"Grab me a Vitaminwater from the fridge while you're up."
What it means: Sure, his nonchalant tone (and failure to say, what's the word -- please) can be jarring, but it doesn't mean he thinks you're his slave. Men, unlike women, tend to be much more comfortable using command terms rather than asking for things. Translation: "He's less likely to say, 'Would you mind...' before a request," says Glass.
"No prob. Anytime."
What it means: What ever happened to just a regular "You're welcome?" In short, testosterone. A 2008 study by the University of Western Ontario found that men are more likely to use phrases like "anytime," even after doing a favor that cost a lot of money or time -- as if to suggest that they could perform the same favor again if needed. You might have noticed that your boyfriend uses this type of language even more with other guys than with you -- and you're exactly right. It's actually a modern form of alpha male behavior.
"Crap, it's your birthday? I totally forgot...psych!"
What it means: You might have dreamed of waking up on your birthday to roses and breakfast in bed, which is why his practical joke isn't funny -- to you. But to him, it's so freaking hilarious he needs to take his show on the road. "Men are more into practical joking while female humor relies more on plays on words," says Glass. Try not to take his goofy jokes to heart -- he's not trying to hurt your feelings (he just wants to make you laugh).
What it means: Nothing's more frustrating than having your guy shut down mid-fight. You want to talk it out until things are cool; he wants to do anything except talk. But don't take his stonewalling routine as him not caring. Lois Braverman, MSW, president of the Ackerman Institute, says women have learned to "read" men, scanning every word and move for meaning. Here's a newsflash: His silence isn't code for "I'm trying to be difficult" -- he's just looking to snag some alone time to think things through. Let him have it.
"So it all started this morning on my way to work..."
What it means: Well, you don't know yet -- because she's only been telling the story for 15 minutes, and she won't get to the main point for another 10. "Going on and on can really irritate men," says Lillian Glass, PhD, author of He Says, She Says: Closing the Communication Gap Between the Sexes. "It comes down to the fact that women use a lot of descriptive terms in a way men don't." So what should you do? Listen. And if you're losing track, nicely ask her to start with the juicy part (but be warned, you'll have to listen to the rest too).
"I mean, it's not that it really bothers me when you leave your dirty boxers on my side of the bathroom. It's just, you know, sort of gross."
What it means: She's just watering down her irritation. The truth is, seeing your dirty skivvies by her sink pisses the hell out of her. Robin Tolmach Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Language and Woman's Place, says that women use fillers like "you know" and "sort of" as a way of softening language that could be received as dominant or aggressive. Take note: The fluff between her words doesn't make them softer.
"I'm really upSET."
What it means: Not to paint women with a passive-aggressive brush, but studies have shown that women use upward inflection more than men do (at least in our culture). "Going up in pitch at the very end of a sentence, or letting a sentence die off, can come off tentative," says Glass. "So even if your wife is saying she's really mad, you might not process it that way because of her 'polite' tone." So the next time she tells you she's "really" anything (mad, tired, annoyed, horny), take her word for it -- no matter how it sounds coming out.
"Sweetie (or baby, or honey, or stud muffin -- whatever floats your boat), did you load the dishwasher?"
What it means: Okay, now you might not think of this situation as foreplay, but for your girlfriend, a response that includes a pet name like, "Yup, all done, love," can be the equivalent of her grabbing your crotch and pointing toward the bedroom. "Women are more tuned in to what they hear than men," says Glass. "If you want to have a good relationship, you need to tune in to the auditory aspect of communication -- not just the physical." So keep the terms of endearment going throughout the day...even when you're standing at the sink.
See More: Couple Issues , How to , Love & Sex