10 Ways to Compliment a Woman

Feb 29, 2000

You’re a Woman, You Must Know…
“Women are so hard to please,” a male friend recently told me. “Come on, you’re a woman! Tell me what women want!”

Well… that’s a tall order. In the first place, women are not all the same, and can’t be lumped together into an easy “do this and she’ll love you forever” formula. But it did get me thinking, and anyone who knows me will tell you I am very opinionated. I also have been happily married for 15 years… well, married for 15 years, we’ve been happy for most of them! I’m only half-kidding there – marriage is a lot of hard work. I wrote a whole review on that earlier (http://www.epinions.com/kifm-review-2BB6-25996B6-38974189-prod2 ) so I’m not going to go into that here. But one of the things that can truly touch a woman’s heart is a compliment.

“Compliment?” You say, “But I compliment my wife all the time, and she just ignores me!” Hmmm…. Dare I say you may be doing it wrong? And to be fair … many women (myself included) are very poor at receiving compliments. That’s fodder for another Epinion, but for now, let’s look at some ways to help you communicate your love for the female in your life, through your words, effectively.

Compliment Her Sincerely
An insincere compliment is one of the quickest ways to get a woman to discredit you. Shooting off a rote response like “You look nice” to a question like “Does this look okay?” is very discouraging to a woman. Sometimes we honestly want your opinion; sometimes we just want a reinforcement of our own judgement. I’m not a huge shopper, when I go shopping for clothes it really helps to have another woman along. If I ask my friend Jill if an outfit looks good on me, she’ll tell me to turn around first, then she will tell me exactly how it flatters me (or doesn’t), in detail. I know her input will be kind (she's my friend, after all!) and sincere.

Always look your partner in the eye when you give her a compliment, if possible. Try to be clear, and sincere. If her hair looks especially nice, tell her you like how it curls around her face. If her outfit sets off her eyes/skin/lips (whatever) especially nicely, tell her that. Say it with love, and say it sincerely. Try to give one sincere compliment instead of three bland ones.

Compliment Her with Details
Few things are as unfulfilling as a vague compliment. “You look nice” is a typical vague compliment. Others in this category are you look pretty, that’s a nice outfit, and that’s nice, dear. These are the compliments that get tuned out -- they are background noise. They’re nice, but they don’t tell us any information. If they were Epinions I’d rate them as “Somewhat recommended” <GRIN>.

So add a little spice. Tell her WHY she looks nice. For example, if she has a new outfit on, compliment how it fits on her, or how well that color looks against her skin, etc. Her eyes are not just pretty; they are the most gorgeous shade of green in the world. Her hair is not really nice, its soft and it smells fabulous and makes you want to run your hands through it. The new dress is not just pretty, that shade of blue looks great against her skin, and it hangs beautifully (or matches her earrings perfectly … or whatever). If you catch yourself saying, “You look nice”, complete the compliment with a detail. You’ll be glad you did.

Compliment Her Frequently
Compliments that come once a month make us wonder about the intentions. My female friends and I were reflecting the other day that we get compliments on two specific occasions – 1) when we ask for them, overtly or otherwise and 2) when our husbands want sex. Compliments should be given freely, and frequently, so that the recipient knows you are thinking of her, and caring about her, with no other intention. If we have to beg for a compliment, it loses some of its value. Don’t misinterpret a question of “how do I look” as fishing for a compliment – yes, we might need some positive reinforcement, but as often as not it indicates an insecurity in our decision (on the outfit, hair, whatever) and we just need positive reinforcement. Compliment your partner frequently and they will flourish in the sunshine.

Compliment Her Mind
Now, this is not to say that we do not enjoy compliments about our bodies. These are wonderful, as long as they are sincerely given, with some details. But it is also just as important to know that we are loved, and appreciated for more than our sexy bodies <GRIN>. A compliment on our minds, or our accomplishments, is one of the most striking compliments there is because it tells us that you have truly paid attention to us, as people. I personally appreciate a compliment on something I have done, which goes like this: “I’m really impressed with the way you handled that issue with Rich. You used a lot of creativity and tact to get that resolved quickly and without a lot of hurt feelings.”

WOW! All of a sudden I feel pumped up! This compliment reinforces your appreciation of my mind, and respect in my decision-making skills! Every single woman makes hundreds of decisions every day, whether they work outside the home or not. Listen to the issues, how she dealt with them, and try to make sure she knows how impressed you are with what she did. Don’t belittle her contributions, it will put a wall up and make her less willing to share in the future. A simple, sincere compliment will go a long way to opening communications between you.

