There’s a saying that our words create our world. If this is true then we should be paying more attention to what we say. I’ve noticed a series of everyday common words and phrases men use that are secretly ruining their relationships.
Hidden in this language is a set of destructive beliefs inherited from our childhood. They are so ingrained in who we are, we don’t even notice them or the effects they have on our relationships.
The dynamic in relationships between men and women has evolved tremendously over the last 50 years. However, the language and underlying beliefs around this dynamic hasn’t evolved at all. And it won’t evolve unless we start becoming more aware of the affect our language has in our relationships, and consequently upon our children.
So many phrases have crept into our modern-day language. Many of which we used as children which have gone unchecked. These now form part of our everyday adult language.
This language has significant implications on how we behave in our relationships. On how we treat our partners, and how we perceive men and women in general.
I’ve compiled a list of subtle phrases below that on first glance might seem fine to many. However, on further inspection, they demonstrate beliefs and behaviours that lie beneath the surface, and are creating a toxicity in modern relationships.
Now I know this is not just men who use language like this. However, in my experience they use it far more than I hear women using it.
So with that disclaimer aside here’s the list:
1. “I’ll see if she’ll let me”
I used to work in an office and would often listen to the banter between the men. If you read the words they spoke you would have assumed they were teenagers talking about their mums. But they were men talking about their wives.
Some other phrases similar to this were:
“I’ll pick the right time to ask her”
“I’ll speak to the boss”
These phrases point to a passive and partly manipulative behaviour where a hierarchy is created in the relationship. This power dynamic removes responsibility from one and places it solely on to the other. It then introduces one-way permission instead of two-way discussion.
One of the key dynamics in a boys life is the relationship with his mother. As we have no formal rite of passage in our society, that relationship is never formerly killed off from which the man is born. As a result, so many men continue to use this language as adults.
Many years ago I asked a friend if he was “allowed” to come out to the work Christmas party. Clearly frustrated, he replied:
“If you’re asking if my wife and I have had an adult conversation about whether it’s appropriate for me to come out tonight. Then yes we have, and yes I will be out.”
I loved this response. He went up in my estimation that day.
2. “Anything for an easy life”
I heard this phrase a lot during my childhood and it went deep into my psyche. As a result, I coasted in life for years. I didn’t make too many waves and developed a mild mannered, easy going approach in my relationships.
It seemed fine to me at the time, just like anything against which there is no challenge or known consequence.
What is an easy life though, as it suggests you’re prepared to do anything to get it?
An easy life certainly isn’t an inspiring life. An easy life is one spent avoiding conflict and pleasing others. It’s learning that what someone else wants or thinks is more important than what you want.
There is no truth and honesty behind this passive behaviour. As much as you think your partner won’t notice….they will.
A passionate relationship requires two passionate people and there is nothing easy about developing a passion for something. It requires hard work, determination, honesty and courage.
Introducing some of these values into your language would be a good start.
3. “That’ll give me some brownie points”
Brownie points are a hypothetical currency that girl scouts acquire in exchange for good deeds and favours that they would exchange for something they wanted at a later date.
However, it’s become a phrase men often use to discuss the give and take of favours and good deeds in a relationship.
I heard a TED talk from a well-known coach recently who used this phrase to refer to some flowers he bought for his wife. People laughed but behind this was a worrying suggestion. It was a suggestion that he was aware of this prior to buying the flowers, indicating his true intentions were to manipulate.
This phrase suggests the acknowledgement and “banking” of certain behaviour. The benefits of which can be redeemed at some point in the future.
Doing anything because of what you expect to get in return can only lead you into trouble. Doing something because of the love and care it shows your partner, possibly at your own expense, shows love for that person beyond any personal gain that you’ll receive.
When you start using terms like this you immediately are at risk of entering a child like state, and with that comes childlike behaviour.
4. “I’ll be on my best behaviour”
When we become men we do away with childhood things…….errr, only we don’t.
We hang on to habits and phrases that we enjoyed when we were young. Ones that made us feel loved, helped us hide, or helped us get what we wanted. Without anyone to challenge this behaviour or language then it will remain.
This language impacts how we show up in our relationships and the different “archetypal” energies we bring. Women will love your passionate warrior, your boss will love your millionaire mogul, your kids will love your playful clown.
Who exactly loves your 9 year old monster?
“It’s not fair, I can’t win”
“I’ll probably get in trouble for this”
“I think she’s annoyed with me”
“Let’s hope she doesn’t notice”
Because that is what you bring to your partner when you start using this kind of language. You speak like a child then you start behaving like a child and call out the child in your partner too.
Once I overheard two men speaking about meeting up for a drink. One didn’t think his wife would let him go, so he said:
“I’ll sneak out of the house and meet you there”.
There are no words.
The more you are mature, powerful and inspiring in your language, the more it will impact your actions and ultimately on the dynamic of how your partner sees and treats you.
5. “I don’t mind”
This might seem at first to be really selfless but if you look closer what it’s actually saying is:
“I’m not going to tell you what I want, so you will have to instead”.
A friend of mine uses this phrase all the time, and he once said to me that he didn’t know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. I wasn’t surprised because this had become such a habit for him. He didn’t know what he wanted to do in the next minute let alone the next year or beyond.
If he didn’t know what he wanted in this moment, how was he ever going to know what to dedicate his life to.
In relationships, it is easy to lose sight of who YOU are. It’s great to create new interests with your partner but not at the loss of who you are and what you want.
We are becoming a world of followers and not leaders. People are afraid to state clearly what they want. Deep down you do mind, you do have an opinion and there’s nothing wrong with sharing it
However by appearing to be easy going and relaxed about decisions means you constantly force the role of leader on to the woman when she will want this equally, if not more, from her man.
Women are often accused of emasculating men but this is often because men don’t claim the masculine leadership role strongly enough. The woman then claims it because her leadership is stronger than his.
So much of our language is passive and doesn’t clearly claim what we want. We can be loving and open to our partner and at the same time clear on what we want.
Without this, we become vacuous and float around not clearly articulating what we want in simple decisions but also in other more important areas of our lives.
6. “I’m fine”
This is the verbal equivalent of a limp handshake.
I hate handshakes that say I can barely be bothered to extend my hand to you, let alone that shaking bit that comes next.
The same can be said of “I’m fine”.
For years my partners would ask me how I was and I would often give this reply. The reason was because often I didn’t know how I was, and certainly couldn’t communicate it.
“I’m fine” creates disconnection from your partner who is attempting to create connection with you. This response closes down any communication and says I don’t want to discuss it.
“I’m fine” says I don’t trust you with the truth of how I really feel.
It’s ok to not want to talk about something in the heat of the moment but the success of your relationship is based on how well you can communicate that to your partner.
Successful relationships require men to be honest and brave in how they communicate. Men need to develop the ability to connect to and communicate feelings to their partners so connection and trust can be created.
Which of these phrases do you recognise in your relationships?
I hope this post was helpful. Do you have any other phrases you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it. For regular content like this just fill in the box below.
To your success