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. 41

    @Christa – If you just met him, how do you know you’re going to marry him? Are you engaged?

  2. 42

    You know it is a hot button topic when EMK posts 6 times in the comment section. 🙂

  3. 43

    I think those who are talking about “yes” girls being the same as doormats are overlooking the fact that the woman can suggest things, too.   If Jake really wants me to do something, I usually don’t have a problem with doing it – but I am ALWAYS suggesting places to go (or things to cook) for dinner, weekend activities, TV shows to watch, etc.   Sometimes he really likes my suggestions.   Sometimes he humors my suggestions.   Sometimes I humor his.   Sometimes I really like his.   What’s so hard to get about this?

  4. 44

    I feel like I’m a very easygoing person and I definitely look for that characteristic in other people I invite into my life.

    Great article!   I just discovered this site a few days ago, but it is the best I’ve come across yet.

  5. 45
    Christie Hartman

    Here is 2 cents from the psychologist: Evan is essentially right. I’ve spent the last several weeks studying the science behind personality and temperament. Evan is essentially describing the trait of “agreeableness,” which is one of the “Big Five” personality traits. Agreeable people are great to be around; disagreeable people are not.
    From Wikipedia: People who score high on agreeableness are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy. People scoring low on agreeableness are generally less concerned with others’ well-being, report less empathy, and are therefore less likely to go out of their way to help others. People very low on agreeableness have a tendency to be manipulative in their social relationships. They are more likely to compete than to cooperate.

  6. 46

    @Honey 47 – Bingo and Bravo!!!

  7. 47

    @ Karl   Life is not so black and white.   There is the grey and most of life happens in the grey areas.   You don’t go from being too accomadating to being ultra difficult.   There are men that meet women that they are   attracted to   that after a few months they loose interest because they are too easy.   They know by the woman’s response that they have won the prize with little or no effort.

    What I take from Evans message which is similar to others is   that men are attracted to easy going carefree women.   I get it!   I know because I am one.   And I am approached often but you know really what   men perceive as me being easy going is that I don’t care much.     So I am a challenge.   I don’t get upset or have these defined rules and regs, that being said  I know what I like.   If a person approahes me and comes up short , they don’t get may attention.       My life is full and I can not be bothered by the BS.  

    I think the bigger message is have a full and enjoying life.   Then when a man comes around you don’t get so hung up and focused on  him.   Make sure that you make yourself happy.   Carefree easy going people are happy with themselves first!
    I believe that your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.

  8. 48
    Karl R

    Sherell said: (#52)
    “There are men that meet women that they are   attracted to   that after a few months they loose interest because they are too easy.”

    They loose interest in her because they no longer find her interesting.

    It wasn’t exactly challenging  for me to get into a relationship with my  fiancée. We started dating while we were on vacation, so our first five dates were on consecutive days. We became physically intimate quickly. I started spending the night regularly shortly after that.

    My “competition” was a guy who just wasn’t that into her … and I knew that because she told me before our first date (she described the situation differently, but it was quite clear).

    But my  fiancée is someone worth hanging onto … even if I didn’t have to move heaven and earth to get her in the first place.

    Sherell said: (#52)
    “They know by the woman’s response that they have won the prize with little or no effort.”

    You’re misunderstanding what happened in those situations. The men realized (perhaps early on) that they didn’t want a long-term relationship with those women. That kind of relationship wasn’t a prize worth putting effort into.

    But they also realized that they could get a prize they were interested in (sex) with very little effort. The men eventually left  either because the sex becomes less convenient (for example, she started pushing for a relationship) or because they found another prize they’re more interested in.

    But I’m having a hard time understanding how this tangent relates either to Evan’s point or my prior point. We’re talking about women who are easy to get along with.

  9. 49

    You sound angry. This suggests it is not about what people write,but how you react to it. And you do react. There’s a trigger..only you will know why that is. It is about you. Peace x

  10. 50

    I agree with Ruby @14. The problem most women have in relationships isn’t saying yes, it’s saying no, even to situations where they absolutely need to say no. This may not be reflective of the women you work with on a daily basis, but I’ll bet it is reflective of your blog readers (being a more general population).
    I’ve said yes, or at least not-no, to way too many things in the past that compromised my boundaries and self-esteeem. And yep, the guys wanted to keep me all right–because they got all the goodies and I made all the sacrifices! Learning how to say no when necessary was very difficult.
    Saying yes too much attracts guys who want to take advantage of you. This is what I’ve learned through much personal experience, and watching the experiences of my friends. Saying no is jerk-repellant. It’s a useful skill.

