’m fine” is legit is the follow-up question. If you want to get it right, make sure you ask if she is sure and if there is hesitation in her response to you let her know if and when she is ready to get something off her chest, you are there to listen and support. By doing so, you will get major brownie points on this one.
What men mean: It’s pretty simple for a guy. If he is saying he is fine, he probably does, in fact, mean he’s fine. If there is something else to it, he will likely express it directly to you.
2. “I need to talk to you.”
What women mean: According to insight from my male relationship experts, this is the dreaded six-word sentence most guys don’t want to hear. They immediately think they are in trouble and it puts them on the defense fairly quickly. But guys, there is a way to calm that pitter-patter that you feel in your heart when you hear these words.
I think most men know that when a woman prompts a discussion with the “I need to talk to you,” it is probably about something that’s been heavy on her mind. And if you have this realization, consider yourself to be smarter than most. A woman dedicating time to speak to you about matters of her heart has thought this topic through ad nausea and wanted to have some closure on the subject of discussion.
Be prepared, not scared, and come to listen. In other words, go into the discussion with an open mind and with the goal to calm her fears and make your woman feel secure knowing she can count on you to have serious discussions. It will help your relationship grow if you learn to understand her needs and also keep the lines of communication open in your relationship.
What men mean: If your guy wants to have a conversation with you and uses this sentence, he is using it as a way to generally get your input on something that is bothering him. If he values your input, he will share with you what is on his plate figuratively speaking, and how he is trying to solve the issue.
If he is coming to you to get your input or perspective, bonus points for you because he trusts your insights and these matters which are big to him he is sharing because he trusts and values your opinion.
3. “Where is our relationship heading?”
What women mean: It’s a nice way of letting you know your SO is looking for something deeper in your relationship. And your answer will lead her in one of possibly two directions.
If she is interested in you and prompts this discussion, she wants to know if you are serious about her or if she is wasting her time. If she is looking for something serious in a relationship and your answer is nebulous, unclear, or fuzzy, then she will probably be moving on in pursuing other options which will lead to the commitment she is seeking.
Be honest even if you think it will hurt her because if there is one thing a woman respects, it is honesty.
What men mean: Men probably won’t say this directly but show it more through their actions. There are subtle tests he will throw your way to check your level of interest in him and how you fit into his life. He will make himself available to you so you feel comfortable knowing that his interest is real.
He may become a little insecure when you are heading out for the night for friends because he wants to be a part of what you are doing. He may ask you in subtle ways how you feel about him. And he will invest quality time in you outside of the bedroom with more face-to-face time doing activities, figuring out your interests, and getting to know you. This continual time and investment of his time in you is his way of signaling to you that he is interested in you for the longer term and letting you know that he sees a future with you.
4. “Do whatever you want.”
What women mean: I know you think your SO is giving you the go-ahead. But here is the caveat behind her words to you and how you can know if it is indeed ok to go ahead and do what you want to do. If your SO has continuously and repeatedly told you there is a behavior you’re demonstrating or activity you are engaging in which makes them uncomfortable, but you continue to do it because you just want to or it makes you feel good even when it does the opposite for your SO, beware when you get this message.
It can mean one of two things:
- It is a test of your loyalty to her and your relationship.
- She no longer cares about it — which, for a woman who has feelings for you, isn’t typically a good thing.
It means she is compartmentalizing your relationship, the status it has in her life, and also could be a sign that she is moving towards eventually ending things with you. No one should be overly controlling in a relationship, but if your existing relationships or activities endanger or put a strain on your relationship, you have to determine what is most important for you to prioritize. And this, of course, applies to both parties.
What men mean: Again, men are more direct on this one. Usually, their “do whatever you want” will have something added to it such as, “and if you do I will _____.” And what this means in man speak is to think clearly before you move forward because it will impact our relationship and how I move forward with you.
Tread lightly and figure out what is driving his position on an action you want to take. Talking it through together will give you insight into how he sees the situation, possibly calm fears that may be unnecessary, and put you both on the same page.
5. Dead silence.
What women mean: Ever had an argument where you thought you shut down your SO and they went into a mode of dead silence? It’s not a good sign. When a woman goes silent, it is her way of getting to her man. Yes, we women can be chatty, sometimes to the point where you might be like, “okay, I need a little quiet time.”
