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Honey, Don't

10 Things That Turn Men Off

This man's take on the female behaviors that drive guys crazy piqued our interest. And not just because some of these turn-offs sounded a little, um, familiar ... —Glo

By Brendan Tapley for Woman's Day

It's not easy for a man to tell his wife or girlfriend what she does to irritate him. In my experience, confessions like that tend to lodge themselves deep inside a woman's subconscious, never to be forgotten ... ever. More than that, women tend to focus so much on their so-called “faults” that it can feel excessive to give you more reasons to be critical of yourselves. But in the name of healthy communication, sometimes it's important for couples to air their grievances. So let's take a different approach: Don't think of this list as the 10 things we dislike about you. Think of it more as the 10 things that will bring us closer together ... by you not doing them.

1. Second-Guessing Your Instincts. You know that colleague who you think is deceitful? Or that girlfriend of yours who can be condescending? Well, let us save you some time: Your colleague is deceitful, and your friend is condescending. Plain and simple. Sometimes face value is, well, valuable. While it's true that men can have knee-jerk reactions, women tend to overdo it when it comes to giving people the benefit of the doubt. Yes, you could chalk your co-worker's attitude up to his insecurities or blame your friend's tone on her manipulative mother; but, instead, why not look out for your own feelings first? That's what men are doing when we offer a simple opinion on your dilemmas — we're trying to take your side. It would be nice if you did the same.

2. Assuming We Know What You Want Us to Do. One of the reasons men can be squeamish about women's emotions is because they often believe the exact opposite feeling. For example: If you have plans for the day, please don't tell us to enjoy ourselves at home if you really want us to address items 1 through 5 on the honey-do list. It's more than a little irksome to have you return, hug us, look around the house, and then say with that pinched smile, “Did you have a nice, relaxing day?”

RELATED ON WOMAN'S DAY: How to Talk to Your Husband

3. Smothering Instead of Mothering. Women can confuse these two impulses — knowing the difference is crucial. One elicits gratitude in men, the other, orneriness. Like when we're sick. Mothering is a source of comfort that understands our flu is a temporary flaw in an otherwise heroic, virile and even studly constitution. Smothering, on the other hand, calls all of that into question. Smothering says we're five-year-old boys who have no idea how to take care of ourselves. And that bugs us more than the bug in us. One way to differentiate between the two: Ask yourself if you're making a gesture to ease our suffering or to show how much we should appreciate you. The first is genuine; the second is manipulative.

4. Having a Superiority Complex. We're not sure if you're aware of this, but there appears to be an increasing trend among women to equate being male with being dumb. For instance, when we're at a dinner party and you recount a story about us that ends with this punch line: “Well, you know [insert name of your dim husband here], he was just being a typical man.” Sure, every guy has his off moments — even blunders worth lampooning — but making us the hapless straight man in an ongoing comedy routine is disrespectful. And we think you'd hate it if we did the same to you.

5. Over-Sharing. We're aware of the stereotype that says men never open up about their feelings. Thing is, sometimes opening up to you also means opening up to your sister, your mother or even your college roommate. Men value loyalty and confidentiality. Keeping the things we share between us — and only us — builds trust and will encourage even more communication. A win-win situation for everyone.

6. Not Really Listening to Us. Along those lines, many women believe that their interior lives deserve a singular spotlight and an endless theatrical run. And the fact that many men go along with this shouldn't be construed as a license to spill. Our emotional lives are often as turbulent as yours, but whenever we talk about the tough stuff, we measure the changes in your face or shifts in your intonation to gauge when you start to judge us. It may be cowardly, but men will stop talking rather than risk a woman's passive or outright wrath. So, by taking a backseat and letting your guy unburden himself — even if the subject is controversial or delivered in halting fashion — you create space for a more candid, and therefore truer, intimacy.

RELATED ON WOMAN'S DAY: What Kind of Wife Are You?

7. RSVPing for Us. Any man can relate to this moment: You're on your way home from work, imagining the weekend ahead ... the relaxation, the freedom. Then you arrive home, only to learn that you have plans. Magical plans, it seems, since they appeared out of nowhere. OK, not nowhere exactly — they were conceived with the stroke of the wifely wand that says, “You're in too, bub!” Here's the deal: If you're determined to make plans that include your husband or boyfriend, ask him first. And be prepared to hear that he might be too tired or would prefer to have a quiet weekend. Honoring his preferences from time to time will not go unnoticed.

8. Fast-Forwarding to the Future. Women enjoy imagining the future. The story as it will be, as opposed to the story that is right now. That can be a wonderful, romantic quality. It can also be an irritating, annoying quality. Having dinner together this Valentine's Day is beautiful enough, without scripting the Valentine's Day we'll have when we're both 75. Enjoying the new sofa that we just bought is great, without having to obsess over all of the other things that we “need” to make the living room look complete. Living in the moment provides its own vitality, which is more than enough to sustain our future together.

9. Overlooking Our Quiet Acts of Thoughtfulness. We know it's disappointing that we men aren't great at expressing ourselves verbally. (And we're working on that.) But in the same vein, we're disappointed that you can't seem to acknowledge the nonverbal acts of caring that we perform. Like changing the oil in your car, for example, or staying up late to make sure you arrived home safely from your business trip. Chivalry also falls into this category. The art of being a gentleman doesn't have to mean the end of feminism. Paying for dinner, holding the door open, standing up when you walk into a room ... these are all gestures that demonstrate our awareness of others. Our awareness of you, specifically. While courtesy isn't the sum total of love, it's often how we show our feelings day to day. Women shouldn't be so quick to rebuff that.

10. Devaluing Our Friendships. Friendships were once considered a formative presence in a man's life. Older men were role models who helped develop character, while peers provided a level of camaraderie and acceptance that allowed us to forgo the machismo and be our truest selves — be that a poet, outdoorsman or both. While the value of sisterhood is extolled for women, the male equivalent is often vilified, and much of that is because women regard male friendships as being at odds with their romantic relationships. The two shouldn't be mutually exclusive — and encouraging rather than discouraging our time with our buddies would be a welcome change.

RELATED ON WOMAN'S DAY:

10 Things Men Wish Women Knew About Them

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  • Kate Hudson's character in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days took turning men off to hilarious new heights.

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