16 Things Every Woman Should Know How to Say to a Man

couple on a bench

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, donjd2

The worst thing a woman can be in a relationship? Silent.

But the art of expressing ourselves in living words, not typed ones, proves increasingly challenging. Here are 16 things I, like many of you, wish I learned to say to a man right as I came of age instead of a decade too late. For the parents out there, I think it’s a good idea to talk through these with your daughters before they start dating.

16 Things Every Woman Should Know How to Say to a Man

  1. Stop. Most of you have been in a sexual situation where you wanted a man to stop. The ability to say ‘stop’ when you feel uncomfortable starts with an acknowledgement that you don’t owe him anything. You get to decide what you do and don’t want on the physical side of a relationship.
  2. Commit to me. If a lousy, half-commitment or friends-with-benefits scenario isn’t what you want, then ask him to commit. You are your own worst enemy by allowing him to string you along without any declaration of intention.
  3. I’m going home now. He hasn’t earned the right to touch you or have sex with you when you don’t want to. Tell him you are going home and don’t listen if he begs you to stay. Know how to spot compromising situations and get out.
  4. You hurt my feelings. Don’t wait until you have completely lost it to express how you feel. If your guy does something that hurts you, tell him. Little confrontations along the way make for a much healthier relationship based on good communication. We all hurt each other, but we must learn to express our emotions before we get hit the boiling point.
  5. This is how I feel. We all have junk and it’s important to be vulnerable with your man and tell him how you feel about the pain in your life. Let him in slowly and trust him with your emotions.
  6. No. He wants you to go home with him. He touches your butt. He makes an inappropriate joke about you in public. As women, we must learn to say ‘no’ and stand up for ourselves. Don’t apologize and don’t be silent.
  7. This is what I want. He isn’t a mind reader. Use your words and express your desires.
  8. I want to be with you. Learn to say this (sober, please) because you’ll want to say it to a man one day. You can’t expect him to read your mind, so step up to the plate and tell him how you feel.
  9. You have what it takes. Chances are the man you love will struggle at one point or another with his identity. Maybe that’s through a career failure or maybe it’s because of some negative messages he’s grown accustomed to hearing and believing. Look him in his hurting eyes and tell him he has what it takes. Tell him you believe in him.
  10. My __________ is really important to me (career, faith, children, etc). Don’t be a chameleon morphing your desires into the man of the moment. Learn to stand up for who you are and what you believe in. Don’t  apologize for being you. A relationship is never worth compromising the core of who you are.
  11. Please stop contacting me. You shouldn’t have to live in fear of the next angry text you’ll receive. Tell him upfront not to contact you anymore because you need to give yourself time to breath and heal.
  12. That behavior is unacceptable to me. Set standards for your romantic life and know how to express them in a kind, yet straightforward way. As Steve Harvey says, “Men respect standards. Get some!”
  13. No, I won’t send you a picture. If he threatens to break up with you because you won’t send him a picture, then he needs a good punch in the face. The right man won’t put you in a compromising situation and won’t make demands of which you aren’t comfortable. Delete him from your phone and move on.
  14. Your love doesn’t define me. You are not defined by how many men are lined up outside your door. Define yourself as one radically loved by God and don’t let his volatile desires steal your confidence.
  15. My life doesn’t revolve around you. A 10pm “where are you?” text doesn’t cut it for you. Meeting up with him at the last minute will only reinforce his behavior and the anxiety pumping through your body awaiting his text is toxic. Tell him to make a plan and that the last minute text just won’t work. Anymore, at least.
  16. I am worth your words. In a world where arguments, breakups, and threats are common over text message and social media, know how to cut off an on-screen conversation and ask to have it face-to-face. A real man won’t hide behind a screen. You are worth his words.

Anything else you would add?

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28 Responses to “16 Things Every Woman Should Know How to Say to a Man”
  1. Jessica Williams says:

    Two years ago my life revolved around my boyfriend at the time. I was willing to compromise my life to fit where he was going in his. I was willing to change my goals and plans to potentially be with him in the long run. Today I look back triumphantly. Reading through this list I realized that at this point there is a guy in my life that I want to say “I want to be with you” to but I’m trusting God and his timing. Telling him I want to be with him does not change the plans I have for my life because the only man that can do that is God. Like you said Ruthie, “a relationship is never worth compromising the core of who you are.” I know my worth in the sight of who’s I truly am and this blog post really reinforces that so I thank you for letting Him use you.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Love this, Jessica! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I’d love to hear if other women can relate to compromising who you are for a guy.

