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The 17 Worst Things a Man Can Say to a Woman

This especially goes for the ones you want to date.

Everyone knows that there are men idiots out there like HIMYM's Barney Stinson who give women backhanded compliments with the explicit intention of chipping away at their self-esteem to make it easier to get them into bed. You are not one of them. But perhaps you are the kind of man who wants to give a woman a compliment but is worried that she'll get offended and isn't really sure what is or isn't appropriate to say anymore. Or maybe you want to be better at communicating with women but don't know how. Or maybe you've grown up in a chauvinistic culture that systematically demeans women and you've heard men say all of the things on this list and never thought about what their implications are or how a woman might infer them.

We're not here to point fingers or lay blame. If you're reading this article, that means you want to be better, which is awesome. So here's a list of things that women—especially the ones who would likely identify as feminists—are sick and tired of hearing. And if you want more advice on how to be a better man in today's society, here's why you should be more like David Schwimmer.

"You're not like the other girls"

gal gadot wonder woman

It sounds so flattering on the outside, but it's really just a way of saying, "Hey, most girls are lame and you're not. Good for you!" Most women don't like putting other women down. A nice twist on this instead would be to say, "You're not like anyone I've ever met before."

Hey girl, I'm a feminist

ryan gosling hey girl meme

Margaret Thatcher once said, "Power is like being a lady… If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." It's the same rule with male feminists. Women are aware that guys who run around wearing pink hats and boasting about being a male feminist are, more often than not, just trying to use Gloria Steinhem to get laid. Real male feminists don't need to constantly tell people they're feminists. It's just obvious because they, you know, respect women and stuff (which, for the record, Ryan Gosling clearly does).


vivien leigh in "gone with the wind"

Women are not here to boost your ego or make your day and if you want me to smile then do something funny.

You're definitely the prettiest of all of your friends

Again, this is something that seems very flattering but is actually kind of sexist (unless the woman in question specifically asked this). It's fine to say, "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen"—or something—but pitting a woman against her friends, as though this were a beauty pageant is not a good way to go about this. As a rule of thumb, complimenting a woman by putting other women down is always a bad choice.

I didn't know you were smart

julia stiles in 10 things i hate about you

I first heard this from a man whom I had been dating for 6 months when I got accepted to Oxford, and it floored me. I've heard it several times since. It's like, if you didn't think I was smart to begin with, then what are we doing here? Am I supposed to be flattered that you were only interested in me for my looks? Do you usually date women that you don't think have any substance at all?

Oh, please, of course you love shopping

amy poehler in parks and recreation

I get this a lot when I complain to men about how much I hate shopping, which I do, because it's expensive and exhausting and unless you've got Emily Ratajkowski's body, it's also often demoralizing. A lot of women don't like shopping. You shouldn't assume that all women are biologically addicted to shoes. Conversely, if a woman does love shopping, there's no need to act like it's flippant just because it's not a serious hobby, like watching grown men tackle each other for a ball.

It's so rare to meet a beautiful lawyer/scientist/mathematician, you must get all the attention in client meetings

mila kunis in "ted"

In male-dominated fields, it's common for a man to say something like this, and at first glance it seems innocent and flattering. But what you're really implying is that there's no reason for people to have listened to her other then her looks.

That's pretty good for a woman

hilary swank boxing in Million Dollar Baby

It's kind of understood by now that this is an extremely sexist thing to say in professional environments, but, for some reason, a lot of women that I know who are in male-dominated athletic professions (like skiing or boxing) still get that a lot. Clearly, it's offensive.

My girlfriend is jealous of us hanging out. She's so crazy

the truth about cats and dogs film still

Your girlfriend is not crazy. You're saying that because you're trying to create a little secret bond between us in which you are acting like suddenly it's Us (the normal ones) against Her (the crazy), while also subtly trying to incept the idea of us hooking up. You are not fooling anyone. Women who respect other women do not want to hear about how your girlfriend is being "crazy," because A) she's pretty justified in being jealous and B) we'd be doing the same thing if we were in her shoes.

My exes are all crazy

taylor swift blank space

Translation: I cheat a lot, I lie about it, and when a woman catches me and confronts me about it, I act like she's just being paranoid.

I think you're just projecting

orange is the new black

Please don't tell me how I'm feeling, ever. Please don't assume that if I tell you I'm not interested even though we're friends that means I'm "uptight," or have "daddy issues" (the latter of which men always say with a smirk and a gleam in their eye, like they're super excited about the prospect of dating a woman who has a bad relationship with her father because it means she'll probably be wild in the sack). Please assume that I know how I'm feeling better than you and don't patronize me by acting like you know better. And please just take what I say at face value instead of engaging in some psychobabble to try to get me to do what you want.

Girls shouldn't curse

january jones in mad men

Depending on what culture you grew up in, even a seemingly "woke" guy can give off the impression that it's incredibly crass or unattractive for women to smoke, drink, or curse (but not men, obviously). It's important for both sexes to be polite and courteous, but the onus is not on women to uphold the moral fabric of society. That's not our job and if it ever was then we've resigned!

Don't be such a girl

nicki minaj the interview

Anytime you use the word "girl" as a synonym for "lame" you are not doing yourself any favors.

You're not that kind of girl

winona ryder cher in mermaids

Anything that implies that women who have sex are anything other than normal is generally not going to go down well.

You don't need to go to the gym, you're already hot

Beyonce Knowles attends the TIDAL X: 1015 concert at the Barclays Center on October 15, 2016, in New York

This is another classic remark that seems like a compliment but is actually wrong on so many levels. First of all, most women go to the gym because they want to be healthy, or because they love the endorphin rush that comes with exercise, or both. It has nothing to do with having an appealing rump. Please don't assume everything women do in life stems from an effort to make you find them sexually attractive.

I love it when a girl eats

beautiful, sexy girl with a great burger. eats. Concept. weight loss.

This is one of those phrases that men mistakenly think is progressive because it appears to mean that they're advocating that women don't starve themselves. But the reality is that men never say this when a woman is overweight. It is only uttered to girls who fit the dreaded "cool girl chic"—the ones who seem to be able to slather their mouths in buffalo wings and conveniently remain a size 2 (PS: those girls are actually working very hard to maintain an effortlessly hot persona).

It's also why it's annoying when I order a salad and a man says, "Oh, come on, get a burger. Live a little." I understand that he's trying to be nice but it actually really hurts my feelings because I wish I had the kind of metabolism that enabled me to eat junk food and maintain a healthy weight, but I don't. I work very hard to keep up a good physique and I don't appreciate a man making me feel like it's lame that I wasn't biologically blessed with a superhuman digestive system.

How are you still single?

reese witherspoon

Really, you're buying into the extremely sexist idea that if a woman is single it's because no man wants her. If I'm so beautiful/smart/amazing then make the logical assumption that I'm single because I'm picky, because I can afford to be. Because I have choices. Because it's 2017, baby!

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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