Are You Giving Men the Wrong Impression?

Whenever I speak with a new client, there is always a challenge. This challenge is that I must manage to get enough information, while at the same time giving the client something helpful. To give someone information that is truly helpful, a counselor needs to understand that person, the details of their situation and a little bit of their history.

This is not an easy thing to accomplish in the first session. However, there is one thing that I have noticed with my female clients. There’s a commonality in how women tend to act when around men, even though they never realize they’re doing it. It’s something I notice them doing in the first visit itself, and they’ll always be surprised when I point it out and make an issue of it. So what’s the problem?

Most women don't receive compliments well

Actually, to be more honest, most women are absolutely terrible at receiving compliments. I can hear you thinking – is this really such a problem? Well, I want you to think just why most women fall into this trap at all. When a man says “I like this dress on you”, why do so many women feel the urge to say something like “Oh no, it’s super old,” rather than “Thanks”?

Well, one reason women do this is because they don’t want men to think they are arrogant, snobby or even worse, the big bad B word. Women will often downplay their own achievements and charms because they’re afraid of being judged. After all, if a woman appears to take pride in any aspect of herself, it follows that she must be a conceited and stuck-up person with an ego the size of the earth itself.

There’s a great sketch by Amy Schumer about women’s inability to take a compliment. You’ll find it easily on YouTube. A woman gets complimented (by another woman, but the point still stands!), and rather than accepting the compliment, she goes on a derogatory rant about herself in order to make herself sound more likable. It begs the question

Why are women so quick to put themselves down?

Of course, this is due to thousands of years of conditioning. Through the years, women have been conditioned to take up as little space as they can, and to be grateful for what they do receive. That’s why women won’t take compliments easily – they’re scared that they’ll frighten the men off. After all, what man would find a conceited woman attractive?

There are two problems with this line of thinking, however. First of all, it demonstrates an age-old issue well: that women will often prioritize what men think of them over their own self-esteem. Let’s quickly note the significance of self-love and self-worth when in a relationship. It is vital that you realize your own worth as a person, and work on building yourself up just as much (or maybe even more than!) as you work on the relationship.

When you know your value, you’re likelier to accept compliments that agree with your assessment of your own worth. Taking compliments graciously is a sign of confidence in yourself – when you can smile and say “thank you” instead of getting flustered, it means that you see worth within yourself. And when you can see your own worth, you can bet the man in your life will too.

Secondly, women who are afraid of accepting compliments have, in a way, failed to understand how they appear to a man. What if I tell you that this kind of behavior isn’t likely to make you more attractive to men?  That, in fact, if you do the opposite, you’ll actually come across as more attractive? Here’s the thing.

When a man compliments you, he's trying to give you a gift

If you minimize his words, he feels like you are belittling his gift. If you do that enough, you'll train him not to give to you.  
In effect, you're telling him you don't believe the nice thing he said about you. He won't think you're being humble. Instead, he'll soon believe that he was mistaken to believe you're wonderful. And soon enough, you won’t receive any compliments at all. Why would you? He thinks you don’t deserve it!

Think about it. If you were to compliment your partner on his new haircut, and he downplays your comment, how would you feel? If your partner said, “I don’t know – I think it doesn’t look that great,” he would be betraying a lack of confidence in himself.
And let me tell you: that’s not sexy whether it comes from a man or a woman. There’s nothing sexier than confidence – I can put it in writing and get my stamp on that.

Instead, what if your man had said something like “Thanks, I was hoping for that reaction from you?” Isn’t that automatically a whole lot sexier? The same goes for you. So what should you do? When a man compliments you, smile and simply say "thank you."

I realize it sounds simple, and it is. But if you begin doing this, you'll find that you may feel very vulnerable. After so many years of downplaying compliments, it can seem downright odd to smile and thank the compliment-giver instead. To receive a compliment can be unnerving. It takes practice. But from a man's perspective, it conveys confidence and is really sexy. You can flip the compliment right around too: if he says, “You look gorgeous today,”, say thanks, and then return it. It adds a greater level of both fun and mutual respect to your relationship.