Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What is your reaction to, "Honey, we need to talk?"?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) May 31st, 2012

I know I dread this statement, and I am not sure if I have ever said it myself, but if I have, it has been rare. For me, when I hear it, it is with dread. I feel like my S/O has some complaint to make and it puts me on the defensive. Anther statement she could make that would make my heart sink is, “I’ve been thinking” (always a bad idea).

These statements always seem to presage some sort of unpleasantness. Either she has a complaint, or she wants me to do something that I would not ordinarily want to do.

I guess it never occurs to me to say that we need to talk. If we need to talk, we talk. Right? If I have an idea, I’ll express it. I’m not going to announce it first—not usually, anyway.

But if we need to talk, then I must have done something wrong, is how I usually feel. She never announces a need to talk, otherwise. So she’s preparing me. She puts me on guard. And after that, of course, it’s hard to react without being defensive.

The same seems to be true at work, too. In fact, I think I hate “talking” in the “we need to talk” sense. It is never good. Always a problem. Never happy.

How do you feel when you hear that? Do you ever say it? If you do, do you mean to put people on the defensive? What do you mean? Why do you say it that way?

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31 Answers

rebbel's avatar

Uh oh…..

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My husband was a joker, so I often would say, “honey, we need to talk” to let him know that I wanted a serious conversation with him. Sometimes it was something that I wanted him to do, or stop doing, but sometimes it was just that we needed to make an important decision together. I felt that I needed to begin the conversation this way to let him know that whatever it was that we were going to talk about was serious. If I off-handedly just said, “honey, I wish you wouldn’t ________, ” then he wouldn’t realize that this particular thing is more important to me than the usual bitching that I do. Ha-ha!

OpryLeigh's avatar

I would panic. I haven’t heard it yet though!

zenvelo's avatar

“We need to talk” always makes my butt muscles clench.

The big problem I have is she is stating that I need to talk.

If I need to talk I will say so, don’t presume to identify my needs. YOU need to talk, and I get the (dubious) pleasure of listening.

elbanditoroso's avatar

“Find the suitcases”

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Gosh, I can tell which of you are males. You would rather get out the suitcases then talk out potential problems. My thought was that I would rather work it out by having a serious talk, in hopes to avoid the “suitcases” stage.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt – I speak from experience.

Allie's avatar

I play it cool and say something like, “Sure. What about?” On the inside I’m thinking, “shitshitshitshit…” Usually it works out ok though and I realize I freaked out about nothing.
In my experience with guys it’s the “sooo…” that you need to be cautious of. Aftter that, they’re going to tell you they kissed your best friend or ate the last Red Vines. They rarely say “we need to talk.”

Coloma's avatar

20 years ago I would have been the woman saying that. NOW…I have no desire to chase around anyone with a need to talk. If we need to talk that badly, chances are I’m going to dump your ass. lol

Ron_C's avatar

My reaction is: “Oh crap, what did I do this time!?!!!!!”

CWOTUS's avatar

“I thought we talked last week. Do we have to do it again, already?”

flutherother's avatar

My heart would sink, which is why I like to be on my own.

GladysMensch's avatar

We need to talk is code for I need to complain

Upon hearing these words, I immediately go into uh-huh-and-nod mode.

Keep_on_running's avatar

I’d be worried because my imaginary boyfriend usually says ”Your highness, we need to talk…”

elbanditoroso's avatar

@GladysMensch = well stated,

@Skaggfacemutt – re: your earlier comment stereotyping males. Maybe it’s the way that the female raises the question which is off-putting.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@elbanditoroso I am sure that is true, although I wouldn’t find the “we need to talk” phrase intimidating. I wonder why so many other people dread it so much?

wundayatta's avatar

Somehow, I wasn’t expecting so many people to feel the same way I do about it. Interesting.

tups's avatar

I could say it. If I say it, it’s just because I really want the person(s) to listen to me. That’s all. If I want to say anything personal or of importance I don’t wan’t my words to just disappear. And sometimes if you have to say something and people don’t listen, it usually doesn’t come out right.

cookieman's avatar

My wife and I are like you @wundayatta. If we need to talk about something, we just do, when it occurs to us to do so. No preface or official announcement needed.

In fact, we have the opposite problem. We talk openly so often, we often forget the nine-year-old is within earshot as we discuss any number of “adults only” or personal topics. My daughter will often yell from her playroom, “I can heeaarr yoouu.”

As such, if my wife ever did preface a conversation like that, I’d know something really serious was wrong — as it’d be so out of character.

bookish1's avatar

I got that sinking feeling in my stomach just reading the question!

I read that statement as code for: “I’ve been thinking about something for a while without bringing it up with you, and now I want to tell you what I’ve decided.”

Or, as @GladysMensch said more succinctly, code for “I need to complain.”

I really do prefer that people just be open when they have serious business to discuss. Like when the guy I was seeing just ended things with me out of the blue yesterday. >_> But seriously, I was at least able to think about the situation rationally, rather than responding defensively and out of a state of panic, as I likely would have if he had begun with “We need to talk.”

cazzie's avatar

I would much rather hear those words than, ‘Can we talk about this LATER…’ because that is all I get. ‘We’ll talk about it when I get home.’ and then we never do.

ucme's avatar

I hear this much as an olympic sprinter views the starting pistol, lightning fast reaction time & i’m gone in a heartbeat….until later…....

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I haven’t heard it yet but my reaction would be the same as yours, I’d assume there’s something I’d been doing that’s so bad it can no longer be endured. I have said it to my husband, several times but it’s been about him making decisions on stuff or bringing me up to speed on events and not about his behavior. For sure, I know when I’ve said it then he thought I was going to complain about him.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

“What did I do this time?”

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

“Oh shit, what did I do and how easily can it be fixed?”

Only138's avatar

Awww shit! Here comes the BOOM! :)

Symbeline's avatar

Not having a significant other, I’ll just make a stupid ass joke; shit, he found part of the body…

AshLeigh's avatar

I hate “We need to talk”
“Can I ask you a question?”
and “Can I tell you something?”

I always think it’s bad. D:

downtide's avatar

I would die of shock on the spot. My partner NEVER says this and NEVER wants to talk (about our relationship) even when I do.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My initial response is mild panic. I prefer that the need to talk be approached in a less threatening way. My significant other is articulate enough to make clear what she needs without evoking unnecessary anxiety. I do the same with her.

Paradox25's avatar

From my own experience this was never a good thing. Maybe it could had been a good thing, in the sense that some issues could be brought up before the cheating or breaking up occurs. However, for me personally, it meant that they were already looking for a ‘nice’ way to end the relationship, rather than wanting to fix any problems.

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