A man can say one thing, intending nothing but a compliment, but the woman perceives a whole second area of interpretation that leads her to rightly or wrongly make her own decision on what it is you mean.
No one, not if they’re in their right mind, sets out to alienate a woman whom they are attracted to. It does seem, however, that many men have an unwitting penchant towards doing just that. With a simple slip of a foolish tongue, they can undo hours, weeks, or even months’ worth of solid fawning and flattery. But why exactly is that the case? Why do we men seem unable to give a compliment without occasionally turning it into a devastatingly irreversible insult?
The following list provides ten examples of intended compliments, with both the man’s and the woman’s perspective explained. Hopefully, this will lead the less aware of you single guys out there to think a little more carefully in the future about what you say.
#1 You look great today.
What you mean: You mean just that. She looks great! You’re seeing her today, in the here and now, and that is the time at which she is looking good.
What she thinks: “Today? Just today? So, I was so appallingly disgraceful to look at all the other times that you’ve seen me?” Gents, one of the things that you’ll see popping up on this list over and over again is the sin of overkill. If she looks great, then tell her so and leave it at that. Don’t qualify it with anything else that could turn your intended compliment into a deadly insult!
#2 Have you lost weight?
What you mean: “You look really good. Really slim and pretty, and it suits you. You have a fine figure at any time, of course, but there’s something about you today that just looks extra special.”
What she thinks: “I guess I look pretty fat, then, when you usually see me, do I? I’m sorry to have disgraced you with my whale-like presence on those previous occasions, but I’m so happy that I now conform to your picture of the perfect lady. Let’s just hope I can fit into the taxi as I leave you in its dust for a man who appreciates me!” No further explanation needed, I feel.
#3 You have such pretty eyelashes.
What you mean: “You have such pretty eyelashes.”
What she thinks: “I’m really glad about that. They are a striking feature, aren’t they? I’m so glad that they appeal to you, and am even happier that of all the things you could have complimented me on – my eyes, my figure, my intelligence, my appearance – eyelashes were the only option that you felt comfortable with. It makes me feel great that the only thing you felt was worth commenting upon was a measly bunch of facial hairs *or worse, fake lashes*!” Guys, if you’re going to give a compliment, make it a big one.
#4 I don’t normally go for your type.
What you mean: “I’ve often gone for a woman with different hobbies or fashion sense or sensibilities before, and this is a very happy departure for me. I think I’ve made the right choice this time.”
What she thinks: She thinks you’re saying, “Do you know, I’m not normally interested in women who look or act like you, but you’re not so bad, and in your case, I’ll make an exception… for now.” If I need to explain why this doesn’t constitute as the compliment of the century, then it may be time to book that common sense transplant you’ve been meaning to get.
#5 You look just like your mom.
What you mean: To be honest, who knows why anyone would say this? This must be one of those cases of mouth working independently of brain to fill some awkward silence or to try to move the conversation on.
What she thinks: She thinks you’re saying, “You look thirty years older than you actually are, and you have more in common than you think with that woman whose personality you’ve been trying to distance yourself from all your life.” What a winner.
#6 You have very striking features.
What you mean: “There is something unconventionally but devastatingly attractive about your features. You don’t conform to the usual standards of attractiveness, but actually transcend them with a stunning interplay of uniqueness and beauty.”
What she thinks: Unfortunately, this particular compliment is more commonly interpreted as, “You’ve got a big nose, funny teeth, and/or googly eyes,” or some other insulting observation on a strange-looking part of her appearance that she believes you have clumsily disguised as a compliment.
#7 You’ve got a great personality!
What you mean: Just that. She’s easy to get along with, a bit of a laugh, can hold a conversation – everything as it should be.
What she thinks: This compliment says just one thing to the female addressee: “There is so little worth mentioning about your appearance that I’m going to have to focus on your personality instead.” Don’t be shy to use this one guys, but do make sure it is in tandem with a compliment about her physical appearance also.
#8 You’re better looking than my ex.
What you mean: “My ex was a very attractive woman, and there’s no doubt about it – you beat her hands down. That’s how incredibly attractive you are.”
What she thinks: Well, for one, she is now under the impression that you have spent the whole time you’ve been together thinking about your ex. She may also think that you’re making a statement to the effect that although she isn’t great looking, she is better looking than your ex. Not really a winning combination.
#9 You carry your weight well.
What you mean: “You might be a little larger than average, but you look great for it. It actually suits you. You are better looking than women who are many sizes smaller, and you really rock that whole look. You couldn’t look any more beautiful.”
What she thinks: Her interpretation of this sentence is, “I didn’t realize I was going on a date with Moby Dick!”
#10 You look great for your age.
What you mean: Exactly that. She easily looks like she could be ten years younger than the age she has given you.
What she thinks: “Wow, that’s really gracious of you. Thanks for the compliment, and thanks also for putting up with me even though I am apparently approaching the age which qualifies me as an exhibit in the National Museum!”
So guys, don’t be the one she talks about in years to come as a nominee for the record holder of the world’s worst compliment. Stay clear of the obvious faux pas above, and concentrate on talking her into being your partner for life – or at least for the night!