The Power of Compliments: compliments can become few and far between in relationships, and worse, the compliments can often become stale or too general. As nice as it is to hear someone say, “You look good,” it's not very personable. The goal of compliments is to let one know that you acknowledge and appreciate a specific strength of theirs. You are letting them know that you see something positive in what they are doing, being, wearing, etc. Compliments can help a person's sense of confidence and increase their awareness of what they are doing right.
The basic definition of a compliment is saying something to express praise, respect, or approval. For example, “I love your haircut!” or “Is that blouse new? It looks good!” These are just a few examples of typical compliments. Yes, you can tell her she looks great, or she's the most beautiful woman you know, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Complimenting her to help her feel sexy isn't enough. Try to be more specific and less general with the compliment, and most importantly make sure it's so true, that even she knows it!
Complimenting your woman is a great opportunity to remind her how and why you find her 100% sexy, and can increase her own sense of sexual confidence. A verbal reminder (aka a compliment), can help your partner see the positive in her physical appearance in order to feel more comfortable her skin and increase the sexual intimacy between the two of you. If you have experienced a partner's preoccupation with her perception of physical flaws, you may have also experienced your partner distance herself in the bedroom. Providing more direct compliments to your partner will not only improve her self confidence, but it will decrease the preoccupation with flaws and therefore increase your partner's ability to focus on the bedroom, and on the matter at hand.
Taught at The Center for Growth / Couples Counseling in Philadelphia
Compliment your partner on a physical feature that you find sexy, and one that you know she is proud of. This could be her shoulders, arms, calves, her hair, etc. This helps your partner focus on the positive, and it helps build on her strengths. For example, your partner knows she has great arms, not only can she take pride in whatever efforts she made to have great arms and be proud of the hard work, but she may also wear more shirts that accentuate that feature. A quick note with the compliments, when you do find a feature to compliment on, add some details. Details help the person make sense of why this is important to you. For example, if you like her shoulders, what is about them that you like? Is it that they look soft and feminine, or are they really muscular and fit? Is it that they look even sexier when your partner wears a sleeveless shirt, or a specific dress? If you love your partner's hair, why? Is it the length, is it fun to run your hands through?
Another way to understand this concept is to view it as though you are creating a story behind the compliment. You are making meaning out of it the compliment, and therefore giving your partner a different framework. An example of creating a story out of the compliment could include, “The reason it's fun to run my hands through your hair, is because It reminds me of our first date, and I find your long hair super sexy.” Or, “Your calves are a turn on to me, they are so muscular, it signifies physical fitness.” Make sure you have a follow up such as these when you do compliment your partner, and say it before you are asked, “Why?”
So Many Options to Choose From While all positive comments are to boost your partner's outlook, each compliment varies in terms of what the compliment is about, for example whether its physical, or an action. The following list covers eight different categories that a compliment can be applied to.
- Body Compliments. This includes more general physical features, like arms, thighs, calves. These features may or may not be things your partner actively works to improve.
- God's Gifts. These are physical traits that we are born with, and are most likely unchangeable (without going under the knife). Such as nose, eyes, ears, hands, feet.
- Things we have control over. Length or color of her hair, physical shape.
- Style. How we put ourselves together and present self, such as coordinating outfits, colors, etc.
- Specific clothes. Is there that one pair of jeans, or that blazer that you just love on your partner? Perhaps it could be a certain color dress, or pair of shorts that just accentuates your partner's legs that you love.
- Something that gives the other pleasure. Such compliments can include sexual/pleasurable acts (oral sex, how your partner touches you, give a back massage, etc.).
- The way your partner receives pleasure. This can include how your partner communicates or expresses what she enjoys sexually, or a specific facial expression or gesture made when receiving pleasure.
- Things she is particularly insecure about. Focusing on her weakest points can make one feel even more connected to you. For example, “Wow, he likes my saggy breasts,” or “He finds it charming that I always get clumsy when I am nervous.”
For the next week, each compliment you give your partner take a look at the list and asses which category the majority of the compliments fall into. Ask yourself why you find It easier to give compliments in that one particular category. What would it mean to only give compliments in the other areas. Then, next time you are complimenting on your partner's strengths, aim to give your partner a compliment in a new category that you rarely comment on. You can do this in two week increments by focusing on just one type of compliment and then ask yourself the following questions:
How genuine did the compliment feel when giving it?
- Do you look at that particular complimented area/aspect of your partner differently now?
- Do you receive compliments in the areas your are currently focusing on, do you want similar compliments? Then switch it up. What did you learn about yourself? How did your partner react to the different types of compliments?
Compliments can go a long way, but they require sincerity, good timing, and be sure to use the compliments in moderation. Too many compliments, or too many at similar times (for example, bedtime) may be perceived as ill-intentioned and shallow. Women want to be reminded by an outside observer that they are seen, heard, and most of all, appreciated. Following the recommended steps above will convey just that.
Struggling with how to effectively use compliments? Help is available.
At TCFG you can schedule directly online with a therapist. If you prefer talking to a therapist first, you may call (215) 922-LOVE (5683) ext 100 to be connected with our intake department. Lastly, you can call our Director, “Alex” Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW at (267) 324–9564 to discuss your particular situation. For your convenience, we have six physical therapy offices and can also provide counseling and therapy virtually.
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Word of Caution: When compliments should be inappropriate
Compliments can brighten someone's day and foster positive interactions, but it's important to be mindful of their context and delivery to ensure they are appropriate and respectful. Here are some situations where compliments can be inappropriate:
- Sexualized Compliments: Compliments that focus on a person's body, appearance, or clothing in a sexual or objectifying manner can make the recipient uncomfortable and be considered inappropriate.
- Workplace Setting: Compliments that touch on personal appearance or physical attributes, especially in a professional setting, can be seen as unprofessional or create discomfort.
- Strangers or Acquaintances: Making overly personal or detailed compliments to someone you don't know well or have just met can come across as insincere or invasive.
- Sensitive Topics: Compliments related to sensitive topics like weight, personal history, health conditions, or financial status can be unintentionally hurtful or intrusive.
- Cultural Awareness: Compliments that don't take cultural differences into account can be inappropriate. Something well-intentioned in one culture might be perceived differently in another.
- Age-Inappropriate Compliments: Compliments about age, whether someone looks younger or older, can be sensitive due to societal pressures and self-esteem issues related to age.
- Inappropriate Timing: Complimenting someone during a serious conversation or difficult situation may seem out of touch with the emotional context.
- Flattery with Intentions: Compliments with ulterior motives, such as trying to gain favor, manipulate, or attract attention, can be inappropriate and insincere.
- Comments on Private Matters: Compliments about someone's personal life, relationships, or private decisions might not be well-received if they cross boundaries.
- Insensitive Remarks: Compliments that imply comparison or highlight differences between individuals might inadvertently hurt feelings or create discomfort.
- Compliments with Presumption: Compliments that assume things about someone's background, preferences, or lifestyle can be intrusive.
- Overemphasis on Appearance: Focusing solely on someone's appearance while ignoring their other qualities or achievements can be superficial and neglectful of their multifaceted nature.
- Pity Compliments: Compliments that stem from pity or a sense of obligation can be insincere and not genuinely uplifting.
- Unwanted Attention: Repeated or overly enthusiastic compliments, especially after the recipient has expressed discomfort, can feel like unwanted attention.
It's important to remember that appropriateness can vary based on individual relationships, cultural norms, and context. When giving compliments, it's a good practice to be genuine, respectful, and considerate of the other person's feelings and boundaries. If you're unsure whether a compliment might be appropriate, it's okay to err on the side of caution and choose a compliment that focuses on something positive and neutral.