Men Don’t Like the Word No, So Why Say It?

husband lifting his wife at the kitchen

I want to ask you a personal question — one that I’ll bet no one has ever asked you before.

Of all the traits that make you a great catch, what do you think is at the top of the list?

You can make an argument for kindness.

After all, your ability to give to a relationship will largely determine a guy’s satisfaction with it.

You can make an argument for intelligence.

You probably take great pride in how you’ve succeeded at work, how you’re always reading, growing, and learning. Men do like interesting women.

The one trait that makes you the greatest catch of all is something you probably haven’t even considered.

You can make an argument for youth and beauty.

God knows, enough has been written about men’s desire to be with model-types, even if they don’t have a shot in hell.

You can even make a case for confidence.

The 2006 Harlequin Books Romance Report stated that both women and men put confidence at the top of the list for desirable traits in a partner.

Yet the one trait that makes you the greatest catch of all is something you probably haven’t even considered.

Being easygoing.

It’s hard to put a price on being easy, but it’s easy to put a price on being difficult. And what most men have determined is that difficult women are WAY too expensive.

In case you’re feeling your blood start to boil, let’s do a quick definition of easy.

An easy person says yes.

A difficult person says no.

That’s all there is to it.

I am a difficult person and I’ve been working on it for years.

My wife, on the other hand, is a “Yes” person. What she fundamentally gets is that, in relationships, there are a million little decisions to make together — so why get bogged down in micromanaging all the details?

Being easy doesn’t require anything more than the desire to spend time, have fun, and eliminate any unnecessary friction in your relationship.

Insisting that a charismatic, intelligent, successful man do everything your way is an exercise in futility.

And my wife has it down to a science.

When I ask her to join me for a midnight movie, she says yes.
When I ask her if we can skip cooking and eat leftovers, she says yes.
When I ask her to give me a couple extra hours to work before dinner, she says yes.
When I ask her if she’s okay with visiting my Mom for the weekend, she says yes.
When I ask her if she’s open to doing something naughty on an airplane, she says yes.
When I ask her to forgive me for being an opinionated know-it-all, she says yes.

Do you get the idea?

So when she DOES insist that something is important to her, I’m sure to pay attention.

Contrast her with my client, Erica. Late-30s. Super. Bright, witty, self-deprecating, successful, interesting. But she has so many rules in her life that I would think it would be impossible to please her.

She doesn’t like loud noises. She doesn’t like cold weather.
She doesn’t like most animals. She doesn’t like many foods.
She has very definite ideas about how men are supposed to dress, when they’re supposed to call, and how they should be allocating their time.

And the list goes on.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to like EVERYTHING. “No” is a perfect word to say when he says that he wants to see other women, or when he says he’s not sure he ever wants to get married, or when he says that he’s only doing drugs and gambling “casually”.

What determines whether you’re easygoing is not how you handle those no-brainer situations, but how often you INSIST that he conform to your preferences on everything else.

Because, as you already know, insisting that a charismatic, intelligent, successful man do everything your way is an exercise in futility.

After all, being easygoing — especially when you’re bright and opinionated — does NOT come easy. We want what we want. And we’re going to express every single opinion we have to make sure we get it. Believe me, I can be that way myself.

But it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

Face it: if you’ve been single for a long time, you probably have some very strong opinions on how the world should work. I sure do.

Ironically, the more you mature, the LESS you’re willing to compromise. After years of experience, you refuse to settle on so many things that there’s little wiggle room for a second opinion.

Soon, every little decision becomes a disagreement.

Disagreements become arguments.

Arguments become deal breakers.

He wants to be with you, but he also wants to be himself. His whole world can’t revolve around conforming to your rules.

How can a man connect with you if all you’re doing is focusing on what YOU want?

What about what HE wants?

What if he wants to go to a bachelor party at a strip club in Vegas?
What if he wants to spend his Sundays watching football with his college friends?

What if he wants to keep the photos of his ex-girlfriend in a box under the bed?