      • Rick says:

        I do not disagree with the post but from a man’s perspective I feel someone left out in todays world. Women seem to have all the control and power in relationships these days. If a woman decides to have an abortion, I as the father, have no say whatsoever. Yet if she decides to keep the child I am responsible for supporting her and the child for the next 18 years. Men are no longer respected or needed in today’s secular society and this is causing a lot of problems. Boys are growing up with no direction to manhood. Why should a man get married anymore? If it does not work out, the courts seem to always side with the woman with everything. Men are very simple and you don’t see men being catty and petty. They don’t gossip and back stab the way I see women do to each other and any man that riles their anger. The old saying, there is no fury like that of a woman scorn seems to hold very true. Don’t get me wrong, I love women but women have come to the realization that they can do without a man that thinks for himself and would much prefer one that shuts up and does what he is told. No wonder so many children are being born out of wedlock these days. Men no longer want to stick around to be told what they can and cannot do. Just my 2 cents. Have a great day!

  2. Adam says:

    Great list, Ruthie. I hope this post goes viral.

  3. Christy says:

    I can’t think of anything else to add, but I love this list. I also wish I knew how to say these things back in high school instead of still trying to figure out how to use my voice. #datingishard

  4. Sarah S. says:

    Oh Ruthie. Thanks for this great list. How powerful it is to not remain silent!

  5. Jon says:

    This doesn’t seem eye-opening, but I’d love to hear from women that can relate to not knowing how to say some of the things on the list. It seems like common sense, but maybe I’m missing something.

  6. MJB says:

    ……..ummmm sexist should be the title.

  7. CK says:

    Dear Ruthie,

    Yes, unfortunately, I can think of a LOT to add.

    Please let me first point out the obvious: By my count, only 5 of your items are positive, while 10 are negative (or presented in a highly negative fashion), and 1 is neutral. I’ll let both you and your readers decide which I thought were which.

    Now I write this on a Saturday evening, having read the article on FoxNews.com on my smartphone as I ate dinner and prepared to go out… to meet some women! It definitely pains me to think how many women (including perhaps some whom I’m about to meet) receive such overwhelmingly negative “advice”.

    My second observation- and this could be your litmus test: If a male were to write a comparable “mirror image” to this list, what would you think of it? If anyone thinks men and women are “us” against “them”, then I’m sorry, they’re wrong! A husband and wife, or even a boyfriend and girlfriend, should be the CLOSEST of friends, not yelling-match opponents. Anything any one of them says to the other should be helpful and supportive. Of course, stand up for what you want; but stand up for what the other person wants too and find a way to achieve both. That’s called a “relationship”, as opposed to bare animosity, which no one needs any more of.

    I’ll keep this note short and just challenge you: Please make another list of POSITIVE things to say that support the other person (without sacrificing much if anything one’s self), whether that person is a prospective or actual date, or a partner in a real relationship, or even someone you’ve just met casually who may not be Mr./Ms. Right but who isn’t Jack/Jane the Ripper either; rather, just another person out on a Saturday night trying to meet some new people to connect with.

    Best wishes to all.

    – CK

    • Al says:

      This is also a great list of everything that a man should be prepared to say to a woman. In modern times, men are afraid to say these things to women. This is great advice for men who want to say these things but felt guilty or intimidated to do so. Even though this article is titled “16 things that every woman should know how to say to a man,” I hope that modern men read this, and learn how to do likewise.

      • CK says:

        I don’t think men should say any of these things in this way to a woman either; as per the “Litmus Test” that I suggested above, I find the majority of them just vehemently anti-social. These are things you say to a sworn enemy, not to a loved one (prospective or actual).

        When gaps occur (which they will), the challenge is to bridge them in a way that makes both people happier.

        Saying “Your love doesn’t define me” or “My life doesn’t revolve around you” (as suggested in the article) simply will not improve your relationship any, whoever says it, and 95% chance it will sink the relationship right there. Maybe there is some valid form of those thoughts to hold in back of one’s mind, but certainly not to say to your partner. (How could this even be in debate?)

        Even saying “Commit to me”, in those words (as suggested in the article), is very weird. It’s a great thought, but not as expressed in that way. If a beautiful woman said those three words to me, I’d almost certainly think “What’s wrong with you? (Why do you need to demand this from me?)” But if she said it a different way, like perhaps “I love you so much, I always want to be with you,” whatever I said back probably would be unintelligible because I’d be kissing her so much.

