The right way to compliment your date
Cheap flattery will get you nowhere, but original praise can do wonders.
You’re face to face with a woman who has you dazzled… and tongue-tied. Learn the right way to flatter her from our pair of etiquette experts.
The statement, “Gee, Suzie, you look nice today,” used to arouse giggly tingles on the playground, but as a post-pubescent suitor, your compliments better be more focused. Warm praise can defrost those first icy moments of early dating, as well as subtly advertise your attraction. Later, compliments are standard daily fare for keeping a relationship fresh. How do you spice it up? Allow us to share nine secrets:
1. Offer praise that’s original, not stale.
A dating-scene veteran with luxuriant locks has heard dozens of times how lovely her hair is. Either craft a new quip (“Your red and gold highlights make me long for autumn”) or else bypass obvious compliments in favor of lesser-named qualities (“Your posture is flawless… do you take ballet?”).
2. Look for cues.
Where has your date invested her energies in preparing for your time together? A freshly-painted French manicure begs for recognition. Also, when someone has clearly invested their time or money in an area of interest, you’ve got a ready-made subject to compliment. “Wow… that’s quite a collection of snow globes.” This particular phrasing has the secondary advantage of making an observation without actually saying whether you like it or not.
3. Make it specific.
Vague, wide-beam flattery lacks the focused impact of a well-honed, explicit comment. “You’ve got a cool apartment,” is fine, but it doesn’t evoke pride as well as “Your jazz/art/fiction collection is amazing.” Instead of acknowledging her “pretty face,” pick one winning feature, like lips: “Your lips remind me of those coy silent-film stars.”
On to more compliments, with this note: Cheap flattery will get you nowhere. Keen compliments are never you-have-nice-eyes commonplace. Instead, it’s those rare remarks spotlighting subtler traits (e.g., sultry phone voice, bistro-picking savvy, and paparazzi-worthy glamour) that resonate longest. Next time you’ve got the chance to brighten a date’s day, issue one of these sincere forms of praise… you’ll know you’ve struck a chord when her cheeks blush. Here, the specifics:
4. “That color looks great on you.”
This phrase works on a number of levels. Your compliment suggests an appreciation of style and signifies attraction while demonstrating your own sharp eye.
5. “Your space is so inviting / hip / splendidly decorated” or “You have great taste in ______.”
Anyone who has taken time to enliven their home with objects d’art or contrasting pillow fabrics relishes this kind of accolade.
6. “I love your friends.”
If you are fortunate enough to be meeting her network of pals, put some praise out there. Acknowledging her friends will settle half of your date’s “Will they all get along?” doubts, while also casting a vote clearly in favor of those who might be bridesmaids or groomsmen one day in the rosy future.
7. “You must spend hours at the gym/yoga studio.”
Your date’s toned arms and trim gams are likelier the result of a gym membership than just splendid genes. When you notice the firm effects of someone’s workout regimen, say so. One simple compliment affirms months of labor sweatin’ to the oldies.
8. “You have the most alluring ______.”
If you’ve been dating for a bit of time, go ahead and mention eyes, toes, shoulders, back, hands and legs for this fill-in-the-blank. But beware of suggestive compliments that are more lewd than flattering.
9. “Being with you is really ______.”
This kind of statement cleverly compliments someone by signaling your own feelings. For those too shy to directly gush, “I really like you,” the above turn of phrase lets you reveal a little without coming on too strong.