There are some things you should just never say to a lady. It will put both of you in an awkward position and tends to come across as downright rude or invasive. I’m all for open communication, but some things a lady simply does not want to hear or be asked. And it’s safer for everyone if these rules are followed.
Now of course there are always exceptions. You have to be socially aware enough to understand when it’s ok to break the rule.
For example take number 2, “Are you sick?” If someone looks like they’re about to faint and can barely look you in the eye, then enquire into their health. Offer some assistance and suggest sitting down. There’s a fine line between following social cues and polite society and acting immune to a person’s situation. We want to walk that line of being sensitive to a person’s feelings while acknowledging and seeing the situation for what it is.
It’s equally bad manners to completely ignore the fact that a friend may look like death or that she’s obviously 9 months pregnant. But there are other ways of showing your concern or joy than by asking them point blank.
Read on for the things you should never say to a lady and the alternative ways around it if you really must bring it up.
1.You look tired.
Tired implies bad. Nobody look fabulous when they’re tired so don’t bother bringing it up. If a friend looks truly exhausted simply ask how they’re doing, but with a genuine slightly concerned tone to show you’re paying enough attention to see something’s not quite right and you’re open to listening.
2. Are you sick?
This is just plain rude, especially if the lady in question is in perfect health. Even if she’s suffering from the sniffles it’s never nice to imply she looks less than radiant. As we discussed earlier, if she’s ready to keel over then of course say something and offer your assistance, but if she simply looks under the weather you can show your concern by gently asking how she is without suggesting she looks ill.
3. You look pale.
This is usually code for, you look tired and/or sick. Again, never a compliment. If a woman looks pale, the majority of the time it’s because she’s not wearing her typical amount of makeup. Let her forgo the makeup! Or maybe she’s naturally pale and not a fan of self tanning. Just don’t remark on anyone’s complexion unless you’re giving a compliment.
4. How much did it cost?
Don’t get me wrong, women love to share shopping tips, where they found the best sales etc. But let them share those details voluntarily. This question can make the lady being questioned feel awkward. She may feel embarrassed about how much she spent or doesn’t want to admit it’s not as “luxurious” as it appears. Let her her keep her air of mystery.
Of course depending on your relationship, if you’re good friends, it’s totally fine to ask. But try to steer clear of discussing huge purchases like homes and cars. If you really want to know as you’re in a similar buying position, explain you’re situation and why you’re asking and give them a clear out saying “you don’t have to say if you’d rather not..”
5. What size are you?
Just no. Only exception is if you’re quite close and you’re buying a gift. A gift they will LOVE.
6. Your partner/child/mother is (insert negative adjective).
This can be tricky as women tend to vent about their close relationships. Their husband or daughter may be driving them insane, but never add your own critique. Think about yourself, it’s ok to criticize your own family, but the minute someone else say something negative the defenses are up. It’s just how it is.
If you want to be there for a venting friend you can show your support by nodding along and agreeing with what they’re saying without adding your own negative feedback.
7. Have you lost/gained weight?
“Have you gained weight?” is an obvious no no. There’s no happy response to that. “Oh yes, thanks for noticing the double chin.”
On the other end you’d think “have you lost weight?” would be a welcome question, but it can also be taken as an insult. It can be perceived that they appear sickly or weak. Just like some women have problems keeping weight off, some women have problems keeping weight on.
Unfortunately weight is a taboo subject in our current culture so it’s best to just avoid the topic. If it’s an extremely obvious case, maybe Julie went in for lipo or some gastric bypass, then remark how wonderful she looks. If she wants to share the detail of her weight loss then she will.
8. Are you pregnant?
This one sounds obvious. You just never know, and it’s the worst faux pas if you’re wrong. BUT what if it’s someone you know well enough and it’s super obvious. It can appear cold or uncaring to completely ignore the “huge” sign in front of you. You could leave it to the mother-to-be to say something, but it can also be awkward for her, to be constantly running around announcing her pregnancy to people.
The safest course of action is to say nothing UNLESS she brings it up herself or she is quite literally about to pop and is wearing clothing that clearly defines the belly. If it’s dead obvious give a happy suggestive smile and acknowledging glance to the belly. Typically this alone will prompt her to say something. If she doesn’t, give a subtle congratulations “I see a congratulations is in order.” To play it even safer, never give a hugely excited reaction until she’s confirmed it. Never walk up and immediately start shouting with joy.
9. Have you had work done?
This is often meant as a compliment, but what woman wants to admit she’s not naturally that flawless. Instead of asking straight out if she’s had work done, simply remark how wonderful she looks. This is much more appreciated and she can go on pretending it looks as natural as she imagines.
HOMEWORK: Can you think of any other things you should never say to a lady? I’m quite sure the list can be extended! If you think of any, let us know in the comments below!