Is the female psychology as rocket science-y as pop culture and social satire make it out to be? Can guys ever effectively figure out what ‘anything’ and ‘I’m fine’ really mean?

It might seem harder than deciphering the Kryptos code, but we’ve compiled some basic rules of thumb to help you outsmart the following lines that’d make you read between her lines.


Picking out a suitable place for dinner is probably the first test of many to come. Being spoiled for choice might be a headache when going out with your spoilt woman of choice. Is ‘anything’ a hint for you to step up and be more decisive, or are her taste buds really that versatile?

Most of the time, the indifference passes for a test of whether you are sensitive to her likes, yet man enough to be decisive.

Try this: Make two dining suggestions. By giving her the freedom of (false) choice, she’ll think you’re decisive without being overbearingly bossy. It’s a win-win. Extra brownie points if you’ve done the homework on her favourites and factor that into the decision-making.

“I’m fine, it’s nothing.”

Whatever the cause, if you display nonchalance or take it at face value, it might cost you. You should’ve heard enough gender stereotype-like spoofs by now to understand that “I’m fine” could be code word for anything but ‘fine’.

Try this: Take it at face value – literally. Observe her facial and bodily cues as you ask if she’s really okay. Is there a distressing frown? Are her arms crossed? Does her tone contain more bite than usual?

When two or more of such ‘symptoms’ show, it is safe to assume that ‘nothing’ is the new ‘something’. It may take a while for her to launch into what’s really bothering her; meanwhile, keep her placated with thoughtful gestures and let her know that you’re all ears – whether or not you’re the cause.

“Do you think she’s hot?” (Flashes you a hot chick on IG)

A burning question, this one. Women love to compare. It either boosts their confidence or drives them crazy. It’s your job to soothe that green-eyed monster before she feeds into insecurity overdrive.

Try this: Nobody’s asking you to lie. Sure, it’s a man’s nature to find other women totally boner inducing, so be forthcoming about it. Take a glance at your lady’s competitor, throw in a shrug and answer with the world’s most nonchalant ‘sure’: She’s hot, but I’ll still be looking at my girl.

“Sorry, I really gotta take this.” (Reaches for her phone for the 1000th time.)

It’s probably not work. It’s just not working. If you were seriously charming her pants off and she’s interested in taking things further, she wouldn’t err on the side of rudeness and escape into her smartphone. Rather than a client from work, we’d hazard a guess that’s really her BFF on the other side sitting her through an awkward first date in spirit.

Try this: Cut the date short. There’s nothing impolite about that – at least nothing like showing more love to your phone. It’s a bruiser to your ego that you can’t salvage things enough for her to want to see you again, but time is a valuable resource.

You can’t buy back lost time. You can always buy another Tinderella dinner.

When she tees off on colleagues from hell in a 2-hour rant

Immediately, your white knight syndrome kicks in and you jump into your problem-solving mode. Bizarre as it may sound, all she really wants is an empathetic listening ear.

Ranting is a way for women to air their grievances and sort out their emotions. She’d probably rather come to the solution herself, or maybe she already knows the solution to the problem. You mansplaining your best course of action may make her feel more inferior and frustrated instead.

Try this: Sit through the rant (do you have a choice here?). Pay close attention, be present and react with the occasional nod or a ‘uh huh, that really sucks’.

When you feel like the rant is almost over, put an arm around her shoulders and feel her out (not the sexual sort). She’ll ask if she’s really lost – that’s your cue to offer your hotly anticipated thoughts/opinions/strategy/5-year master plan.

However, if she’s the kind who goes on like an aimless freight train, well, no harm tuning out to think about whether you should really get a Google Home at that Amazon sale.

“Do what you like.”

Do you sense the impending doom? You should. If you hear this, and maybe with a ‘whatever’ thrown in, you might want to stop and reconsider your decision. If you thought your generous and understanding lady came through, you thought wrong. This line means she’s done arguing, and she still thinks your current stand sucks.

Try this: Abort mission. But if it’s something important you can’t back down on, like buying 3 of the same sneakers in different colours when she has a problem with your saving habits, try and reach a compromise. It might be helpful to let the matter rest for a bit before raising the discussion again when she’s in a less foul mood.