There are 3 men who typically compliment their partners under different circumstances. 2 of them are doing it all wrong.
Man #1: his girlfriend walks into the room. She looks at herself in the mirror and says, “I need to lose some weight. Maybe I should try yoga.” His reactionary response to this is, “honey, you look great!”
But she already doesn’t think that’s true. What does this compliment actually do? It draws attention, not only to her thought that “she needs to lose weight”, but also to the fact that her boyfriend is looking at her, noticing the exact thing she’s insecure about.
The answer by the man is perfectly innocent (and female characters in movies always seem to expect it, don’t they?). But people don’t really build confidence through outside validation. They build confidence from the inside, from coming to the conclusion that “they’re enough” on their own.
Of course women love to hear they’re sexy, but if they don’t really believe it, man #1’s compliment sounds more like a stumbling block to her doing what she really wants.
You don’t need to say a thing. Build her confidence by standing by her side, supporting her in whatever activity or exercise she sets out to do, and showing her your appreciation for everything she does.
The normal, everyday
Man #2: his wife walks in for lunch on a normal Tuesday afternoon.
He says, “babe, you’re so beautiful!”
She gets dressed to go out with the girls that night. After spending two hours on her hair, what does he say?
“Babe, you’re so beautiful!”
The next morning, she’s sitting on the couch in her PJ’s, after having eaten literally a gallon of ice cream.
“Babe, you’re so beautiful!”
I totally get it. You want to shout from the rooftop how amazing she is! And you want her to know just how much you appreciate her.
You could probably ask the next 50 women you see, and they’ll all tell you that they would love it if their man complimented them like this. But that’s only because it’s never happened to them before. What these types of compliments do is they bring the ordinary on the same level as the extraordinary.
Imagine she makes a delicious 4-course meal with steak, fish, salad, and dessert. Maybe this meal took her hours to cook, and you say, “oh honey, that was delicious!” Then the next morning, she makes you porridge, throws a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar in it.
What’s your response?
“Oh honey, that was delicious!”
She was quite proud of the first meal she cooked, but the porridge? It was a nice gesture, but she could hardly care less. Are they really equally deserving? When you compliment them exactly the same, either consciously or unconsciously, it tells her that they’re on the same level.
I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t compliment your wife’s cooking, but it’s easy to cheapen the really special one by treating them both equally.
The right way
1) Draw attention to the special things.
She put on that sexy dress because she feels great in it! She did her hair because it makes her feel beautiful. Rather than calling attention to her insecurities, draw attention to the parts of her, or the things she does, that she is already proud of.
2) Be specific about the things you’re impressed by.
I’m sure she loves to hear that her cooking is delicious, but it sounds a lot more genuine if you pick out something specific. “My love, this steak was cooked to utter perfection. It’s exactly the way I like it, and the meat? Where’d you get it?”
If you stay specific, you can still compliment the porridge. “I really appreciate you making me breakfast, because I have to walk out the door right now, and I wouldn’t have had time!”
It’s easier to compliment her more often this way, because each one seems genuine.
3) Stand by her when she’s trying to accomplish something.
Don’t stop her from trying to improve herself by going to yoga. If that’s something she really wants to do, encourage it! And when she’s done, say “I’m really proud of you for sticking to it.”