  11. 51

    This is a great discussion, truly enjoyable to read. Here’s my 2c. I think what Evan is trying to say can be condensed into one phrase: “pick your battles”.
    That said, it is unrealistic to expect that being “agreeable” or however else you want to call this behavior, is going to elicit identical behavioral and emotional response from different men. While it clearly works like a charm on Evan and makes him appreciate his wife even more, some men quite frankly will abuse it. With such men you either have to be a bitch and constantly push back, or just leave them if thats not in your character or not a type of a relationship you want.

  12. 52

    [email protected]
    I always enjoy your take on the situation, and like your $.02 offering this time. I am a classic agreeable person, based on your description (and have been described thus in those exact words) and I had been sharing my life space with a person who was a classic disagreeable person, and you are right on the money with this. He made everything into a power struggle, and eventually I began to accommodate him to ridiculous degrees, in effect became a doormat. So yes, I know the difference between the two; and because I wanted to be in an agreeable relationship I unbalanced things to make this happen, but he was not meeting me half way – nor ever going to, and I ended it as the abuse began. Looking back I don’t know why I was so hot to be with this guy, but I realize now that I have some co-dependency issues and am working on those.

  13. 53

    @ Tontae,

    As a former people pleaser and approval junkie, this advice was a little hard to swallow, because for me, the pendulum has swung the other way and I don’t want to please anyone but I know that this is not the way to live either so I’m working on finding that balance.   I know that being a disagreeable person will get me nowhere and I don’t enjoy being disagreeable.   I’m trying to find that middle ground where I’m not falling on a sword to get acceptance, but working to get along and reaching a reasonable compromise.     However, I don’t disagree with Evan on this as long as both people are accomodating.

  14. 54

    @starthrower68 and tontae too, for that matter.

    The idea of balance between being a co-dep pleaser and being self centered is a simple way to figure out how to protect yourself, but is not the best way to look for it.  Understand the subtle difference between caring   about someone and caretaking or taking ownership of their problems.

    Don’t seek your identity from how you think others perceive you. Build your own identity, and be responsible for your own feelings. Along with that, be compassionate, but detached (those are not opposites! For instance, recognize others pain and joy, but don’t feel them.   This is my biggest weakness.) Give to your partner and ask for what you need from your partner. If you don’t ever get it, then   think about moving on. This is different than simply shutting down about doing things for others. There are some  organizations and  good books out there to help you figure this out.

    Oh yeah, and don’t forget to laugh!

  15. 55

    @ Karl,
    I have close male friends that were initially very interested in a particular woman and lost interest because they realized very early with little effort that the woman was head over heels and they could get whatever they wanted.       Again I understand Evan’s basic premise about being fun and easy going and agreeable.

    An old man once told me that people brag about being hard to please but he felt sorry for them because it mean’t that they were not  pleased often.      

  16. 56

    I think Evan’s advice should be don’t be a whining high maintenance nag. If you get cold frequently pack a sweater. Be proactive about situations and don’t expect another person to drop what they’re doing to take care of you. Most of us say yes or least don’t complain when we need to stand up for ourselves.

  17. 57

    @ InsertPseudonymHere #59,

    I don’t disagree with what you’re saying.   For me, it hasn’t been a simple matter of just snapping out of co-dependent tendencies and doing something different.   To make a long story short, suffice it to say that I was in my mid-30’s before I was ok to make a decision without permission.   I’ve been in counseling working on that (among other things) for a number of years and I had to get down to that layer.  

  18. 58
    just me

    We learn this at work to make customers happy. It doesn’t always mean the customer gets exactly what he or she wants, but we find ways to say yes to them, or we outline ways they could get a yes. I think it’s a very effective strategy for managing people in general, be they boys or small children. ; )

  19. 59

    When I really like or love a man, I like to do things to please him and make him happy. In that situation, I finding saying “yes” very easy. That’s how it should be when you care about someone. On the other hand, if I’m not into the guy, the yeses aren’t regularly forthcoming because it doesn’t make me happy to please him. That, of course, is a sign that I shouldn’t be in the relationship.

  20. 60
    Christie Hartman

    Tontae (57): You bring up an excellent point. Agreeable people make good partners, but they are also targets for difficult/disagreeable people. Disagreeable people can’t tolerate other difficult people and try to surround themselves with easygoing people. I’ve seen this time and time again. The solution is to learn to detect the early signs of “disagreeableness” and ditch that person. The good news is that two agreeable people get along well!
    Overall, while I understand Evan’s basic point, saying yes for the sake of pleasing someone isn’t always a good idea. We have to establish where our boundaries are, and sometimes we learn this from being with people who overstep them. There is such thing as being TOO agreeable.

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