Things women say that make men feel insecure

Do you ever say something when talking to your partner that unexpectedly sets him off? Sometimes I'll make what I think is an innocent comment to my husband, and then suddenly, he's upset. It's usually because what I've said has made him feel insecure. I went to the experts to find out specific examples of things women say that make men feel insecure. Knowing these things will hopefully help you take their feelings and perspective into consideration, and keep you from making conversational missteps in the future.

You're just jealous

If you think your partner is feeling jealous, one of the worst things you can do is call him out on it. Instead, Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide's resident sexologist, suggests that you find a better way to address their feelings. She told me, "Nobody wants to be judged for perfectly legitimate and universal emotions. If your partner is feeling jealous, they should learn to express it constructively and you need to offer support and reassurance — not make them feel worse."

She continued, "If you believe that your partner is jealous, tell them that they have nothing to worry about. And if they're expressing their jealousy in a hurtful or destructive way (e.g. lashing out, withdrawing, attacking others), wait until they've calmed down to address the way they're communicating. But don't wait until they've calmed down to offer loving reassurance."

If we weren't together, I'd be able to…

Your partner doesn't want to feel like he's holding you back from doing what you want to do, and telling him you're missing out because of him is a sure way to make him feel insecure.

Dr. O'Reilly told me, "If you really feel this way, you may want to look at your own choices and examine how to address feelings of resentment, but that's a different issue altogether. Though this statement may not seem directly tied to jealousy, when you suggest that you'd be happier without your partner, it's likely to make him worry about whether or not you're committed to the relationship."

Instead, she suggested, "If there is something you feel you're missing out on, look for ways to achieve/explore it (at least in part) and ask for support. If you want him to change something, just ask — and be willing to make a similar offer or compromise for him."

Be a man

Men are raised to hide their feelings and mask their vulnerability, but in order to have a happy, fulfilling relationship, you want your partner to be willing to share with you. Saying "be a man" will make him feel insecure and reluctant to share with you.

Rev. Sheri Heller, licensed clinical social worker, told me, "This is an emasculating statement. It insinuates that if a man is vulnerable and expressive of tender emotions like sadness that he is defective. Saying 'be a man' implies that he is a coward or a wimp and doesn't measure up to a standard of masculinity."

"Instead of disempowering her partner," Heller said, "a woman has the option to champion a man's efforts, including his capacity to reveal his softer side. Requiring a man to live within a stereotypical box is disingenuous and demeaning. Acceptance of who one is communicates love."

You don't know how to listen

Sometimes, you may just want your partner to listen and empathize with your experience, and it may be frustrating when instead of listening openly, he offers solutions for your problems. However, giving solutions doesn't mean he's not listening — it just means he's not listening in the way you would like.

Heller told me, "A man may feel he is listening when in fact he is offering advice. Hence telling him he doesn't know how to listen when he feels he is doing his best comes off as ungrateful condemnation."

"Instead," Heller recommended, "specifically explain that you would love for him to just hear you out without any interpretations or gestures to help make changes." If you help him respond in the way you want instead of condemning him, he will feel better, and your relationship will improve as well.

You're just like all the rest

If you've been in the dating world for awhile, you've probably encountered lots of men who have similar issues. Unfortunately, that can lead you to jump to conclusions about your current partner that may be untrue. Telling him he's just like everyone else will make him feel like you're comparing him to past partners, and he'll be frustrated that you're not giving him a fair chance.

Heller told me in our interview, "Women who have been burned may unjustifiably incriminate other men. This statement makes a man feel as if he can never prove himself to be a reliable, honorable human being."

She added, "Instead, take ownership for universalizing and work on healing from past betrayals." Instead of comparing your partner's behavior to men you've been with in the past, you can use this relationship to help you work through your relationship issues.

You call too much

A common complaint among women is that the men they're dating don't call enough. But if you do feel like he's calling you too much, be sensitive in communicating how often you want to be in contact with him.