You can say no to all of these things, but “no” doesn’t get you anywhere. All it does is make him feel suffocated and judged. He wants to be with you, but he also wants to be himself. His whole world can’t revolve around conforming to your rules. (No more than your world should revolve around conforming to HIS rules!)

So, is it more important to be “right” or to get along? Because that’s what relationships are all about. Figuring out how to think as a couple — not just getting everything you want.

When you’re easygoing, you have a lot less conflict in your life. Things that bother other people don’t bother you as much. And when something is really important to you, you’re almost always going to get your way.

But if EVERYTHING is important to you — if you put up a fight instead of going along with him on totally inconsequential decisions – you’ll never have a moment of peace.

Hey, if you always want to have your way, you can. All you have to do is go out with a doormat who will agree to always let you win.

But if you want to be with a man you respect, you’d better be prepared to drop your rules quick.

Because we men aren’t too fond of drama. We’re not too big on being told what to do.

And we certainly don’t like the word “no”.

So instead of trying to get him to your point of view, try saying “yes” instead.

It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s fun.

And most importantly, it works like a charm.

Join our conversation (92 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Yes, anybody?   I am a total “yes” girl.   Although most things I don’t even get the opportunity to say yes to because he doesn’t ask.   He just does what he wants to do anyway.   When I ask for anything, I get “no”, time after time after time.   I’m burnt out from always yessing and always getting no’s.   I am totally easy going and can’t understand why my boyfriend makes me feel like I am so much work.   All I want is for him to spend time with me.   When we do spend time together we do what he wants to do.

    1. 1.1

      Cut your losses, Bridget. I’m all for being easygoing but I’ve come to realize not all men like easygoing and many of us easygoing people go into “nice girl/guy syndrome ” quickly. And do you know what happens when we fall there? We finish last and we’re treated like doormats. So balance the easygoing and plant a few firm no’s. Get clear on what’s no brainer and what is not. Talk to the man. If he fails to understand you, it’s time to part ways.

  2. 2

    Agreed. I’m a woman and I know how it feels to date difficult men. They can be guilty of this as well. I broke up with  the last guy I dated because he was sooo high maintenance. From only drinking coffee that was freshly ground from beans, to how I drove, to which way the toilet paper roll was placed on, TV shows and movies had to be his choice: only comedies, to the temperature of his food and teaching me the way to cook to his liking… need I go on?

    I think people who can go with the flow with most things in life and be accomidating to their partner’s wishes most of the time are far better partners.

    Yes, not budging on BIG things or FEW things is normal and desirable as well, no one wants a doormat, but sheesh, life is challenging enough, no one wants a partner to add more challenges at every turn!

  3. 3

    This is so tricky because I’m an opinionated woman and it’s hard for me to not want my way.   I have tried and have noticed that when I am easy going and agreeable to  things, we get along better.   BUT with that said,  if  I’m saying  YES to things, when do I get my way?

    1. 3.1
      Karmic Equation

      If you are saying yes to what you don’t like just to get along, then you and your guy aren’t compatible. You ought to consider finding a different guy who naturally likes what you like, so you’re just enjoying things you both like together instead only what one likes what the other tolerates with ill will.

  4. 4

    @Bridget – it’s simple.   If you are always the one saying “yes” and he is always saying “no” even to your inconsequential requests, you know where the door is.

  5. 5

    Well, I spent 8 years saying yes and getting very little in return. He was a great guy, sweet, kind, etc., but very needy and self absorbed. The more I said yes, the more self-absorbed he became. Not sure if always saying yes is the way to go. After my experience with my ex, I think it’s best to expect compromise. Give and take, etc. Mostly yeses with a sprinkling of no here and there. Keeps the playing field leveled. 😉

    1. 5.1

      I experienced something similar. Every ex I’ve had told me I am one of the most patient, kind, easygoing women they’ve ever met. And my “yes”   is always genuine, whether a literal yes or a yes attitude. But unlike the author suggests, this did not lead to me being heard on matters which, well, really mattered to me and in which I needed my voice heard and my preferences taken into consideration. Instead, it seemed to train the man to expect to always get his way and to sigh over any tiny compromise he was asked to make. Often, these were emotionally needy men who did not offer the support they sucked out of me (and I don’t even want a ton of emotional support, but they couldn’t at least return a bit of what they took).

