The (non)babbling idiot, excluding this question in which I babble rather idiotically
October 21, 2007 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I suffer from a general retardation when it comes to expressing myself verbally in romantic situations, and I am a female. And I'm 25.

This has always been an issue for me in relationships. It's like since I'm a female I'm supposed to know just what to say. The reality is that I am the one perpetually at a loss for serious words to describe my emotions, yet never at a loss for a sarcastic one-off that has in the past bordered on criticism. I've curbed that mostly because I'm way less bitter now that I'm past adolescence.

The conversation always goes "How do you feel about me?" or "-insert sweetest, most insightful thing any man has ever said to a woman-, what about you?" and then I blank. The most creative compliments I can think of being "Duh, I think you're funny, too" or "You're sexy, ahur."

Why can't I articulate myself? Why do I clam up? I guess I just feel like anything I say would be trite or not significant enough and then I'm completely blocked. I need some specific examples of sweet things to say that are sincere but aren't flowery and ridiculous.

Of course anything I actually say will come from me and my specific experience, but I need some phrasing assistance or something...I want to be a better romantic.

The person I'm dealing with right now makes me laugh and is effing hot and smart and I want to be in direct contact with his penis as often as possible. This may sound mildly amusing in print but doesn't quite flow when spoken. And even if I say it once, which I have + 10 times the charm, saying it again the same way grinds my nerves and I feel like an idiot repeating myself in such a non-creative way. Any advice, specific or general?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You are, perhaps, overthinking this. Perhaps you're just better at expressing it physically (and I'm not just talking sex -- hugs and handholding counts, too). Or maybe you express it goofily. Or sarcastically. Say so.

At some point, mention to your guy, "Hey, by the way, I really really suck at thinking at romantic stuff. So if it sounds sarcastic and bitchy or trite, just realize it's the best I can do at that very moment. But, I do express it by [blablablabla]." Follow this up with cuddling and sex.

If the guy is worth his weight, he won't care that much, and will immediately assure you that it's fine. And will follow things up with cuddling and sex.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:27 PM on October 21, 2007

Just stick with simple phrases until it starts to be more natural. Guys tend to be simple creatures anyway, so a complete lack of iambic pentameter shouldn't drive away men. Our movies and novels have conditioned us to think we need to be poets. 's not true.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:36 PM on October 21, 2007

I agree with flibber. You don't need to spout Shakespeare to show your appreciation. Smile really big, tell him he's sweet, and kiss him. You let him know that you're not great at waxing poetically, but definitely dig his abilities. He should be more than happy with that.

Also, the moon is in sync with Venus and rising over Gemini. It's not too late to cast off the shackles of yesterday and play the lottery. Your lucky numbers are 6, 24, 13, 42, 11, and 4.

*cough* Sorry.
posted by empyrean at 9:42 PM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Nothing says "I think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread" like a blowjob.

I'm a girl.
posted by clh at 9:44 PM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I agree with the responses above - I would just keep it simple. I don't see why you can't be direct and honest.
posted by pombe at 9:51 PM on October 21, 2007

makes me laugh and is effing hot and smart and I want to be in direct contact with his penis as often as possible. This may sound mildly amusing in print

This will do quite nicely. Trust that these words are more than enough for the male of the species.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:54 PM on October 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my experience, the single best axis of communication within a couple is a shared sense of humor. Without it, conversations -- especially intimate conversations -- often become uphill battles. Couples can talk about anything under the sun when they can also laugh about it together.

What makes him laugh? Is it silliness, sarcasm, nonverbal/slapstick, puns, etc? You can answer questions like "How do you feel about me?" in any of those modes, or some combination thereof. At the end of the day, nothing helps one person relate to another better than sharing a laugh with them.

If you're interested in exploring this further, here's a (possibly trite) humor "test" from OkCupid: The 3 Variable Funny Test. Just be careful to actually address/answer his concerns and not just brush him off trying to get a laugh out of him. (It's cheating to let yourself off the hook like that!)
posted by DaShiv at 10:10 PM on October 21, 2007

If it worries you, just explain that you're not very good at saying romantic things. Some set of guys might be disappointed if you don't, just because they think you'd do it to someone else. If you explain it, 0% of guys will care, if you're loving and romantic in other ways.

