“I don’t care”

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Some men try to communicate their intent through words. It’s quite unlikely they truly don’t care about the issue, and instead of saying what they feel, just skip to what they can act on. “I don’t care” can mean I care a lot but don’t want to do anything about it. It can also mean they aren’t sure what they think and want to revisit the conversation later.

“She’s just a friend”

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The most common meaning for this is that they are attracted to the person, but know they’re not allowed to act on it. There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to people though, it’s a natural and mostly uncontrollable feeling so, ideally, you should both be comfortable enough to discuss it. Some men do minimize what “friend” means in that way…

“Look, I’m sorry”

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You tend to only see the “look…” prefix towards the end of an argument, and this is true for men. It’s usually a way of mitigating any overreactions or misunderstandings, marking a new chapter in the conversation. If it comes with a genuine apology, that’s great! Otherwise, it can look like “I just don’t want to argue anymore.”

“I don’t know”

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As society encourages men to explore their masculinity more critically, you have to expect some deal of genuine confusion. “I don’t know” can mean they’re unsure of how they, or yourself are feeling, and need time to think. It can also mean they just don’t want to tell you the answer, as they think it would upset you and make things worse.

“I think we should consider hitting the gym”

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While health is important, weight, and, particularly visible weight, is only a small portion of that. Men only mean the visible, which is what makes this phrase so frustrating. Nobody is getting mad at “Hey, I made some healthy and delicious food for us because we should care for our bodies.”

“I was joking!”

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Professional comedians barely get away with this and it’s their job to tell jokes. The rule holds that jokes contain some truth, and even though it was ‘just a joke’, you should apologize properly all the same. As far as cop-out excuses go, it’s one of the more aggravating, because it doesn’t really acknowledge why you’re upset.

“I’ll call you”

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This can be an extremely comforting thing to hear from somebody you trust and know cares for you. Unfortunately, most people have maybe two to three of these in their lives, and everybody else is just a dirty liar. Until maybe the third date, “I’ll call you” is just somebody telling you what they think you want to hear.

“Can we talk about this later?”

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This one could mean a couple of things. It could be coming during a moment of high stress, in which case they really do want to take a rain check until they can focus on you. If they don’t seem busy, it’s likely that they have no intention of revisiting the subject… and are probably just hoping you forget and move on.

“It’s a guy thing”

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You’re probably only going to hear this over small annoyances, so it’s not worth worrying about too much. It’s the equivalent of “it is what it is” but coded for men. It has a lot of utility for issues that have anything even vaguely attached to them, like breaking their favorite chef’s knife or putting their khaki shorts on the wrong wash cycle.

“I like girls that don’t wear make-up”

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You want to hear a man say this, as it’s going to save you a lot of time moving forward. Men ultimately mean “I’m not really great at telling when women are wearing make-up, or what it’s purpose is outside looking nice for men.” Which would be more honest and at least have a glimpse of self-reflection…

“You look incredible”

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Simple compliments like this are usually the ones you can trust. There are a lot of fancy words to describe beauty and sometimes, when faced with it, the male brain forgets every single one of them. That flustered simplicity can also mean an intense sexual attraction, nerves, or they like your outfit.

“My ex was crazy”

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This will mean something different for each man, whose ideas of crazy range from “she washed her sheets twice a week” to “she was a little obsessive”. There can’t be this many undiagnosed, clinically insane ex-girlfriends walking around, so something is amiss. It’s worth asking exactly what he means by that before you make assumptions about somebody you don’t know.

“I don’t want to ruin our friendship”

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In a rare instance of convergence, both men and women mean roughly the same thing when they say this. They’re not attracted to you in that way but respect you as a person and enjoy your company. Even men who understand this often forget it when it’s said to them!

“I don’t want a relationship right now”

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This one is fairly self-explanatory and, though it can seem dismissive, it’s actually something positive to hear. If anybody enjoys being single and wants to have fun, then godspeed space lover! Men don’t always include the working out in their answers, but he’s still being open and honest in a sense, which is a good trait to have.

