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).
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  1. 61

    Well, if this guy loves you and if he’s a good guy, then yes, saying yes will definately making  him  appreciate her more to a certain level.   Otherwise, we all know what the outcome is going to be.   The women always say yes will feel unappreciated and being used and feeling miserable most of the time.

  2. 62
    Born Again Virgin

    Coming into this discussion late, but it’s been interesting how Evan’s words have been interpreted.   I am a older woman (55)  just starting to re-enter the dating scene after divorcing a closeted gay man of 33 years.   Until an affair I had last September, my only experience with a man . . . was the gay man.   We became exclusive at 17–it’s what was back then.   But, I found that straight men are different.   At least, in my limited experience.   They really don’t want the drama; save that for your girlfriends.   Gay guys will listen to that.   It has been a huge adjustment and caused a lot of heartache for me.   Frankly, I’m glad the straight guy has hobbies and stuff he does with friends.   I think it’s healthier for him and the relationship.

    I do agree with Evan that being easy-going will probably benefit you in the long run.   Yes, there’s a fine line between that and doormat.   I think everyone is smart enough to understand that.   Personally, after living a sexual drought for the last 11 years  of my  marriage, the idea of getting naughty on an airplane sounds delightful.   Actually, I’d be thrilled to try that.

    Will I say “no”?   Yes, but I’ll pick my battles.   But, any guy I date will NEVER hear me say “no” to intimacy requests.   I will never be tired, busy, etc.   I’ve got way too much catching up to do.   Just say’n.

  3. 63

    The thought of having sex on an airplane is sickening to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m scared of flying, and would be too preoccupied worrying that  I could  blow up at any moment.

  4. 64

    I’m cool with easygoing and laid back women for sure, but I like my women a little bit bratty and occasionally difficult/demanding. If she’s not testing me, I lose my edge, and the sexiness leaves the relationship. If I had to rate my preferred brattiness, I’d like I like it 4/10. I blogged about this recently at my place.  

    @Margo: I didn’t read every single comment, where did the airplane sex come into this??

  5. 65
    Neil Ward

    I’ve never actually stopped to think about this, but Evan, you are 100% correct! I found my self highly attracted to my GF when I first met her and now I know ‘1 of’ the reasons why… she was just up for all the crazy things that I wanted to do (social wise… not naughty!)
    Cheers for the article, I’ll link back.

  6. 66

    I just found this site and I’ve been reading for hours despite the fact that it’s so frustrating and annoying to read some of the things posted.


    Why is it that WOMEN have to tailor themselves in order to compete for a man’s affection, respect, and ultimately commitment?   What happened to the man trying to woo the woman??   What does the man have to do to compete for the woman’s affection, respect, and committment?   According to this new social movement, the man has to do nothing, the woman has to do everything to win him over.   He is encouraged to just be himself in his au naturale state of selfishness, childishness, narrow mindedness, and the list goes on.   He is not encouraged to improve himself into a thoughtful, mature, open-minded person.   No, he can just be in his natural unappealing state and then women need to tailor themselves to deal with and please someone in such a state.

    Books tha tell women to be bitches, the books that tell women to be easy going, and everything in between those two opposites are all garbage because men do not pick women based on any logical set of items they are looking for!   It’s scientifically proven that men don’t even know what they want or pick based on a set criteria, it’s completely brainless for men.   So, how can anyone claim to give women a true guide on who and how to be to get a man to choose you, when there’s no ryhme or reason for why men choose one woman over another???

    Therefore, I think women should just be themselves, with the caveat that you should always try to be a better person both internally and externally, not for a man who it may not even matter to, but for yourself…be beautiful on the inside and outside because YOU deserve to SHINE for YOU.   If a guy comes along and values you, then okay, but if not, at the end of the day you are SHINING.

