Men, when is the last time that you received a compliment? Pause for a minute and really think: When is the last time that someone appreciated something about you, be it your appearance, your job performance, your parenting or even just your grill technique?
Now, women ask yourselves the same question. I bet you are going to have a much easier time than the men in your lives! As women, we receive tons of compliments from our friends and peers. Whether it is a coworker saying, “Love the new handbag,” a relative complimenting our cookie recipe, or our husband giving a wolf-whistle when we try on a new bra, women often get lots of positive feedback from the people in our lives. This is especially true amongst our girlfriends. Despite the stereotype that women are ‘catty’ (I hate that one!), we actually tend to funnel lots of positive appreciation to each other. “You rock!” we tell our friends over wine. “You’re a great mom!” we say to our pals at the park. “You have an amazing rack,” we laugh with our sister at Victoria’s Secret.
But men? Nah. They aren’t swapping compliments at the mall or sending each other sweet messages on Facebook. Why is this? Is it because men don’t desire or require compliments? I think not. No, I think it is because men are socialized to shut down their emotions and to silence their needs. Little boys are told to ‘man up’ and ‘don’t be a wuss,’ which is simply code for ‘Work hard, be quiet, and never let them see you sweat.’ It means that they nurse their private hurts alone without ever sharing their pain, not even with their wives. It means that they never ask for help, even when they are scared or overwhelmed. And, sadly, it also means that they hardly ever get compliments. Guys don’t learn how to communicate the same way that women do, so they don’t tend to offer words of support and encouragement to their buddies (they hope a pat on the back or a beer can suffice). And, sometimes, it can.
But, I think we can do better. I think we must do better. As partners, we play such an important role in our men’s lives. Wives/girlfriends tend to be the only person in a man’s life who ever offer them compliments, which is pretty sad—especially because our busy lives tend to mean that we forget this important task. Men love to hear what they are doing right, especially as husbands and ESPECIALLY in the bedroom. They want to know that they are good lovers, good partners, good providers…that they are valuable, irreplaceable, desirable, and most importantly, that they are loved. That their hard work does not go unnoticed. And that their needs are noticed as well. That it is okay to want compliments and to need appreciation, that “being a man” does not negate our human need for connection, support, and loving words.
So, I challenge the women out there: Get out there and start complimenting some men! Start with your partner, but don’t think you have to stop there. You can compliment your brother on his new suit or your neighbor on his impeccable lawn or your coworker on his killer presentation. Let’s turn the tide and start giving men appreciation. And here’s the beauty: The more appreciation you give, the more you are going to get in return—not just from your partner, but from the universe itself. When you exist in a state of gratitude and you radiate unconditional love and acceptance to the world around you, amazing things start happening. You start happening. Think of it as the universe complimenting you back.