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Tips on Giving Compliments That Build on Relationships

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they offered you a compliment that deeply affected you? One where you just carry the sentiment and that warm glowing feeling of validation it brings out in you all day? 

This is the profound effect giving compliments can have on people and why they contribute so much to creating a solid and healthy foundation for building a relationship. However, it’s always important to know what kind of compliments to give people and how to ensure they express sincerity and appreciation.

We take a look at some of the psychology behind compliments and how you can use them effectively in your romantic interactions.

The reasoning behind giving compliments

Something that often stops us from expressing compliments in interactions, particularly in new relationships, is that we become anxious about how it may be perceived. However, a study from Cornell University showed that even in the most neutral of circumstances the perceived negative impact of giving compliments is double its actual possible negative effects and has a disproportionately positive impact in most cases1. So, it’s always a good idea to put your compliments out there rather than keep it to yourself.

Something we also tend to do is try to be conservative with our compliments in a budding relationship, either because we think it’ll come across as clingy or insincere if you give compliments to your partner tooegular compliments’ positive impact can restrain people in a relationship from creating a routine around mutual appreciation2.

Compliments can also help you get what you want from people, even complete strangers. While this is obviously a superpower you should use responsibly, a study from Mount Royal University found that an actor in a classroom who offered compliments to strangers before they eventually asked for a time-consuming favor got a 79% positive response rate compared to 46% in the control group classroom without the actor giving compliments3.

So, it’s easy to see that science definitely supports the fact that offering compliments dramatically improves your interactions and relationships  

Some sound tips on how to give compliments

There’s certainly a right and a wrong way to go about complimenting people, particularly your partner or a new romantic interest in your life. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to approach compliments in how to keep a conversations going and what things to avoid.

Follow the KISS method when giving compliments

Don’t get ahead of yourself, the KISS method stands for ‘Keep It Sincere and Specific.’ This means you should make sure compliments are reasonable and try not to be hyperbolic. Like, if your partner cooked a really nice pasta, don’t claim it was the best pasta of your life as this can come off as less authentic and meaningful. Rather compliment this specific effort and what aspects of the dish you enjoyed. This also gives them a realistic idea of what you appreciate about their effort.  

Match the compliment to the person and their personality

Different types of people appreciate different types of compliments. For instance, if you’re looking for compliments to give a guy you like and you know them to be a more casual, down-to-earth, sporty person, complimenting them on an item of their clothing may not appeal to their ego much. So always try to gauge where a person’s values lie so you can get an idea of the type of compliments that would make their day. 

Complimenting people in ways that show appreciation

While more superficial compliments are always nice to hear, like “Nice shoes!” or “I like your new haircut.” It’s also important to complement people in ways that show you recognize how they enrich your relationship and help people in general. It can be particularly special when you compliment them on something they thought went unnoticed, like how they’re always extra nice to you when they see you’re feeling down. 

Don’t have any agenda or goal when giving compliments

A loaded compliment or one with an agenda isn’t a compliment at all. If you use flattery to just butter people up so you can get something out of them, they’ll not only quickly realize its insincerity once you drop the facade, but it will have a lasting impact on your relationship and how they react to your compliments in the future. So, offer a genuine compliment freely and authentically from your heart for the simple reason that it might make the other person’s day a bit better.

Different types of compliments

Depending on the type of person you’re interacting with, their personality and the nature of your relationship, there are many different ways to approach giving compliments. Let’s explore the different types and some examples of what they look like.

Compliments to give a guy

There are often gendered values in the compliments we give to people, and we tend to distinguish them based on where we think certain genders’ sense of self-worth lies. According to a study from Marietta College, men tend to focus on giving goal-oriented compliments to each other4. But it can be a novel experience to break that mold and focus on other aspects.

  • “You have such a unique way of looking at things.”
  • “Your sense of determination and hard work is truly admirable.”
  • “You’re always so well dressed. You have a really good sense of fashion.”
  • “You make me feel so comfortable when I’m with you.”
  • “Just looking at you makes me smile.”

Compliments to give a woman

The same study showed that women give and receive goal-oriented compliments at a slightly lower but generally similar rate and that they had a similarly positive effect. However, it also showed that compliments on a woman’s appearance did not have a significant emotional effect and, in fact, only served to reinforce gender norms of women placing a disproportional sense of self-worth in their appearance5. So, try to avoid focusing on a woman’s looks when you offer her a compliment.

  • “Your confidence always inspires me.”
  • “Your taste and style really impress me whenever I see your outfit.”
  • “Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious.”
  • “The world would be a really boring place without you.”
  • “Not a day goes by where you fail to impress me.”

Nice compliments to give a partner

Compliments to a partner tend to be unique. After all, you know each other better and there’s a lot more frequency, connection and emotion behind your compliments. So here are some compliments you can offer your partner to increase your level of intimacy.

  • “I love the way you always make me think differently about things.”
  • “Your laughter is my favorite sound.”
  • “Any day I’m with you is always a little bit better.”
  • “I’m so proud of everything you’ve managed to do in your life.”
  • “I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I didn’t have you.”

Unique compliments

Sometimes a quirky compliment that’s a little out-of-the-box can catch people off guard and give them a unique, positive perspective of themselves.

  • “If we went on a 10-hour road trip, I’d let you hold the aux cable.”
  • “You’re more fun than a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit.”
  • “Sorry, I don’t know where I am because I just got lost in your eyes.”
  • “The room always gets 20% hotter whenever you walk in.”
  • “Unicorns and bigfoot may not be real but I’m glad you are.”  

Deep meaningful compliments

These are best used on people you’re reasonably close with. Otherwise, it may come off as awkward or overly familiar.

  • “How you look at life makes me want to live more thoughtfully.”
  • “You’re so good at taking on new ways of thinking with ease and grace. I respect your flexibility and open mind.”
  • “You have a really calming presence that makes people around you feel safe and heard.”
  • “You ask really insightful questions.”
  • “Your commitment to your spiritual and mental wellness has made me want to explore my own more deeply.”

Sweet compliments

Being willing to be cheesy when giving compliments can be a really attractive trait sometimes and it can highlight your more soft, sensitive side.

  • “Every day I get to spend with you only makes me crazier about you.”
  • “Being around you makes me want to be the best version of myself.”
  • “You’re not just my biggest strength but also my biggest weakness.”
  • “There’s no place in the world I feel safer than in your arms.”
  • “If I could carry one thing around with me all day it’d be how I feel when I see you smile.” 

Flirty compliments

Subtly isn’t always the best play, particularly when you’re trying to show you’re interested in someone in a specific way so here are some good compliments to flatter that special someone and convey your attraction.

  • “All it takes is an hour with you to make me feel special”
  • “I hate how easy you make it to love you.”
  • “I don’t know what turns me on more, the way you think or how good you look.”
  • “Looking as cool, beautiful and stylish as you should be illegal. I think I may need to make a citizen’s arrest in person.”
  • “You’re the kind of person it’s hard to stop thinking about.”

Make giving compliments a part of how you regularly interact

So, as you can see there are a lot of different ways to offer a compliment and even more ways for it to be perceived. But as long as you’re well-natured, sincere and thoughtful in your approach to giving compliments, it will always help enrich your relationships and give a positive spin on someone’s day. So be bold and kind with people in your life and compliment them freely and often.

eharmony is a great place to meet like-minded singles looking for relationships, based on a scientific approach to compatibility. So come practice your compliments on our app or site any time and make some real, lasting connections. Try eharmony today.

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