    • These things make women feel empowered, and cause them to wear these things on sleeve. If these things are written in online dating profiles they are cyber chastity belts and offensive. they say, “Men, I know most of you are jerks and Im warning you in advance, if your after that, dont bother”.. she puts off decent men who see that and feel accused..then she picks the tattooed mechanic to date, he feels edgy and exciting, and she beds him night one.

      Women know less about women than anyone.

  8. HM says:

    “I’m sorry.”
    “It’s my fault.”
    “I was wrong.”

    I’ve never heard a woman say these things to a man.

  9. Ted says:

    As the father of a young daughter, I hope she’ll be able to say many of these things when the time comes. These statements aren’t about being prudish or snobby, they’re about understanding that you deserve respect and don’t need to engage in risky behavior in order for men to like you.

    As I listen to the young men in my office talk about women, the hook-up culture they exploit, and the total evaporation of honest courtship, I am frightened of the world my daughter will grow up in. I’m a realist and understand that oftentimes men and women have one night stands and end up in weird relationships with no future. But the idea that women allow themselves to have more sexual partners than boyfriends is horrible. Or that they allow the men in their lives to treat them so disrespectfully. If more women demanded the respect they deserved, and more men heard these types of messages, both men and women would enjoy better relationships with their partners.

    I also have an addition:
    “No, I don’t need another drink.”

    • Ted, those men are not exploiting those women. The women are actually exploiting the nature of men. To say that a man who has a ONS is culpable, more than the woman, is churchian evangelical feminism 101. man bad, woman good. I too have daughters, one 22 and one 8, and sons, 20 and 17, and have been married 23 years so Im not casting blindly as a young man with no experience. I am a Christian man who has had the epiphany so many need to have, showing me that when we are ALL fallen, its really ALL. There is near zero accountability on women for anything, sexual immorality, frivolous divorce, lying, passive aggressive treatment, disrespect, sexual refusal, nearly nothing. Women are encouraged, men are admonished. We double down on men for any issue.
      Unless and until the church, and writers like this, begin to be bold to and at women, we are where we are. But, that wont happen because churches would wither and die as women took men away from that nasty teaching, and writers with female audience would lose audience

  10. Kevin says:

    Ruthie, I never post to blogs but I couldn’t help myself. I offer this humbly to a sister in Christ but I almost thought this was a bad joke. I have one question a woman (and a woman’s father) should say to a man making the other 16 irrelevant. Do you love the Lord, believe in your heart, and demonstrate by your actions, that Jesus is the center of your life? If the answer is yes in deed and word then these 16 questions don’t matter. If the answer is no then stay away! It’s a sad comment on our society that you would even need to give advice like this. Ask a man to commit who wants a friends-with-benefits relationship? You can’t be serious! Why would you even begin to compromise with a man who has such a skewed view of God’s intended purpose for marriage and sexuality. “He wants you to go home with him. He touches your butt. He makes an inappropriate joke about you in public” – are you kidding me? Stay 10 miles away from any man who would treat another human as an object for his own personal sexual desire or need to inflate his own ego. Find a man who walks with the Lord! It no guarantee struggles wont come, but when they do Jesus will be at the center of the storm. Sorry if I’m getting your advice out of context since I haven’t read your book, but if this is the advice women need, they, we, society, and the church have a major problem that these tips won’t help.

    • Lerato says:

      I agree with Kevin.

    • Amanda says:

      As a 23 year old Christian woman, I would like to say that it is good to be reminded of these things sometimes. I was just last week in a situation where a guy wanted to take things further than I was comfortable with and I had to say no. And it was more difficult than I thought it would be. Men aren’t the only ones who experience strong physical attraction. Even the good little church girls struggle sometimes. Yes, I am trying to put Christ at the center of my life but I am a sinful person. Sometimes I mess up. And sometimes I need to be reminded to stand up for myself and my faith and say no.

  11. mark says:

    Good post. Provoked some interesting responses. I suppose people can quibble about some of the things on the list but the main point, that women need to feel free to tell a man what they want or don’t want, is extremely important. One thing I really like about your posts is that you deal with the real world women live in and the struggles and fears and weaknesses in themselves they have to contend with. That’s very Christ-like. You love them as they are and show them ways to move toward more fulfilling relationships and show them they have a loving Dad. This is an extremely valuable thing you are doing. Bill Hybels observed that we Christians tend to be focused on pushing people across the goal line without recognizing they’re back trapped at their own one-yard line. We don’t do anything to help them move yard-by-yard up the field. Thanks for meeting women where they are and giving them some plays to run( and the courage to run them) so they can move forward. You are doing a tremendous work.

