10 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to a Woman

There are few guarantees in life, but this much we can say with certainty: The sun rises in the east, death comes to us all, and you will -- at one time or another -- suddenly find yourself in the midst of a blazing fight with your girlfriend without even realizing it.

Many of us have been there. One minute you’re having a conversation, maybe a minor argument, but that’s OK; it’s all under control. Then you say something -- a word or passing comment, something relatively harmless, or so you think -- and it sets her off. As soon as it leaves your lips, the air changes, and there’s no easy way back.

There are some things men should never say to their women -- conversational land mines that appear insignificant on the face of it, but are anything but. The good news is that we know, for the most part, what they are. Many men have suffered before you. It would be wise to heed their counsel.

1. “Are you really going to eat all that?”
Your girlfriend is, by definition, as light as a feather and nimble as a ballerina. To so much as whisper a hint of the notion that she might be, you know, otherwise, is to risk paying a price as heavy as you suspect her to be. In fact, avoid the topic of food altogether if you can. Eating is an emotional, often obsessive business for women, and occasionally it’s an actual disorder. It’s tied up with their identity, their self-image, their fantasies. So the answer is, yes, she’s really going to eat all that. All that ballet must have given her an appetite.

2. “B*tch”
The B word is like the N word: Unless you’ve been appropriately oppressed, you don’t get to use it. You might be able to pull off an ironic Snoop Dogg-style “beeeyatch,” so long as you’re smiling as you say it. But to say “b*tch” with any kind of intent is to pull the pin out of a grenade.

3. “My ex used to … ”
Anything you say with the words “my ex” in it will be held against you in a court of law, as it should. Of course it’s natural to compare your girlfriends, but keep it to yourself. There are inside thoughts and outside thoughts. This belongs firmly to the former category.

4. “You always do that.”
One sure way to escalate a minor tiff into a nuclear showdown is to use words like “never” and “always.” They’re too sweeping to be true, so you’ll not only upset her, but also give her the opportunity to prove you wrong and seize the higher ground. And it tends to drag every other argument you’ve had into your present one, which is like rehashing all the worst parts of your relationship all at once.

5. “You sound just like your mother.”
Don’t compare her to her mother. Or her sister, for that matter. You don’t know those people like she does, and you don’t know the full complexity of their relationships. And anyway, everyone wants an independent identity, separate and distinct from their family members.

6. “Yeah, she’s hot.”
Chances are she lured you in with an innocent question, like, “Do you think she’s cute?” shrugging her shoulders like it wouldn’t matter either way. But don’t be fooled. You must lie quickly and reflexively. Whether it’s a girl in a magazine, a Facebook friend, a waitress -- whoever -- the answer is always no. In fact, you win extra points for casually finding fault in her the closer you look. Watch your girlfriend light up as you say, “Is it me, or is her nose a bit weird?”

7. “What’s up with your hair?”
Her hair looks great and it suits her perfectly. She’s allowed to have a bad hair day, but you’re not allowed to notice. For girls, hair isn’t just hair.

8. “Relax.”
The thing about “relax” is it dramatically reduces the chances of her relaxing. The same goes for “chill” and “calm down.” Here’s an alternative: “I can see how you would feel that way.” It takes a Zen master to actually use it in the heat of combat, but it’s there if you need it.

9. “Is this your time of the month?”
Even if it is, you’re not to mention it. Your role is to pretend that her menstrual cycle has no effect on her tendency to shriek and stamp and then burst into tears for no reason whatsoever. In this matter, you must occupy the high ground and show pity. Indulge her delusion that she is not in fact deranged by hormones and that she’s making a valid point. The moment will pass.

10. “I love you.”
I know what you’re thinking. This is supposed to be the magic pill, the cure-all, the instant fix. But the thing about the L word is that it sends women into a heightened sense of awareness. As soon as they hear it, they can tell whether or not you mean it. Misuse the force and it may destroy you. Or as the saying goes, if you play with fire, you might get slapped in the middle of a restaurant.

How Women Really Feel About Facial Hair

Most women don’t have much facial hair -- and those who do find a way to get rid of it. But that doesn’t stop us from having strong feelings about the hair on your face.

It turns out we have pretty strong opinions. Meaning? Your facial hair style can dictate whether we find you hot … or decidedly not. And every strand of hair can speak volumes about you well before you get the chance to open your mustached mouth.

To help you put your best face forward, we’ve asked the women of the Men’s Life Today Girl Panel™ to share their impressions -- positive and negative -- of eight common facial hair styles. Read on with razor at the ready; you may want to give your mug a makeover after reading this.


