Male/female interplanetary communications: how best to discuss extremely unimportant decisions?

My lady friend and me communicate pretty well overall - mainly, I think, by being explicit about what we want and how important/unimportant it is to us. So we seem to accomodate each other well and get to enjoy the time we spend together (which is ~ 2.5 days/week).

One thing that stumps me is deciding together on issues where

  • she voices no preference and
  • I have no preference whatsoever, i.e. where in my view any difference in the alternatives’ utility is much smaller than the cost of wasting time in discussion

i.e. where I would like to do (A or B) together, but am utterly indifferent as to whether it’s to be A or B this time. When I decide such things for myself only I simply go for the first thing that comes to my mind, as putting thought into it would be pointless.

Things that i have tried:
[li]“I have no preference - you can choose whether we go on Saturday or Sunday” - often does not lead to a speedy resolution, also sounds like I am indifferent to going at all.[/li][li]agreeing to everything she says, on the assumption that the last thing she said was really her preference - risks to look really weak, also the subtext ‘let’s stop talking already’ tends to surface which is not a good thing: "Shall we dine at the new vegan restaurant? Sounds good. Let’s go. Or, as the weather is fine, at a beer garden? That would be lovely. Or stay in and make spaetzle with lentils? I revel in your cooking. Aren’t you interested in our meal at all? I am, but Buridan’s ass starved and it looks like we will too.[/li][li]handing her a coin to toss - did not seem to go over well. Did not repeat.[/li][li]faking a preference - carries the risk that she did in fact have another preference.[/li][li]explicitly agreeing to take turns in deciding - works well in regular things (DVDs to watch, sex positions), not in one-offs.[/li][/ul]

Ladies, gentlemen, what works in your relationships?

Man up and make a decision. Even if you have no preference, just choose something.

If she strongly objects, she’ll let you know.

If neither one of you cares, then the decision is left up to whoever calls “not It” last. “I have no preference; it’s up to you” should work just fine, but if you’re afraid that conveys disinterest rather than ambivalence, you can say, “I’m happy either way.”

But it sounds like your real problem is that you suspect she has a preference and just won’t say so. I have very little patience for that behavior, and if that’s the case, then I’d say just make decisions as if she’s not there. If she doesn’t like it, she’ll have to learn to speak up.

I really do like the taking-turns approach, but you’re right that it doesn’t work in all circumstances. I’m also a fan of process of elimination, but that seems to work in the same situations as taking turns (e.g., each pick three DVDs, then take turns whittling down the pile).

If it feels like neither of you has a strong preference, just go ahead and pick one. If she says, “I think I’d rather X,” then do X. Unless you don’t want to do X, in which case maybe you both have preferences after all.

Say, “Do you prefer A or B?” then if she says, “I don’t care,” say “Let’s go with A – do you mind?” At that stage, if she really doesn’t care, you’re fine. And if she does care, but doesn’t tell you, too bad.


So, basically you’re a pair of wimpy indecisive chumps who don’t really care much what they do as long as they do it together.

Well, if you’re indifferent about that stuff, what makes you think she isn’t also genuinely indifferent, and is maybe a little sick of always having to be the one to decide?

Decide for her once in awhile. She may appreciate not having to think about it.

That’s my approach. In trivial cases, I much prefer for a decision to be made than for the right decision to remain in contention. So I say, “What if I make spanikopita, then?” If she doesn’t want it, it’s up to her to say.

Exactly. Don’t buy into that idiotic game that some women play where they expect the man to read their minds then punish him when he guesses wrong. If she wants something, she can open her mouth and say so like a grown-up.

But do choose once in a while - it drives me a little crazy when my husband’s answer to what he wants for supper is always, “Food.” :slight_smile:

arrrgh, sounds like my brother. If we’re trying to pick a restaurant and say to him, “Where do you want to go?”


