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How to Give Compliments on a Date: The Art of Genuine Appreciation

Cain Parish

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Dating can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, especially when you’re trying to make a meaningful connection with someone new. One effective way to break the ice and create a positive atmosphere is by giving sincere compliments. The way you express your admiration can significantly influence your date’s perception of you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the art of giving compliments on a date, providing you with expert insights, practical tips, and real-life examples to help you master this skill and leave a lasting impact.

A man blushing from a woman's compliment as she learns how to give compliments

Introduction: The Power of Thoughtful Compliments

Compliments are like verbal sunshine – they brighten up the atmosphere and make people feel valued. A well-timed and genuine compliment can set the tone for a delightful date. By acknowledging your date’s qualities, you not only boost their self-esteem but also create a strong connection between the two of you. However, the key lies in authenticity – a forced or insincere compliment can have the opposite effect. Let’s explore how to give compliments on a date that come across as sincere, meaningful, and memorable.

Firstly, it’s important to understand your own motivations for wanting to compliment the other person. Sharing appreciation is fine, but compliments can quickly go from a nice rapport booster to an unearned and random comment. So, why do we compliment our date? 

Simply put, compliments are a great option for when your date is being honest, vulnerable or showing off something they care about. In any situation where your date is opening up, being genuine, or describing/showing you a passion of theirs, it’s important to recognise what they’re showing you, and find a way to demonstrate your appreciation. This, more than anything, will increase the significance and positive reception that your compliment has. Your date will absolutely swoon over a well-placed compliment when they’re opening up to you.

Compliments are also fantastic when you’re trying to develop rapport or demonstrate your intentions. The theme and subject of a compliment go a long way to establishing the tone of a date. When it’s context appropriate, complimenting something romantic about the other person can amp up the chemistry between you and make it clear that you’re into the other person.

When are compliments not okay?

In most scenarios that aren’t the ones described above, a compliment is going to come across as random, out of the blue or forced. Think back to all the rom-coms you’ve seen. It’s a common trope for a nerd to be talking to his crush, and for him to stall and stammer, only to blurt out a generic compliment.

These kinds of non-contextual or forced compliments are at best useless, and at worst have the opposite effect. When you blurt out a generically positive statement about the other person, you’re signalling a lack of care, creativity and confidence. Understanding the difference between a contextual compliment that was earned, and a random compliment that wasn’t is the key to this kind of flirting.

So, if we understand what our mindset should be when looking to lavish our date with praise, let’s explore some guidelines for how to construct your positive feedback.

How to Give Compliments on a Date

  1. Observe and Appreciate the Details to Express Genuine Admiration
    Take some time to notice the little details that make your date unique. Is it their smile, sense of humour, or style? During the conversation, as they come up, sincerely acknowledge these aspects to show that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know the person. If they seem proud of their fashion style and enjoy talking about it, mention that you recognised and appreciated their outfit.
  2. Be Specific and Authentic with Sincere Admiration Techniques
    Instead of using generic compliments, be specific about what you admire. For instance, you could say, “I really appreciate your passion for volunteering. It shows what a caring and selfless person you are.” These are called layered compliments, and are found when you praise a trait of theirs that stems from something they’ve done or said.

    Notice the difference between “appreciate your passion for volunteering”, reading between the lines and acknowledging their passion, and “it’s cool that you volunteer”. One is a dead end, the other a sincere and solid compliment. Bonus points for following up and elaborating on why and how you appreciate their passion. That’s a great way to share values, build rapport and easily allow them to continue the conversation.
  3. Use Positive Body Language & Effective Nonverbal Communication
    Your body language should align with your words. Maintain eye contact, smile, and use open gestures to convey warmth and friendliness while giving compliments. Remember, a compliment is something you’re giving to another person, so your body language should reflect that. Let yourself open up so they can see that you’re offering something, an exchange of positive energy.
  4. Timing is Everything: When to Give Compliments
    Choose moments that feel natural and appropriate. Compliments that flow seamlessly into the conversation are more likely to be well-received. Again, it all comes down to context. If you’re looking to praise something, but it doesn’t fit the tone or topic of conversation, save the compliment for later. You’re better off waiting for an opportune moment than forcing in a compliment that doesn’t fit.
  5. Balance Compliments Between Appearance and Personality
    While it’s okay to appreciate your date’s physical appearance, make sure to include compliments about their personality, interests, and values as well. If in doubt, always praise more about the person’s character and values. Appearance is skin-deep. Anyone and everyone can appreciate beauty. Communicating that you’ve taken time to understand their personality and pick out a specific part that you like, and being able to explain why, that’s a bombshell.
  6. Showing Vulnerability & Creating Emotional Connection
    Sharing your own vulnerabilities and appreciating your date’s understanding or support can create a deeper emotional bond. Compliments can have an emotional anchor or element to them. If you and your date are opening up to one another, and something they’ve said resonates enough to deserve praise, be equally open and vulnerable. Sharing the private elements that make you care about what they have to say is incredibly beneficial for developing an intimate connection.
  7. Avoid Overused Compliments & Finding Unique Compliment Ideas
    Steer clear of clichés and overused compliments. Instead, opt for unique and thoughtful praise that stands out. Often, people go straight for the surface-level, generic compliments. Put some creativity and uniqueness into your ideas whilst continuing to be genuine, and you’ll have much better results.
  8. Express Genuine Enthusiasm & Show Authentic Positive Reactions
    Let your excitement and enthusiasm shine through when giving compliments. Your genuine enthusiasm can be contagious and make your date feel special. If you’re invested in the moment and you and your date are sharing a positive energy, a bit of enthusiasm goes a long way.