      Maybe I just haven’t found the right guy, but it does get frustrating when you try to offer what you would like to receive (golden rule stuff) and you find yourself taken for granted.


    2. 5.2
      Karmic Equation

      It’s not really that hard a line to toe, if you only say yes to things that won’t cause resentment.

      If you’re saying yes to things that WILL cause resentment, then you’re not being true to yourself.

      And if you find that saying “yes” to MOST things with particular guy causes resentment, you need evaluate if HE is the right guy for you OR if your list of things that cause you resentment is too long. You will either need to dump the guy or the resentment to be happy.

      For example, my bf paid for almost all our meals during our first month of dating. During that same month we went on a mini-vacation, using my car to drive out of state and I paid for the hotel room and entry fees to a tournament. The deal was that he would paid for all our meals while we were away and gas, both ways. He did pay for all the meals, but gas only one way. And for some reason, I felt cheated, BUT I let it go as that was $30.  In the whole scheme of things, until that point, he had “paid” more into the relationship than I had, even though I paid a bigger chunk over a shorter period of time. So my PERSPECTIVE on this was skewed and I recognized it before I sabotaged my relationship for staying resentful about  him not paying for gas on the way home.

      When we first started dating, he chastised me for reaching for my purse. A few months later, he chastises me for NOT reaching for my purse. He did this a couple of times and I was frustrated since he put me in no-man’s land.

      So finally, when I didn’t reach for my purse again, and he said something, I had to speak up, and said a little exasperatedly (but NOT angrily), “You know, you chastised me for reaching for my purse before, now you’re chastising me for not reaching. I don’t have a problem going dutch or taking turns, but you’ve got to let me know which way you want it. You’re confusing me.” He paid for dinner that night. And we’ve pretty much taken turns since then, so it’s no longer an issue. No resentment on my end and none on his that I can tell.

      The point of this is that sometimes we’re afraid a bf will get mad at us or dump us for “speaking our minds” – don’t let that fear stop you from speaking your mind IF you’ve thought through the issue and are confident that you’re right. Then it’s just a matter of delivery. Find the right time and tone to deliver the message. He’ll listen if he doesn’t hear criticism, but rather a problem he should help solve.

      In other words, ENGAGE him in solving your resentment. BUT you have to communicate the  problem  WITHOUT sounding resentful or angry.

  6. 6

    I would even say yes to him seeing other women, doing drugs, or never getting married.   But I’d also be leaving the relationhip, too.

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Starthrower – Do you even REMOTELY think that saying “yes” means allowing your boyfriend to date other women? If not, why would you say something like that? Or is it just too much fun to complain about men and twist my words into something I didn’t say?

      1. 6.1.1

        I think she’s making a joke Evan & it’s funny.

        In my relationship I find it easy to say “yes” provided that I’m not adversely affected. Balance is key. I love that my fiancé likes to include me in his plans/ideas/decisions by just asking AND I similarly want my needs met in the same way. I wouldn’t   consider myself “easygoing” yet I know enough to let him get his way with so many little everyday things that when I want anything he almost certainly says yes – with enthusiasm!

      2. 6.1.2

        I think she means you cannot control someone. People will do what they want to do, and you do not want someone to only be a certain way because you “allow” it. It has to come from the heart. So if he only respects your wishes due to fear of your bad attitude, then it is not genuine.

        I do not think she was twisting your meaning, but wryly  making  a point about “asking permission”.

        Most women don’t want to be a mother figure who grants permission. I think it is a matter of both partners respecting the free will of the other – voluntarily and happily showing concern for their needs and wishes


  7. 7

    Saying yes does work.   There is very little he asks me to do that I find repugnant, so why not say yes.   He wants to go to dinner, I don’t want to cook, yes.   He wants me to get in the bath with him, yes.   He wants to sleep late and cuddle, oh yes.   My day goes easier and he is way more satisfied because I am fun to be with, resonable, easy going.   I agree with the arguing resulting from say “no”.   When I say no, I had better be able to back it up, or he will try and talk me into   whatever it is, resulting in an arguement.   Who needs that life?   On the other hand, I wouldn’t say yes, if it was something I truly disagreed with or was morally wrong.   It makes life so much simpler.

