Translate male jargon, please

Can you translate man-speak?

The SO and I were talking about random things - past experiences, relationships, etc when we were on our way home from Houston, which is a 5hr drive apx.

In one of the SO’s comments he said “If things work out between us…” :confused:

I admit, I was shocked to hear that because things had been going very well between us: he asked me (and my daughter) to move in, had made some adjustments to the house to accommodate my needs, has started making room for us, etc.

I asked him if he had any doubts and he indicated he did not. I’m not adverse to using logic - I just rarely need it. And in this case, logic doesnt seem to be working but any guy who can translate his statement to something I’d understand - well, I’d be curious to know what you come up with.

I’d like more details. E.g. how long have you been together? How old is your daughter? How does their relationship seem to be?

It could be he’s remembering past relationships that didn’t work out. Like he’s afraid to let his guard down because everything was so positive that time too, at the beginning.

“If things work out”—possibly means “and we go from cohabitation to marriage.”

Do you think he’s made so many changes that he’s afraid you’ll keep asking for more?

No matter what, “if things work out between us” suggests to me the idea that things become more serious than they currently are. Since you’re living together, it sounds as if he’s thinking marriage may be in the wings. It’s a roundabout, indirect way of talking about a proposal, to be sure, but it suggests he’s thinking of one.


I vote for “if things work out” to " when we get married and make it permanent". I guess I can see how that would be misconstrued, I’ll try to not use that phrase although I could easily see myself using it.

Sorry, there’s not a secret guy dictionary of befuddling phrases. Like anything, it depends on the person and the situation. Instead of logic, try this: “When you said ‘if things work out’, that wording sounded unexpectedly iffy to me, considering you’ve moved in and made changes, etc. Can you make that a little more clear for me?” Who knows, maybe he defines “working out” as marriage, and he’s still unsure whether that will happen.

I know it’s easier said than done because even the most well-intentioned man gets spooked like a white-tailed deer at even the hint of commitment pressure. We like think we’re giving you cause for surprise and joy at our bold initiative rather than exasperated relief at finally caving in. But if you’re going the cohabitation route, you don’t get that whole progression of The Serious Talk, followed by engagement, followed by marriage. You have to sort of actively improvise and make these conversations happen when deemed necessary. Or before they’re deemed necessary, actually.

It does sound vaguely like he’s on a commitment track, just not at the same speed and stage as you are. But don’t base anything on that, since it’s really anyone’s guess without the context. More than anything you need to know what “working out” means to him.

I think “If things work out between us…” means: If I don’t suddenly discover you’re a raving, castrating, gold-digging psychopath, but, instead, you continue to be the person I’ve come to love and admire, then maybe we’ll make something more permanent out of this…but don’t bug me about it.

'Course, YMMV.

Yep. He’s thinking about it, but hasn’t completely gotten his mind around it yet. Give him some slack…once he makes the pieces fit, he’s yours for good.

But not too varied. This nailed what I was going to post damned near word for word.

I admit, it has moved fast. IME this is out of the norm for me. Any relationship after my ex hub has been slow moving-dragging my feet type - which probably means that I have missed out on a couple of chances of a decent and loving relationship because I was too cautious and perhaps even untrusting.

I havent asked for anything - that’s just it. I didnt ask to move in to his place and I even told him that I would not live with him if I didnt know that he loved me. Oh wait - I did tell him that we would need to make room for my things & my teenage daughter, but that’s kind of duh! ya know.

The reason the statement raised my eyebrow is because anytime I used it it I pretty much had my doubts that things were going to go anywhere but a few good memories - nothing long term. And most of my female friends use the term in the same context (meaning their taking it slow because there are some serious doubts).

I was just curious what most men mean when they use it.

Do I have doubts? Nah. If there’s something I need to be aware of to ease his mind, sure I’d want to know!

btw - past history: Last SO was with lasted 7 yrs and it was a slow moving process with the moving in, loving eachother, etc. It didnt work out. I wasnt looking for a seriou relationship and had been dating when he happened to come along and interrupt my life. It’s been great!

Another vote for translating this as “I like the direction we’re going now and plan on continuing down this path. But I reserve the right to leave if you unilaterally decide to change the rules.”

Us guys can be happy with stability. We worry about the way some women seem to feel the need to inject drama into our lives.

I’ll also cast my vote for: “If you don’t turn into a psycho and make me miserable”, “If you don’t dump me for a boyfriend upgrade”, or “If we still love each other and want to get married”.

I’m already a whimsicle psycho but have no intent on making him miserable - at least not on purpose. As for an upgrade - not possible! He’s a sexy-geeky-classic (classic as in dependable, not old). As for falling out of love - don’t believe in it. I think other things can overpower the feeling of love but I dont think you can stop loving someone if you really do love the person to begin with.

Thanks guys - you’re input has been well received!

SO stepping up. lobotomyboy63 pretty much nailed the core of it. There was a previous relationship that I was feeling very good about until I found out she was screwing around on me. That pretty much drove home the point that in relationships at least, there are no absolutes as far as the future goes.

Add to that that I’m a natural born programmer whose very nature is to consider every possible combination of data to be processed. So I naturally tend to qualify every answer based on all possible outcomes. And there are damn few absolutes in this world.

Other than that, yes, I am very happy with the way the relationship is proceeding and am looking forward to many enjoyable years together.

“If things workout” is manspeak for, “i have recently had this female move in with me, she may or may not turn into pure evil, in the event that she does not become pure evil…”

Us guys never want to appear fully vested into any relationship,(to our friends that is) so that if things go bad we can laugh it off to our friends while crying ourselves to sleep at night.

Yep Rysdad nailed in one post.


I just had the exact same experience with my boyfriend, except it was a 10 hour car trip back from Montreal. I’m moving in with him in a couple of weeks, and we were talking about our future, and he said something like "and if that works out… ", referring to our cohabitation, at which point I got a little insulted. But now that it’s been translated for me, I feel much better.


Barry Manilow referred to himself as a “cautious pessimist” in these matters. We’ve all been dragged around the block, eh? Even Barry gets it right about getting it wrong, you might say.

Heard a quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, too lazy to look it up.

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

If things work out between us… what did he say next?

We’ll get ice cream?

I won’t die alone?
Basically, it’s like a politician. You always put some sort of qualifier in front of a statement, which leaves you ‘wiggle’ room or plausible deniability.


I don’t know about men in general, but I could easily say that out of habitual caution, even if there were no particular cause for doubt. It’s sort of like saying “knock on wood”.