(am a guy)
posted by JZig at 10:11 PM on October 21, 2007

Look dude in the eyes, tell him to shut up, tell him you feel like you're kind of retarded about expressing this stuff, and then tell him you think he's funny/sexy/awesome in plain, unadorned words. Curse throughout as necessary. Smile while you're at it.

You don't have to be clever or sassy or phrase things just right. Just be gut honest about the fact that you like the guy, like being with him, like being with him. If he's not totally blanko, that should work pretty well.
posted by cortex at 10:21 PM on October 21, 2007

When my wife is in direct contact with my penis, I've always been able to infer the rest for myself. Words are superfluous.
posted by Lame_username at 10:41 PM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Good God I loathe the whole "tell me what you're thinking right now" or "What do you like about me" stuff. When I feel compelled to get gushy, I do, no matter how she sets it up.

Just be there and remember that actions speak louder than words.
posted by sourwookie at 10:58 PM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

How are you at other times? You clam up when he says something really sweet, but do you ever say something like that to him?

I don't think it's a big deal if you don't have something to respond with immediately. If it's such a sweet, insightful thing that he just said to you, then it's understandable that you are "speechless".

I think what the other people are saying is all good advice and probably boils down to that trite but true maxim, "Be yourself." Just be sure to let him know how you feel about him (and not just when he is expecting it), in whatever words you want. "You know what? I sure do like you." is sure to please your man.

Another good idea is to set up romantic evenings, or fun plans for a day-off. That way you don't have to say anything special, just let him know what you've got planned, he'll know how special you think he is.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:06 AM on October 22, 2007

If men often ask you how you feel about them, you're not expressing appreciation for them enough. I assume it's because you're self-conscious, don't be.

saying it again the same way grinds my nerves and I feel like an idiot repeating myself in such a non-creative way.

Everything about love is non-creative. Don't deprive your partner of your affection because you were not the first two people to love.

Almost everyone would rather hear "you're beautiful" 50 times, than never hear it at all.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:18 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

You're in the majority, based on my experience.

I'm always the eloquent one who gets the grunt or the thank-you in return, and I can't think of anyone I've been close to who has been as expressive as I am. Sometimes this makes me self-conscious -- but it makes me happy to tell someone how I feel about them. I wring my hands a lot worrying I'm making them feel weird or pressured or that they'll think I'm a crazy stalker or obsessive psycho girlfriend, but in the end, I just tell myself that my intentions are good and that it's all compliments. If someone doesn't want a compliment, sincerely delivered, from someone they care for, then it's definitely their issue, not the complimentor's.

For me, it all stems from being constantly in touch with how I feel. It flows naturally from that. It's hard for me to resist telling a boy that I love his sleepy blue eyes and how they look when I make him smile, because when he smiles that's all I can think about. (Erm, hypothetically speaking...)

Maybe you're just not built that way. Maybe verbal expression isn't your strong point. Maybe you're holding back or maybe you're just a more reserved person. Maybe you're overthinking, or maybe you don't really know how you feel without the benefit of time to reflect back. Or maybe you're just judicious with your words and actions. Lord knows I wish I knew how to be subtle, because my expressiveness can get me into trouble, but I don't -- at all -- and we're all different.

Don't change who you are, but think about how you feel when he extends himself with the sole intention of making you feel good about yourself. It's wonderful to be close to someone, but it's just so nice to be told once in a while -- it eases the doubt you feel in the times life tests you. It's strengthening to have those words ringing in your ear when you need them.

Next time you find yourself swooning over your partner's soft hands or the way his waist feels when you hug him or the way his hair cowlicks around the back of his ear, try just stating the fact. Use email or a note or a text message if you're self-conscious; it gives you a chance to compose your thought on your own time.

I think as long as you're honest, and as long as you're trying because you want to and not out of a misguided sense of obligation, then you can't go wrong.
posted by loiseau at 1:57 AM on October 22, 2007

No man ever left a woman he othewise loved because of her lack of oral aptitude. wait, that didn't come out right. You get the point.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:40 AM on October 22, 2007

Find something small you admire and shoot him a random compliment whenever you happen to be thinking about it. My current boy has complimented everything from my eyelashes to my tiniest toenail. He berates himself about being unpoetic, but I haven't minded in the least.