  8. 8

    I am not sure about this.   I am very easy going – and I don’t have guys lining up at my door.   Every guy I have dated has said I’m easy going.   But it seems to me that a lot of guys have a mentality that difficult = more desireable.   Some how because I don’t require a lot of work, I’m not enough of a challenge.  
    I will wait, though, who likes that I’m easy going and sees it a positive.  

    1. 8.1

      This can be very true. Guys want a woman to have opinions and ideas. I don’t think simply saying yes is the key but rather building trust and respect. Then, if one of you feels the need to say no, your voice can be heard and no one feels attacked or nagged. I do agree that being positive, feminine, and fun (saying yes) are attractive attributes but not at the cost of swallowing your own needs, those needs that are  really important to you, in order  to keep someone. In that case, it’s probably the wrong someone.

  9. 9
    Karl R

    Rachelle asked: (#3)
    “BUT with that said,  if  I’m saying  YES to things, when do I get my way?”

    Why would this be mutually exclusive? If I need to go to choir rehearsal and my fiancée wants to have girl’s-night-out, we both get what we want. If I want a glass of wine and she wants a bottle of beer, it’s easy for us to both get what we want.

    For a lot of things, only one person has an opinion. We both have strong opinions about our own wardrobe, but not what the other person is wearing. If I’m wearing what I want and she’s wearing what she wants, we both got our way.

    And if you really want to be clever about it, there’s a trick that’s a variant of the Magician’s Choice. If my fiancée and I are chosing a movie to see, I’ll look up the movies that are showing and tell her several movies that “sound interesting.” She decides which movie she wants to see. It looks like she always gets her way. What’s less apparent is that I always get my way too. I told her several movies that “sound interesting.” Those were the movies I wanted to see. All of her potential choices are ones that I want.

    My definition of easy-going:
    1. Not forcing the other person to do something they don’t want to do.
    2. Not giving the other person a hard time about something unless it’s really important.

    Most of the time Yes and No don’t really become part of it.

    1. 9.1

      Dang, you know my secret 🙂

  10. 10

    Sometimes someone can bring out the “YES” in us, and others who never compromise tend to get the “NO’s” after so long…

  11. 11
    Evan Marc Katz

    From the article:

    “No” is a perfect word to say when he says that he wants to see other women, or when he says he’s not sure he ever wants to get married, or when he says that he’s only doing drugs and gambling “casually”.

    1. 11.1

      I’m becoming a better woman just by following your advice! Thank you very much!!!

  12. 12

    Hey Melle #7 – Does your guy have a brother??   He sounds AWESOME! LOL

  13. 13

    I have to say that saying “yes” is generally not a woman’s greatest problem – saying “no” is a lot more difficult. Women have more difficulty being assertive than being easy-going. We’re taught the value of compromise from the time we are little girls. There’s the old notion that if you’re as assertive as a man, you’re actually considered a “bitch”.

    And what about the whole “men love bitches” theory, and the idea that men actually like a woman who stands up to them and is more of a challenge? Several books have been written on this subject, from “Why Men Love Bitches” to “The Rules”.   It’s one thing to be easy-going on a date – that’s not too hard for most of us – it’s another thing to stand up for our feelings and boundaries. That is much harder, IMO.  

  14. 14

    @ Evan #10,

    Not trying to twist your words into something you didn’t say and that comment is not an affront to your post so we can all relax.   I’m fully aware that a guy will date other women whether you tell him it’s ok or not, which is kind of the point to what I said.   It’s got nothing to do with trying to twist what you said or making some sort of insult that’s not there.

  15. 15

    Not so simple!   There are guys  dumping women every day because they are too easy and accomodating.       I think there are extremes and you need to find the middle ground.  