Fortunately, I’m no shrinking violet and have no problem deciding for both of us. :slight_smile:

It’s also possible that she’ll look pleased/sad here because she had a preference but didn’t realise before. With skill it may be possible to decode it (which helps both of you)

It’s possible to be happy with a wide variation of possibilities, but have a short list of things you actively don’t want. When my husband says he doesn’t care where we eat, he means he doesn’t care as long as it isn’t Italian, McDonalds, or a few other things I can’t even remember right now. I mean I don’t care as long as it isn’t fried chicken and I am sure some others I don’t even know I don’t like. It takes a few years to figure these things out: it’s a process of self discovery. I mean, I’d never say “anywhere but fried chicken” because I’d never think of it as an option in the first place.

One solution to the particular problem of where to eat is to have one person suggest three possible alternatives they would find acceptable and then the other person picks from that. But that doesn’t work with either/or decisions. For that, I usually make the call because my husband is slightly more uncomfortable making unilateral decisions than I am. But if my response helps him discover a preference (a pretty natural thing), it’s easy to be flexible.

I usually get a call or text from my wife when she’s on the train on the way home.

If she says “Do you want to make quesedillas tonight?” that means she’s made the decision.
If she says “What do you feel like for dinner?” that means I’m free to make the decision. I’ve learned not to respond with, “I don’t know, what do you feel like?”

Of course, we’re always free to veto one another’s first suggestion. This rarely devolves into an issue of any sort. I guess it’s just one of those patterns married couples fall into after a long time. Not in a bad way, in this case.

We’re both really indecisive but we’re rarely trying to choose between two (eg) restaurants to go out to. Usually what I do is just ask him “do you want to go to Restaurant A?” and he’ll say yes, or on the rare occasion that for some reason he doesn’t, we’ll wait until one of us comes up with another choice. I never feel like this mutual indifference means he’s not interested in seeing me, so I don’t mind if he disagrees or gives a neutral agreement, eg “Sure, sounds good,” as opposed to “YES THAT IS THE BEST EVER”.

My husband and I have that same problem.

Here’s some things we’ve tried that work pretty well.

Bring the subject up sometime when you’re talking about something else, and decide on a code word or phrase that will always translate as “no, seriously, I can’t be arsed to give a shit, just decide something already, and I’ll be fine with it, really.” Each of you gets to use that phrase *ONLY when you really don’t give a shit. * None of this passive-aggressive stuff.

The person who brings up the subject first gets to pick several options (it was obviously on their mind, as they brought it up - dinner, movie, sex, whatever) and the other person gets to choose from those options. If other person doesn’t care, see the first paragraph, put on your grown-up panties and decide something. If BOTH people don’t care, husband and I choose thusly: 1) cheaper vs more expensive; if that’s NA, then alphabetically; if that’s NA, then in reverse order of most recent use of the whatevers. (Can you tell that this comes up a lot? We are not a passionately invested couple when it comes to minor decisions.)

Last option to determine any stealth preferences. Pick two options, and then assign them to the sides of a coin. Flip it and see if either person is disappointed by the fates’ decision. If both people are, or are not, then YAY you have a mutual preference. If one is disappointed, then check if the other doesn’t care, and you’re still ok. If one of you hates each choice, you did step one wrong. :smiley:

Maybe she just wants to talk about it for the sake of talking about it. Take a few minutes to chew the fat with her, then fake a sudden illness if necessary to escape.


Especially if the conversation is running thus:
Wanna do A? Sure. Or how about B? Do you have a preference? NO, but maybe C? C sucks. Besides, I’ll die if we don’t do A. You ready to go?

[quote=“Mops, post:1, topic:578246”]

[li]explicitly agreeing to take turns in deciding - works well in regular things (DVDs to watch, sex positions), not in one-offs.[/li][/QUOTE]

This was going to be my suggestion. Can’t think of what a one-off would be, but even n that case you can probably get away with ‘I chose the kind of toothpaste we bought, why don’t you pick the dish soap?’ or ‘I’ll pick what kind of remote control we buy this time, and if this one breaks, you get to choose.’

Relationships are, truly, a neverending thrill ride.

Ditto. Either this or agreeing to take turns is the way to go.

Truly. I agree with everyone saying couples work out their own languages on these issues. We usually go out for dinner on Fridays, and some Fridays we’re driving around with no particular place in mind and neither of able to think of one, and off to the usual place we go.