  7. 67

    I agree with Ruby (“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”. “)
    But it’s probably a generational thing. Not sure 20-somethings would agree.  Many of them  have the confidence I only got at 40, maybe not then!
    But in my experience it’s TRUE that the longer you’re single, unmarried, older, the more you want it your way, no matter what your personality probably.
    In my dating experience, and I’ve dated from 26-63, most men are so controlling that they are the “no” people in the equation, not me. I was raised by a Southern Belle to be a SB and people pleasing comes EASY  to me. Do I still do it? Not as much as before (’caused it exhausted me finally), but with guys I’ve already intuited to go with the flow, be agreeable, easy going etc.

    But like most gals here, I tend to jettison the guy ’cause along about month two or three, when he’s controlled nearly everything, indicated little interest in what I want, I simply bail. End of story. My ego finally just can’t take it anymore.

    Finally, in my experience, the guy won’t care what you truly want til he, in his mind, nominates you as “the one”.   With most men, I no longer care if the guy does that- that’s not my objective. My objective is simple- to love people, male and female. Also to date and have fun! A co-worker put it best when she said “When it stops being fun, bail”. Simple as that. That’s my mantra now.

    Despite my frustration, luckily I recently dated against type, and found a great guy (we’ve been dating 2.5 months),  who doesn’t seem so controlling, though he’s clearly an alpha (a manager, so a bit used to getting his way, etc.). I am loving every minute I’m with him. He also doesn’t yet take me for granted. Is courting me still, etc.

    I so want this one to last I am keeping my mouth shut, coming here for inspiration, going more than EVER with the flow. So far, our relationship just flows and flows with few hiccups.

    I’ve been at this online dating crud for two years+, so folks wish me luck!!!!

  8. 68

    I agree with Dena–it seems that women are always the ones that need to please, when in the end, a guy doesn’t usually pick a woman based on any criteria. When you love somebody, you just feel more at ease with them, regardless of how much of an easy going person they actually are. It just feels that way. Evan is talking about his wife anyway, so it’s more likely that she’ll be agreeable if they love each other and have a good relationship. That’s all it takes. It depends on the suggestion too, but if you guys are similar, you’ll probably have similar interests too. And I disagree with all these “b*tch” steretypes–if men can disagree, women have the right to as well. It’s good to carefree but disagreeing at times isn’t a crime 🙂 in general, life isn’t black and white, but compromise works best. Just find the right person for you, and this won’t be something you’ll even need to worry about!  

  9. 69

    Also, I know for me, I find women who agree on anything come across as pretty dumb for some reason. Having confidence enables you to say no at times. I think it makes sense to disagree in cases that compromise your health or self-esteem. But even so, if he suggests dinner and you feel nauseous, say no! Don’t cave in. Next time though, you can suggest something as compromise.  

    I also agree with some of the above comments, that women more often have difficulty saying no than yes. It’s easier to say yes. But many stay stuck in terrible relationships due to that (even though the guy is happy constantly having his needs satisfied). What kind of relationship is that? Saying no is good at times. If you’re saying either yes or no ALL the time, I think you need a new guy. A guy that’s right will suggest things that you can at least agree to at times–and he won’t be so fed up if you say no sometimes–that’s only childish and selfish.  

    This article is pretty vague, and only reflects one person’s opinions too. As one guy said, resistance at times can keep a guy interested and it can be quite sexy! It all depends on her OVERALL personality! The idea of “easygoing” depends on your interpretation too, and this trait will be presented differently in different people as well 🙂   Thanks for understanding!

