Ah, being genuine. Seemingly a lost or overlooked art in today’s society, particularly when it comes to dating, courtship (another lost art), and relationships in general.
Long before I started writing I remember watching Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” invite a bank teller on a date. I remember specifically he invited her “out for a steak dinner,” and recall watching the expression on her face. It was almost as if he had offered her a million dollars.
Now, let’s forget for a moment the premise of the movie as well as some of the chauvinism of the era it was based in. The idea here is the nature of the interaction between the two. The genuine invitation and the genuine reaction. The excitement of actually being invited to dinner by a man. Something that in our society today just seems to be…gone.
There are many different factors that have come into play that have changed this dynamic, some are good, and some are bad. I think a lot of it has to do with social media and the fact that compliments are so watered down these days you could ring them out with a towel. It used to be that a compliment from a man was something rare and welcomed by a woman. Now, it is almost turning into a negative because A) Men have no idea how to give compliments, and B) Women are so tired of being flooded with them on their profile photos that they disregard them like a spam email.
Oh, there’s another one. Yawn.
We lose the nuances of compliments and flirtation. We lose the body language. The facial expressions. The genuine nature. We can hide behind keyboards and say how “stunning” or “beautiful” or “(insert overused word of choice)” a woman is with no repercussions. We have no more fear of rejection – but that also means we lose the true meaning of what it is we are trying to say – whatever that may be.
And we also lose the perception of the compliment from the receiving end. In a copy/paste culture, women hear the same thing all day every day from men. And, the floods of men who cross the line and make inappropriate comments are ruining it for the rest of us.
Men: When was the last time you felt truly comfortable approaching a woman in public to give her a real compliment, even if you had no further intentions but to make her day brighter?
Women: When was the last time you felt comfortable being approached by a man in public, not thinking he was going to try to take you home or say something inappropriate?
We are losing conversation skills and the comfort of simply being around each other as human beings. It is nearly impossible to be a man and not feel vilified by our own intentions, no matter how pure or genuine they might be (now is the time the women reading this are rolling their eyes because no men have genuine intentions…right?) – exactly my point.
It is also a rarity that women are genuinely – there’s that word again – taken aback by a compliment, because what can you possibly say that she hasn’t heard a million times before?
I think the key lies in men pulling back a little bit. It lies in building a connection with someone or starting a conversation based on mutual interests or the environment you are in, before you approach with telegraphed intentions to give her a compliment or buy her a drink. It lies in actually complimenting a woman on things she is passionate about. Her interests. Her intelligence. Her ambitions in life. Not just her great legs or beautiful smile.
During conversations like this people often bring up how it seems one-sided and ask why the men are always the ones who have to change. Well, that is not always the case, but I do think the largest weight of responsibility lies on the men here. We are the ones diluting the meaning of the compliment so we are the ones who need to work to bring it back.
If someone were to give you a diamond, you would be appreciative of it – unless you found out that same person was walking around handing everyone else an exact copy of that diamond. Not so special now, is it?
Less compliments, more conversations. Less advances, more discussions. Less flattering each other, and more learning about each other. Because if we want to build a real, genuine connection – that is where it has to begin.
Anyone can notice and compliment a woman’s outer beauty, but it takes a man with class to do what it takes discover who she truly is as a person. Then, you have earned the right to compliment her on it.
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