    Also sometimes you have to let your actions   say no, without saying the words.  If it is something that really  matters.   No apologies!  

  16. 16

    I really admire, Evan. Great article. Only thing, keeping photos of an ex under the bed would really bother me. The man could keep them, but I wouldn’t like them being under the bed that we make love on. Does that make sense people?

  17. 17


    I say this with love- the advice here usually tells women not to be touchy. But you’re kinda touchy yourself sometimes, right? 😉 like the above

  18. 18

    First I would like to start by saying I read your blog religiously and almost always agree to the things you have to say.   BUT this post really hit a nerve and frankly can be extremely misleading to your loyal ladies who clearly are seeking your help.

    The title of this post alone is extremely insightful on just how childish men really are . I mean really? Children don’t like to hear the word “No” either but as a parent does that mean you don’t say it?   I really would like to think of men as being a little more mature and dignified and manlier than that .   Don’t get me wrong, I strongly advocate NEVER EVER telling a man “No” and I agree with you that saying “No” will get you NOWHERE with a man.

    I read the opening question to this article and I thought about it for probably .02 seconds and answered to myself before reading further . I thought the trait that makes me the greatest catch was being able to have fun in any situation and being completely easy going . Then I obviously continued reading .  Let me state that I am 23 yrs old and understand that your blog is mostly geared toward older women and I know that single women in their 50’s have a completely different mindset than I do in my 20’s . I personally think the most important thing in a relationship is the level of happiness and fun you share with your partner . Everyone has a job that’s usually hard work and I just don’t think your relationship should be hard or be work at all and it should be centered around having fun and getting happiness from your man and making him happy . That  should be your only concerns .   I agree whole heartedly that in a relationship there are going to be a mind boggling amount of decisions you and your partner will make together so YES, you should never argue over anything that in reality is completely irrelevant like what movie to rent, or what your man wears out of the house, or that he leaves the toilet seat up or dirty dishes in the bed room . Those things are irrelevant TRUST ME . As a woman we are more capable than men  to just let these things go and again, I agree, eliminate ALL unnecessary friction in your relationship . Men associate discussions as arguing and arguing as nagging and no man wants a nagger .

    BUT you make statements like “how often we INSIST that he conforms to our preferences on everything?”   Well why on earth should we conform to his?

