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A Familiar Phrase I Need Women To Translate

February 7th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

There are a lot of things women say that confuse me. For instance, “We hooked up.” What does that mean exactly? First base, second base, third base, home run?

I just assume it means home run, so I don’t really need it broken down for me.

But there is another phrase I need women to translate for me. It’s usually given as a response whenever she’s asked how one man compares to the other and she tells it to anyone, girl or guy. I’ve heard it a few times in my life, specifically when I pressed a woman on whether or not the new guy was better than me.

These days, I don’t ask such foolish questions. My ego no longer needs cising. But I would still like to know what the following phrase means whenever a woman says it. So here it is, folks. Give me your translations in the comments.


The operative word I’m having trouble deciphering here is “different.” What the hell does that mean, “He’s different.” Different? I didn’t ask if he was different, I asked who’s better, me or him. Her response? “It’s different” or “He’s different” or “You’re different.” Look, the person is different from me so this is a big fat duh. I know they’re different, how so, different as in better or different as in not as good?

Pay no attention to the juvenile immaturity of the man’s question. Let us not get bogged down in semantics. I know for a fact I speak for many men when I say we have no idea what a woman means when she says, “He’s different.” So please, give me and other men a breakdown. It would be greatly appreciated.


The Process: Workout going well, took advantage of my free day yesterday and had Popeye’s chicken with three eggs and home fries. DELICIOUS!

Poppin’ Questions Podcast: Episode 22 is up now. Episode 23 is now in the works, so please hit me on my Formspring or email me at for a question to be considered.

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  • Anonymous

    For me different is something I say when I’m having a hard time describing a guy.Different can be good or bad.

  • JC

    Hard to say because to me, when I have used that response I meant it as such…some times we can’t describe exactly into words, or at least a multitude of words.
    “He’s different” can mean how he makes me feel compared to the other guy. Or how I feel about him compared to the other guy. Or what we do together. Usually it is said with more favor towards the guy I am speaking about not the one I am speaking to.

  • DB

    its like apples and oranges…both fruit but different. cant say one is better than the other because all they really have in common is that they are fruit. so if you’re asking who’s better it’s not really a fair comparison. we like them both equally but they’re just *shrugs* different.

    oh and it’s also sometimes a way of being fair to/respectful of our new relationship and/or your feelings (ego)…a diplomatic response

  • Blakladyj

    Well a woman could say that bc she doesn’t want to boost your ego or hurt your feelings or disrespect her new man by having this inappropiate conversation or by downing him to her ex. Different can also mean just that. Its like comparing apples to oranges. She can like you 2 equally but the sex isnt the same with him as it is with you but its not better or worst.

  • Naomi

    I’m completely crackin up over here Jozen! But I agree with DB. The only thing in common is that you are both dudes. Its a different experience with different people. But I think the only way a woman will actually give you a straight answer is if he wasn’t as good. I mean, what would you say if she says “oh his sex was great, better than yours”?! Isn’t that like one of the biggest insults you can throw at a guy?

  • katesonskates

    1. My friends and I recently agreed that “hooked up” involves genitals. No real specifics about what they’re doing, but if it never gets below the belt, you’re probably just making out.

    2. “Different”= the relationship dynamic is so dissimilar that there’s no fair comparison. You appeal to me for different reasons, and I respond to you in different ways. But really, it’s not about him, and it’s not about you. It’s about the fact that my needs/wants have changed.

  • Talisha W.

    It really depends. I believe most women can break down why they like a guy and for what reasons. However, maybe they don’t want to. Perhaps it could be that she doesn’t want to offend the former guy if she really truly believes her current guy is “better” than he is. OR she doesn’t want to stroke former dude’s ego by admitting that, yes, in fact you’re “better” than the current dude. So to say “he’s different” could or not be in your favor.

  • Ms.Riss

    For me, different usually means better. Meaning he doesn’t do the stupid ish the ex(es) have done to piss me off. BUT, it could also mean he’s hard to figure out, there’s something intriguing (good or bad) that you can’t describe.

    So Different, when used to compare means better. But when Different is used to just describe, it means, the words to explain or describe the situation/man just hasn’t come to mind yet.

