For all those who want a second opinion on friendships between men and women, take a look at this article that just appeared in the New York Times. Was Harry right, and men and women can’t be friends, or is that notion simply a product of pop culture?
Everyone – men, women, pets and probably even robots– love hearing a compliment once in a while; even your cat/dog/gerbil responds well to “What a good kitty/puppy/gerbilly!” There is a distinct art to pulling off compliments – especially for women that you are involved with/getting involved with – in a way that is natural. No one wants a forced compliment.
The compliment is a bit of a paradox. People notice when they’re complimented and when they are not. Some women expect to be told that they look pretty/cute whenever they see their man in question and will assume that they look ugly if the man does not compliment them (even though it’s entirely possible that he simply forgot to say something and thought that his girl was looking pretty). Never complimenting is a bad thing. We here at the Yale Men’s Guide have met such men and have found that they give off the perception that they’re too self-absorbed to compliment. You don’t want to be that. However – and this is where the paradox comes in – if you compliment too much, she’s not going to believe you when you do compliment her and mean it (repeated iterations of “Oh you’re just saying that!” indicate this line of thought).
So here are the basic rules of compliments:
1. If you’re going to compliment, it should be one of the first things that you say to her/him/it. Slip in a line just after the “hey, how are you’s” are over with.
2. Compliments, to be done well, should seem nonchalant and truthful at the same time. Always saying things like “you’re beautiful” is a bit overkill. “You look nice” or “you look cute” or “I really like the way you look in that dress” is perfect. Unless she actually is the most beautiful girl in the world, don’t overuse it as a compliment (or at least, not at the outset of seeing her). There are times when it is appropriate to be effusive in your complimenting (think whenever she’s naked). If you think she looks pretty, say so. Never assume that she knows that you think she’s pretty.
3. Appearance doesn’t and shouldn’t be the only thing you compliment! He/she/it might also like to know that you appreciate his/her/its intelligence, DVD collection, cooking abilities or superhero powers. “You do that really well” or “you’re so smart!” work well in these situations.
4. Don’t be creepy about it. Yes, some types of compliments can be creepy, especially if they’re super specific or bizarre. Complimenting her manner of speech, for instance, is a kind of off the beaten track when it comes to compliments. Telling her that you like the way that she tucks her hair behind her ear if you don’t know her that well can, in fact, be creepy.
5. Compliments seem most genuine when they’re specific (see: “That dress looks really good on you”). Specifics = you noticed something = you were bothering to notice = you realize the effort behind the thing that got your notice. Congratulations.
6. Compliments and sex. It’s a bit of a tricky issue, and obviously every girl is different, but generally when she’s naked, she’s going to be more sensitive to what you say. “Have you gained weight? Your boobs are bigger!” will not go over well. In fact, just avoid complimenting specific body parts entirely (with the exception of her butt) because that way lies a really big whole into which you can only dig yourself deeper. Telling her she’s beautiful, however, is totally appropriate and general enough not to lead you into a maze of increasingly difficult to answer questions. (So you like my legs? Do you think they’re nicer than my stomach? So you think I’m fat?!)
You hooked up and it was great. So you’re probably thinking, what do I do now? Should I call her? Does she want me to call her? Do I want to call her? At which point, depending on your personality, you’ll probably descend into an existential crisis about the true meaning of the word ‘call’, or else design a program to compute all the possible variables and decide that the best option statistically is to never, ever, leave the lab again. But fear not! Tell your mind to chill the fuck out and put away those safety goggles! It’s not really all that complicated, you just need to consider a few things…
- How well do you know her? If she’s been your friend since the first week of freshman year, never contacting her ever again is really not a good idea. Unless you want all the girls in her college to smile knowingly/openly point and laugh whenever they see you.
- How was it? If it could be mutually considered great, chances are you might want to do it again and in order to make that happen, you’re going to have to stay in touch. Unless it was the kind of great that should remain an isolated incident never spoken of again, even under torture and/or the influence of Dubra. In that case, you probably want to forget her name and, potentially, give yourself some recovery time.
