And how to be the first one to give it to him.
Let's face it: as much as we may want to understand the people we love, we can never fully get what it's like to be in their skin. And while everyone's an individual, gender does have an impact on how we experience the world.
A while ago, I came across something that helped me understand how some of the experiences of men make differ from mine. In a Reddit discussion, a user asked: "What aspects of a man’s life are most women unaware of?"
I was fascinated by how men reported almost never receiving compliments on their looks. I also didn’t expect to read how much receiving a compliment often meant to them. Many of the responses deeply touched me.
A Reddit user who had been complimented on his eyes by a female stranger wrote: "Other than while in relationships, I have never just been told I look good. I thought about it the whole drive home and my day way was about 10x better because of it."
Another man who had received a compliment from a stranger about his jacket wrote: "In 21 years on this planet, that's the only time anyone has ever done that (that's not family or very close friend). It made my day 100000x better."
I wasn’t aware that something as simple as a compliment could have such a positive effect on a man’s happiness. Here are my main takeaways from this discussion that helped me figure out what men want from women.
1. Compliments about appearance can be a good thing.
This thread helped me realize that as a woman, I had been conditioned by feminist writings to think that compliments about appearance are something negative that we should eliminate. And the truth is, I find there is often too much focus on complimenting women primarily on their looks without also acknowledging inner qualities like courage, wisdom or compassion.
Yet what I learned from this Reddit thread is that while it's important to achieve balance in how women are being acknowledged, compliments about looks aren't necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the situation, the relationship, and the timing of the compliment.
2. Consider complimenting men — in particular, your partner — more often.
I didn’t realize how "starved" many men are for positive attention, such as a simple compliment. I didn't know just how different their experience is from my experience as a woman. It was amazing to read how a small compliment could brighten a man's day and even improve his self-esteem.
Given this, I think it is a great idea to compliment the men in our lives more often. Obviously, it's important to choose compliments that are genuine, nice, and appropriate for the occasion.
In the words of a Reddit user: "20 years passed before I was told by a woman other than my mother that I was handsome. If you think a guy is handsome TELL him. Chances are he hasn't heard it in a long time."
3. When complimenting men, be prepared for moments of slight awkwardness.
Unlike many women who are used to being complimented, the Reddit thread shows that men oftentimes don’t know just how to respond to a compliment.
For instance, one user reported: "There's this girl who keeps complimenting me on my clothes and I'm so taken aback by it because it never happens and I never know how to react."
Another man wrote: "Being complimented, for any reason, is weird. Men don't get compliments as frequently as women do. And when we actually are complimented, we believe there might be malice or sarcasm within a compliment where none exist, simply because of the infrequency of it."
For the person giving the compliment, this means that there may be moments of some discomfort. For instance, I remember how simply saying "looks good" to one of my good male friends who had just gotten a new haircut made me feel a bit awkward. Whereas a female friend would generally reply "thank you" to such a compliment, my male friend didn’t say anything in response.
Back then I thought that maybe he just didn’t want to hear what I had said. This made me think that maybe it’s better to not compliment the men in my life at all. Now I realize that it is more likely that my friend was just surprised and didn’t know how to react.
While men may have different experiences in their daily lives than women, almost all humans have similar needs.
We want to feel loved, respected, and good about ourselves. We want to be seen as whole and complete. And often, loving and sincere compliments can be extremely helpful in filling these needs for another person, including your partner.
Who knew that in the 21st century, telling a man "you look good in that suit and tie" could be a revolutionary act?
This article was originally published at Elephant Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.