Giving (an receiving) compliments can be tricky territory, particularly as it pertains to women. First, you kind of need to establish that what you want to say is, indeed a compliment.

(Pro-Tip: If your compliment involves a qualifier, it's not a compliment. "For a girl", "if you lost some weight", "etc.)

Then, you should establish that the compliment actually should be given and can be given without you looking awful. Did I need to know that the dude at the bar thought my hair smelled good? Not really, but I'd have been open to the compliment on my product selection.

What I was NOT open to was having him grab two handfulls of my hair, bury his face in it, and take a deep sniff. Not a compliment.

One Reddit user asked:

Ladies of Reddit, what are acceptable compliments to receive from men?

And here's what we learned: "it depends."

Why does it depend? Mostly because women are human beings and, like all human beings, they're individuals with individual like and dislikes. Turn out, just treating us like people is the way to go.

It also depends on who you are to that individual woman. Happily married couples seem to have cart blanche to get weird with it, but the man who told 19-year-old me that I had leg like a horse - and meant that in a good way - was waaaaay off base with how weird his compliments could be. If you don't know her, comparing her to farm animals is probably not going to go over well.

Who knew?

Mood AF

A few weeks ago I had to do a 3 hr training at work that nobody wanted to go to, and like you would expect, it went almost an hour over. As we were all leaving I was talking to my friend about how excited I was for lunch, or something like that. He looks at me and says "you're the only person I know who could still be in this good a mood after THAT 4 hour waste of time"

It's the best compliment I've gotten in a while, whether he meant it that way or not :)

- saminourse

Don't Be Gross

ew dislike GIF Giphy

Just don't be gross. Lemme explain with compliments/"compliments" I've received:

"That lipstick looks nice on you." 10/10. Made me feel pretty. No sexual undertone.

"I like flat girls." 0/10. Neggy. Don't care how you feel about my tits.

"Don't worry about having a big nose, it works for your face." 3/10. Also neggy. Suggesting a flaw is attractive to you doesn't make you special.

"Nice (item of clothing here), I love that (insert band/color/style/brand here)." 10/10. There's a guy at work who compliments a different piece of my outfit daily, without fail. I look forward to those innocent remarks and have started returning them. Makes me feel cool.

"You have such a cute laugh." 100/10. Developed a hardcore crush on him afterwards. Still remember that compliment three years later.

"Sure. Just wait until you're comfortable around me." NEGTIVE 100/10. Said after I remarked about being childfree. Suggesting that you'll impregnate me when I least expect it isn't funny or a compliment.

So, to summarize. Compliment appearance, not physique. Using backhanded compliments makes you look insecure. Relating to her interests (genuinely - don't force shit) is a surefire means of fostering goodwill between y'all.

- bloodfields

"It's Not Weird, We're Married."

It entirely depends on what your relationship is to the woman.

Is she a complete stranger? ...then don't. Unless it's topical.

Is she a coworker, a fellow student, an acquaintance? Then ask yourself, what kind of compliments would you find acceptable from strange men? (i.e. away from compliments regarding her looks)

Is she someone you are trying to date? Compliments about looks are okay but keep them non-sexual until you know she digs you (e.g. "You look great," "are those new earrings? They're pretty.")

Is she someone you just started dating? Compliment her body, especially parts you know she's proud off (e.g "your booty is fine!")

Is she your wife or someone you've been dating a long, long time? Go nuts! (e.g, "I love your weird-@ss toes!" "You are sexy when you look at me like you're gonna kill me for letting the kids eat ice cream again!" "Have I mentioned that I love how you smell all musky in the morning before you shower?"). As I tell my husband: it's not weird; we're married.

- Spectrum2081

Complimenting Her Skirt

Actual things said to me by men I work with in the same day:

"I like the color of your skirt!" 10/10, felt like I was walking on air until....

"Your legs look hot in that skirt!" 0/10 felt super slimey, never wore a skirt to work after that.

- crap_whats_not_taken

Judicious Silence

My personal rule of thumb for men:

If you are tempted to add any variation of the phrase "for a girl/woman" to the end of a compliment, just stop yourself before you hit that point.

If it's about how sexy we are in any capacity, just nope the hell out. Think about what you actually mean (i.e. "that color red looks good on you, and the cut of your shirt is very nice") and say that instead.