Jaye,23 Veronica, 24 Lauren, 30 Natalia, 25

Samantha, 22

Is facial hair sexy or sloppy?

“Definitely sexy. There’s nothing more masculine.” -- Samantha

“It really just depends on face type and personality. It can be sexy if the guy wears it with style.” -- Natalia

“I prefer a clean-shaven look so you can fully see a man’s face, without distractions.” -- Lauren

“If you’re artsy or some sort of a musician, facial hair sort of completes the look.” -- Jaye

Any particular pet peeves or turnoffs?

“Fragments of facial hair, such as mustaches, goatees, soul patches, etc.” --Veronica

“When a beard is out of control and a guy’s neck is hairy. That’s just bad hygiene.” -- Jaye

“Mustaches that curl onto lips. Ugh!” -- Samantha

“Do not stroke your facial hair; it’s creepy.” -- Lauren

What’s your first impression of the following facial hair styles?

1. A full mustache

Tells her you are …

“No longer in my datable age range.” -- Samantha

“Tom Selleck.” -- Veronica

2. A full beard

Tells her you are …

“About to bust out the guitar and sing me a tune.” -- Natalia

“All man. A full beard is as natural as it gets -- and usually the most flattering to a guy’s face.” -- Samantha

“Very lazy.” -- Lauren

“Someone I would like very much to make out with.” -- Veronica

3. A goatee

Tells her you are …

“A sort of alternative, edgy guy.” -- Jaye

“A grooming perfectionist. Or you have a chin butt.” -- Lauren

“In a terrible band that you formed with your friends in the late ’90s.” -- Veronica

4. A soul patch

Tells her you …

“Are a fan of articles of clothing that have flames on them.” -- Veronica

“Got lazy at the last bit of shaving.” -- Natalia

“Are creepy and definitely trying too hard (and failing!)” -- Jaye

5. A handlebar mustache

Tells her you …

“Are the detective from Clue -- or a hipster, at least.” -- Samantha

“Got lost in the Wild West, lost a bet or are super old-fashioned (and old).” -- Lauren

6. A pencil mustache

Tells her you are …

“Type A.” -- Samantha

“Trying to show off that you can grow facial hair.” -- Lauren

“A sex offender.” -- Veronica

7. A chin curtain

Tells her you are …

“Kind of cool, but a little high-maintenance.” -- Samantha

“In jail or about to be in jail.” -- Jaye

“Hot … if you have a narrow face. Rrrrr!” -- Natalia

8. A clean-shaven face

Tells her you are …

“Ready to get to work. A clean face screams success.” -- Samantha

“Sexy.” -- Jaye

What Counts as Cheating? Women Answer

Have you ever cheated on a girl?

If your first impulse is to give an excuse (“We never said we’re exclusive!” or “She was out of the country!”), then listen up: Women hold the reins in determining what counts as cheating. After all, we’re the ones who decide whether or not to forgive you once you’ve crossed the line.

To help you guys out, we asked the Men’s Life Today Girl Panel™ to draw that line. Sadly, it appears to be a moving one, depending on whom you ask. There are a few shared beliefs, though. For example, swapping spit with another woman is definitely cheating. And a lot of behaviors, while not technically cheating, are still grounds for saying buh-bye. While these girls seem to be all over the map, we advise the following: Assume yours is on the conservative side. That way, you can’t screw up.

The Panel:

Jaye, 23 Lawrese, 22 Angela, 24 Michelle, 27 Christina, 23 Arielle, 25

Define cheating in 50 words or less:

“If you’re with another girl and doing something you wouldn’t do in front of me (beyond a little harmless flirting), then it’s probably cheating. Another good test? Ask yourself, ‘Would I mind if she was doing this with another guy?’” -- Michelle

“Being intimate -- emotionally or physically -- with someone else.” -- Arielle 

“You have to have the boyfriend/girlfriend title. I don’t care if you’ve been hooking up consistently for a year straight. You can’t be pissed at the guy for hooking up with someone else when you ‘give it away’ without a title!” -- Jaye

“It’s not cheating if one person thinks they’re together, and the other doesn’t. That’s just miscommunication.” -- Lawrese

Does checking out another girl count as cheating?

“Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you go blind or that other people become suddenly less attractive. You can look all you want, as long as you don’t touch.” -- Lawrese

How about flirting with another girl without mentioning you have a girlfriend?

“If it’s kept to a one-time flirtation -- no numbers exchanged, no touching -- then I don’t see the harm.” -- Michelle

“Flirting is healthy. It lets people feel like they still ‘got it’ even though they’re off the market.” -- Lawrese

“It’s not cheating, but if it’s conscious and it’s in an effort to get the other person attracted to you, then it’s very shady.” -- Christina

Kissing another girl?