Compliment Her Publicly
One of the rarest compliments is the public one. I am not talking about a public speech, listing all of your partner’s positive points (although if you want to go that far, go for it!). What I am referring to is the acknowledgement, in front of others, of the respect you have for your partner and her contributions. “Maggie keeps me laughing, she helps me see the humor even in the worst situations!” “Wendy is a fantastic cook, I am always so amazed that she has time to cook so well and manage everything else she has going!” “Mary is so patient with the girls, she can sit down and explain technical details to them in a way they understand!”

All too often we make these comments about our spouses when they are not there, but don’t say them to their face. Its not that we don’t feel that way, it just doesn’t come up…. You know what I mean? So make it come up. Share your appreciation. If you have occasion to praise your partner, and she is not there to hear it, take her in your arms that night, and tell her “I was talking to John today about the merger, and we got talking about hardships. I told him how you keep me laughing, and always help me see the humor even in the worst situations. I wanted to tell you how much that means to me.” Now THAT is a sincere compliment.

Compliment Her with a Gift
Compliments do not have to be given with gifts. That is to say, a well-phrased compliment is a gift all by itself. BUT – if you are going to give a gift, try giving a compliment with it. Try telling her you bought that special bracelet not just “because it was on sale” (OOPS!) but “because you saw it, and it reminded you of her and how important she is to you”. (Sigh, much better!). Even a sincere “I thought of you today, and it made me smile” is a beautiful accompaniment to a gift. One sidenote – most women do not like gifts that are associated with sex. It makes us feel cheap, so if you have a particularly lusty occasion and want to commemorate it with a gift, tie the gift to the fun you had together, not the sex itself. See the difference?

Compliment Her with your Ears
Listening is a compliment in and of itself. When you listen to me, it says “You are important to me, and I care what you have to say”. That is so touching to us – and I speak for myself and many friends, who wish we could get half of the attention that a good football game gets. Turn off the TV and talk to her. If she is sharing with you, listen. If it is the same old rant, about the same old thing, maybe she really needs to be heard on this? Asking probing, honest questions will tell her that you care, you are truly listening, and you care about her feelings. Don’t be afraid to use reflective comments, “That must be really hard for you.” “It sounds like that was really frustrating”. “That must have made you feel great!”

If you are tired, and really don’t want to have that long discussion she is ready to launch into, be honest with her. My husband once dozed off during a particularly heartfelt discussion we were having… or clearly, that I was having (alone!). Fear not, he heard an earful about that the next morning. Now he will wisely (and in a self-protecting mode) tell me “Honey, I truly want to hear what you have to say, but I am so tired I’m afraid I can’t really focus on it. I do want to listen to you, and I’d love it if we could talk about this in the morning…” Yes, she may be hurt. But she will be less hurt than if you doze off (and as my husband will attest to, you will be less hurt – physically – also!). Be sure to initiate the discussion in the morning, otherwise you are just putting her off.

Compliment Her with your Time
When is the last time you took time off of work just to share it with her? Or took an hour out of your weekend just to sit and talk to her? We sometimes get a bucket of KFC, and a bottle of wine, and go sit on a blanket at the beach just to talk. Its not expensive, I set aside my healthy diet, and we just relax and spend time together. Have kids? Get a sitter, and go out. Again, its not the place that matters as much as the fact that you initiate it, and you get the sitter because YOU want to spend time with HER. Make sure she knows that. Make sure she understands how important she is to you, and how meaningful that time together is to you. That is a huge compliment in and of itself.

Compliment Her with your Heart
Compliment her with heartfelt words, at times OTHER than when you are initiating sex. I’m not saying that a few well-spoken words don’t make a woman feel more romantic. On the contrary, I’m talking about the crockpot theory. A brilliant marriage counselor once phrased it like this: When a man wants sex, he’s like a microwave. Plant the idea, and DING! He’s ready! But a woman is like a crockpot …. If you want to have her cooking at night, start the crockpot in the morning with a few well-chosen compliments and love words. If you do this every day, she’ll know that it comes from your heart, and not from a … errr…. lower region. Compliments should always come from the heart, see above under sincerity. And that isn’t to say they have no place in lovemaking – on the contrary, mutual respect and compliments are critical to a healthy self-esteem and libido. Just make sure that you are not limiting your compliments to times when you want sex, otherwise they may be discounted.

Compliment Her with a Hug
One of the most meaningful ways to deliver a compliment is when you are holding your partner in your arms, looking in their eyes, and sharing your thoughts with them. This lets them know you are sincere, and tells them that this is from your heart.

Give it a Try! You can do it!
Follow these steps and see if your relationship improves. I challenge you to give your wife (or partner) one sincere, heartfelt compliment each day for a week. Use the suggestions above, and post your own. Tell me what means the most to you. And most importantly, follow your heart. If you love her, let her know. She needs to hear it.

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