  • maxfab

    I think different really just means different.

    Say for example I’m comparing Man A who is a hair-pulling, choking, what’s my name type of dude to Man B, who is a slow caress, long-stroke, whispering my name type of dude, neither of those is better than the other they’re just…different.

  • Cookie

    “We hooked up” = We screwed.

    “He’s different” = Either he appears to be a little more interesting than the losers I normally date or he’s like no one I’ve ever dated before.

  • rw

    hes better or she doesnt want to give the satisfaction of knowing your better, but doubtful, different usually means, none of your biz, and yes he was better
    if she said ehhhh, then maybe you were better

  • Jay-D

    He’s different is the reply i give when you’re asking my to compare oranges and apples, yes they’re both fruit, and yes i like them both but the reasoning behind my like don’t follow the same logical progression, and the way i enjoy is also different…

  • slb

    “Different” means: There were things about him that were better, there were things about him that were worse. Different means if I had the opportuniy to secretly bang him one last time and knew you would never find out, I may take that opportunity. Different means if I had the chance to screw up the better/more healthy relationship I have with you to go back to him, it means no way in a million years. Different means there are things he did I wish you would do, but I can never tell you that because your ego is not that well-developed. Different means, I expect you to know since I am not outright saying “You are the better man,” that there are things you need to improve upon, so figure them out and do so. Different means don’t ever ask me this question again, or you will be the one a new man in the future will be asking about.

  • Shondabear

    Usually means that he is different from the ones I’m used to dating…mostly in a good way!

  • thejournalist25

    “He’s Different” means he doesn’t act like a typical man, he follows a different script than most men or is just plain ‘ol genuine. His game is tight. I didn’t even realize what he was doing until after he was finished because he was that good.

    A guy that is different makes you feel a different way than when you’re dating most men. Sometimes the he gets certain privileges that regular men just dont get because “he’s different”

  • thejournalist25

    “He’s Different” means he doesn’t act like a typical man, he follows a different script than most men or is just plain ‘ol genuine. His game is tight. I didn’t even realize what he was doing until after he was finished because he was that good.

    A guy that is different makes you feel a different way than when you’re dating most men. Sometimes the he gets certain privileges that regular men just dont get because “he’s different”

  • Erica L

    It’s just a nice way of not answering your question, for fear of hurting your feelings. It’s a diversion if you will. Lol

  • Jade24

    That’s something I say if I don’t feel like answering the question honestly or I just don’t feel like telling you my business…

  • Katsumi

    If she answers by only replying that he “is different” without elaboration, then she simply does not want to answer the question…

  • CristinaNYC

    If a woman responses “He’s different” when you ask who is better it means she does not want to answer your question. As a side-note, I’m glad you have stopped asking this stupid question because a girl is never going to admit her ex was better at anything to her man. And ladies, positive reinforcement is the best way to get men to do what you want, be it better sex or something else.

  • Mouf Peace

    i agree with everyone saying “different” is a way of avoiding the question. the reason behind it can vary, but either way when i say “different” it’s my way of dodging the truth lol. usually i’ll say different because the person asking IS better but i don’t want to feed their ego.

  • SouthernGirl

    He’s different.” means just that. After dating you I wanted to go in a new direction. To compare the two of you isn’t fair to either of you because you’re not comparable. When our relationship ended I decided to learn from our mistakes, so I set out to date someone unlike you. I may soon learn that he’s more like you than I’m able to see or admit, but for now I like him and am giving him a chance because he’s not you. At the moment “not like you” is what I need.

    By the way…”cising” is SUCH a DC word!

  • Charisma N Class

    Lol. Women, I know, we can be very hard to “read” sometimes. But “different” means many different things depending on the type of guys we’re dealing with. It seems like you want a straightforward answer -he’s “better” or “worse.” Well you’re not going to get that from us. It just means that you are different. That’s it.