- How was she? We don’t mean was she good. We mean, how did she seem to feel about the situation? If you are in any doubt, (i.e. if she did not spell out explicitly what she wants/expects) then you two should probably catch up at least once to clear that sort of thing up, or else, here comes the awkward train!! Jump on enthusiastically and then look forward to 3/2/1 more year(s) of that horrible instant when you recognize each other, remember why, and stare at each other with an expression appropriate to just having had a broom handle inserted into your rectum (which, for all we know, might be what you remember each other for.)
- How are you? Saving, as always, the most important for last, how do you feel about it? This is one of those times when listening to your gut is useful. Is it something you want to happen again? Was it just a physical thing or did you have an awesome conversation (possibly a fascinating debate about whether President Levin or Dean Gentry would be the better kisser)?
We know we seem to be bashing you over the head with it, but communication really is the most useful thing ever. That means, if she calls you, (and hey, it happens), don’t ignore her calls. At least find out what she thinks, it might help you figure out what you think (or let you know that you should take advantage of Yale’s free STI testing).
Perhaps you’ve been hooking up with the same girl for a while, say a couple of weeks, even a month. At about this point in time, you should probably make a decision about whether you wan this non-relationship to turn into a relationship. A month isn’t a time limit set in stone, but going longer than that sets up all sorts of expectations. At the very least, you should have a conversation at the one-month mark where you ask each other, what are we doing? Where do we want this to go? Anyway, back to the original line of thought. You two have been hooking up for a while, and maybe even had that conversation already about what both of you want. But now it looks like you’re on different pages and you want to break it off. You’re not officially in a relationship or anything, but you still want to end it. How exactly do you beak up with someone with whom you’re not in a relationship?
The first think about break ups (in real official relationships and otherwise) is that they are invariably awkward and stressful. Once you’ve resigned your fact that there really is no way to break up will be happy and friendly, you should do it as soon as you are sure. If you stress about it for a couple of days and don’t talk to her for a while when you usually are in contact, she’s going to start stressing and it will make the eventual conversation even more awkward. The second thing about break ups is that they should happen in person. Don’t be a coward and send her a text, hoping that you won’t see her again, because you will. On your walk down Hillhouse, on line at Atticus, in lecture, and on your next walk of shame (or stride of pride), you’ll run into her, and it will be an uncomfortable few moments for the both of you. So, man up and give her a call to say, “can I talk to you?” and skedaddle over to wherever she is (don’t be a complete idiot and make her come find you).
Next, you need to tell her what you want. In any sort of relationship, even a hook up relationship where you are not official, communication is of the upmost importance. Tell her exactly what you think (well, you might want to soften it a bit) and tell her that you think it’s time for you to stop hooking up. If you really do want to remain friends, tell her so. However, be wary of saying, “I still want us to be friends” if you don’t actually mean it. If you say that and then ignore her for the rest of your time at Yale, you just proved that you weren’t being honest. You might want to give an explanation – something more than “This just isn’t working.” Leaving her without an explanation can create all sorts of uncertainty and stress, so it’s best to be up front (also, if you do end up being friends, you don’t have to awkwardly revisit your break up ever). Use your judgment (which we hope tells you that if she’s in tears, it didn’t quite go the way you hoped) and moderate your behavior based on that. If she isn’t saying much, she probably wants to be alone and you should depart. Being nice, clear, straightforward – that’s the key. You don’t want to be branded as the guy who was an asshole when ‘breaking up,’ or whatever it is that we call it these days.
Communication, guys, it really works
Men and women of Yale, the BYWFYM Ladies would like to wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re spending it snuggling with your significant other, eating your feelings in junk, or blissfully studying for your midterm tomorrow, we hope you at least enjoyed the festive decorations in the dining hall.
Here’s a little poem that shares our thoughts:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
We’re celebrating the day,
And so should you.
From all of us to all of you,
The BYWFYM Ladies
Sometimes it feels like guys and gals are speaking completely different languages. The guys say tomato, the gals say potato, and generally nothing is communicated because one sex is talking about fruits and the other about vegetables. How will we ever overcome these gastronomic obstacles? By translation, dur. And while not as exhaustive as Google Translate (which is actually surprising accurate BTW), here is a list of common phrases used by female kind that might not mean what you think they mean.