  12. Todd says:

    As a man, I like #7,8,9. And I can certainly see a context for the others. However, it strikes me as a list which is a pinch lopsided in portraying man and women. I never touched a woman or even kissed a woman before I met my wife at the age of 32. No woman had to tell me to “stop”. In high school I saw girls have 5 boyfriends per school year, maybe the girls could not “commit’ to a man either. #3 sounds like #1. #4 is certainly helpful as I am guilty of stuffing my own frustrations into later explosions, but I am sure a man needs to say “you hurt my feelings too” at times. #6 sounds like number 3 and 1.

    Yes, I have had women stalkers in high school, college, and beyond. They would not stop calling me. I am sure there are more cases and worse cases with males stalking, but I am just trying to bring a counterpoint here of some balance. If there really “is” a relationship, then sharing a modest picture should be taken as compliment. At this rate we can be in a relationship and a man not share his phone number. If there is no relationship, then of course, a picture given, becomes misleading, which women have be known to lead men on, only to toy with them.

    If someone told me 14 or 15 it would be too detached. What if a man said, “Your beauty does not define me, or Your looks do not define me.” Sure, a woman should not define herself by another person, that isn’t healthy or safe; but it does not need to be said, it can just be demonstrated. I just do not see this comment being appropriate on the first date, the second date, or any date, I cannot see any good timing for it.

    16 seems to be a setting of “online relationship’ which in my opinion is not yet a real relationship, in such cases then yes….no one should hide behind a screen. However, the words chosen seem a pinch vain. I don’t think I have had any friends in my life just start saying “I am worth x” Male, female, old, young, relatives, classmates, pals; To me this strikes me as equal justification to mention 99 things that “I am worth”. I am worth a phone call. I am worth a card. I am worth a date. I am worth a compliment. So, no, I woman should not be treated with disrespect, but I don’t think respect anyone who uses such language as, “hey, here is what I am worth, I am worth your words.” I hope this pointer was not trying to be literal, but just the principle behind it, which to me is the safest assumption.

    It was not my aim to be critical or attack, just feedback on what I inferences, however misguided they are.

  13. One comment hit the fact that the list is negative. It comes across like a scolding in advance, like a teacher at the beginning of the year laying out how strict he/she is GOING TO be.

    The other issue is it plays to the worst of men and suggests that but for that, these precious virtue filled snowflakes of women would not be rutting at nearly the rate they are. This ignores the innate hypergamy of women, as does the majority of Christian advice on marriage and sex. The triggers for female sexual desire, as presented by the church, are 180 degrees from what the actual triggers are. Address the actual triggers and you could achieve the same thing your list attempted to achieve, but put the onus where it belongs……on something rarely even mentioned….female accountability.

    Finally, this list sets up big problems for Christian couples sex lives, which are in a state of ruin already due to the slow cooker vs. microwave bunk they teach. The sum total of Christian teaching on married sex results in the ability for Christian wives to at best make men pay to play, and at worst simply refuse sex and feel justified, even sanctified in that.

  14. Missy says:

    Learn to not say you’re sorry for every little thing. Saying sorry too often takes away the meaning and if you learn to apologize for every little thing, your man may expect it all the time, including during an argument just to end it and move on. This will inevitably put him in control in the long run.

  15. Tally says:

    Hi Ruthie

    I do have a problem with my husband and has forgiven him many times
    but never change. He just listen for a few months then do it the same
    thing…drinks to the full and never listens to me, chase me to go and
    never come to him and have a girl in the time of drinking. Can leave
    me for 2-3 days then comes to ask for forgiving him and mention that
    he did not know what he has done because he was so drunk.
    SO i told if that is the case, please drinking cos I know you never
    control your drinking you cannot take one or three but you want to
    consume more. he promised he will never to do it. SO i forgive him and
    after a month or two he do it again and it is the same thing no
    Now I am deciding to leave him but i know i do really love him can you
    advice what will i do so he will respect me and never drinks again.
    Looking forward to hear from you


  16. Amanda says:

    Perhaps one issue that we seem to be forgetting is self esteem and self worth. I am far more likely to put myself in possibly compromising situations on days when I feel less than pretty. It can be tempting to give into someone who makes you feel attractive and desirable, especially on days when you feel like an ugly lump. I don’t know that much can be done about addressing this. I generally have a pretty good perception of myself and can readily admit to being an attractive young woman, but I do occasionally have days when I hate myself or my body.

    I will agree that lists like this (and society in general) are unfair and tend to put the blame predominantly on men. That does need to change. But seeing blogs like this is helpful to me, particularly right now when I am questioning a lot of my beliefs and opinions.

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