  10. 70

    i think this is whats going to make me break up with my gf right now. EVERthing is no! rules for everything i dont think i can take to much more i want a happier person

  11. 71

    I am fascinated by this website focused on finding and retaining a man as if they were a commodity.   Throughout history men and women did not fall in love.   They reproduced.   It is modern society that forces the thought there can be more when perhaps there really cannot be according to our species make up.
    Men are just the other half of our species and mate to reproduce. They do not need from us what we need from them: (protection and reproduction) yet we are raised to believe we need them to fulfill our lives through modern society manipulation by media.
    My question is:   Why in the world do women want men in their daily lives?  
    Is it to reproduce and to have financial security when that occurs?   Modern society now allows us to earn our own money and we can either adopt a child and support the child or go to a sperm donation station and have one of our own….
    Is it for sex?   Well, sex is everywhere….with proper protection you can safely have it every night by hanging out with buddy friends who are into casual sex.
    Is it for companionship?   Really, so girlfriends are not enough and the best companionship ever?    What does a man in a relationship ever give you, besides sex that a woman friend does not?   Think about it?   The best times of your life will be with your friends and possibly not with men because your tension and security needs interfere with truly enjoying that male for what he has to give, which is very little.
    I am not a man basher.   I am happily married because I married my equal. During dating I looked for a man who was willing to be everything he wanted from me and willing to give me everything he wanted me to give him. In other words, if he wanted a caregiver, then he had to be one in return. Since he was an adult, he could take care of himself and do his own laundry, cook his own meals, etc.   We hired house cleaning service to take care of our mutual dislike of cleaning house.    I did not make myself the designated shopper or the designated anything.   If he didn’t like that and wanted to pout then I let him pout…..he got over it.   This way I did not become who I am not-I did not become a manipulator, a nag or a slave to an adult.   I love to cook but I cook when I am able and not because he is incapable.   He will feed himself and I don’t take on guilt or worry I will lose him to another woman.   If he wants to watch football all weekend i don’t care…he is not my servant or my slave.   He is a friend and a lover.   I am financially independent so I am not dependent on him.   I am not having a child with him nor would I if I could not support that child emotionally and financially with my own earnings.
    Women, why are you so desperate for men that you spend half your adult lives wasting money and precious time on fashion, make up, hair, games, etc. when you could apply all that money and time into doing thrilling things like learning something you have always been interested in or going on fabulous trips?   I met my husband on a mountain trail while coming out of the woods on a solo backpacking trip.   I was grimy with dirt after three days in the mountains, I stunk and I was excessively happy and at peace because I just did something I wanted. I was a catch because I was myself.
    Be yourself and that means stop hunting men and learn to hunt down who you are without make up and hair and all the other crap you spend precious hours and money on.   Find yourself and you may find you don’t want a man or at the very least, you don’t want a man who wants a mommy.

  12. 72
    Sparkling Emerald

    Shangie @ 76 -My question is:   Why in the world do women want men in their daily lives?
         I’m a little puzzled by your post, you start off with a rant about how we don’t need men or love, and ask why any woman does, then proceed to tell us how   happily married you are.   Why do all the resentment towards women who want what you claim to have, a happy marriage ? (which apparently you don’t need or want to begin with)   And why all the vitriol towards women who enjoy wearing make up, nice hair styles and stylish clothes ?   I have no beef with earthy women, who prefer to be bare faced and play in the dirt.   I do take exception to such women putting down other women who enjoy dressing up and wearing make up.   It would be a boring world if we were all alike.
         As for what I want in a man ?   I am looking for a complement, not a clone of myself.  
       Anyway I am a grown woman with a full time job,(and a seasonal p/t job)   I can make my own decisions on how to spend my time and money.   If you don’t like make up and a nice hair style, then don’t indulge.   I enjoy those frills, among many other things.   I don’t consider it a waste of money if it’s something I enjoy.   Make up, stylish clothing and hair is PART of who I am, as well as yoga, jazzercise, biking, acting, sewing, fine dining, cooking, attending live shows,   photography & hiking.   Dressing up and being my self are not mutually exclusive.   You need to lighten up a bit.       You’ll take away my mascara & blush, when you pry them out of my cold dead hands !

  13. 73

    I need to apply this to myself. I have always struggled in picking my battles. I guess I want it all! My fiance hasn’t been listening to me on some very important issues and I think it is quite possible I have just demanded my way on so many other issues that it’s just all blending together for him.