When he pulls a "how about you?" kinda game, smile and smooch him.
posted by lauranesson at 3:53 AM on October 22, 2007

Speaking as a guy, trust me, the fact you want to be "in contact with his penis as often as possible" will be enough for him to be happy with you. Yes, we really are that simple.

And once you've both had lots and lots of sex, the conversation will flow a lot easier, since you'll be a lot more comfortable around each other.

Trust me.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:34 AM on October 22, 2007

A lot of men here are going to tell you that your crude expression is sufficient. And that's fine. However, the question is about how to improve.

Personally, I've never gotten much out of prepared statements, or the dreaded "What are you thinking?" conversations (if they can even be called that -- those questions are torture, awful. Love expresses best spontaneously, not in ambush. IMHO). What has always shredded me, brought me the most in-the-moment joy, is when I'm with someone and they comment in an encouraging way on something specific. For example, "I love it when your Russian accent slips" or "It feels really good when your hands graze my neck as we kiss." or "I love how we can read together for hours, and not say a word.". One particularly fond memory of mine is a woman who always noticed my hands, which are always scarred, and often bleeding, bruised, and lined with the dirt of shop work (I'm a sculptor and machinist at night, neuroscience grad student by day). She would, at the moment of least expectation say something like "I love your hands", and she'd usually touch my undeserving mitts when she said that sort of thing, and it always tore me up in the best possible way. (man, I miss her)

As you can see, these are not examples of the most articulate language, but they clearly communicate two things:

1. I am doing the right thing, intentionally or not, and however minor.
2. It pleases you, so I should continue or do it more often.

The fact that it's unplanned -- a simple statement of preference, of aesthetic pleasure... that right then and there, you're enjoying some aspect of this human that you love... it's enough, it's more than enough because it's not required, demanded, or expected.
posted by fake at 6:43 AM on October 22, 2007

Why can't I articulate myself? Why do I clam up? I guess I just feel like anything I say would be trite or not significant enough and then I'm completely blocked.

You're young and need more practice, and are setting your personal bar too high. Jeez, just go ahead and be trite - if sarcastic quipping comes easy and earnest sincerity doesn't then just be sappy and silly and have some fun with it - that's somewhat of a middle ground.

All interpersonal communication is learned, and some of us who'd like to think we're of average intelligence or above didn't necessarily get the same life experience & practice as early as some. So what? Cut yourself a break and remember that someone who likes you LIKES YOU, and that includes iffy relationship skills in certain areas.
posted by phearlez at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2007

It sounds to me like you are doing just fine with the actual thoughts and words, but the problem comes when it is actually time to express yourself. . I think that given time, you will be more comfortable expressing yourself verbally. Don’t sweat it till you are, just put it out there. I think this is one of those times where, indeed, it is the thought that counts.

Most of the sweetest things a girl has ever said to me were in those witty sarcastic bantering moments that I tend to have in relationships. I have found that oftentimes, when I say, “Ya know, you’re alright,” what I am actually saying is, “I think I really do love you.” Silly? Yeah. And it would take someone a lot of time with me to realize that is what I mean. Heck, it took me years to figure out that’s what that meant.

I can’t speak for many guys. Guys are all different (and I am a weird one) but for me, just hearing any sincere compliment is awesome. I can’t tell you how much a (and this is going to sound dumb) “You smell really nice,” does it for me. Maybe I just have a delicate ego. It is always good to know that you are appreciated.

The best answer I have ever heard for the whole, “What are you thinking?” question is, “Why aren’t you kissing me?” I learned that from a girl I never dated (or kissed) but was just a friend of mine, and have used it to great success to this day.
posted by Chickenjack at 4:44 AM on October 23, 2007

makes me laugh and is effing hot and smart and I want to be in direct contact with his penis as often as possible

I'm stealing this line from you and using it on my b/f the first chance I get! It's affectionate, sexy, funny, & to the point, and that's fantastic in it's own right. You don't need to be all flowery and romance-serious, as long as you keep sharing your thoughts and feelings. I think it's ok to be repetitive, I've noticed that's pretty much the norm for couples' lovey dovey chit chat.
posted by zarah at 4:09 PM on October 23, 2007

any kind of prepared statements aren't going to come across as spontaneous.
you could train yourself to use new words. look up em and i dont know write them on your hand as in "word i must use today" kind of thing.

involve your bf and make it like a game, easier to learn things which are fun.
posted by browolf at 11:06 AM on October 29, 2007

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