Love/Relationship Columnist
How to Read Your Wife’s/Girlfriend’s Mind
Apr 12, 2010 - 7:04:49 AM

( - This is a common scenario. Your wife or girlfriend comes home and passes by you. You ask how her day was and she reports, “fine”. You say, “Oh, okay, great” and you are sincere. She comes back with a raging voice and says, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? COULDN’T YOU SEE I WAS UPSET”? Well no, you didn’t see. What is the matter and why are you so bad at reading facial expressions?

According to Dr. Erika Rosenberg, who studies facial expressions, men get tied up with hearing words. They listen and believe. They do not notice the tightening of the corners of the mouth, knotted brow, or arched eyebrow as their girlfriend/wives tells them she is fine. Several studies were done with patients with cerebral palsy and the results proved that patients with CP were accurate in picking up liars 75% of the time. This is most likely due to the fact that they were focused on the facial expressions and body expressions rather than the words. Women tend to empathize with people whereas men tend to sympathize. Men basically want to help comfort the woman they are with and survive without being thought of as an idiot or incapable of understanding how their girlfriend feels. Dr. Rosenberg believes that men can be taught to be better than women at reading faces because it is analytical. Reading faces takes time, but you will understand more of what is going on with your woman.

Facial expressions are tied in to how a person feels. They are quick and you cannot hide them. For example, if a woman is angry her lips will press together without her being aware of it. If she is interested in someone her eyes will widen. What about botox? Well that has been researched too in correlation facial expression in woman. When women have had botox in their brows or around their eyes you can no longer detect when they were angry, but…CAT scans also showed that the centers in their brain didn’t react to anger the same. Woman reported they didn’t feel as angry either. The emotions are tied to the expression and which comes first can often be hard to detect. For example, if an athlete looks like he is going to kill someone out on the field (scrunches his face, narrows his eyes, and tenses his lips) he plays like that out on the field. Research has also shown if you smile at someone and they smile back, that person will report feeling happier and holding that smile long after the one who initiated the smile.

For the men who don’t have the time to take Dr. Erika Rosenberg’s course, here is a brief “cheat list” from experts in the field:

Dr. William Ickes Ph.D. reports talking after sex is the best way you can watch her and read her mind. Both women and men are overwhelmed with oxytocin release at this time. This is the time partners feel especially close to one another. She will be more willing to share, and will be less likely to have a stone face. If you fight your urge to fall asleep and become part of this time with her, you will find out things you never knew.
Women are use to being watched, but not the way you will be watching. Watch for the facial expression or body movement that doesn’t fit. For example, if she is usually fidgety and all of a sudden her legs and arms remain stone-still, pay special attention to what she is saying.
Watch her smile and the timing of it. Also watch if it is a true smile or a crooked grin. Women are skilled at concealing a story when they have to be, but their face and use of smiles many times give them away.
Fear and being caught for lying look very similar on a woman’s face. Dr. Paul Ekman Ph.D finds that when a woman is trying to suppress fear her lips stretch flat across the lip line. Now all you have to determine is she suppressing fear because you caught her in a lie or is she afraid you think she is lying. Or is she afraid of you?
Learning to pay attention to your spouse’s face can tell you how she is feeling and enhance your closeness to her. It cannot take the place of words because even if you know she is afraid, angry or depressed you will still have to understand what is going on to make her feel this way. Begin by looking at her more closely and questioning the facial expressions you notice. Her immediate response will be one of delightedness that you actually noticed.

For more information please go to: Mary Jo Rapini

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is featured on TLC’s new series, Big Medicine which completed season one and two. She is also a contributing expert for Cosmopolitan magazine, Women’s Health, First, and Seventeen magazine. Mary Jo has a syndicated column (Note to Self) in the Houston Chronicle, is a Love/Relationsips columnist to and “Ask Mary Jo” in Houston Family Magazine. She is an intimacy and sex counselor, and specializes in empowering relationships. She has worked with the Pelvic restorative center at Methodist Hospital since 2007.

Mary Jo is a popular speaker across the nation, with multiple repeat requests to serve as key-note speaker for national conferences. Her dynamic style is particularly engaging for those dealing with intimacy issues and relationship challenges, or those simply hanging on to unasked questions about sex in relationships. She was recently a major participant in a symposium for young girls dealing with body image and helping girls become strong women. Rapini is the author of Is God Pink? Dying to Heal and co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever. She has appeared on television programs including Montel, Fox Morning News and various Houston television and radio programs. Keep up with the latest advice at

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