Is There A Right And Wrong Way To Compliment The Opposite Sex When You’re In A Relationship?

April 27, 2017  |  

Young attractive Afro-American couple looking at each other smiling and holding hands while standing against brick wall

On Monday I wrote a piece on my personal site titled, “Sometimes a Compliment is Just a Compliment,” about the need for women — although men are not immune either — to learn not to read into every compliment as a sign a man wants to pursue you. Though I’ve been guilty of doing so many times, what prompted me to finally write about it was a man at one of my fitness classes who was laying on the compliments a little thick.

After our first class together he’d come up and introduced himself to me and told me he loved my hair and some item of sports apparel I had. We made a little small talk and exchanged information under the guise of similar professional interests, and though I walked away thinking, Hmm, maybe he’s feeling me. When he didn’t use my number I realized we truly had engaged for professional reasons solely and put the thought out of my head.

But then I saw the guy at my next class and he complimented me again on my hair, before running his hands through it, and then told me what great skin I had. Interesting I thought, while sending my brain a friendly reminder not to get ahead of itself. It turns out that message was none too soon, considering by next meeting someone who worked at the facility was asking ol’ boy about his girlfriend.

So much for that, I thought, which took me back to the idea that sometimes a compliment is just a compliment, i.e. an observation not a solicitation. But a couple of weeks later, this guy had upped his greeting to me to a routine hug and a kiss on the cheek along with a few suspect remarks here and there. At this point, I was no longer thinking about whether I misread his comments but whether I’d be okay with someone I was involved with carrying on with some random woman like this, regardless of intent or not.

With thirst levels at an all time high to “get chose,” the mere act of making a positive observation about someone of the opposite sex is risky business. And when you’re in a relationship, I’m not sure that’s a risk worth taking. Of course paying a compliment to men and women you know — and who your partner knows — shouldn’t be a big deal, and even one kind remark to a stranger could be considered a good civic duty. But when you’re telling the same person you admire certain features about them multiple times, it looks a little sketch, from the perspective of the recipient and most likely from your partner as well.

This guy never reached out to me in any way outside of social media so I’d guess his behavior could be considered innocent, maybe even innocent flirting depending on your relationship philosophy. But what are your ground rules when it comes to flirting with the opposite sex when you’re in a relationship and what behavior is off limits for your partner?

Photo: Bigstock

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