Man Skills: Make A Decision

by Cameron Schaefer on April 21, 2008

One wonderful thing about being married is getting to hear about manhood from a woman’s perspective. This is valuable intel. Kind of like crossing behind enemy lines and finding out what they’ve picked up on while you’ve been going about your business.

There are many lessons I’ve learned discussing manhood with my wife and her friends, but one has been mentioned more than any other: women’s frustration with the inability of men to make a decision.

I was a bit surprised when I first heard this. Out of all the shortcomings of men I figured B.O. or disdain for discussing feelings would rank much higher. After all, don’t women want to make the calls in the relationship? It turns out they don’t.

Let’s run through a quick scenario that happens every day in relationships:

: So what are we going to do tonight?
Man: I don’t know, what do you want to do?
Woman: I don’t know, why don’t you choose?
Man: I really don’t care, I’m good with anything
Woman: Fine then, how about we get some coffee?
Man: Umm, actually I’m not really in the mood to go out, why don’t we just stay home tonight?

And so it goes. The man thinking he’s being a gentleman by constantly deferring to the woman and the woman frustrated that her man is either too lazy, apathetic, or scared to make a decision. Enough! It’s time for men to be men and this means being a leader in your relationships. What does this look like?

Decide – If she asks you to decide, then decide. It’s not a test or some type of trick. Being a leader means making decisions. There is a tactful and loving way to do this, but for some guys just the simple act of deciding can seem paralyzing. Trust that your partner wants to follow you and lead.

Plan Ahead – Women love when you plan things out. Not only does it show them you care enough to coordinate your time together, but it shows them you’re capable of leading the relationship. Make reservations, buy tickets ahead of time and show that you know how to plan ahead.

Be Yourself – If you don’t want to see the movie, then say that. If you want to spend the night alone instead of inviting others, make your opinion known. Obviously there are times when you must compromise and do what your partner wants, even if you don’t, but it’s o.k. to disagree from time to time.

Please don’t be confused. I’m not saying that you should control every aspect of the relationship or plan every minute. It’s definitely possible to go too far in this direction. What I’m calling for is a healthy relationship where the woman can trust that her man is willing and able to lead. So, be a gentleman and make a decision.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Akshay Kapur April 21, 2008 at 8:57 am

Just about to go to lunch, I ran through the same style of back and forth with my gf just 10 minutes ago. I associate with the deferring gentleman, but sometimes get frustrated at how long it takes for us to figure out all the costs/benefits of a decision before making it.

Decision making is definitely a practice though. I know guys who sound totally authoratative because they always make the decisions in a r’ship, and I just can’t be that guy. But you make a great point that gender equality doesn’t necessarily equate to role reversal. We grew up with our parents exhibiting certain manly and feminine traits, so we expect it.

Though now I’m stuck with deciding between thai and mexican…thanks a bunch Camerson!

Akshay Kapur April 21, 2008 at 9:02 am

whoops! my finger slipped on the “s”!…but you know…i could totally see mr. miyagi calling you that ;)

Greg M April 21, 2008 at 10:56 am

I am certainly guilty of sitting on the fence when it comes down to decision time, always passing off the decision. It is born out of wanting to play the gentlemen part, but it often served as a source of stress. Nice piece, and I will work to correct my behavior – considering I am decisive in most other facets of my life it should not be too hard.

Cameron Schaefer April 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

@ Akshay,

I can just picture Mr. Miyagi teaching me his ways and leaving very inspirational comments on my blog, haha! What you said is true though, one has to be wise and not stray too far into the authoritarian area…that can be even more destructive. So what did you end up with, Thai or Mexican?

@ Greg M,

It’s amazing how as men we often take passing off decisions as being a gentlemen. There’s obviously a gentlemanly way to go about making a decision, but not making one at all is not helpful. Thanks for the comment! I’m sure many of us are in your same shoes.


John April 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I am guilty of doing something very similar to this with my wife, and it drives her nuts. Both of us, actually.

My specialty is the “Let’s go out–where do you want to go?” Somehow in my mind I’m (as said above) being a gentleman and opening the metaphorical door, but I end up leaving the decision-making up to her.

Leadership is important in most relationship dynamics, but it feels a little weird sometimes to take that role in an equal partnership.

It’s the post-Alan Alda thing, man. Metrofication. Whatever you wanna call it.

Ruth Taylor April 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm

HEAR!! HEAR !!!!

Cameron Schaefer April 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm

@ John,

I think that is a favorite specialty of many of us guys. The honest truth is most of the time I really don’t care where we go, but that’s besides the point. Every relationship needs leadership…it can still be an equal partnership, but without the man stepping up to make some decisions it often becomes an annoying little dance of deferment that no one benefits from.

@ Ruth,

YES!!!! hahaha


julee April 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Cam… I want to hear about what you’ve learned about us ladies that surprised you!!

Cameron Schaefer April 22, 2008 at 6:17 am

@ Julee,

Oh Julee, if only there was enough room on my blog, haha. That is a good idea for a post though. Maybe sometime soon I will write about it.

Catharine de Wet April 22, 2008 at 9:24 am

There’s a reason, I see, that my daughter loves you and was willing to marry you :)

Here’s a follow-up tip from mother-in-law (married 30 years this year). When you start this kind of gentlemanly thing and your wife/gf says, “What would you like?” try saying, “What about Thai (nod to Akshay)?” with the understanding that she might come back and say no, or she might agree. When you are being decisive here, make a decision, but be open to changes. Don’t see this as the final decision. Often, someone just has to make a choice for the real conversation to start. Going back and forth on “You decide – No, you decide” brings you nowhere, but if someone makes a suggestion, the real negotiation can begin.

It means, dear guys, that we don’t necessarily want you to decide, but to lead in the process of decision-making. Makes sense?