  14. 74

    Karl 30 – love it.   It gave me a good laugh (and I’m not being mean or sarcastic here – genuine mirth and enjoyment).
    On the subject of doormats – I’m a fairly easy going woman until such time as someone steps over my line of dignity.   Usually, the no, we’re not doing this is quietly expressed.  
    Certainly I would expect in a relationship some “no’s” and “yes’s” from both parties.
    Speaking at lunch with some colleagues, the men said exactly this, that they enjoyed being let loose from their wives on Friday evenings – to play card games with their menfriends, and they return the compliment, as a normal person does.
    I would certainly say “no” to things I don’t agree to, whether that be professional or personal and have certainly put a few people in their place (sometimes, easygoing and calm is confused with……..does not have an opinion).

  15. 75

    Evan – No 10 – Ha, I’ve had a man say that he likes to go out with other women.   That was fine by me. I just said, great, if that’s the way the cookie crumbles, I’ll be doing the same by going out with other men.
    Actually, it shocked him.

  16. 76

    I love this article. I’m in my mid 30’s and for the first time finally realized the power in the word yes!

    I wish I would have paid more attention to your blog in the past, but I just found it in the last few months. So how did I learn this? Well, I did something kinda smart/dumb/enlightening…. I did that thing that gets you hurt in the end, but seems like a good idea. I dated a guy friend for a year with no hope for commitment. I knew that from day one, but in the end I got a best friend who truly adored and loved me. No not in love with me, but truly loved me and still to this day would do anything for me. It wasn’t easy, but it’s where I was at a few years ago. But my point is…. along the road of dating him- we would really talk about what makes you want someone. And he kept saying that he went towards younger girls not only because of beauty but because they were open, free, easy, wanted to try new things, said yes! That the older women get the more set in their ways they are. So I tried this on with him… this saying yes. It was awesome in a way because each time I would begin to be difficult he would remind me that life is easy, fun, to be experienced. And it clicked. I was happy. It was easy. And he wanted to be around me. So yes, that year ended- I actually ended it and we remain friends. And it was stupid in a way to be honest to use a whole year that way. But….

    Now I’ve been with my current bf for a year. We are committed, live together, talk about a future, I’ve met the family, etc. But it’s different. Yes, we moved fast, etc. But it’s a core love beyond lust. Yes, there is passion, but the core of it is unlike any other. It’s not about butterflies all the time, etc. And why? I truly believe it’s because I learned how to say yes, be easygoing, chose my battles. For so long people just couldn’t understand why I was single… I’m attractive, fit, I work out, intelligent, a chef, etc. But truth be told I was not fun in relationships. So once I learned how to be fun and let intense moments pass, be playful, be sexy, be silly, be loving, and most importantly know when to voice my emotions, fears, and be a pain in the ass…. well things go easier. And because of that… I don’t have to change at all. I’m still emotional, neurotic, a pain in moments… But as my bf says 97% of the time amazing. I allow myself the space to say no and be a pain. But I realized why not say yes. And the more I say yes, the more he loves me… ANd the more he feels loved the more I feel loved. And it’s that feeling that has him listen to me when I’m upset. It’s that he knows I want to say yes and be easy, but I”m imperfect. So my moments of being difficult don’t have him disappear or go into a cave for days.

    I’m rambling on here… But I just wish so many women would give it a rest. It’s not about the housewife 1950’s mentaility. It’s about getting that it’s so much more fun just to say yes and be happy. And if you do this… your bf will be the man of your dreams. In my past 6 months in and things started to dwindle and get boring. The biggest differnce on this one… He wakes up every morning excited to see me, can’t wait to share his ideas, knows he can have as much space as he needs, knows all I want is him to be happy, and knows that I will be responsible for my feelings when I do get upset.

    I’m so not perfect… but this lesson has totally changed my love life. I didn’t just meet the right man. I became the gf he has never had, thought didn’t exist and still adores more each day.

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