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Decoding Men's Oddball Love Signals

His gifts are terrible. He talks when you want him to listen. His idea of a date is take-out pizza on the couch. Is this your guy's notion of affection and romance? Well, actually, yes.

It's the Thought That Counts...Right? continued...

Understand, though, that when men buy you lingerie, it's not at all meant as some kind of triple-dog-dare. It's our way of saying, "I think you're every bit as sexy as the mannequin I saw in the store window on the way home." (And c'mon, have you seen the mannequins they have these days? That's about as high as a compliment gets.) This, at least, is how Benson, a 34-year-old computer engineer from Seattle, sees it.

Benson and his wife, Lisa, a yoga instructor, have been married for eight years. During that time, Benson says, Lisa's supply of white cotton underwear — what he refers to as her "Eastern Bloc underwear" — had reached Stalinist proportions. "Lisa's a beautiful woman," he says, "but somewhere between clothed and naked, I would find myself facing a brunette potato farmer. So I started buying her lingerie in earnest so she would have underwear on par with her own beauty." Today, Lisa owns roughly one set of lingerie for every day of the month. And while she might have been somewhat apprehensive at first about this spate of skivvies — fearing that every garment required a Jenna Jameson-like act of appreciation — she now sees the overflow of underthings for what it is: a Shakespearean sonnet writ in silk.

HIS TAKE:

"For her birthday right before we got engaged, I told my now-wife, Kathryn, that my gift for her was expensive and indestructible. It was a KitchenAid mixer. I don't remember if I wanted her to think it was a diamond ring, but the fact that she saw the humor in the situation is surely a sign of love." —John Heetderks, 32 Germantown, MD

"I've never bought my sweetie lingerie because I think she likes picking out things that she believes I'll enjoy — and rightly so! That said, I just love being with her — wearing lingerie or not." —Peter Bonilla, 47 New York City

What, This Isn't a Date?

decoding_mens_love_signalsSo now you know why your man gives such bad gifts. But why does he plan such horrible dates? Or, more to the point, why do his dates always involve Domino's pizza and Kickboxer 3 on pay-per-view?

"Look, I've interviewed hundreds of men for my books," Schwartz says, "and they're all extremely clear on this point: Guys just want to connect with their woman doing something that they love. It's basically an organic process for them. It's like, What would I enjoy? Oh, Thai food sounds great! And what about a movie and some beer? Wow, perfect evening! And who can I share this perfect evening with? My lady, of course! Your guy knows what he likes, and if he can experience those things with the woman he loves, he's happy." So you see, we're lazy... because we love you!

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