    Now you can ask her follow-up questions so that she can expand upon what she means. And at that time you are opening yourself up to a multitude of answers and could potentially be opening up a can of worms (which I don’t think you want to do.) She can say that you are more “boring” than the last guy she dealt with. It could mean that you are more “adventurous.” It could be that you are more “trustworthy” than the last guy. But all this should really mean nothing to you, really. You are the new guy in her life. So why ask her to compare you to the last? Doesn’t matter. For whatever reason (ie, the guy was a scumbag, womanizer, boring, or he was just plain incompatible with her lifestyle) he didn’t make it to her present. So, who cares.

    Don’t ask us questions like this. We don’t like it and obviously you don’t like our response.

  • Tmarie

    In my opinion, it means “He’s better”. Its kind of like a euphamism. No need to hurt someone’s feelings, especially when we’re not together anymore. And if the Guy that I have told “He’s Different” asks me what I think about you? I’ll probably be quite honest.

    Ask yourself this, why would you want to date the same person if you felt the need to end your relationship with the previous person? Yes, he is different from you and 99.9% of the time, it is in a good way.

  • Anonymous

    This is no diffrent from the previouss scenario you mentioned about women not being able to tell men who express interest in them that they do not share that interest on the same level. By acting coy they think they are sparing feelings but what they really are doing is confusing the hell out of the man. Most women expend an awful lot of energy trying not to hurt other’s feelings. Unfortunately it becomes death by a thousand cuts rather than a less painful quick blow to the gut.

    My advice ladies save the nuanced answers for your girlfriends. Give it to the man in the least complex way you can. If he gets upset he should not have asked the question anyway because he is obviously not man enough to deal with the answer.

  • JC

    How many times have men pulled this “let me let her down easy and not be completely honest”?
    Both sexes at times fail to communicate honestly but if I had which of the two is more honest I would have to say women and not because I am one. While men what to think that this statement is about dishonesty it really isn’t. What it is about is not wanting to go into detail about why we are with someone else.

  • Dreamcatcher13

    I’ve used this term “he’s different” before to skate around what I really meant. What I meant when I’ve used this term was that my expectations from him were different. This may be a result of not being comfortable with myself sexually in a previous relationship. It may be that I realize that I am worth more now that I am with my new guy. It may be that he’s bigger, smaller, thicker than the current dude and I have too much couth to disclose the matter any further. The “he’s different” response can mean a plethora of things depending on the woman you’re with, her maturity level, her knowledge of herself and her experience with men.

  • Honeyhoneybun

    It means he’s better, but I’m too much of a lady to say, “None of your motherf*ckin’ business!”

  • SerialBachelorette

    Different means that he is better with all of the other things outside of the actual sex/penetration…meaning, both of you may have been well endowed, both may can go for more than a few minutes but he was different in the fact that he cared more, maybe was more tender or attentive. He controlled the pace more, worked my body more, made me want it more, found my spot faster, etc, etc…That is what I mean by “he was different”…his physically sex game may have not necessarily been better or worse but his mental head game was better. Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous

    I have never indulged in the “its not you its me game” and while I don’t try to be brutal in my honesty, I have always been straight forward. Most men are not verbally adroit. “Different” is like “I love you like a friend”, “I don’t see you that way” or “Can’t we just lay in the same bed as friends”

    I could add much more but I don’t have all day.

  • Gail

    Any girl will say.. “i wish I can take bits and pieces of every man I dated and out them together to create the perfect man.”

    There always something girls like about the ex that the new guy doesn’t have/do and same goes for the new guy as well.. When I say “he’s different” it really means he’s different. I guess there are some things that I like more about the new guy so the whole relationship and my expectations are different this time around. And usually if you guys have different personalities or interests it’s totally all fresh and new and– different as well. Theres things u do that he CAN’T do and there’s things he does that YOU can’t do either because it’s not part of your personality or it’s just not in your nature. It’s really hard to explain but it really just means u guys are different. You can’t compare each other, it’s something totally new. If you want to know who’s better, it’s always a tough question for a woman to answer because there’s always something better or lacking to make it even anyways.

  • JC

    Let me point out that you said “I”, not me. I wasn’t claiming that you are that way I said “men” meaning in general. I’m glad you have never indulged in the word play game 🙂 I wish more men were like you.

