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Just as you embellish your resumé to impress potential employers, you also fudge some personal details on a first date to boost your odds of scoring a second. Your girlfriend probably did this, too—and chances are, she’s kept a few ruses going ever since. Here are some of the fibs she still drops daily, and what she really means instead.
1. “I’m a Huge Sports Fan”
There are plenty of genuine female sports fanatics, but many women are a bit more “meh” on the subject. Problem is, they’ll still spend countless hours perched in front of a big screen with you and your friends, pretending to have fun but secretly wanting to escape by any means necessary. “Some women believe that to keep a guy interested, she must love what he loves,” says behavioral scientist and dating expert Christie Hartman, Ph.D., author of Changing Your Game: A Man’s Guide to Success with Women. Not true. While it’s great to support each other’s passions, if she keeps watching ESPN to make you happy, it will foster resentment.
Get the truth: Don’t make a big deal of it. Just give her an out—and let her know it’s okay to take it, Hartman advises. Say, “Hey, we’re going to watch the game. You’re welcome to come, but if you’re sick of baseball, I totally understand.”
2. “I Like My Independence”
Of course she values her freedom, but she’ll pretend she likes to take things slower than she really does to avoid coming off as desperate. “When given too much ‘space,’ women feel unattended to,” says clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D. Basically, she tells you to go out with your buddies, and then gets upset that you aren’t hanging out with her.
Get the truth: Let her know you’re into her. The more secure she feels in you bond, the more likely she is to tell you what she really wants from the relationship, Greenberg says. You don’t need to have a capital-T “Talk”—just make some small gestures. Randomly text her, “just thinking about you,” or pick her up her favorite snack because, hey, you were listening.
3. “I’m Always in the Mood”
She couldn’t keep her hands off you in the early stages of your relationship, but now it’s a precedent she worries about keeping up, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York-based marriage and sex therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. “Women are very much aware of their partner’s sensitivity in this area and don’t want to do anything to bruise their egos,” Greenberg says. But obligatory sex doesn’t make for orgasms or an emotional connection.
Get the truth: If you’re not sure she wants you to make a move, Greer suggests saying something along the lines of, “Want to have a little fun? If you’re too tired, that’s okay. We can rest up for tomorrow.” (Wink.) It’s all about letting her know that if she says “not tonight,” you aren’t going to roll over mad.
4. “It’s Cool You Have So Many Friends Who Are Girls”
In theory, ladies love men with platonic pals. (“Finally, a guy who understands women!”) But in reality, guy-girl friendships can cause a lot of jealously. “There is such a bad connotation to the word ‘jealous,’” Greenberg says, “but it’s natural to have some degree of jealousy when you care about someone. It’s instinct.”
Get the truth: You don’t have to ditch your female friends. Just let her know that sometimes you get jealous, too. Whether it’s from her hanging out with her “work husband” or accepting free drinks at the bar, tell her when the feeling crops up, suggests Greenberg. It will help her see that jealously is perfectly normal. Plus, by showing her that you care about her enough to be jealous, she might be less worried about you straying.
5. “I’m Low-Maintenance”
A low-maintenance girl has never felt the need to utter this phrase. But if your partner doesn’t lay down any rules and always says she’s “cool” with whatever, something could be up. She could be afraid of coming off as difficult, demanding, or, yes, high-maintenance, says Hartman. And while no woman is going to kick off a first date with a list of demands, if you’re getting serious and still haven’t heard them, that’s a problem.
Get the truth: Watch your words, Hartman says. If you find yourself complaining about a difficult ex or talking about how you “just hate drama,” you might be giving her the impression she needs to put on a super laid-back show.
6. “I’m Fine”
Despite what it seems, she’s not trying to be passive-aggressive. She’s genuinely trying to hide that she’s upset. “Saying ‘I’m fine’ can be easier than telling the truth, because she knows telling the truth risks making you defensive or angry. Or that you won’t understand,” Hartman says. But bottling in her feelings—even if they’re less than logical—can spell more trouble down the road. And honestly, if you drop the issue after she says, “I’m fine,” you’re probably in trouble.
Get the truth: Instead of “What’s wrong?” try “You seem upset. Tell me what’s on your mind.” It lets her know you’re all ears. “As hard as it is, just listen,” Hartman says. “Let her share her feelings, knowing it isn’t your responsibility to fix her.”