Oh, man, do I fucking love compliments.
They cost nothing, and you can change someone's day or even life by specifically homing in on an amazing quality or seven. Do I love compliments because I'm needy? Insecure? Low self-esteem? Gaping emotional hole? Well, you could say that -- but IT WOULDN'T BE A COMPLIMENT, NOW WOULD IT?
I do believe there are a lot of power struggles in relationships. Many guys recognize that seeming too into a woman can somehow venture into "creepy" territory.
Exhibit A: The guy who whispered in my ear, "I've wanted this for so long," but who thankfully had a flaccid cocaine-addled dick preventing the consummation of said desire. Thank you, drugs!
Exhibit B: The dude acquaintance who remembers line for line, word for word, clothing detail for clothing detail some encounter from 1989. Yeah, don't do that. That's just stalkery.
BUT! See, that's super extreme. That's like saying don't go to the movies because there might be a bad movie. Don't worry, guys (and girls), you are (most likely) not the shitty movie. Most people are not. Have you been told you were creepy? Stalkery? Do you always get rejected? Okay then, maybe hire a dating coach or a life coach or some shit like that. But for everyone else, you can feel safe in withdrawing from the free unlimited bank account of motherfucking compliments.
That's right! They cost nothing.
I'm not saying give compliments when you don't feel them. That would be insincere. But so often, so much is not said -- and compliments are doled out sparingly, like little breadcrumbs to a starving child, and it's a goddamned tragedy I tell you. Love begets love. I swear.
There is also the epidemic of the "limited to a new relationship compliments" or the "relegated to only on special public occasion compliments" or the "pretty much just trying to get someone to fuck you compliments." Ah, yes. But see, the magic of compliments is that they need not be cordoned off like that, rotting away from lack of use.
And if you think you'll appear not cool by giving an earnest compliment, consider this: Snarkiness is like air nowadays. Earnestness is the new daring move. It requires actual confidence to not be a detached ironic little prick. It's like wearing a neon salmon suit. Takes confidence.
So, you want to get better at giving compliments? Well you've come to the right place!
You see, there are so many different ways to give compliments. The key is specificity. I have in the past held a (metaphorical) gun to the head to extract a good one from, say, a former FWB of mine -- which sure it does cheapen the moment a bit, but still, the results are often great!
I asked him to pay his compliment toll one evening and he gave me this little chestnut about why he liked reading my stuff here on XO: "What I love about your writing is that you are able to synthesize and capture into words feelings that are often elusive. And you can make me laugh, but you can also make me cry, which is harder to do."
Cha-ching. That's a good fucking compliment. And sure, I wish it sprang from his mouth organically, or added that my figure also made him cry it was so perfect, but, hey, I'll take what I can get.
So if you suffer from the occasion-specific compliment syndrome, see if you can break that habit and sprinkle it into your life in other ways. I'm a big believer in that whole misery addiction theory where you don't even realize it, but you've got a full-blown case of schadenfreude that's infected your entire being like a sludgey poop. I think compliments are the anti-schadenfreude. The anti-poop. Now, watch as I give some sample ones -- that maybe will inspire your own fresh twist on the oeuvre.
Are these things people have said to me as a woman? Not necessarily. Are they things I've said to men? Not necessarily. Are they things I think about all of our commenters here DAILY (especially any of the specifically sexual compliments below)? Absofuckinglutely. So this Valentine's Day -- AND YEAR ROUND -- here we go with a few lines I brainstormed to place us squarely in the Compliment Zone.
(Think of this list like that old improv game "Ad Agency." No matter what the idea thrown out is everyone shouts out "Yay!" and claps -- in order to support and lubricate further brainstorming rather than stunting ideas via negativity and censoring. So here is my wacky little sample compliment listicle. Yay! Clap-clap.)
1. "Your mind fascinates me. I want to just study it."
2. "I never thought of it exactly that way before. I love how you challenge me and always make me see things in a totally different light."
3. "You smell awesome. Like money and sex."
4. "Everything about you is so alluring -- your voice, the words you choose, even the way you touch my arm. I'm hypnotized."
5. "You push me to risk more. I feel like the two of us are superheroes when we're together."
6. "You are dedicated and never give up. You may think I don't notice how much you care, but I do."
7. "You have a beauty that just stops me in my tracks. It's almost paralyzing."
8. "When I have sex with you, it makes me forget death."
9. "You put together an outfit better than anyone I've ever met, and I know you're not even trying, which is what makes it even sexier."
10. "You are fearless in a way that is positively intoxicating."
11. "I love being around you. Even when we're doing nothing at all."
12. "You always put me in a better a mood, every single time I see you, even when we fight. And that's skill."
13. "I'm so grateful you exist, exactly the way you are."
14. "You changed my life the day I met you, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it, every day."
15. "The more I get to know you, the more I love you."
16. "You always teach me new things, including how to open my heart to care about you more than I ever thought I could for another person."
17. "I was thinking about you today, and my stomach flipped in excitement I felt so turned on and just happy and excited."
18. "I love holding you and feeling your heart beat close to mine."
19. "I cherish every moment I spend with you."
20. "Did you ever know that you're my hero? You're everything I would like to be. I could fly higher than an eagle. Because you. You were the wind beneath my wings."
THAT LAST ONE REALLY HAS STAYING POWER I THINK.
So have you vomited all over the screen? Do you abhor saccharine compliments -- or do you savor genuine ones like me?
What is your favorite compliment you've ever received? I think mine might be an email I received from a man after a not-so-great-day that simply said, "Thank you. I think you just saved my life."
And, quick: Have you given a compliment yet today? Then name one person who you're going to give one to, and what it's going to be. Happy early Valentine's Day to THEM!
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.