  • GINA

    I think that one reason a woman will give such a general, vague answer as, “he’s different” is that she doesn’t want to say what she is really thinking. To be honest, the translation of “he’s different” is going to be specific to each woman, man, situation etc., so to ask for THE definition is a high demand. Just my two cents.

  • Ondrea_3

    I don’t know about all of the extra stuff but for me it simply means what it says. He isn’t better or worse, he is just different. Sort of like you may have 10 things I like about you and he has 10 things I like about him and his 10 things aren’t the same as your 10 things but they are still 10 things I like. I hope that makes sense.

  • Sunnrayes

    It means that he’s definitely better, but she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

  • cindylouhoo

    Different = better, but in an intangible, hard to measure directly way. So “he’s different” won’t mean he’s more handsome, more responsible, taller (or whatever, just something where there is an obvious way to measure a difference). Instead, “he’s different” will mean, “I feel better around him”, “he makes me feel pretty”, “he makes me feel full of possibilities” “he seems like he’s going places” etc.

  • cindylouhoo

    Different = better, but in an intangible, hard to measure directly way. So “he’s different” won’t mean he’s more handsome, more responsible, taller (or whatever, just something where there is an obvious way to measure a difference). Instead, “he’s different” will mean, “I feel better around him”, “he makes me feel pretty”, “he makes me feel full of possibilities” “he seems like he’s going places” etc.

  • wahoo4uva

    It means it’s another flavor. Like apples and oranges, you can’t really compare (assuming you like both).

  • Jinx Moneypenny

    LOL if I were you I wouldn’t have even asked that in the first place… I’m surprised you cared.

  • FlyBrownie89

    When many women say He’s different it’s code word for he’s better than you but I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Personally I just keep it 100 because if you were bold enough to ask then I think its only right you get a real answer. I must say that even while telling the truth there is a way to say something that makes it sound less harsh. I must say that I will give details as to why he’s better and examples so that a guy fully understands because the follow up question is usually how?

  • cheryl

    Its been my experience that often he is not better, but women say he is because they cannot allow themselves admit they made a mistake. That’s how you see a women leave one good man, go to another that is not as good, but end up doing more for the new guy.

  • cheryl

    see comment above. I seldom have seen a clear cut “better” guy except in cases when a woman was dating a dog, and then got a clue. Often, its a case where they don’t know why the left to begin with and cannot admit they made a mistake in leaving.

  • shagbark

    I don’t think it’s a secret codeword.  It means “different”.

  • Visitor

    First of all, I think it is unladylike to detail sexual practices of one lover vs another lover.  As we all know, private matters are no longer private once they are shared beyond the parties involved.  The questions is completely uncivilized and inappropriate. The only civilized response to such a crude inquiry which is truthful and yet wholly vague, therefore respecting both parties, is “you’re different”.  

    If you are asking your EX GIRLFRIEND whether her new boyfriend is better than you…the answer is YES HE IS BETTER in some criteria which is important to her, or else she would not be with him. The criteria varies by the individual. If you specifically asked her whether the new boyfriend is a better lover, then you are asking for heartache.

    If she hasn’t left the new guy, then maybe she is satisfied with the relationship. Saying that he’s different…could mean that you both satisfy her sexually, but your manner of accomplishing that is different. And refusing to detail the ways in which you are different is to prevent you from having any imagination about it.

  • Guest

    Perhaps when a woman says to you that ‘you’re different’ – what she’s really saying is you’re one of a kind and or One in a million. Perhaps if you were to say to a woman that she’s different in a good way, you would have a better sense of what the woman is saying when she says you’re different. Place yourself in the position of being with person who you have chosen to settle down with, what was it that made you choose that one person among all that makes her different among all. The answer goes both ways. 

  • Christina

    Honestly, it usually means 1 of 2 things: 1. he’s better and we don’t want to hurt your feelings or 2. you’re better and we don’t want to tell you. Additionally, it could just mean that she was in love with one of you and not the other so it isn’t comparable. I often describe things as “different” when my feelings for that person are stronger than those I had for another. So it’s “different” with him because even if he’s not better skill wise it’s better with him because there’s more emotions involved.