Last week on the 24th of January was Compliments Day’, a highly official and ceremonious event indeed. Now, I’m not sure whether this great occasion is a national day of celebration or an international festival, but sadly I let myself down and didn’t pay a single compliment to anyone on that day, preferring to call people a buttface in a low murmur as I usually do. Luckily, however, some male colleagues of mine discovered two very interesting and useful articles helpfully put together by the radio broadcaster Antenne Niedersachsen: ‘What compliments to give a man’ and ‘What compliments to give a woman’. Suddenly I feel an urge to engage my faculties in comparative literature and do a good old compare-‘n’-contrast. Let’s first take a look at what the ladies have to look forward to next year, eh?
EN: “To me, you are irreplaceable.”
I’m not sure whether this compliment is intended for husbands/boyfriends to give to their other halves or for strung-out managers grateful that Coleen has agreed to do another double shift working the chip fryers on a Friday night. Either way, it’s a serviceable compliment but also kindof not a compliment? No one said you would have to replace me…why are you bringing it up all of a sudden? What is that even supposed to mean? Wait, who are those guys with the strait jacket coming up the driveway?
EN: “You look beautiful without makeup!”
Again, this has good intentions but a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Firstly this man has missed the No Makeup Challenge meme hype by months, so maybe you should look for someone who is a bit more up-to-date on their dank social media trends. Secondly, it feels like there is some kind of hidden jab in there about the person wishing you would wear less makeup in the first place. If you’re going to compliment a woman’s appearance, why not say something properly sweet like “Every time I look at you I want to jump around and tell everyone how happy I am.”
But my advice to men is this: before you say this compliment to any woman, maybe just do a quick swab test on their face to see if they are actually not wearing any makeup or whether they are just wearing the usual layer of ‘normal human being’ cosmetics that they are forced to put on each day otherwise people keep asking if they are ill or tired.
EN: “You make me happy.”
Nice but drab and oddly lukewarm. You probably picked up this compliment from the impulse buys bin by the till at Primark.
EN: “I missed you!”
Don’t say this to a woman if you’re just sitting together having breakfast and you suddenly decide to compliment her. Probably also don’t wheel it out if she’s just popped to the loo or she went into the other room and you have yet to develop object permanence. The problem with this compliment is that it needs a decently appropriate context to work, otherwise it is somewhat of a nonsequitur. Also, much like the one above, a bit limp.
EN: “Waking up next to you is the highlight of my day.”
I personally feel sorry for any man whose day is so appalling that waking up next to my sweaty, gently drooling, sleep-saggy face is the highlight. But if this applies to you, then much props. IMPORTANT NOTE: this compliment is only appropriate for men to say to WOMEN. Men who wake up next to other men are not worthy of compliments. They are only worthy of shame.
EN: “Without you, everything is only half as fun.”
This compliment is fine. I’m glad you want to do activities together. Shall we do the ironing?
EN: “You make me a better man.”
Look, ‘As Good as It Gets’ is a classic romantic film and an aesthetic triumph for making us see Jack Nicholson as a catch. But stealing that classic quote and then making it DELIBERATELY MORE BORING is pointless, guy. You don’t need a woman to make you a better man – just be it anyway, woman or no. This compliment makes it sound like the woman now has an unspoken duty to prevent this dude from devolving back into a slobbering pizza-beast.
EN: “You have beautiful eyes.”
Hot flaming Jesus, really? THIS? Men need an article to tell them that this is a good compliment? We only got to number 8 before we ran out of ideas, team. Take down the gazebo, this brainstorming session is over.
EN: “You really radiate joy and positivity” – although this one loses some meaning in translation, as ‘Ausstrahlung’ is a word somewhat without equivalent, meaning the general vibe and effect someone has on the world and the people around them.
Now we’re talking. This is a compliment that you can take to the bank. You’re telling this person that they have an aura, an unmeasurable wonderfulness, that just beams out of them effortlessly and makes everyone around them a little bit happier. This is something a person might feel chuffed to hear.
And the grand finale, number 10 for the ladies:
EN: “I don’t know anyone who can cook as well as you.”
DANGIT we were so close. You were on a high with number 9 and then you just had to rip it all back down again, didn’t you.
The great crescendo to Compliment Day is my COOKING ABILITY? Am I supposed to thank you for the compliments by making you a bacon roll now? What the actual heck, dude. I would write another five paragraphs about how absolutely egregious this is but I really ought to get back in the kitchen.
AND NOW TIME TO DISCOVER WHAT THE MEN CAN EXPECT NEXT JANUARY 24th:
EN: “I feel so comfortable around you.”
What with all the douchebags coming out of the woodwork in Hollywood and the media these last couple of years, this compliment has taken a somewhat dark tinge. Other similar compliments you might like to try include “With you I almost always would consent – but please ask anyway!” and “It is so wonderful the way you manage not to grab my boob in the office.”
EN: “It’s so great how you manage to do it all!”
Cool. Women are awesome for their ability to cook a decent bolognese – meanwhile men are out there doing all of it. Bestriding the world like so many collossi, the men are taking care of bizness, while we uterus-havers can merely look on with shining eyes as we dreamily stir the bechamel sauce.
EN: “I’m proud of you.”
Limpness of this compliment aside (honestly, was the author of this article lobotomised? Throw some gumption into it man!) this seems like an extremely gender-neutral compliment, so why the menz get to have it? Why we gotta be proud of the boys but they don’t be proud of us? We worked really hard on that mulligatawny soup, isn’t that worth anything?!
EN: “I trust you.”
This is bringing in elements of number 1 and number 3. In any decent relationship this should barely register as a compliment anyway, since we’d rather hope it would be the status quo. But why is this a good compliment for women to give to men? Is it because we’re delighted to have found someone about whom we aren’t constantly suspicious that they are sharing naked photos of us with their friends or will one day force us to do weird things to their genitals?
EN: “I feel so safe and warm in your arms.”
Quite sweet, but again there’s an implicit threat here. Where are all these compliments coming from? A few years ago these would be the kinds of things characters might say to each other while sheltering from zombies in an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. Nowadays I guess it’s enough to just assume that being ‘trustworthy’, ‘pleasant’ and ‘not threatening or evocative of feelings of danger’ are top traits of really desirable men.
EN: “You constantly surprise me.”
“… now please put the giant inflatable duck away and turn the shower off.”
EN: “You were right.”
This one is so short and yet so uncomfortable and problematic it makes me feel itchy. I don’t want to touch this one with several bargepoles duct-taped together.
EN: “Man, you look great.”
Banal, but mostly harmless. Could try harder. B-.
Alright can we talk about how insanely heterocentric these lists are?! I can assure you there were not two other lists for ‘women complimenting women’ or ‘men complimenting men’. I don’t know what is going on in Niedersachsen but they need to open their minds a little and maybe attend a drag show or two. The demographic portrayed by these two articles seems to be an amalgam of every tired, glum, sexually null heterosexual middle-aged couple who can’t think of anything unique or interesting to say to each other anymore. And this is coming from a straight girl. Niedersachsen, take a flying leap out of the 1950s for cryin out loud.
EN: “You look damn good.”
It’s not a blatant misogynistic face-slap like the women’s number 10, but there is something disappointing about this finale too. Why couldn’t we finish off with something equally hackneyed and sexist for the men? Here are some suggestions that you can have for free:
10. I love the way you mow the lawn.
10. I don’t know anyone that can check the oil levels of our car as well as you can.
10. The way you talk about the World Cup makes me feel so smitten.
10. Nobody eats huge quantities of bacon better than you.
10. You look gorgeous even without makeup.