- He’s interesting – this is the polite way of saying he sucks/ is weird/ not interesting at all. Yes, these are all completely different meanings, but if you listen very closely (UGHHH, doesn’t it always seem like we tell you to listen?) you can tell which one it means based on where the speech-ellipses are. Generally, pause means odd, no pause means sucky.
- So what did you think of class – Read: Talk to me! I very much want to have a conversation with you but can think of nothing better to speak about than that INCREDIBLY ENTERTAINING Stat lecture. For the love of G-d give me something!
- He’s adorable – He has won the election for mayor of the Friendzone in a landslide. He is not a sexual being in the slightest, and is grouped in the girl’s head with “adorable” baby bunny rabbits and ponies. Note the difference between adorable and cute – cute is very salvageable, and is actually in most cases a very good thing. Adorable – not so much.
- What are you doing this weekend – it had better be me.
- Hmm, next week looks pretty packed – I can’t find an excuse to not hang out with you. I’m always going to be busy. Always.
- I miss you – we need to hang out more, call/text/be in my life more
- Have you been to Chocopologie yet? – TAKE ME THERE
- Let’s grab a meal sometime – Saved for last because of its many disparate connotations.
- I genuinely want to get to know you better and possibly start a relationship with you.
- I want to keep our relationship casual, so I am keeping things very open-ended by using the words like grab (very blasé) and meal (very vague).
- I want this conversation to end so I am suggesting a meal that I know will never happen
Complicated, isn’t it? Almost unfathomable? Well, that’s women for you. And remember, now that you have this incredibly useful and utterly correct knowledge, you will know that when a girl asks you to pass the potato chips, she’s really asking for tomato chips. Proceed as one would in this situation.
Congratulations, you’ve found someone you can call your Valentine. Since we’re no longer in fourth grade, she’s probably going to expect a bit more than just one of those cute paper cards (although we really like those cards with cute animals or movie stars). Anyway, the date is approaching fast (aka Tuesday) so here are a couple last minute ideas about what you can do to make the day a little bit more special (although both of you should show that you appreciate each other on a day-to-day basis and you shouldn’t have to wait until a holiday to do that). Whatever you do will probably be clichéd – the whole day is formulaic, so there’s no point trying to fight it. This is the most clichéd holiday. Ever.
- Make a reservation at a nice restaurant. You might want to get a move on that, um, and soon. Because in case you haven’t noticed, a lot of couples go out to diner on Valentine’s. Everyone loves dinner, and this is a perfect excuse to skip a meal at a dining hall.
- Gifts – small gifts are nice. Like flowers and chocolate (duh). But also what about her favorite type of tea that she just ran out of? Or a new mug because her roommate broke hers? Or a book that she really wants? A nice piece of jewelry? Small, thoughtful gifts are sometimes better. Cards can be nice, but post-Valentine’s Day, she’s left with the awkward predicament of what to do with the card. Hang it on the wall? Put it in a drawer? Throw it out? If you go the card route, better make sure it’s a good one.
- Become a poet and write her a sonnet. Actually, never mind, that’s a bad idea. Unless you’re a really good poet. Because nothing is more awkward for her than pretending that she actually likes your verse when it’s really crap.
- Surprise her with a singing Valentine. Except she might be embarrassed if you give her said singing Valentine in the middle of a 400 person lecture.
- Have sex.
- Put a movie on and don’t watch it. Cuddle.
- Build a blanket fort and snuggle all night. Everyone loves a blanket fort.
- Just show her that you care about her.
And then of course, you could both have midterms on Wednesday and may feel like celebrating on a different date. That’s ok – taking the time out to celebrate your relationship is always a good thing. You don’t have to set off fireworks in the middle of Old Campus to show her that you care (in fact, that’s probably a bad idea). On the 14th, heartfelt wins over creativity (especially if that creativity potentially endangers the lives of fellow students, re fireworks).