The Art of Giving Good Compliments

Emily Abbate

Beautiful ScrabbleWhen you're a bit down, there's nothing better than a good compliment to pick you up out of the dumps.

There are tons of good ones. Ranging from the emotionally driven "You understand me" to the physically charged "You really do have a beautiful face, you know that?"

But is there such a thing as a bad compliment? Is hearing "you look beautiful" for the hundredth time as exciting as the first? 

Here are six suggestions to share with your partner on how to give the good ones worth telling your friends about, for the right reasons. He'll thank you for them.

1. If your compliment comes with a disclaimer, don't give it. You're trying to say something nice. But think about what you want to say before you blurt it out. The compliment isn't meant to be a reverse psychology attack on a flaw. Examples of failed attempts include "You are so sensitive when you're not plopped in front of the TV" or "You are so good in bed, when we actually have sex."

As a couple, talk about these things -- and don't be one of the 6 out of 10 people who are unhappy in their relationship.

2. Don't give a compliment just to get something in return. It's not hard to seek out the ulterior motives. Trying to watch the big game on TV when Grey's Anatomy is on? Telling me my hair looks great today, while appreciated, isn't going to do the trick.

3. Wait before you bring up weight. Weight will always be a little taboo. While some couples are open to diet talk, different scenarios call for different levels of appropriateness.

After sending my Army boyfriend pictures of my girlfriends and me at a wedding last weekend, he made a valiant effort to compliment how I looked:

You know, for someone who's lost a lot of weight, you have great arms. That came out wrong. You know what I mean ... It's hard for girls to tone their arms ... you have great arms. You're beautiful. I'm making this worse, aren't I?

Point made. Did he have good intentions? Of course. But maybe next time a simple "that was a great color for you" will do just fine.

4. Compliment, and compliment often. The best thing about being in a relationship is knowing that someone values you for who you are ... emotionally and physically. Continuously complimenting your love shows your appreciation for them. This doesn't mean 8,000 times a day. Just enough to make one another feel appreciated.

5. Diversity, diversity, diversity. Don't be a one avenue kind of complimenteer. This means that telling me you appreciate my passion for cooking (including Roasted Pumpkin Cheese Fondue) is just as important as telling me I am a great driver. We can forget that little fender bender I had last summer ...

6. Pay attention to the little things. The best compliments are the ones that not even we would think of ourselves. Instead of telling your girlfriend or wife that they are beautiful (I don't think it will ever get old) -- tell them why on this night, of all nights. Are they wearing a new pair of earrings, did they do their hair a different way, or are trying out a new color scheme? Telling your partner that "the color of your necklace really compliments your eyes" is both thoughtful and shows your attentiveness.

What's the best compliment you've gotten lately? What ones do you wish you hadn't?


Image via MadelineGracex/Flickr

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