As collegiettes, we have a certain way with words and actions. We can be romantic, passionate, eloquent and sometimes extremely confusing. Others have tried (and failed) to decipher the female language and behavior for years. We often say one thing and mean another, but, perhaps most confusing of all, we expect everyone to understand what we’re thinking. Of course, guys can be confusing too, but here are the most clichéd bad habits we have in our relationships that we really just need to stop doing!
1. Not speaking your mind
It is fairly safe to say that half the time we say, “I’m fine” or “I don’t care,” it’s the furthest thing from the truth. When you really think about it, “fine” has lost most of its original meaning. An extra charge at the ATM is fine. Pepsi as a substitute for Coke is fine. But saying you’re “fine” when you’re really full of conflicting emotions is not fine. Meanwhile, “I don’t care” is usually synonymous with, “I do care very much.” You sit on the couch as your boyfriend asks if he should shave his favorite sports team’s logo into his hair for the big game, and with steady eyes and a shrug, you say, “I don’t care.” But on the inside, every ounce of your body is screaming in terror, hoping he won’t actually go through with it.
“Females, as typically the nurturer, have the ability to anticipate loved one’s needs and then assume their male counterparts can do the same,” says Kim Olver, life coach and author of Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life. “This is rarely the case. Males need females to tell them exactly what they want. They are not very good at just figuring it out, no matter how much they like you.”
Taylor, a collegiette at the University of California, San Diego, says she tends to get quiet when she’s upset. “My boyfriend, who is very good at communicating and talking things out in person, has a tough time when I shy away from explaining what is wrong in the moment,” she says. “I tend to keep it to myself and then gush out all of my feelings via text, which is wrong.”
Your significant other is there for you, most especially to be a confidant when you’re holding in a lot of emotions. You don’t have to put on a brave face or hide that you’re in fact human and capable of being sad or confused at times. Be honest about how you feel, and it can only get better!
“I know it can be scary to put yourself out there and actually say what you want, but guys in relationships really do want their girlfriend to be happy,” Olver says. “If they can help make that happen by doing something that isn’t too inconvenient for them, they often will.”
2. Getting jealous about stupid things
We can’t hold ourselves at fault for the occasional jealous tendencies, but getting upset every time our significant other happens to be in the same room as an attractive person is a little much and can hurt your relationship.
According to Olver, “Jealousy can stem from insecurity. It can come from past experiences of having trust broken. It can stem from an erroneous belief that things will never change; that when someone says they love you, it means they will always love you. And finally, jealousy can occur because we view our partner as our possession. When this happens, we have expectations about how our [SO] will act with other girls.”
Instead of freaking out over the dumbest little things, take a step back and think about if there is an actual threat to your relationship. “This is bad for relationships, but even more important, it is bad for you,” Olver says. “Jealousy never stopped a cheater from cheating, but it can cause someone who’s not inclined to cheat to do so. The most important reason to work through your jealousy is that it transforms you into a person you don’t even recognize. Realize how valuable you actually are, and you will never need to be jealous again.”
Stop freaking out about every interaction your SO has with another woman or every occasion when your SO spends his or her time with someone other than you. It’s going to be just fine! Deep breaths, tea and a good talk will cure all.
3. Acting passive-aggressive
Everyone knows “I’m not mad” is code for, “Watch out, I’m trying to keep my cool, but I am about to unleash a tornado of unstoppable rage and I will destroy everything in my wake.” Sometimes we pretend to not be angry so that we can come off as more easygoing or because we don’t feel like confronting the situation. Other times we say it hoping that our significant other will realize that on the contrary, we’re actually mad, and he or she will ask what’s wrong or try to fix it.
“Not telling him usually stems from a fear of losing him. We prefer stuffing our feelings rather than risk telling him what is wrong,” Olver says. “It is important to stop doing this, because if you are upset about something and won’t admit it, then how can you both work on the relationship? If your boyfriend isn’t interested in how you feel, then he may not be the right guy for you.”
If you’re angry, say it. It’s much easier to address the issue than wait around for your significant other to solve all the riddles you’re throwing his or her way. You’re allowed to get mad, and you’re allowed to admit you’re mad; lying about how you really feel is only going to hurt you and your relationship in the end. Plus, we all know how annoying it is when others are passive-aggressive to us, so let’s start following the golden rule and treat others how we want to be treated! The world will be a much happier (and less sassy) place.
4. Playing guessing games
What we say: “Go ahead; it’s totally up to you.” Translation: “I want to give you the impression that I’m easygoing and that I want you to do what you want to do, but in reality, I want you to read my mind and do exactly what I want.”
Boys can’t read minds, unfortunately. Your relationship shouldn’t be a guessing game. If there’s something you want to do or somewhere you’d like to go, then say so! It’s not fair when your significant other wants to go out and you tell him or her to go ahead while you stay behind, secretly thinking, “Look into my blazing eyes and reconsider your plan of action right now.” It’s like you’re giving your SO fake permission, and it needs to stop!
“This is often done as a ‘test’ to see if our significant other is in tune enough to recognize what not to do, and is a very risky behavior,” Olver says. “Men, on the other hand, say what they mean. They don’t have lines to read between. They think woman are similar and actually mean what they say, so when you tell him it’s okay, he believes you.”
If you have an idea in mind, then you should always have the confidence and desire to say so. Otherwise, you might end up at some rundown taco joint for your anniversary, and, let’s be honest, that is most definitely not “fine.” If you told your SO that was okay, you can’t get upset about it later, so save yourself some time and frustration and speak your mind from the get-go.
5. Having unrealistic expectations
Having too many or too high of expectations in a relationship isn’t healthy. Of course, everyone wants to be treated like royalty, but eventually you have to come to terms with the fact that your dreams of growing up to be a princess may never come true. “This is behavior that tends to create our own misery,” Olver says. “People need to learn to trust each other to be the persons they’ve shown us they are.”
Meredith, a collegiette from Ohio University, says she’s had this problem in her relationship. “In my relationship, the times I’ve been most disappointed are when I expect something from my boyfriend,” she says. “It could be something as simple as a compliment on my new dress or flowers on Valentine’s Day. But I’ve learned it’s best to not have expectations, so when he does something sweet, it’s a surprise, which makes it so much better!”
You’re setting your significant other and yourself up for frustration if you expect too much out of him or her. “We often have a picture of the ‘perfect’ guy in our heads, and we want our current boyfriend to live up to this standard,” Olver says. “We trust him to be this perfect person, and when he falls short, we blame him.”
It’s better for you to be realistic about what you expect out of your significant other and be honest to him or her about it. Hoping for the occasional spontaneous gesture is one thing, but expecting a hot air balloon ride over a beautiful mountain range might be a bit of a stretch. It’s more important to hold yourself equally accountable to your partner and appreciate the little things.
Of course, no one is perfect, and it’s too easy to slip into these bad habits. However, for the sake of communicating honestly and preserving the sanity of our significant others, it’s time we start saying and doing what we really mean and cut out these bad behaviors. You deserve to speak your mind, you both deserve to be happy and you certainly don’t want to send your SO off running.