    You also said it  is difficult for bright and opinionated ladies to be easy going?   Really?? I disagree again whole heartedly . FIRST, if a grown ass man can’t even humor a woman’s opinion than I’m sorry he needs to go.   If a guy genuinely likes you he will want to hear your opinion and want to know what you are thinking .  Women just have to remember not to overdo it .  Men are easy to read . It’ll be obvious when he wants your opinion and when he wants you to shut up and if he ALWAYS seems like he doesn’t care about your opinion then I would LEAVE HIM . There are other men who will care .  SECOND being bright/intelligent is key to this whole argument .  You say those “type” of women “always want what they want”, and why can’t we get what we want again????   As a “bright” young lady (and I would hope a bright middle aged lady who would have even more experience than I do) would know BY NOW  that you can always get what you want by saying “No” in a thousand different ways without actually using the word “No”.   Men are not that complicated and with that being said us bright women should be smart enough to say what we want in terms men will understand .  We are smart enough to get our way without men even knowing it, smart enough to be able to make men think it was their idea, their opinion, their decision, when in reality it was ours just simply re-worded to make him think it was his . Guess what NOW WE BOTH GET WHAT WE WANT .
    You also say “How can a man connect with you if all you’re doing is focusing on what you want?”   Again, really??   I’m sorry Evan but having a healthy relationship is being together but having your own lives . You BOTH should be focused on what you BOTH want as a couple and as an individual . You could be the smartest, sexyiest, agreeable, wonderful woman in the world and a guy still may leave you high and dry and then where would you be?   You “weren’t” focused on what you wanted and trying to please him and being a “yes” girl, that now your alone with no life of your own and have no idea what went wrong . What went wrong was that you WERENT focused on what you wanted and you, inevitably, became predictable . You are now the “yes” girl with no opinions and again that gets old to a man . If you have nothing to bring to the table a man will find someone else who does, who keeps him guessing, who keeps him interested, who keeps him on his toes . Every man wants a challenge and not someone SOOO agreeable . Com’on .
    You talk about the stereo typical things that women tend to say “No” to . Ladies : Let your man go to the strip club (you’re way better and more classier than a stripper) who cares . He’s not going home with one of them and if he does he’s scum, gross, dump him . If your man wants to spend ever single Sunday with the boys watching football, LET HIM . I’m sure Sunday is not the only day of the week you get to see him and HELLO, you have stuff you should be doing . ANYTHING . Anything at all so then he’s wondering what you’re doing . Whatch how quickly things change when you are “easy going” and don’t care at all what he does because you have your own life . BUT Evan : I’m sorry, NO WAY will my man have pictures of his ex-girlfriend in a box under OUR bed . No man would want his girlfriend to have pictures of her ex underneath the bed you sleep on every night . “NO”
    The most obscene comment you make is when you say “If you always want to have your way, you can. Go out with a doormat who will agree to always let you win?”   REALLY?   ISN’T THIS WHAT YOU ARE SUGGESTINT US WOMEN BEHAVE LIKE TOWARDS MEN?? Being a “yes” girl is being a doormat for men . Men don’t respect women who always say yes and that’s why they are called doormats because no matter what men will test limits and if THEY can get what they want they will and walk all over you . If women want to be respected then demand it in a SWEET way . Don’t be so damn agreeable about everything, bring SOMETHING to the table .
    To conclude, I agree 100 times over, men do not like drama and NEVER tell a man what to do . Simple . Evan, I think a women can always get what she wants by either changing the way she’s trying to obtain it and/or changing what she wants . Have you read “Why Men Love Bitches?”   CLEARLY, you prefer the “yes” type of women, but I would argue A LOT of men would prefer more of a challenge .

    1. 18.1

      Evan is an alpha male by admission, and he actually advocates to find an easier going beta-type of man.

      Alphas are usually a lot more opinionated and “difficult” as he freely


  19. 19

    Hey Margo – I’m in agreement with you.   I’d simply rather not know where or if he’s keeping  photos of the ex.

  20. 20

    I like what Karl R had to say about compromising your “yesses”. Working it out so you’re both happy. There are times to say “yes” and there are times to say “no”. But it shouldn’t all be about what makes everything best for your guy *only*. You’re a person that matters too right?

    Evan, you said you could be difficult but your wife made things easier for you by saying “yes” to certain things. What things do you say “yes” to to make it easier for her in return?

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Sayanta: I am touchy. I mean, I have a thick skin – you have to in my position – but I admittedly get too frustrated when a) people misinterpret what I’ve said and b) people don’t concede the validity and logic behind my position, which is usually well thought-out. I consider staying above the fray, and then always wade back in to prove my point…and also prove that I’m too touchy. 🙂

      @JerseyGirl: I don’t like answering questions about my wife, nor do I see your point. Are you suggesting that my wife gets no concessions out of me? Why would you say that when you don’t know anything about me, my wife, or my marriage?

      I cook dinner when she’s busy breastfeeding.
      I’m willing to hang out with her high school friends when I’d rather go on a romantic getaway.
      I do all the research to hire the gardener, electrician, and handyman, even though I’m the one with the full time job.

      I could go on, but I really don’t need to defend my very healthy marriage against a specious and nonsensical accusation.

      The real truth is that my wife doesn’t have to ask me make sacrifices for her.

      I do them because I WANT to, because it makes her life EASIER, and because she makes MY life easier by saying yes to things.

      This is really the core of my dating advice: unless you’re a pleaser, you can’t really expect to have a boyfriend who wants to please you in return.

      Feel free to stand your ground and claim that men should want to pay for everything, tell you when they’re not going to see you again, never say anything that remotely insults you, and guarantee a proposal within six months. You’ll be very disappointed.

      Try being cool and easygoing with men and watch as they bend over backwards to lock you in for life.

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