Brad Baggett April 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Great information, I don’t know how many times that I have had that same conversation with my wife. By the way, planning does work great, my wife loves it when I plan out a nice evening!

Cameron Schaefer April 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm

@ Catharine,

What a wise mother-in-law I have. I love your last point…”It means, dear guys, that we don’t necessarily want you to decide, but to lead in the process of decision-making.” Great observation. It takes out the risk of being authoritarian.

@ Brad,

Glad you thought the info was useful. Planning is something I definitely need to work on, but as you say, it’s something women really appreciate.


Kevin April 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm

I used to kind of fall in that camp regarding my girlfriend, but as part of a decision I’ve made to consciously do what she says rather than what I think she means (because I’m usually wrong when I do that), when she says to make a decision, I do. If your wife or girlfriend is like mine, I can assure you that you don’t need to worry that you’ll have made a bad decision; if she doesn’t like it she will say so. It’s sometimes difficult because I’m too easygoing to care most of the time, but then again so is she – so I can’t really go wrong by speaking up.

J.D. Meier April 24, 2008 at 12:19 am

I get practice everyday — at work I’m expected to be brief, be bright, be gone — not a lot of time for indecision.

Kate April 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Great post Cameron! As I think my husband told you, we have conversations very much like the one in your post. I think the “dirty secret” of women today is that they still want their man to make some of the decisions. Not all of them, but some of them. I I think leadership and equality can co-exist in a relationship. It’s quite the paradox and unexplainable. But it works.

Cameron Schaefer April 25, 2008 at 5:40 am

@ Kevin,

Relationships become very tricky when you start acting on the assumptions of what your partner wants or means. Best to just say what you need and as you said, do what they say. You are a wise man!

@ J.D.,

I like that saying, “be brief, be bright, be gone.” I think I will have to use that sometime. And you’re right indecision does waste a lot of time.


It’s an honor to finally meet the other half of the AoM. I was beginning to wonder if Brett was just saying he was married to increase women’s readership on the blog, haha! Just kidding Brett. You make some great points Kate, leadership does not mean that equality can’t exist it simply means each partner has a different role to play. See Catharine’s comment above for a great explanation of how this can play out.


tsims April 29, 2008 at 7:21 am

I have fallen into this rut in the past for the exact reason you mentioned… thought I was being gentlemanly. However, what you say is completely true. Not making a decision tends to come off more like you don’t care or are not interested. But, being a leader and a planner shows her you really want to spend quality time together… and you get bonus points for planning something that SHE really enjoys rather than just something YOU love to do.

Cameron Schaefer April 29, 2008 at 10:13 am


You’re right! It’s funny how such good intentions (trying to be gentlemanly) can have such disastrous consequences (coming off as not caring) if there isn’t clear communication in a relationship.


Tyler @ Building Camelot April 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm

This is such a pet peeve to my wife…she hates when I don’t make up my mind and just go with something. Being indecisive just shows a general lack of interest and a big lack of self confidence.

I’ve been trying to make more decisions around the house and they aren’t always agreed upon by the wife…but, we all learn from our mistakes.

Here via the manival and thanks for the follow on Twitter.

Frances April 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Great post!

My husband and I have that same conversation constantly, about EVERYTHING.

ELK April 29, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I did the same thing in my marriage. And, like you said, it was either ’cause I was trying to be a “gentleman”, lazy, apathetic, or scared. Now that I’m dating, I’ve been very assertive (in a good way) and planned activities…and guess what , the women love it!

Darlene Norris April 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Your post rings so true, Cameron! My husband has the WORST time trying to decide what to order at a restaurant. It drives me up a tree sometimes! It’s nice to know it’s not just him. Good article!

Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map April 29, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Hello Cameron, are you sure you are not getting the genders mixed up in your post??? In my case with my husband, it is the other way round. He complains that I frustrate him completely and women are the indecisive ones!

Anon May 2, 2008 at 11:43 am

Although there are some good points, I give you reasons why us men have a huge deal with this entire post.

Reason #1. Women are MOODY and down right CRAZY. Planning ahead works, if the person you’re with is generally stable. I find that majority of women aren’t stable and can change, along with their looks and preferences for just about everything, in a matter of minutes and sometimes seconds. Planning is nice but I wouldn’t count on it because one minute she would love to go to the theatre and the next minute she has a headache and she’s bloated so she wants to sit home and veg (typically follows a confrontation with the hallway mirror).

Reason #2 With women, it’s ALWAYS a test or some sort of trick. Come on, stick with reality. Women and their mental instability and lack of self-esteem will always force them to think that everyone is out to get them and that there’s always some sort of hidden meaning behind EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND DO.

Trebonte May 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Very sound advice. Being assertive in decision making like this is something that I’m working on myself. Besides proving yourself to be a man who can take charge, ‘people just like you when you make decisions for them.’ I say that jokingly but there is truth to be found in it.

Smitty November 26, 2008 at 8:20 am

First of all, the example in the initial post isn’t a good one because the guy abruptly said he didn’t want to do what she suggested. That’s not really “deferring”.

Second, as for why men DO defer? There could a be number of reasons for this. They could have had too many bad experiences from their current or past girlfriends for making the “wrong” decision. They could be a little overly cautious after being bombarded with messages that men are stupid and insensitive and might decide that letting her decide is the safer choice.

Just my guess.

carly July 7, 2013 at 12:46 am

i dont hate the indecisive i hate when i suggest something and it always gets turned down.

H.Murat Günaydin April 30, 2017 at 12:12 am

Decisive men, alıng with leading the relationship eith power, also gives the women the feeling of being chosen with intention and determination. Undecisive men on the other hand gives the impression that the women is chosen randomly, not decisively. Subconsious mind works this way.

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