Sorry, wrong. In fact, many of the nice things you do for your girlfriend may actually be driving her crazy: Buying her jewelry that’s not her style, surprising her with romance at inopportune times, trying to fix her problems (rather than just listening to them), for example. What sweet, point-winning moves are you making that she secretly hates?
It’s not quite as tricky as it sounds, says psychologist Alicia Clark, PsyD. “The problem mainly happens when a gesture isn’t fully considered in terms of how a partner will feel,” Clark says. “Thinking of how she’ll feel about something is always a safe move to make sure your thoughtful gestures are received in the way you intended.”
Okay, consider her feelings and you’ll probably do fine—but here are some moves to avoid anyway.
1. Buying her jewelry
I love jewelry—most women do. So why am I almost always disappointed when a guy presents me with something sparkly? “Guys make the mistake of thinking that the broad category of ‘jewelry’ is enough,” says relationship expert Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. “It’s not.” Women are very particular about jewelry, she says, and if you’re not paying attention to what she actually likes and wears, your thoughtful gift comes across as a lack of interest.
“It looks like you don’t know or care about what she really loves,” Thomas says. “If you’re going to buy her jewelry, you’d better know what she likes to wear. You can look for clues—does she like hearts, does she like gold or silver, is she drawn to bigger or smaller pieces?”
2. Trying to fix her problems
Unless her problem is a leaky faucet, a hard-to-hang painting, or a spider, she probably doesn’t want you to fix it. “Men and women are very different in this regard,” says psychotherapist Vinita Mehta, Ph.D. “When a woman is feeling down, she typically wants to be heard and have her feelings validated.”
Translation: If she’s having issues with her best friend or a colleague at work, she wants to vent, not come up with a solution. All you have to do is listen to her and (occasionally) agree.
3. Lavishing her with gifts
A pretty necklace here, some roses there—that’s fine. But a constant onslaught of clothes, jewelry, perfume, and other “thinking of you” trinkets? Not smart.
She dislikes your avalanche of gifts for a couple of reasons. According to Clark, too much masculine care-taking behavior (i.e. buying her things) feels controlling, especially if she’s gainfully employed and financially capable of taking care of herself. Also, even if your intentions are pure, she feels pressure to reciprocate—and no woman wants to be in a relationship where she constantly feels one step behind.
4. Jumping in the shower without an invitation
I’m all for sexy shower time—but when I’m 20 minutes late and trying to simultaneously shave my legs and deep-condition my hair, you’d better have a damn good reason for hopping in and stealing half the hot water. “Physical space is an important component in relationships,” Clark says. “Entering another’s space uninvited—even if you’re trying to be affectionate—can fall flat.”
I’m not saying you can’t be spontaneous and romantic, just try not to do it when we’re pressed for time or in the middle of getting ready: No girl wants to be dragged away for a quickie when she’s halfway done with her makeup.
5. Checking in on her
You know the drill: Drop her off, but wait until she’s inside before driving off. That’s fine—no woman is going to fault you for seeing her safely home. But when you start asking her where she is, or when she’s coming back, even if it’s just because you care about her and are excited to see her, she’ll start getting irritated.
“This is almost always meant to convey interest, caring, and affection,” says Clark. “But it can read to her as controlling and jealous. Too much attention can feel invasive.” Bottom line: Unless she asks you to, or you need her immediate expertise on how to put out a kitchen fire (or something), try not to check in on her.