“Kissing a girl on the cheek to say hello or good-bye is fine, but ANY other kind of kissing is so cheating and so not OK!” -- Jaye

Talking to your ex-girlfriend without informing your current girlfriend?

“If you just want to remain friendly with your ex-girlfriend, that’s fine. But if you’re still interested in her, or if she still wants you, that is unacceptable.” -- Angela

“It’s not cheating; it’s just a dick move. And if you’re doing that, who knows what else you’re doing that is cheating?” -- Jaye

Dancing with another girl?

“As long as you’re not grinding your junk all over the girl, it’s fine.” -- Jaye

“If you dance with another girl in front of me, that’s not cool.” -- Angela

Going to a strip club?

“As long as you don’t lie about it and don’t ask for any private dances, there’s nothing wrong with a little visual voyeurism -- as long as I can pursue the same.” -- Lawrese

“If you’re going once a week, it may not be cheating, but it’s definitely a deal-breaker. Ew!” -- Michelle

Watching or looking at porn?

“Definitely not. Boys will be boys!” -- Michelle

“We’d actually be more concerned if you weren’t watching porn.” -- Lawrese

“It’s not technically cheating, but if it becomes excessive and interferes with daily life, then it’s a problem and grounds for breaking up.” -- Christina

What counts as “emotional cheating”?

“Harboring feelings for someone else, and then getting close to her to act on those feelings -- that’s playing with fire.” -- Lawrese

“When a guy forms a relationship with another girl. Even if it starts off as a friendship, if he begins to favor that person and spend increasing amounts of time with her, it can be worse than physical cheating, because that could be purely sexual.” -- Angela

“Talking via phone, text, IM, email, etc., without the knowledge of your partner -- especially when confiding personal secrets and problems to the other person -- is emotional cheating.” -- Christina

If your boyfriend cheated on you, would you want to know about it?

“Yes! Why would I want him to get to away with that?! And I would want to tell his friends and his family -- yes, his family! -- and embarrass him.” -- Jaye

“I would need to know, and then I would most likely break up with him.” -- Arielle 

“I would rather find out from him than from someone else, or not find out at all.” -- Christina 

Could you forgive your partner for cheating?

“I don’t know. It would be nearly impossible to get over.” -- Arielle 

“No. I would never be able to trust him again. I can’t be with someone I don’t trust.” -- Angela

“I’d definitely be more likely to forgive him if we were together for a long time (more than 3 years) or if we were married.” -- Michelle

“Nothing is forgivable when it comes to cheating. Period. Once a cheater, always a cheater.” -- Jaye

If you could forgive your partner, how could he make it up to you?

“Time … flowers … more time … undying attention … and a lot more time.” -- Michelle

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/-ilkeryuksel-

How to Survive the Holidays at Her House

Family and relationships: It’s a potent combination at any time of year. But during the holidays -- when expectations are high, history runs deep, and people who live happily apart all year are suddenly thrown together for hours or even days -- tensions can really skyrocket. Whether or not you’ve already met your significant other’s family, becoming part of their holiday traditions is new -- and potentially volatile -- territory. But with a little preparation, you can easily get through it … and maybe even win some coveted brownie points. Herewith, our survival tips for dealing with this most precarious time of year.

Tip No. 1: Talk to your girlfriend in advance.
Sari Eckler Cooper
, a psychotherapist and sex therapist, recommends you get your ducks in a row well before the visit. Ask your girlfriend which family members you’re likely to connect with, who you might want to keep a distance from, and what topics are off limits (like that estranged uncle in Chile). Discuss family traditions in order to avoid major surprises, and plan tactics for impressing her relatives. If they’re into singing carols, for instance, learn the tune to at least one -- and don’t be shy about humming it.

Tip No. 2: Arm yourself with gifts.
Don’t neglect to bring a thoughtful host gift. As soon as you step in the door, give your host or hostess an ornament, holiday cookies or flowers to set a positive tone from the outset. Whether you bring additional presents has everything to do with what her family does on the holidays (which, again, means talking to your girlfriend). Is there a major gift-opening ritual? If so, are all her relatives bringing you a little something? Or is it just her parents, who’ve got a more substantial present in the works? Your girlfriend can let you know what level of gifts to expect, and from whom, without ruining the surprise. Then prepare to come bearing the same level of gifts in exchange.

