6 specific phrases women use when they want to get a rise out of you, according to psychology

If you’re inherently online like I am, you might have noticed an interesting new trend unfolding on social media.

Oscar Wilde, the 19th-century Irish poet and playwright, is having a revival of sorts. 

That’s right—the literary genius has received the TikTok treatment!

I mean, what can I say? The guy deserves it.

What I love about this is that it means we’re all collectively able to revisit some of Wilde’s finest sayings. And I mean, the man was a real quote machine.

While he was a known, queer man, he knew a hell of a lot about what it meant to be in a relationship with women, sharing insights such as: “Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.”

Now, I do have some thoughts on this one. 

In it, Wilde hints that women are naturally mysterious or complex, and maybe it’s not necessary or even possible to fully grasp them.

…yeah right! Personally, this viewpoint does overlook the real depth of women’s experiences, cutting them down to figures to be admired instead of folks who deserve to be understood.

It also plays into old-school, antiquated ideas about gender, suggesting men actively love and adore while women passively receive it.

And trust me, this aint the reality of modern relationships where mutual understanding is key!

When we prioritize loving someone without striving to comprehend them fully, we miss out on all the beautiful, deeper levels of intimacy and connection that stem from real empathy and listening.

Still, there can occasionally be a hangover from these gender roles, leaving women to say things that are designed to get a reaction from you—often because they don’t necessarily feel understood or like that’s an option.

Here are 6 phrases women might say when they hope to get a rise out of you, according to psychology.

Let’s dive in.

1) “You’re up for everything except helping me when I really need it”

Before you jump to conclusions about what a woman has said to you, think about this…

Maybe she’s not attacking your character. Maybe she’s trying to tell you she needs more from you.

She might not be all that good at asking for support directly, hence the occasionally cryptic message.

As a result, she might say something along the lines of: “You’re up for everything except helping me when I really need it.”

An American study found that if a woman is feeling like she’s been abandoned, and is lacking “effective soothing capacities”, she might try to get a rise out of you to test your loyalty and commitment.

But isn’t every relationship a bit of a test? 

It’s about showing up, rain, hail, or shine, and proving you’re there for more than just the good times.

After all, behind every test is a desire to be understood and supported on a deeper level.

Instead of getting defensive, ask yourself: have I been there for her when it counts? 

You might even ask: have I shown her, time and time again, I’m someone she can rely on?

So listen up, because what she’s saying might just be more important than how she’s saying it.

2) “You’re trying to boss me around”

Change can be unsettling, especially when it messes with the person who holds the cards. 

If you’re used to calling the shots, her accusing you with “You’re trying to boss me around”, might be about her fears or past hurts, not just your actions.

A recent study found that people who feared change, specifically when it came to hierarchies and power dynamics, might lash out and accuse others of controlling them.

In this case, I don’t think she’s trying to start a fight. More so, she’s asking for deeper understanding and respect for her autonomy. 

Instead of getting swept up in the confrontational nature of what she’s said, check in and see what’s really, truly chipping away at her.

Maybe she’s worried about losing her independence or has had bad experiences feeling unheard.

It could be a chance to find a compromise or reassure her that her voice and input matters—and trust me, this is going to take real honesty and vulnerability from the both of you.

It might even require you handing over a little bit of control in the relationship.

Let’s face it, folks. Misunderstandings and misalignments in relationships are forever going to happen, but they’re also moments in which we can grow closer!

3) “Must you find fault with everything I do?”


So, tensions are high, maybe over pesky household chores or whether you’re going to your pal’s pricey destination wedding in Bali. 

But suddenly, she lays down this pearl: “Must you find fault with everything I do?”

Take it from me, she’s likely feeling a tad scrutinized or unappreciated in the relationship. 

When people feel threatened, they sometimes deflect to ease their own pain. And the research backs it up.

A study in the Nordic Journal of Youth Research found that if a woman is feeling “threatened”, she might try and get a rise out of you by shifting the blame, thus taking the heat off of her. 

On these occasions, listening is key—not to necessarily agree with everything, but to understand where she’s coming from.

And if you feel up to it, you can go a little deeper too. Think: is there a pattern to her complaints? What does this reveal about me? 

4) “I’m not what you hoped for, am I?”

Getting a rise out of you is often a way for a woman to air out a few insecurities she is struggling with behind closed doors.

So, she might try and get a rise out of you by saying “I’m not what you hoped for, am I?”

Here’s what sucks, too. A line like this can trigger your own doubts. 

Ever questioned if you’re good enough for someone else? That’s where her saying this can hit a little close to home.

In the previously mentioned study, experts found that if a woman struggled to “accept or appreciate themselves” they might pass the buck onto other people—and that includes you, my pal.

It’s almost as if she’s testing if you’ll reassure her or leave her adrift in loads of self-doubt.

5) “You’re faulting me because you’re jealous of me”

When a woman says, “You’re faulting me because you’re jealous of me,” it can feel a little cringe at first.

But look a little deeper, and you’ll see that there might be a hint of vulnerability underneath all that bravado. 

A psychological study found that women who might be attempting to get a reaction from you will do so by “flexing.”

This essentially means that maybe, just maybe, she’s feeling the weight of expectations.

Before you dismiss her as all ego, consider this, she’s dealing with the pressure to keep up that strong front. 

6) “I’d be more confident if you actually believed in me”

In hearing, “I’d be more confident if you actually believed in me”, you might interpret it as a demand for blind faith or even as a critique of your support

But in all honesty, it might not even be about you.

Rather, it’s about her struggling to muster their own confidence—not so much about you lacking faith in her.

In the previous study, researchers explored how women who tended to be “motivated by insecurities” would often “seek reassurance”, even if it meant saying things that feel like they’re designed to get a rise out of you.

You see, confidence isn’t always a constant for most people. 

For some of us, it’s not so easy—our confidence can easily be stomped out by doubt and criticism. 

If a woman shares that she would be more confident if you had more faith in her, she’s revealing a fear—a vulnerability rooted in her own insecurities and perceived shortcomings.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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