Figuring out what women want has no simple, clear-cut mission, but sometimes knowing what not to say can be just as powerful as knowing the perfect move. As much as you may follow the top rules to affair-proof your relationship, a simple statement can derail the intimacy.
As the founders of the Gottman Institute, we dissect the absolute worst things you can say that'll kill the mood, and love, right in an instant. No matter what happens, avoid ever uttering these statement to your loved one. Read on for the four kiss-of-death things to never say to her:
1. "What is it now?"
Why that sucks: It sucks because it conveys impatience and anger about what is probably her bid for connecting with you. Every attempt she makes to connect with you is an opportunity to turn toward her need and connect emotionally. It is therefore foreplay. Don't blow it.
What to say instead: "What's on your mind, baby? I'm listening."
2. "You used to have a nice butt. I really miss that."
Why that sucks: It sucks because instead of being a compliment, it is an insult. If you want to talk about her body, first realize that she is already looking at 600 visual ads a day that show her our culture's ideal female body. Research has revealed that even very fit, good-looking women tend feel bad about their bodies. So, find something you genuinely love about her body, or how gracefully she moves, and pay her a sincere compliment. Men who sincerely compliment their women every day have better sex lives than men who do not.
What to say instead: "You look really hot in that blouse. I love that color on you." You'll go through three distinct stages of love with "the one," and knowing how to communicate — and kindly, at that — through all three is what'll send you toward lasting love.
3. "Fine, have it your way. You always will."
Why that sucks: It sucks because it turns her need into a power play, win-lose, zero-sum game. You are suggesting that her intent is to win. It also avoids looking for the need she may have in a request she is making of you.
What to say instead: There are always two magic questions to ask a woman. "What do you feel?" and "What do you need?"
4. "Why do you always have to be so needy?"
Why that sucks: First, it is clearly an insult. It turns a need into an insulting personality trait. And, it’s probably not even true. We are all needy. Relationships are contracts of mutual nurturance, so having needs and agreeing to meet those needs is an implicit hidden contract in any love relationship. Second, it converts a potential opportunity – turning toward her need for you – into a statement of turning against her.
What to say instead: Again, remember that there are always two magic questions to ask a woman. "What do you feel?" and "What do you need?" Keeping those two questions in mind can naturally lead to the top 5 rules to tune up your relationship that will help you avoid conflicts and remain close with your love.
John Gottman, PhD, and Julie Schwartz Gottman, Phd, are the authors of The Man's Guide to Women and the husband-and-wife team behind the Gottman Institute.