Gentlemen Speak: Things Women Do That Captivate and Confuse Men

Let's help each other to be the best versions of ourselves.
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Let's help each other to be the best versions of ourselves.
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Art Credit: Shannon Lee Miller

I do things that drive people nuts.

Part of my daily routine is trying on a ridiculous amount of clothes before I land on my outfit for the day. It takes time—a long time. And I end up with a heap of threads I don’t have time to fold or hang again. I get heavy sighs or rolled eyes from friends as I ask for an opinion on another pocket square or another tie clip.

So yes, I know that I do things that drive people mad. We all do, and that's OK.

I say this up front because, traditionally, trying to gain insight into what the opposite sex thinks can be a tricky business. When women want to know what they do that men like, or not like, it can all too quickly turn into trying to pinpoint how women fall short and how they need to get their act together in order to scoop up a man. Advice tends to focus on what a woman "needs" to do to look more desirable to a man. That brand of thinking irks me. It’s reductive and condescending.

But that is not what I'm writing about here. Instead, I want to challenge women to be the best version of themselves. This means being aware of how your behavior impacts others—positively and negatively. (And believe me, I'm right there with you!) So in the spirit of understanding, here are some thoughts on things that are captivating to men about women—and some that are downright confusing.

Let’s start with the positive. Here are five things women say that are totally authentic and attractive—and that we men love to hear.

01. “Yes, and…”

There’s nothing more appealing than a woman who can build. The foundational tenet of improv is a little something called, “Yes, and...” Basically, it means you accept the world your partner gives you and add to it. If they say, “Hey babe, let’s make a time machine and live in the future.” You wouldn't respond with, “Stop being ridiculous; time machines don’t exist. Grow up.” You’d respond with, “Great Scott, you read my mind! We need to extract some winning lottery numbers while we’re at it.”

In order to create something funny in the world of improv, you accept, build, and stay open to whatever your partner serves up. It makes for great improv and just happens to be a solid recipe for a fun and adventurous relationship, too.

02. “Maybe it ain’t Maybelline.”

Some women put on makeup to be attractive to men, and many other women do it for themselves. Makeup can accentuate features that make a woman feel beautiful. But if we’re talking about what drives me crazy in a good way, it’s a woman who recognizes her natural beauty and feels confident enough to flaunt it instead of covering it up.

03. “Here’s what I think.”

There is nothing that captivates me more than a woman who isn’t afraid to tell me what she really thinks and is excited to share her passions and interests with me. She can tell me about anything at all: film, politics, literature, or reality TV. I just want her to share her view on something. The earth stands still when I’m in the presence of an opinionated woman. Consider Claire Underwood in the latest season of House of Cards. ’Nuff said.

04. “Where you are weak, I am strong.”

Are you infatuated with to-do lists? Do you derive pleasure from spreadsheets, organization, or The Container Store? Not me. So please, don’t try to convert me. No one wants to feel like a project. Instead, help me to see where your strengths complement my own. If you flip the script and help me where I lack, I will be driven bananas by how awesome you are. A man who isn’t into a woman who loves him where he’s weak is flat out insane. Ain't nobody got time for that.

05. “I want to resolve this.”

Everything isn’t OK all of the time. People fight. We say and do things that put our patience to the test, whether it's where we should spend Christmas or what movie we should watch on Netflix tonight. Each moment of disagreement isn't necessarily a sign that we aren't meant to be. They're opportunities for discovery and a deeper relationship. My heart skips a beat for a lady who isn’t afraid to tussle. Someone who will throw on the boxing gloves, hop into the ring, and fight for mutual understanding and resolution. Fight for me—for us.

Now for five things that really confuse me. How about we agree to stop using these phrases with one another?

01. “Don't talk to me.”

Have you ever reached out to someone you’re digging only to get the cold shoulder? Logical conclusion: Not interested. Right? Not so fast. I’ve learned that some women show interest by not showing interest. They choose the tactic of being mean or concealing their attraction. Ladies, don’t shroud your interest. I’m not sure how or when this became a popular choice for getting to know someone, but it’s annoying for us guys. It never has and never will be an effective form of grabbing anyone’s attention or connecting—that is, unless you're still in middle school.

02. “I’m coming after you.”

Here’s where I’m a little old-fashioned—I love pursuing a woman. Not the other way around. There are some dudes that love being chased. But as for me and most men I know, if we're interested, we'll let you know. It’s great for a woman to let me know she is interested—encouraging eye contact and flirtation is helpful here—but once you have given me the go ahead, I prefer to do the legwork. If you come after me, even if I have not made a move, I’ll do what most people do in that situation: run.

03. “He gave me his number!”

Once upon a time, I dated a woman who felt the need to mention every time another guy said she was beautiful. No matter how many times I had told her myself, it wasn’t enough. She had to highlight every instance she was noticed by another man. She would also allow guys to give her their numbers and then show me afterwards! All that did was scream insecurity to me. A woman who’s secure and confident is absolutely captivating. If we tell you you’re beautiful it’s because we believe it, and we want you to believe it, too.

04. “My ex…”

“...was so good at fixing things around the house. I miss having a handyman around.” Yikes, that's what every man doesn’t want to hear. Men aren't fond of being compared to anyone (unless it’s Superman). Most of us want to be celebrated and respected for who we are and what we bring to the relationship, just as you do. If your ex was so great, then why aren’t you with him? If you want to merge his great qualities with ours, we’ll just end up feeling under-appreciated and disrespected. Let's focus on the present, rather than the past with your ex.

05. “You should just know.”

Please tell us what you want us to know. It sets us up for success. We don't know what you’re thinking unless you tell us what you’re thinking. We’re really not that smart. If you want us to cook dinner because you’ve had a long day, just tell us. Don’t start making dinner and then get mad at us because we didn’t just know that you were tired. If we don’t listen after you tell us, then you have full permission to put that on the list of things we do that annoy you.

At the end of the day, let's put an end to the madness that drives us apart and give more credence to the things that draw us closer together. May the people in your life be driven absolutely bonkers by you. Because, ladies, you’re worth going crazy over.