LINGUISTICS LESSON #1. YOU AND YOUR PARTNERS ARE PROBABLY NOT ON THE SAME FREQUENCY. FIND OUT HOW TO DECIPHER HER WORDS AND HEAR THROUGH ALL THE STATIC.
She Says: “So it all started this morning on my way to work…”
What it Means: Well, you don’t know yet — because she’s only been telling the story for 15 minutes, and she won’t get to the main point for another 10. “Going on and on can really irritate men,” says Lillian Glass, PhD, author of He Says, She Says: Closing the Communication Gap Between the Sexes. “It comes down to the fact that women use a lot of descriptive terms in a way men don’t.” So what should you do? Listen. And if you’re losing track, nicely ask her to start with the juicy part (and be warned, you’ll have to listen to the rest too).
She Says: “I mean, it’s not that it really bothers me when you leave your dirty boxers on my side of the bathroom. It’s just, you know, sort of gross.”
What it Means: She’s just watering down her irritation. The truth is, seeing your dirty skivvies by her sink pisses the hell out of her. Robin Tolmach Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Language and Woman’s Place, says that women use fillers like “you know” and “sort of” as a way of softening language that could be received as dominant or aggressive. Take note: The fluff between her words doesn’t make them softer.
She Says: “I’m really upSET.“
What it Means: Not to paint women with a passive-aggressive brush, but studies have shown that women use upward inflection more than men do (at least in our culture). “Going up in pitch at the very end of a sentence, or letting a sentence die off, can come off tentative,” says Glass. “So even if your wife is saying she’s really mad, you might not process it that way because of her ‘polite’ tone.” So the next time she tells you she’s “really” anything (mad, tired, annoyed, horny), take her word for it — no matter how it sounds coming out.
She Says: “Sweetie (or baby, or honey, or stud muffin — whatever floats your boat), did you load the dishwasher?”
What it Means: Okay, now you might not think of this situation as foreplay, but for your girlfriend, a response that includes a pet name like, “Yup, all done, love,” can be the equivalent of her grabbing your crotch and pointing toward the bedroom. “Women are more tuned in to what they hear than men,” says Glass. “If you want to have a good relationship, you need to tune in to the auditory aspect of communication — not just the physical.” So keep the terms of endearment going throughout the day…even when you’re standing at the sink.