One of the benchmarks of maturity is realizing that you don’t know everything. Not that you haven’t studied enough or paid close enough attention, but that there are limits to how much any one person is capable of knowing. Take men and women, for instance. A man might like to think that he understands women—and to some extent, maybe he does. But his knowledge is finite. There is only so much that a human male is capable of comprehending about the complex inner logic of a woman. He can pretend to know exactly why women behave the way they do, but he’s just kidding himself. A man who says he “gets” women is like a guy in a kayak assuring you that he can paddle around a tsunami.
We consulted with a panel of over a dozen women, who shared with us 24 things they believe men don’t understand about women. Though the effort can be appreciated, it’s okay to admit when you’re confused. It happens to all of us. (Seriously, all of us.)
You may think you’re being supportive, but it crosses a line. When she gets angry at her friends and complains about them in front of you, it’s not an invitation to join in. Your job is just to listen and be supportive. The moment you agree too vehemently that her friends are in the wrong, she’ll take it as a personal attack. (Same goes for mothers. Never, ever, ever criticize mom, even if they started it.)
Guys have a natural instinct to want to fix things. So, when women share their problems, we’re inclined to want the make it better, or at least brainstorm solutions. But more often than not, women are just looking for a sympathetic ear. They’re perfectly capable of problem-solving on their own; they just need to be heard and know that you’re on their side.
If they invite over some friends for a dinner party, and they’re all nibbling on cheese as a pre-meal appetizer, and they never get around to eating “dinner” dinner, that’s okay. That counts as dinner. In fact, it’s not even a disappointing dinner! It’s a meal victory! Same with chocolate, by the way. If you start snacking on chocolate and you realize you’re full, then that was dinner. You had chocolate for dinner. Deal with it. You’re winning at life!
The differences between a hobo bag, a tote, a wristlet, a clutch, and a crossbody are huge. The most important rule is, function follows form. (If you’re scratching your head right now, that’s okay. You don’t need to understand.)
It’s not a biological imperative for everyone, and you need to be okay with that. Some women just don’t want children. Or maybe they prefer the company of dogs. The point is: her ovaries are her business.
Yes, women decorate their homes with an insanely high pillow ratio, and no, it’s not negotiable. Every couch is going to have at least a few throw pillows, and the bed isn’t complete unless it has a mountain of pillows that seems, at least to men, a bit excessive. Don’t question the logic of all those pillows. They’re not going anywhere.
A good bra is essential to a happy woman, and that happiness can come with a hefty price tag. And why shouldn’t it, really? In some ways, a bra is the most important piece of their wardrobe. If it pinches or tugs in a weird way, or makes them feel unattractive, nothing else they wear will make a difference. Every dime a woman spends on the most expensive bra they own is money well spent.
For many women, the act of shopping—heading to a store, trying on clothes, and catching up with friends—is more about the social or self-care aspect of the trip than it is about actually buying things. While it might frustrate some people to return home after a full day at the mall with nothing new to show for it, for many women, the experience itself is well worth it.
Believe it or not, they’re not trying to annoy you. Until we live in a world where food and guilt aren’t something that women have to grapple with at every moment—where they’re not constantly wondering, “Am I eating too much? Is everyone at the table judging me? Am I thin enough?”—you can be okay with having a few less fried potatoes.
Or several threads of a group text. All matters of any importance are discussed in this group dynamic, and the conversations can ramble on for days or even weeks. Don’t question a woman on whether a group text has outlived its usefulness. It can play out like jazz improvisation, zigzagging between topics at random, none of which might ever be fully resolved or answered.
When a man needs a painkiller, he either has to find the nearest pharmacy or return home. But a woman will always have at least one bottle of aspirin (or something similar) on her, as well as an assortment of other medical necessities. From tampons to tweezers, a woman is so prepared for any medical emergency that it wouldn’t be surprising if she happened to have a roll of gauze somewhere at the bottom of her purse.
They’re not opposed to budget shopping. They love looking for a great deal or finding something at a steep discount. But not shampoo. The shampoo that works for them is the shampoo that works for them, and if the price tag makes your jaw drop and go, “You’ve got to be kidding with this,” then so be it. They refuse to purchase shampoo from anywhere that also sells bologna or seasonal decor.
If you’ve ever wondered why she doesn’t get rid of that ultra-’90s hot pink slip dress you’ve never seen her wear—or how that ratty No Doubt shirt is still occupying space in her drawer—remember this: those aren’t just clothes, they’re memories. While, to some men, dressing up for an occasion means renting or buying a black suit that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup, her clothes are reminders of prom nights, graduation ceremonies, and life-changing trips that she’s not ready to forget.
It’s right there in the name: decorative towels. They’re for decoration, to be admired from afar and, on rare cases, used by visitors. Touching those towels with your grubby hands is as egregious as reaching for a window curtain to wipe food from your mouth.
Each style or brand of jean has its own specific feel, touch, and occasion. There are clubbing jeans and there are football game jeans. There are winter jeans and summer jeans. It’s fine if you just have several pairs of the same generic jeans, but don’t shake your head disapprovingly at her. It’s not her fault you don’t see the unique personality in each pair of jeans.
A woman needs a day face cream and a night face cream. These are different things. Also, face cream should never be used on the body. There are different body lotions for different seasons. If you need their lotion, don’t just grab the first bottle you find and lather it on any old body part. Every cream has a specific purpose, and using them in the wrong way will make a woman look at you like you just poured bleach on your coffee.
Unless you’re into it, that is. If your idea of great TV is having a long, ugly, cathartic cry, then by all means you’re welcome to join. But if these things make you uncomfortable, it’s probably for the best if you sit this one out. As one woman told us, “We all have to walk McDreamy’s death path alone.”
There are distinct and important differences between jeggings, leggings, soft pants, yoga pants, pajamas, tights, and sweats. Women need them all, and they need them in black.
Is it dangerous? Yeah, probably. But it’s a talent that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Most women have been doing it since they first learned how while riding the bus to middle school. If you can apply mascara on a bumpy asphalt road without stabbing yourself in the eye, you’re officially a woman.
It’s not that women don’t like casual dates and spending evenings in as much as the next person, but there’s still a strange yearning to be the object of someone’s totally over-the-top affection. Even in the most progressive households, women can’t escape the messages fed to them by princess movies and rom-coms, meaning that even if someone singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” to them in a crowded restaurant would embarrass them to no end, there’s some part of them eager to see what it’s like, anyway.
She’s not a sports novice. Women love baseball and football and hockey with the same intensity and devotion that you do. But they also have a place in their heart for non-sports related passions, like awards shows. They care about both things equally, and with just as much cheering and booing. And in many cases, they have the same questions. Whether it’s football or the red carpet, women want to know: “Why are they wearing that?”
Knowing how to pick the right suitcase (or suitcases) to accommodate the perfect number of outfits and accessories are all part of the fun of traveling. Are they overpacking? Are so may outfit changes really necessary for a weekend trip? Probably not. But that’s not the point. They made it all fit! Please just carry the multiple bags without comment.
This applies to every wardrobe choice, but especially heels.
You can’t just take a photo of a woman and then post it on a social media site like Facebook or Instagram without first giving her an opportunity to review the image and, if necessary, veto it. However, it’s not just that she’s worried that her eyes are half-closed or that she looks like she’s had one too many mimosas in that candid snap. In addition to the insurmountable pressure to look polished at any moment, sharing that photo of her that you find cute or sexy can also mean she gets a whole lot of unwanted feedback from people whose opinions about her looks she doesn’t give a hoot about hearing.