As a woman, you probably know exactly what you want to hear from your partner. Certain compliments and phrases just never get old—no matter how many times he says them. But you’ve also likely noticed that the sweet nothings that make you feel amazing don’t generally have the same effect when directed at your S.O.
Sure, guys like hearing that you love them and care deeply about them, but if you really want your words to hit home, you have to do some work to get inside his head. Instead of guessing at what might make your guy happy, take this expert-approved and science-backed advice on what he’ll never tire of hearing from you. And for the flip-side of the equation, check out the 20 Things You Always Want Him to Say.
“I Need Your Help”
“The reality is that men like to feel needed,” says Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, a certified relationship coach. “I’ve seen relationships struggle when the other partner acts as though they have no real need for their man. It makes men feel good when they know they can support their partner and be of service.” So if you want to ask his opinion on your next work presentation, can’t fix your car on your own, or need help planning your next vacation together, go ahead and ask. And for more great advice, here are 30 Ways to Be a (Much) Better Wife (and a better husband, too!)
“You’re The Best At…”
Followed by something he does an amazing job at, especially if it’s in the moment. “Men like to be praised on their skills, so letting him know you think he is really good at something feels good to him,” says Carolyn Cole, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Chicago who specializes in relationships Examples? “You’re such an awesome cook,” or “You give the best back massages.” The more specific, the better. Also: sometimes a simple text will do the job. For more on that, try these 12 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship With Your Phone.
“If your man makes you happy, tell him!” says Laura Bilotta, a dating coach and matchmaker in Toronto. Ultimately, he wants to know that you’re happy with how the relationship is going, and more specifically, that he’s at least partially responsible for your overall happiness. “Guys want to know when they’re doing a good job.”
You might not think guys need this kind of reassurance, but the truth is, they do. “Men come with insecurities just like women, but in particular, men are hungry for a woman to tell them that they are loved unconditionally,” says Erin Wiley, a couples counselor and family therapist. “It’s hard for guys to be vulnerable and admit this need, but if you can make your man feel loved for what he is, rather than reminding him constantly of the ways he is failing to meet your needs, he will feel happier and less stressed around you.”
“I Respect You”
Research indicates that three out of four men would choose feeling respected over feeling loved, which means that letting him know you respect anything from his work ethic to his commitment to family will be incredibly meaningful.
“You Can Say No”
You know how sometimes you try to do keep doing everything, even if you’re overwhelmed? Turns out, men do this, too. “Men struggle with boundaries,” says Ben Weaver, relationship expert and author. “We also struggle with asking for help, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want it.” Letting him know that it’s okay to say no to things—whether it’s taking on something new at work or a night out with the guys—and being there for him when he does will go a long way.
“I’m Mad Because…”
If you’re angry with your partner, chances are he wants you to be straight with him about why. “Don’t be passive aggressive and try to get him to figure it out. He won’t,” says Bilotta. “Be direct when you’re angry and it will make both of your lives easier.” Trust us, he’ll appreciate it.
“I Love Your Style”
“As a woman, you know how important it is to get confirmation about how well you dress, and the same goes for men,” explains Simona Fusco, matchmaker and founder of Perfect 12 Introductions. It’ll confirm to him that he’s got great taste, plus give him a little boost of confidence next time he gets dress for a special occasion.
“Let’s Do It”
Well, yeah, obviously. But one Australian survey found that most men in relationships are unhappy with their sex lives for one big reason: They’re not having enough of it. So it’s pretty safe to say that this is one phrase you definitely can’t go wrong with. If you really want to rock his world, check out our guide to the secrets of amazing shower sex.
“Have Fun With Your Buddies!”
“Men need their space to be a better partner, which is something not all women realize,” Cole says. “Supporting a man having his ‘me time’ is important.” When you encourage him to hang out with his friends or participate in a hobby you’re not involved in, it can be a welcome relief from the pressure he may feel to attend to you 24/7.
If it seems like your man wants to talk about something that’s on his mind, be extra clear about the fact that you’re ready to listen to what he has to say. “Men want to feel like you understand their world and where they are coming from,” says Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist and marriage retreat specialist in Boulder, Colorado. “Practice putting yourself in his shoes and resonating with the challenges and stress he talks about.”
“You Have What It Takes”
For men, self-worth is often tied to success. “Men need to know they have the tools and resources to get the job done,” Weaver notes. “If they can receive this encouragement from their partner, self-confidence can skyrocket.”
“You’re A Great Dad”
“This is one of my favorites,” says Fusco. If you have kids, this is one of the most flattering things you can say to your guy, since as you probably know, being a parent isn’t exactly easy. “It’ll reinforce how proud he is to be a dad and remind him of the importance of family values.”
“I Trust You”
If you’re in a relationship with someone, you (hopefully) have the trust thing all worked out in terms of faithfulness, but what he really wants is for you to say this phrase when it comes to decision-making. That’s not to say that you have to blindly follow his lead, but saying you have faith in his judgment is an excellent way to reinforce the respect he craves.
“You’re So Good to Me”
Regardless of your relative roles in the relationship, who takes care of the house, who makes more money, who organizes your life together, it’s likely that your partner does a lot for you each day or week. Instead of just telling him you appreciate him overall, focus on which actions you especially appreciate. “This is very important because it acknowledges the fact that his efforts don’t go unnoticed and that you recognize everything that he does for you,” Fusco says.
“I Love When You…”
Feedback is key, people. “Whether it’s the romantic text he sends, snuggling on the couch, or a great move in bed, letting him know when he is hitting the mark encourages his efforts,” Wiley says. “Men are constantly looking for reassurance from their significant other that they are doing a good job, and letting him know specifically what you like let’s him know he’s succeeding.”
“I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong”
This one isn’t so much because guys want you to apologize. It’s more about the fact that they want you to admit it when you mess up, which—let’s face it—is inevitable. “Just being told once that they aren’t wrong can make a man’s year!” jokes Mitzi Bockmann, a life coach who specializes in relationships. But seriously, everyone appreciates hearing this when appropriate.
“I’m Proud of You”
“This is a simple statement that goes so far,” Bilotta says. “When you’re in a relationship, you’re part of a team, and teammates support each other.” That means letting him know when he did something right, no matter how big or small. “Whether he got a promotion, stood up to a family member, or is just kicking ass, you should tell him how proud you are.” Even if he doesn’t readily admit it, he cares what you think, and knowing you’re proud will feel awesome.
“I Made Plans for Tonight”
Yes, guys traditionally plan the dates, but flipping the script will be a welcome change. It doesn’t matter whether you plan a low key night at home, a romantic night out, or dinner with a group of your friends, the fact that you’re taking charge and doing something nice for him is what counts.
Depending on your guy’s personality, he might actually welcome you saying nothing at all once in awhile. Don’t worry—it’s nothing personal. “Some men are okay with sitting in silence,” says Cunningham-Sumter. “They don’t need a lot of background noise or to hear long drawn out conversations from their partner.” So grab a book, curl up on the couch, and just enjoy each other’s quiet company.