How to compliment a woman (without hurting her feelings!)
Lads, want to say something nice to a lady? Careful now --it's an absolute minefield out there, writes Joe O'Shea
How do you pay a woman a compliment? The latest and best advice for men is to do it as often and as carefully as possible.
Most men will realise how difficult it can be to say something nice about a lady without her hearing it as a negative.
It is a paradox that has frustrated and defeated men since the moment when simply showing up at her cave with a freshly killed woolly mammoth was suddenly not enough.
You may think you are being charming, attentive or romantic. But when the guy thinks he is saying, "You look great!", he is often shocked to learn that what he was actually saying was: "You don't look as fat as you did last week."
And it's not just a problem in the field of romance. At work, in social settings or at family get-togethers, unthinking, idiotic men are constantly saying horrible things such as "That dress looks great on you" or "You're really starting to look like your mother".
It may be of small comfort to guys who have made this mistake to learn that new research proves they are not alone. Most men do it. And at least half of women regularly misinterpret their attempts to say something nice about them.
More than a third of women surveyed admitted to ending up in a mood because they misunderstood a remark.
And sad to say, the majority of men questioned said they often held back compliments because they feared they may be taken the wrong way.
The survey, carried out in the UK for a dental cosmetic company, reveals how men can be awful at delivering compliments -- and how women are surprisingly bad at taking them.
It found that one of the very worst things you can say to a woman is "You look well" -- as many ladies will think you are calling them "fat".
Other compliments that are to be avoided include telling a woman that you like her make-up (apparently, men are not supposed to notice) or that her dress is "figure-hugging".
The survey involved interviews with over 2,000 men and women and found that half of women enjoy being praised, but only when it is done with a bit of intelligence and tact.
One of the most annoying and back-handed compliments identified by women was, "You've lost weight", as they often take this as really meaning that the man previously thought they were the size of a small bus.
However, and this is the maddening paradox, the best praise you can give to a woman is to say that she is looking slim. Some 43pc of the women surveyed said noticing weight loss was the best compliment.
The challenge for men is to find a way to say it without even the slightest implication that the lady was overweight in the first place.
Guys are on much safer ground if they go for specifics. Four out of 10 women are happiest when somebody comments on their gorgeous smile.
Talking about the way a woman smells, how nice her hair is, or her beautiful eyes are also compliments that are unlikely to be misinterpreted (and neatly avoid the weight issue).
Of course, some men just don't have the first clue.
Some of the worst heard by women included, "You're not as stupid as you look", and "You don't look as bad as I thought you would".
Women also hate anyone making reference to their "large features" and are particularly unimpressed if someone says they are "strong" or "broad".
Almost 20pc hated to hear "praise" about their make-up, taking it as implying that they were wearing too much.
And 15pc got annoyed when a partner said their outfit was figure-hugging, believing he was saying it was too tight.
A spokesman for the UK company Dental Care Plus Implant Centres, which conducted the study, said: "Women are complex creatures, and men would be mistaken to think they couldn't go wrong with a compliment.
"Women appear to love any compliments which suggest they are beautiful, and have good features -- such as fantastic natural teeth, lips, hair or legs.
"In particular they want to appear thin to everyone around them, so commenting on weight loss is a sure-fire way to score brownie points.
"But you could get into hot water for saying that someone looks like they have eaten well, or that they look quite broad around the shoulder."
The study suggests women like it when men say a dress or colour really suits them, and a third simply love to be told they look gorgeous.
In practice, the study found that most women claim to only get one compliment from their partners each day while at least two-thirds of men admitted to being nervous about delivering compliments and occasionally holding back praise for fear of saying something wrong.
However, and this may surprise many women, 87pc of men claimed to regularly compliment their partners, with at least half saying they offer three every day.