But on the heels of a heated discussion or argument, when a woman suddenly becomes extremely quiet following a disagreement, she is ticked off at you and you haven’t really resolved or won that argument.
Silence means she is more than likely fuming and also a way to punish you. If you are wrong, the best way to make this situation better is to admit it and apologize. And I get it, apologizing can be difficult for a man. I know you have this pride thing going on too.
But I promise you, by taking this little step for mankind, you will get you some extra points when you do your next stupid thing. She will be more forgiving because she will see you are willing to right the wrong, admit when you are wrong, and compromise.
What men mean: I need some quiet time. I’m trying to figure out some things and I need some silence to do so.
It can also signal irritation, frustration, and trying to not overreact especially if the two of you are in the midst of an argument or a disagreement. He might need this time to reset, calm down, and process what you two are discussing.
Give him the downtime before proceeding forward with your discussion. It will give him time to digest what you have communicated to him and help him to be open to your recommendation and the proposed resolution.
6. “I’m seeing someone.”
What women mean: You’ve approached a woman you are very interested in dating. And she shuts you down with, “I have a boyfriend.”
If she says this and you find out it’s not true, it’s because she was trying to let you off easily. She doesn’t think you are her type. If you keep pursuing her, you are not getting the message. She isn’t attracted to you in that way. One small exception here is that sometimes some guys just know how to work it and will see this response as a challenge to pursue hard. And if things move forward, you have successfully changed her thinking.
But, if she continues to tell you messages repeatedly, she might, in fact, have a boyfriend. Or if she doesn’t, the best bet is she just isn’t that into you. She is not feeling you that way. Move on to the next one and save yourself the grief of this one-sided pursuit of a relationship.
What men mean: It really depends on the situation. When a man is serious about someone he is seeing, he will clearly communicate this to you and show it by his actions. It is pretty black and white and he will not give you an inkling of interest. However, if he is dating and he is on the fence and openly flirting and entertaining the idea of getting with you, then more than likely he is passing time in his current relationship(s). His relationship isn’t probably too serious and he is keeping his options open.
How you respond to this one is on you because it just depends on how you want to establish the relationship with him. If he has a long-term relationship with a woman but isn’t respecting her enough to let her know he is interested in other women, then it’s likely he will do the same to you. Tread lightly, move slowly, and set your standards of how you want to be treated early on if you move forward with this relationship.
7. “I like our friendship.”
What women mean: I know you don’t want to hear this, but women know if they will be intimate with a man and can figure this out within a short time period. We often quickly assess what category you will fit into within our lives. These categories often encompass a friend, potential for the future, someone for casual dating, or possibly long-term relationship material.
Yes, you are in the friend zone, and I know this can suck. And I don’t care what you do, how much time you spend with her, or how much emotional support you provide. If she feels you are for her, she will let you know by her actions, interactions, and priority you have in her life.
Now there can be exceptions to the rule where a man is so persuasive and endearing that he gets a woman to change her mind. But these exceptions tend to be rare. If she is telling you she loves your friendship, that’s it. She merely likes you as a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t overthink this one.
What men mean: Men tend to show their cards early on even in a friendship. I do think it’s possible to be friends with a man and vice-versa, but understand some initial development of a friendship can be done with an intent to get to know you better.
Here is how you know the difference between a man wanting friendship with you versus something more. If he keeps it friendly i.e. small talk, advice about business, family, etc. likely he is interested in you as a friend.
However, if the talk goes to the gray areas i.e. talk about sexual intimacy, jokes about the two of you connecting physically, him getting a little jealous and judgmental when you discuss other men or those you are interested in dating, it can mean something different.
Friends want to see their friends happy and they are there to be supportive of them being in relationships which adds to their happiness. If you are getting feedback opposite of this or he tries to sabotage you being with someone in which you have a love interest, then something else is on his agenda.
Knowing how a woman expresses who she is and what she needs emotionally is half the battle. Understanding a man’s perspective and how he expresses himself can shape your relationship in an entirely different way.
Now that you are armed with the knowledge of what women and men say but really mean, it will help you to solidify and strengthen your relationship with your SO or help you in your pursuit of the one who can potentially be your SO.
Elizabeth Overstreet is an author, speaker, and relationship coach. She has been featured in, Jet Mag, Thrive, and Thought Catalog, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.