Clichés and generic compliments won’t do much to impress that special someone. What works much better? Find out with this list of six ways to flatter your significant other.
Sure, being good-looking and charming will certainly make you more of a catch. But there’s an even more crucial component to attracting others that’s so simple we almost feel weird saying it: make your date feel good-looking and charming. Do that, and trust us… this person will be back for more. In a day and age when the romantic options out there are seemingly endless, it’s easy to feel like you are just a number.
Prove you think the cutie sitting across from you is one of a kind, though, and it can make a huge difference. But how do you make someone feel, well, special? It’s not as hard as you think — just try these six tips and watch your love interest light up.
Flattery strategy #1: Get specific with your praise
Since daters often feel like they’re just one amongst a parade of people having coffee with you, demonstrate some genuine interest in the next one you meet to help erase that fear. “We studied the relationship between reciprocity and romance and found that if someone thinks you’re attracted to him or her, it increases that person’s attraction to you,” says Eli Finkel, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Northwestern University. On the other hand, “If someone’s attracted to you but getting the sense that you’re attracted to lots of other people, he or she will tend to dislike you.” The upshot? Prove you’re picky (and that this person fits your high criteria). Then you’re well on your way to making this potential amour pick you, too. Reread his or her profile right before you meet up and tell your date exactly why it stood out from the rest and what you noticed first. And nix any mentions of past bad dates or other negative experiences, which can make it inadvertently seem like you’ll give anyone the time of day.
Flattery strategy #2: Create insider info between the two of you
You don’t have to be old friends to cultivate a comfortable rapport with someone. “Make references to things you’ve discussed or emailed about,” says dating coach Annie Dennison, Ph.D. “It creates a sense of intimacy and shows your date you’re really listening.” To really drive home that you find your date fascinating, ask for more information on details he or she mentioned in passing (“I know you like Jay-Z. Which album of his do you think I should download?”). Or tie together stories (yours or your date’s) with a follow-up line like, “Wow, that reminds me of what you were telling me about your trip to Costa Rica/your overbearing boss/football obsession.”
Flattery strategy #3: Congratulate your date
If you want your sweetie to really beam, show you’re impressed by a feat that he or she is especially proud of. “We did a study and found that when people told others about something good that happened to them and the person responded positively, it improved the whole experience,” Shelly Gable, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. So don’t just say “Cool!” when your date mentions a win like getting into grad school, finishing a 10K, or just getting an amazing deal at an outlet store. Get into it and ask what he felt when he got the news, how she reacted, which person he told first, or how long she’d been hoping for it to happen. Answering the questions will let your date relive some of the excitement — and associate you with an unexpectedly happy buzz.
Flattery strategy #4: Compliment qualities that are unrelated to looks
When you admire a not-so-obvious trait that your date has, it makes you seem super-insightful. An easy place to start is by connecting his or her job to a quality you appreciate. Tell an accountant that you’re always especially envious of detail-oriented people; tell a teacher you’re in awe of those who can motivate others. If you like what your date is wearing or how this person decorated his or her home, “don’t compliment the ‘thing’ — anyone can buy a thing — but call out what it says about him or her,” says Susan Rabin, author of Lucky in Love. Instead of the tie itself, praise the person’s individual style; instead of muttering “nice couch,” say you’re wowed by people who have an eye for color and design.
Flattery Strategy #5: Emphasize your date’s name in your verbal responses
When someone shares an anecdote, most of us fall back on interjections like “Unh-UH!” or “Wow, that’s crazy!” The problem is, those encouragements also sound like clichés — especially once you’ve used them several times in one evening. A better way to punctuate your partner’s story? “Use his or her name,” says Dennison. Hearing a specific name — whether it’s “Wow, Sheila, you’re so brave!” or “Way to go, Jeremy, I’m impressed!” — will make dates think you really get what’s so “them” about the tale they just told, which is way more flattering than wondering if you were listening at all.
Flattery strategy #6: Playfully tease your date
If you saw The Departed, you probably remember the scene when Matt Damon asks his date something like: “What makes you think I want a second date with you?” — then bursts out laughing. It turns out those childhood playground tormentors (“Ewww, you have cooties!”) were onto something. “Thinking someone is attracted to you is great, but our research also suggests that not being sure about it actually heightens the excitement,” says grad student Paul Eastwick, Finkel’s research partner at the Northwestern Relationships Lab. Hearing that kind of rejection can spike feelings of anxiety — then fill you with relief when you realize it was a gag. So if you’re sure your date has a good sense of humor, give him or her a little ribbing first: “Oh no, you’re an Aquarius? Shoot, I have a rule about that.” Not only do you get to have an instant inside joke, it sends a subtle message that you’re into your date enough to be comfortable joking about it. Just make sure you don’t tease about something the person’s sensitive about — that’s not flirting; that’s an insult.
Photo by Jack Hollingsworth courtesy of the San Francisco Visitors Bureau