Heller shared with me, "This absolutist statement throws a wrench into courtship. Pacing a relationship requires two people to respectfully share their comfort levels with contact and communication."

She continued, "Without criticizing what may feel organically right for him, communicate what feels right for you in the realm of frequency with calls and contact."

Negotiating the amount and type of contact you want in a relationship can be a challenge, especially in the beginning, but it's essential that you do so, while honoring both of your needs and feelings.

My guy friend is awesome

You probably have male friends that you really appreciate, and you should be able to express those feelings of appreciation to your partner. But it's also important to be aware of your partner's insecurities. That way, you can decide how to talk about your guy friend in a way that makes both of you feel good.

Caleb Backe, life coach and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, told me, "As mature and capable as a partner might seem, it is all too possible that hearing about your fondness for a platonic friend is making him insecure. Men are competitive by nature, and inviting the comparison between him and someone who could in theory represent romantic competition will likely make him feel insecure."

He added, "In order to make him feel more secure, follow up your mention of a guy-friend by subtly reminding him how happy you are with him to counteract any potential negative feelings."

Compared to other guys, you're…

You probably don't like being compared to other women, so it makes sense that your partner would feel bad if you compared him to other men. It's natural to mentally compare him to other men — just keep those thoughts to yourself so you don't hurt him.

Backe told me, "Even if you compare him to someone else in a polite way, you're still making him feel insecure. Also, even if you're comparing him to someone who is obviously not interested in you romantically — like your sister's husband — it's not going to make him feel good."

He continued, "Especially don't compare him to an ex, which will almost inevitably make him feel insecure and cause him to wonder about your feelings in the relationship."

Laura Bilotta, dating coach and matchmaker, agreed. She told me in our interview that, while you should be comfortable to be open and honest with your partner, it may not serve any positive purpose to inform him if there are other guys you are innocently attracted to.

She added, "This is why it's important to have girlfriends to talk to. Have friends you can dish to so that your guy doesn't have to hear about how cute your neighbor's butt is."

Why can't you do anything right?

Generalizing and telling your partner he can't do anything right is a sure way to make him feel bad. Bilotta told me, "This isn't a nice thing to say to anyone, so obviously if you say that to the man you love, he's going to be mad."

"Instead of lashing out and blaming your guy for everything," she added, "you need to bring it down to the specific matter at hand. Always use 'I' statements when addressing your concerns. For example, 'It makes me upset when you put the non-dishwasher safe things in the dishwasher even after we've discussed it.'"

When you address specific behaviors and how they make you feel, you can help your partner do a better job next time, instead of making him feel like he's incompetent.

You don't make enough money

If you accuse a other half of not making enough money, he will feel frustrated and insecure, and you'll come off looking greedy and selfish.

Heller told me, "Men often wonder if they are a meal ticket for women. Probing a man for his financial acumen suggests he is as valuable as his income and makes him question your motives. Instead, practice generosity and look for a man who is benevolent and giving. All the money in the world can't compensate for a miserly character."

Bilotta pointed out that even in a committed relationship, income can be a touchy subject. Instead of accusing your partner of not making enough money, work together to improve your financial situation. She suggested, "If money is an issue in your house, take the time to talk about how you can make the money you have go further."

She added, "When it's time to ask for a raise, practice negotiation techniques together, and if the job you or your man is in isn't going to work, then you need to discuss a career change or maybe even going back to school. Money is always a two-way street."

Sometimes it's what you don't say

While it's important to avoid saying things that will make your partner insecure, it's equally vital that you make sure to verbally appreciate him on a regular basis.

Backe told me, "If men are sensing a lack of compliments, appreciation or love from their partner, it can make them feel insecure in terms of what they are contributing in the relationship. Promote good feelings and happiness by letting him know how much you appreciate him and how much he means to you."

He added, "This will limit any potential insecurity across the board. Sometimes it's not what you say, it's what you don't say!"