Watch out! These seven questions could detonate your relationship
By K. Aleisha Fetters, Men's Health
Sometimes, talking to a woman can be a bit like walking through a minefield. Blindfolded. With snowshoes on. "Women are generally more sensitive and emotional than men, which means they can be more reactive," says psychotherapist and relationship expert Nicole McCance. "They don't always take questions at face value and can read into them, asking themselves, 'What did he really mean by that?'"
Unfortunately, your partner can often contort your question into something explosion-worthy. Here are seven things you should never ask her--and how you can rework your queries to avoid any carnage.
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1. "Have you worked out this week?"
It's only slightly better than asking, "Have you gained weight?" Even if you mean it as an innocent inquiry--maybe the two of you are in the middle of a fitness plan, and you're checking in on her progress--the question almost always comes off as an insult. "She's immediately going to think that you think she's getting fat," says Rachel DeAlto, author of Flirt Fearlessly.
Rephrase it: If you're simply curious about her exercise habits, try this: "I'm going to head to the gym, want to join me?" "Rather than making an implicit criticism as to her fitness or weight, this expresses a desire to spend more time together," says Stephen C. Phillips, Psy.D., a psychologist in Beverly Hills. Not only will it score you good-guy points, but it's a lot more likely to get her moving. (Plus, stay motivated together with these 20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout.)
2. "How much did that cost?"
Before she even says the number, she feels like she's being judged. "Women don't want to have their decisions questioned any more than men do, particularly when the question implies irresponsibility," Phillips says.
Rephrase it: Try prefacing it with, "It doesn't really matter, but . . . " Or, if you're concerned that her purchases' price tags are frequently excessive, tell her you'd like to start a method of accounting for expenditures, Phillips recommends. It could be a joint account that you both contribute a certain amount of money to a month, or a budget you each follow.
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3. "Do I have to go with you to your parents' house?"
No matter how much you dread double dates with the in-laws, keep your lips zipped. "She will assume that you hate her parents, and immediately feel the stress of being in the middle," says DeAlto.
Rephrase it: If you really want to skip a dinner with the Mr. and Mrs., DeAlto suggests trying something like this: "I'm swamped at work, so I don't think I can make it to your parents' place. But send them my love--they're awesome." Just don't expect the line to get you out of every visit.
4. "Do you feel like having sex?"
"Being asked to have sex is the least sexy thing that could ever happen to a woman," DeAlto says. There's no passion behind the question, and it sounds like you just want to get off, rather than connect with her.
Rephrase it: "Touch. Kiss. Don't ask," DeAlto says. "She'll let you know if she's interested." And if you approach it that way, she's much more likely to be.
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5. "Are you PMS-ing?"
You might as well ask her, "Why are you being a bitch?" The rude remark also makes it seem like you're ignoring the legitimacy of her feelings. "Women are sensitive to men's tendency to attribute any anger or emotional distress to a biochemical process, and therefore not a result of the man's behavior," Phillips says.
Rephrase it: Whether you want to know if she's in a funk, or if sex is off the table, simply find out by asking, "How are you feeling?" It shows that you care about her, but still gives her an opportunity to let you know if it's that time of the month, says Phillips.
6. "What's wrong?"
You already know the answer: "Nothing." Followed by an eye roll. Why? The question can seem accusatory instead of concerned, especially if she's already miffed over something, Phillips says.
Rephrase it: "I can tell that you're upset about something. I'd love to talk about it when you feel like discussing it." Women want you to want to listen to them. Making the invitation will go far, says Phillips.
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7. "Do you really want to wear that?"
That's a surefire way to make her feel bad about herself. "Many women are sensitive to implicit criticism of their appearance," which they may already have doubts and insecurities about, Phillips says.
Rephrase it: "You look beautiful, but I was really looking forward to seeing you in . . ." When you say it, touch or hug her, McCance suggests. It will help her feel even more desirable to you, so that she doesn't interpret a suggested change of clothes as an insult.
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