If you manage to f*ck up, just apologize and explain that you spoke without thinking. Own up to it. Sometimes, you may not have said anything actually offensive but brought back memories of someone who did. Just treat it like someone who can't stand the word "moist" when they eat. In other words, just respect your fellow human and try not to be an asshole.

- buurenaar

Wording For The Randos

For men that don't know me and therefore can't compliment me on my personality, work ethic, etc. or who simply WANT to pay a compliment to my physical appearance, wording is important.

"Your shirt is really cool and suits you" is not a weird thing to say and does not give off bad vibes.

"That shirt looks great on you" is borderline. Not itself creepy but can be interpreted is referring more to my body and what you can see of it, but could also just mean my shirt is awesome and I'm rocking it.

"You look really nice" is relatively benign but also so empty and bland that I would probably think you're saying it exclusively to open a shallow dialogue and it's frankly boring.

"Wow you're gorgeous" is first of all not true I look like an ogre but in general is also just not thrilling to hear out of the blue. Like yes, everybody wants to hear that they're good-looking once in a while, but it gets tiring to hear it too frequently because it feels like that's all that matters, and if the last guy who said it then followed me for a block trying to smash, and last year a dude called me a b!tch for not being grateful enough, obviously I'm gonna be mildly worried that maybe you're also also going to be a d!ck and that sucks all the fun out the compliment anyway.

"Hey, have a great day" is just a nice thing to say to a passing stranger, and if she gets offended by that she's probably a b!tch.

Ultimately, don't comment on someone's body parts, but expressing that you think their style is cool is just friendly, and if you really just want to say something to make someone feel good, expressions of positivity are universally nicer than directed compliments.

Also, pay compliments to people you know, not randos on the street.

- Krellous

In Class

I had a classmate from middle school say that he remembered me because I "was the only one who could beat him at proofs on the chalkboard in Mr. X's class". He's a physicist now and I am a stay at home mom who never really developed a career.

Not sure if that was technically meant to be a compliment, but I couldn't see it any other way, and damn it made me feel good. Will always remember that.

- TheCallie123

A Threat

If you don't know me personally, compliments on my body or even just a "you're gorgeous" make me SUUUPER scared. Compliments from random men on the street, no matter how sweet, are always threatening because their sweetness can absolutely be used to guilt you into talking with them more or putting yourself in a vulnerable situation.

If I do know you however, I'll accept and deeply appreciate almost any compliment on my appearance, interests, or personality that isn't sexual (unless we're dating of course). A good rule of thumb is just to understand that we've all been brought up to see compliments from strangers as threats and to not be judgmental of us for that.

- we_got_bugs_fellas

The Puppy Exception

dog come GIF Giphy

Totally depends on the woman and the situation!

In the workplace, ONLY professional compliments are appropriate. And especially avoid anything appearance related, even clothes or hair. As someone else said, if you wouldn't say it to a male coworker, don't say it! For example, Great job on that report!" πŸ‘ "That dress is really flattering" πŸ‘Ž

If you're complimenting a close friend, saying that dress is really flattering is probably fine, but avoid telling her what parts of her body it flatters, that's creepy.

If it's your wife, telling her her @ss looks fine in that dress is probably fine.

- MuppetJononJovi


My husband once said to me out of the blue, "If you could see yourself through my eyes, you would never have self esteem issues." Super sweet, candid, and I will never forget that for as long as I live. But he is my husband, so he is allowed to compliment my appearance. Any other guys remarking on my appearance is just creepy.

As many have said before, go with compliments that aren't based on appearances, or stick to non-sexual things. Complimenting a personality trait is a huge plus, because it's like the person is complimenting me, not my body.

- shnarf9892

Crash & Burn

Had a male coworker tell me that my place of employment would have crashed and burned without me.

That was a pleasant compliment that wasn't about physical attributes or sex and it was one of the most memorable ones.

- ToastedMaple

That Wasn't It

Literally just today I had a customer go out of his way to tell one of my employees how hot he thought she was, and he kept coming back over to ask when she worked again. And then she and I had a whole discussion about how it's absolutely possible to compliment someone without making them feel uncomfortable or threatened.

And that wasn't it.

- Meagannaise

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