12 phrases women use when they’re secretly angry but won’t admit it, according to psychology

Women are often brought up to be pleasant and accommodating.

So much so that many of us have difficulty expressing anger.

Don’t get me wrong, we can blow up, especially if we’re at our wits’ end or you’ve wronged us.

Yet, when the offense isn’t that major or we don’t feel like dealing with it at that particular point in time, we push our fury down and adopt a more pacifying demeanor.

Still, hints of our displeasure break through the cracks.

Here are 12 phrases women use when they’re secretly angry but won’t admit it, according to psychology.

Learning to read between the lines will work in your favor.

1) I’m fine.

From my experience, very few people who insist they are fine are actually fine.

This classic response usually conceals deeper feelings of frustration or anger.

It’s a way of avoiding confrontation or appearing unbothered when, in reality, there’s turmoil simmering beneath the surface.

According to psychology, we say we’re fine when we’re not to avoid painful feelings, fend off conflicts, or ignore our problems altogether.

A much better approach would be to admit that we’re fuming and address the source of our irritation.

Denial only gets you so far.

2) I’m not upset.

By insisting they’re not upset when they obviously are, women attempt to maintain control over their emotions.

There might be many reasons why they’re reluctant to lose their cool:

  • They want (or have) to maintain a façade of strength or composure
  • They fear being judged as overly emotional or irrational
  • They want to protect others (in all likelihood, the person who made them upset)
  • They have been conditioned to prioritize the needs and emotions of others
  • They fear retaliation and criticism, especially in unsafe environments

Whichever the case, she’s shutting down.

Give her some space and revisit the conversation later on.

3) I’m just tired.

There’s been a lot of talk about the glorification of overwork, and being perpetually busy means you can use burnout as an excuse for anything.

(I am being sarcastic.)

Tired has become our natural state of being, and no one bats an eye when you invoke exhaustion to get out of a situation you don’t feel like dealing with.

Long story short, blaming fatigue for irritability frequently masks underlying anger.

It’s a way of deflecting attention from the real source of frustration.

Women know this strategy well, and we embrace it whenever we want to get out of an unpleasant conversation.

We likely have more important things to worry about.

4) It’s not a big deal.

Situations when I’ve used the phrase “it’s not a big deal” in the recent past:

  • When a friend who is constantly late to meet me was late once again
  • When a guy I went out with openly flirted with someone else while standing right next to me
  • When the cashier at the supermarket failed to give me the correct change and made a scene when I pointed this out
  • When I discovered that a band I love canceled the concert I’d been looking forward to for the past four months

In all of the above cases, it was a big deal, indeed.

5) Whatever.

According to psychology, “whatever” is a common passive-aggressive phrase employed to shut down communication.

This seemingly harmless word carries significant emotional weight and can convey a range of negative emotions, including anger.

It allows women to vent their frustration in a non-confrontational manner, avoiding an outright argument while still signaling their displeasure.

Have you ever heard someone say “whatever” in a pleasant tone?

I didn’t think so.

6) K.

“K” is the equivalent of “whatever” in text form.

If you’ve been texting with a woman who doesn’t use a lot of abbreviations, being hit with a simple “k” is a sign of trouble.

The thumbs-up emoji isn’t good news either.

7) Don’t worry about it.

When a woman dismisses your concerns or offers to help, it may be a sign of suppressed anger.

It’s a way of maintaining independence and forcing you to leave her alone, even if she’s secretly fuming on the inside and longing for release.

It’s all about tone and context.

If someone tells you not to worry about something with a smile on their face, when referring to a situation that has already been dealt with, the remark is genuine.

If someone mumbles the phrase in a passive-aggressive manner, you should probably worry about it very much.

8) Forget about it.

When someone says “forget about it,” they may attempt to brush off a situation while hiding underlying anger and pain.

They’re trying to move forward without addressing the elephant in the room, which can be hurtful in the long run.

According to psychology, repressed anger has negative consequences on mental health and can lead to depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, among other issues.

Ideally, women should learn how to hone their anger and find healthy ways to express it.

If you suspect that a woman in your life has been secretly self-silencing, encourage her to speak up.

Even if she might yell at you as she does so.

It’s for her own good.

9) I guess I’m just overreacting.

Another common reaction women have to anger is to downplay it.

Research found that men displaying anger can gain influence, while women displaying anger lose power.

Society doesn’t want us angry, so we’re naturally inclined to try and keep the peace.

If a woman says she’s overreacting when you know she’s not, it’s due to an internal struggle to validate feelings of anger or frustration.

She trying to convince herself as much as you.

10) I’m not angry, I’m disappointed.

This was one of my mother’s favorite phrases as I was growing up and messing up along the way.

Somehow, hearing her say it hurt more than listening to her scream at me for an hour straight.

I bet she knew that.

My mom’s psychological games aside, women often insist they’re disappointed rather than angry to avoid the stigma associated with anger.

Disappointment is perceived as less confrontational, so it’s more socially acceptable.

If the woman’s tone is sharp or sarcastic and her body language includes crossed arms or clenched fists, she’s feeling at least some suppressed anger.

She’s just softening the blow.

11) I don’t want to talk about it.

This is another phrase that suggests a desire to suppress emotions instead of addressing them directly.

If a woman is clearly angry but postpones having a conversation about the cause, she’s trying to regain her composure.

She wants to avoid throwing a tantrum or saying something she might later regret.

At the very least, postponing the conversation is better than giving the silent treatment.

That brings me to my final point.

12) Complete silence.

Stonewalling is a common term used by psychologists to describe a communication behavior where one person withdraws from a conversation.

They refuse to engage in dialogue.

They might go silent, leave the room, or offer evasive responses in an attempt to stop the conflict from escalating, at least for the moment.

While some people stonewall to assert control over the other person, many do it invertedly, to protect themselves from emotional pain.

Expressing anger openly can make anyone, especially women, feel vulnerable.

Not everyone is comfortable with that.

Final thoughts

A woman uttering one of the above phrases in your general direction should tell you everything you need to know about her state of mind.

She might insist that she’s OK, but she’s anything but.

Encourage her to open up and express her anger directly.

That way, you can address conflicts as soon as they arise, in a healthier and more effective manner.

It’s the smart way to go.

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