“We need a break”

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Breaks can be a very good thing for a relationship, but it’s worth looking into why it’s suggested in the first place. Ideally, it satisfies what both of your issues are with the situation, whereas if it’s just “because I need some space”, then the break is probably indefinite. Sometimes a break is just to spare them the guilt of actually breaking up with you.

“Want a massage?”

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The proliferation of gym and fitness culture has meant that the general quality of spontaneous massages has gone up. That doesn’t mean that a “massage” is all that’s on the table of course, as the intimacy of skin contact with a partner has some pretty obvious implications. Or they’re saying you look stressed…

“I love watching you eat”

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Men are often considered to be more visually driven, especially when it comes to a partner. This extends to the compliments too, and something like “I like watching you eat” means just that. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with what or how much you’re eating, just that you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, not to mention hot while you do it.

“It’s not you, it’s me”

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To be fair, this is a gender-neutral nuclear bomb that anybody can use to instantly end a relationship. There are some patterns as to what “it’s me” could mean to men though, such as “I want something or someone else” or “It’s me that has grown to not like you”. Sometimes the details can be upsetting for everyone.

“I’m really tired”

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Exhaustion really does have a big effect on the sex drive. In the same way, you don’t want to start rolling around after you eat an enormous meal, being physically and emotionally exhausted puts sex at the back of the brain, even for men. This is sometimes used to avoid other mentally or physically taxing activities.

“How do you know him?”

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Ignoring the most common answer which is just curiosity, men do like knowing about their partners, this could be an indication of insecurity. “How” is quite a vague word choice. He’s really asking for the what, where, when, and how many times all at once. He does likely want to know exactly where he fits into the hierarchy, guys freaking love hierarchies.

“I’m okay”

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This is another thing that everybody says but means different things when they do so. Men typically use it when stressed because they revert to some kind of stoic, self-imposed sense of guilt over their weakness. That’s ridiculous, of course, but if they struggle to open up they’re likely bound in a pattern of putting everything on themselves anyway.

“You’re really beautiful”

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To decode this one, it depends on how long you two have known each other. A long-term partner drops the ‘really’ when you look extra stunning, a long-time friend will do it to let you know how they see you… which is slightly more than friends. A stranger carries a similar meaning to a partner, only with more of a thirsty energy.

“How many guys have you slept with?”

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There are three main reasons a man might ask this question. Concerns over “purity”, in which case, block them and call the police. Some idea of conquest, they want to be the best, biggest and know their odds. Or, finally, plain curiosity… because men really should have dropped interest in the first two by now. You don’t ‘conquer’ anyone, pal.

“I’ve been busy”

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Fellas love to be busy like everybody in the active dating pool doesn’t have the same largely e-mail-based job. The truth is, “I’ve been busy” means I’ve forgotten to message you. You can read from that what you want because being busy does cause forgetfulness and sometimes messages have to be left on read. Probably not your wife’s messages, though.

“What’s wrong?”

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A tip for men is that often, language isn’t strictly utilitarian. You aren’t wasting valuable dude time by considering a different way to phrase a question. “What’s wrong?” could mean “I’ve noticed you don’t seem yourself, Is everything okay?” which is an A+ way to express your concern. There’s only so much empathy you can pack into two syllables and not sound blunt.

“I want you”

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It’s easy for everyone to get wrapped up in a romantic moment – and it’s important to remember that things said in lust aren’t set in stone. “I want you” ties back into that idea of men as visually driven creatures but, in that moment, they very much do want you. You shouldn’t take that as anything with a deeper implication.

“I’m emotionally unavailable”

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Most people are going to feel “emotionally unavailable” at some point in their life, so it’s easy to empathize with the sentiment behind this. That being said, this is usually said to convey that they are going to continue feeling emotionally unavailable. In a relationship, this essentially means they aren’t looking to continue things.