    Having said that, if it doesn’t fit the tone, don’t be bouncing off the walls. Make sure your date is as enthusiastic as you are first.

Real-Life Examples: Putting It All Into Practice

Now that you understand the principles of giving compliments, let’s take a look at some real-life examples to help you visualize how to apply these tips:

  • Example 1: Complimenting Appearance and Personality
    You: “Your passion for environmental conservation truly impresses me. It’s inspiring to meet someone who cares so deeply about making a positive impact.”
  • Example 2: Appreciating Shared Values
    You: “I admire your dedication to promoting equality. It’s evident from your volunteer work and the way you speak about it. I’m glad to run into someone that clearly cares about things outside themselves.”
  • Example 3: Connecting on Shared Interests
    You: “I couldn’t help but notice your impressive guitar skills. As a fellow music enthusiast, it’s refreshing to meet someone who shares my love for creating melodies and expressing emotions through music.”

Common Issues with Giving Compliments on a Date

1: Should I give compliments right from the start?

It’s possible that giving a sincere compliment early in the date can create a positive atmosphere. However, make sure it feels natural and not forced. Err on the side of waiting, until the two of you have a stronger rapport and compliments can be earned. A quick note of appreciation for a strong focal point of someone’s outfit doesn’t hurt, but save the heavy stuff for later.

2: What if my date dismisses the compliment?

Some people may have difficulty accepting compliments. If your date brushes off your praise, simply smile and continue the conversation naturally. Just because you felt the significance of what you said doesn’t mean they will. Take it in stride.

3: Is it okay to give a physical compliment?

Yes, but balance it with compliments that highlight their personality, interests, or achievements to show you appreciate them on a deeper level. On a date or in romantic or sexual contexts, physical compliments are more appropriate.

4: How do I avoid coming across as insincere?

Be specific, use genuine body language, and ensure your compliments are tailored to your date’s unique qualities. If the compliment could be applied to everyone you meet, it’s likely to come across as insincere.

5: Can I compliment multiple things in one go?

Absolutely! Just ensure your compliments flow naturally within the conversation and don’t overwhelm your date. Generally, each thing you’re complimenting should be related or have some kind of commonality that ties them together. Shotgunning compliments out in one sentence is likely to be received more poorly.

6: What if I can’t think of a compliment on the spot?

Take a deep breath and observe your date and what they’re communicating to you. It’s always possible to find something genuine and positive to appreciate. Having said that, it’s not always necessary. If the two of you are laughing, having a good time and things are going well, it’s not necessary to force yourself to find something to praise. That’s just your anxiousness or insecurity talking.

Conclusion: Spread Positivity Through Thoughtful Compliments

Giving compliments on a date is a wonderful way to create a genuine connection and leave a positive impression. By observing, appreciating the details, and expressing sincere admiration, you can make your date feel valued and special. Remember, the key is authenticity – let your compliments come from the heart. So, go ahead and spread positivity through your words, one heartfelt compliment at a time.


How should I compliment my date to make a positive impression?

Focus on genuine and specific observations about your date’s personality, interests, or appearance. Authenticity and detail show you’re paying attention and value them as a person.

Is it appropriate to give physical compliments on a date?

Yes, but balance them with compliments about their personality, achievements, or values to demonstrate deeper appreciation beyond physical attributes.

What if my compliment is not well-received?

If a compliment is brushed off, simply continue the conversation without dwelling on it. It’s important to respect your date’s response and move forward gracefully.

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Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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