Tip No. 3: “Jingle” rhymes with “mingle.”
The most crucial part, of course, is the gathering itself. Even if you’ve gotten the total scoop from your girlfriend and have hunted down the perfect presents, it’s normal to be a little nervous. But don’t let your anxiety get the best of you. “A lot of guys freak out when they go to these family gatherings and glue themselves to the girlfriend because it’s comfortable,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm, a company that teaches men social skills. “But it’s only comfortable for you.” No one’s going to hurt you; it’s a family gathering, after all. And she’ll probably find it annoying if she has to babysit you. As Harbinger puts it: “How would you feel if she followed you around during your family party and wouldn’t talk to any of your relatives? You’d be embarrassed.”

The easiest people to mingle with are the oldest and youngest relatives, says Cooper. “Children tend to be the most open to visitors and to having fun,” she explains, “and the adults will appreciate getting a break from them.” The elderly family members might not have the energy to run around in the yard with you, but they sure can talk a blue streak. “Try asking how they celebrated the holidays as a child or what their favorite holiday was,” recommends Cooper.

Tip No. 4: Lend a helping hand.
It is that do-good time of year, right? Aside from talking, a great way to interact is to help out with chores. It’s a sign to her relatives that they don’t have to treat you like a guest, and you’ll fit in with the family all the more easily. If you offer to give a hand in the kitchen and get turned down, suggest a quick run to the store to grab the buttermilk they forgot to buy. Or ask Mama G to show you how she makes her cookies so chewy. Whether she tells you or prefers to keep it her little secret, chances are she’ll have a soft spot for you forever.

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/kzenon

Stop a Break From Becoming a Breakup

It’s Murphy’s Law of relationships: Just when everything is trucking along perfectly, she lands an internship in another city. Or a semester abroad in Italy. Or even band camp for the summer. Whatever it is, it’s a chunk of time apart, and it makes you nervous. You have a right to be -- breaks often lead to breakups. But if you know that’s not what you want, there are things you can do -- both before and after the separation -- to keep your relationship on track.

B.B. (Before the Break)
“The key is to talk about it beforehand freely and openly,” says Nancy Pina, relationship expert and founder of Right Relationships TV. “Just ask her straight out if she wants to pick up where you left off when she returns and whether she sees long-term potential in the relationship.” This way, says Pina, no one is left guessing. If she thinks she’s in a committed relationship while you think it’s OK to date other people (or vice versa), well, suffice it to say that few relationships survive that kind of misunderstanding.

This isn’t an easy conversation to have, particularly for guys. After all, it might not go the way you want it to. But it’s good practice. Allowing yourself to feel vulnerable and to discuss your relationship with your partner are not just core life skills -- they’re the mark of a man. And there are practical things you can work out along the way, such as how you’re going to stay connected during the break.

“One of the keys to getting back together successfully after a separation is healthy communication while you’re apart,” says Pina. “Agree on how often you can be in touch, and what format -- text or email or Facebook or the phone. Otherwise you might hurt her feelings by not texting her as much as you used to when you were living in the same place.”

A.B. (After the Break)
So what about when she’s back? Pina suggests some simple gestures, like meeting her with flowers at the airport. “And a mushy card always helps!”

But it’s important to go slowly. According to Jennifer Curtet, lifestyle coach and professional speaker, there needs to be a re-acquaintance period after a long time apart. “You might get that slo-mo reunion at the airport and all the hugs and ‘I love you,’ but what about a week later?” she says. “We change a lot, especially when we’re young. Everyone wants to just jump in the sack and try to get back to where they were, but don’t assume that someone’s going to be the same when they return from a major trip.”

Keep things low-key and relaxed, so you both have the opportunity to feel comfortable and reconnect properly. A welcome-home party sounds like a great idea, but it will likely keep you separated or focused on other people. “The same goes for seeing a band or going to a movie,” says Curtet. “The important thing is to interact one-on-one, so consider options like a trip to a park or museum, or a meal in your favorite restaurant. You’ll get a chance to talk and discover just how she’s been changed by her trip.”

One of the byproducts of being separated is sensitivity, perhaps even jealousy. This is only natural; during your separation you both have experienced different things, perhaps having met and spent time with other people. But the antidote is easy: Create new experiences together. It could be as simple as reading the same book. Even better is to learn something new together. Ask her what she wants to explore and help make it happen. It moves your relationship forward, rather than trying to recreate the past.

“It could be anything,” says Curtet. “A pottery class, a dance class, or something like rock climbing, which relies on trust in a potentially scary experience. If she’s been in the third world, her values may be different. Perhaps you could help out in your community and feed the homeless. Ultimately, shared values make for a strong relationship.”

You both grow and change independently during periods of separation, so getting back together can seem like starting from scratch. The key is to appreciate the new 5.0 version of your partner and your relationship. Taking this opportunity to reappraise both can deepen your bond, which might be just what’s needed to get to the next level.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/PeskyMonkey