“Come meet my friends!”

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This one is an all-around good sign for a change. Generally, all you can expect from a partner is openness and honesty, and being invited into somebody’s personal circle is a great way for them to express that. It means they trust you and want you to be a bigger part of their lives.

“I don’t like posting about my relationship”

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Some men aren’t posters. If they’re not super online, you don’t have much to worry about. A partner posting gym selfies and meals with you cropped out of the frame is likely deflecting from the actual issue. That being they don’t want some people to know they’re in a relationship. That could be for a few reasons, but worth looking into.

“I really like you”

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With this old chestnut, it depends on where it’s said. If dropped spontaneously, take it at face value, as sometimes you really can’t help but speak your mind. A man saying this during a tense moment in which things seems to be going south is essentially the sound of trumpets before judgment day, often followed by a big fat ‘but’. Buckle up.

“I’m not angry”

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If there’s one thing most men don’t hide well, it’s anger. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry, it’s a natural human emotion so it doesn’t need any language games to mask it, let alone just an outright lie. Anger issues are a serious problem, and if you’re not angry you can put into words how you feel.

“I love you”

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The Big One. As much as we dance around the subject, very few people lie about love. They may lie while in love or blame the love for the lie but we recognize and understand the importance of the L word. Just remember, though, it may be provoked by adrenaline or lust so the first “I love you”, if it’s in bed, doesn’t count.

“I don’t care either way”

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You’ll often hear this one while deciding on where to eat, but it can pop up in other places too. A rough translation is that they’re waiting for you to make up your mind, as they recognise you likely have a favored option and are just waiting for you to say it so you can go get jalapeno poppers. It’s more of a routine ritual than anything sinister.

“You deserve better”

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Because this sentiment is so loaded with implied guilt, it’s easy to read into and start scrutinizing. The truth is, there are many reasons a man might feel unworthy of a partner, ranging from mental health issues to physical insecurities. If they don’t often exhibit these traits, the sudden onset of self-depreciation could mean they did something they regret.


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It seems deeply unfair to men to break out the pinboard and string to decipher what they mean when they say hi. However, upon reading just “hey”, your brain likely concluded that someone you used to know fancies another go so, really, they bring it on themselves. An out-of-the-blue “hey” from an ex has one meaning and you already know it.

“I recently got out of a relationship”

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Men tend to be slower to digest why relationships fall apart. They aren’t socialized to be as self-critical as women are about their emotions, so while they bounce back from break-ups quicker, they’re also prone to making the same mistakes. If a man says this, keep in mind he probably hasn’t digested his last relationship yet.

“Strip clubs are gross”

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Strip clubs, or adult entertainment in general, are a good way to measure a man’s morals and self-awareness. Most strip clubs are quite gross… but that’s 100% down to the clientele being almost entirely other men. If he looks down on the women dancing but not the men breathing on the buffet chicken wings, dig deeper into these opinions.

“You’re twisting my words”

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A running theme here is that men tend to minimize detail when talking about emotions. The issue is that this blames you for their lack of clarity. At the point where arguments have devolved into accusing each other of gaslighting, there’s not much you can do but take a break. Unless you are twisting his words, in which case stop.

“I’m thinking about getting really into crypto”

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This is a desperate call for help from deep in the male subconscious mind. Multilevel marketing schemes prey on women because they’re more socially confident and can reach out to school friends without shame, crypto schemes prey on men because they love the computer. This works for any other obscure online subculture that wants their money.

“An alpha male is…”

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Leave. Go, get out of here. If a man still feels the need to prove his masculinity in this way, he has too much free time and he’s been on that computer again. Clearly, a positive opinion on influencers like Andrew Tate is indicative of deep-set brain worms. He’s like Tiger King or the boat in the Suez canal, a meme resigned to be mocked and forgotten.