What do people mean when they say to a couple, "You look good together"?
March 2, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

What do people mean when they say to a couple, "You look good together"?

My girlfriend and I went to a party a few weeks ago, and had several people tell us that we "look(ed) good together". It occurred to me that I had never heard that before with other girlfriends. It also occurred to me that I don't think that I have ever used that expression.

I'm not worried, or looking for some dark undertone- it was a kind thing to say, and I'm entirely pleased to hear it. I'm just curious about what the hive mind thinks that people mean when they say it.
posted by Clambone to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you seem at ease with one another? Play off each other conversationally? Maybe you were wearing matching outfits? Maybe they were just being nice because they couldn't think of anything else to say? Dunno, could really be anything.
posted by the dief at 8:56 AM on March 2, 2009

You look happy together.
posted by collocation at 8:56 AM on March 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

They think you 'fit' together. You don't necessarily have to look alike - I know a couple that 'looks good together' who have a 12" height difference, but something about the way they touch each other and stand together just intuitively makes sense.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2009

You look like you're enjoying each other's company.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2009

In my experience, people say that when a couple seem to really be in tune with one another, the ones who have become a true pair rather than two completely separate individuals who happen to be together all the time. You know, the ones who seem to just work.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think, with all possible kindness here, that it means pretty much nothing and is an empty but well-meaning compliment, right up there with people saying "what a cute baby!" no matter how ungodly awful that little alien worm thing might look.

I suggest this since I have never once heard of a couple that "did not look good together" or "looked wrong together."
posted by rokusan at 9:03 AM on March 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

Cynical take: it's probably that your combined attractiveness is above a certain point + your friends have coupling/commitment/marriage on their minds. I've wondered about that too, and I hope if I'm right that it's more of the first instance!
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 9:03 AM on March 2, 2009

It's a completely intangible feeling. It can be the way you literally look together, or act together, or look at each other, but most likely a combination of all of those factors. Either way, it probably just makes people happy to see you together and it's a wonderful compliment.
posted by Grimble at 9:06 AM on March 2, 2009

It might mean the two of you make a physically attractive couple whose looks complement each other.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Some friends said this to me when I was dating a guy who was also light brown/blond haired and blue eyed, and who had about the right height/weight ratio as me. I did not hear this when I was dating guys about my height who were either relatively heavy or skinny compared to me. I think it's just a matter of how your relative body types and attractiveness complement each other.
posted by olinerd at 9:12 AM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

There have been times that I've used this exact phrase with my brother and his at-the-time girlfriend. The meaning behind it has been more along the lines of 1. acknowledging the relationship and 2. approving of the relationship (although he doesn't need my approval - I just want to reinforce that I think his girlfriend is really keen).
posted by Sassyfras at 9:13 AM on March 2, 2009

You guys click. They are either fantasizing about your beautiful babies to be or about doping you and dragging you back to their apartment. Probably the former.
posted by cavalier at 9:14 AM on March 2, 2009

I don't think it's quite as mysterious and profound as many of the answers suggest. I've heard people say this about a couple they just saw across the room. While this could be a reaction to some intangible sense that the couple is comfortable together and perfectly in tune with each other, the more likely explanation seems to be, as orange swan said, that they look physically attractive together. The two individuals may or may not be gorgeous on their own, but their attractiveness levels match each other, and they look similar enough that they're not at all mismatched. And of course it can also be a reference to other things like demeanor and seeming to enjoy each other's company. But I think it's largely a pretty superficial comment on physical attractiveness.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:15 AM on March 2, 2009

Everytime I've gotten that I've taken it to mean that our level of attractiveness are similar and taken it to mean as you are both good looking and thus look good together.......it is meant to be a compliment so no need to send a greeting card now.....
posted by The1andonly at 9:18 AM on March 2, 2009

I think, as other people have mentioned, that it's a comment on physical similarity. I get this with my current sweetheart, and I've never gotten it before; it's because we dress in similar styles and have matching glasses. It doesn't matter that he's a foot taller than me and we're different races; we got stopped by a street fashion blog photographer once and got squealed over and photographed and yeah, it's just how we dress.

Think about if a group of random people, female and male, were mixed up in a police line-up and a stranger was asked "which two people are dating?" If they'd guess you and your girlfriend, it means you "look good together."
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:21 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Mulp and I hear this all the time. At first I thought it was just aesthetics because we heard it alot when we first got together and we were playing in a band together, we would get decked out for shows, after more than a year of being together and still hearing that phrase I'm 99.9% sure that when people say it because of the way we interact with each other. We have almost a psychic bond and we always seem to be tuned into each other.

I remember having a drink out with one of his friends, at one point he ordered me a beer with out even asking if I needed one. My back was to him and I was in deep conversation with another friend of his. When the drink came he handed it to me and I reached out to receive it with out even looking away from my conversation. The whole scene was perfect as if we had planned it. One of his friends remarked about how I took the drink without skipping a beat or even looking away "you two are so cute together" she said and I smiled over my shoulder at him and went back to my conversation.

So for me I feel it is about how you two vibe together not just how you look
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2009

I really think its a way for people to tell you, subtly, that they approve of your relationship based on appearances. It's a phrase that kind of annoys me for that reason.
posted by Piscean at 9:30 AM on March 2, 2009

I say it when I feel like I have to say something nice and have no other compliments.

I've used it with friends that have new boyfriends/girlfriends who I don't approve of... or if the new bf/gf is not particularly attractive. Instead of: "Your girlfriend's makeup makes her look like a whore." or "Your boyfriend has the crazy eyes of a serial-something."
I'll just say, "Aww, you guys look good together."

I use it a lot when people show me pictures of their new significant others or friends or relatives who recently got married, are dating, etc. and the new person or couple or whatever are not hot.
For me it's totally along the lines of, "Oh... they look ... umm, happy... together... (since they're both smiling in the picture)."
posted by simplethings at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

We get this all the time, and I have to say that even for a grumpy so-and-so like me it makes me very happy. Seeing as we don't share any physical characteristics (in other words we're not a couple that anyone would every mistake for brother and sister), I've always taken this to mean a combination of the visible emotional connection and the baby fantasy thing.
posted by ob at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2009

I've used it with friends that have new boyfriends/girlfriends who I don't approve of... or if the new bf/gf is not particularly attractive. Instead of: "Your girlfriend's makeup makes her look like a whore." or "Your boyfriend has the crazy eyes of a serial-something."
I'll just say, "Aww, you guys look good together."

When this happens to me I just say

...oh wow nice picture"and leave out the details and then just pray they don't ask for my specific opinion.
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 9:36 AM on March 2, 2009

To me, this means either "You two look like you've got a healthy and happy relationship" or "the way you two look/act together is well-coordinated; you complement each other well." Kind of in the same way that I think brown and turquoise look really good together, even though they don't exactly "match."
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:39 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't really think this is the kind of phrase that people say when they have nothing else to say. It's a reaction to how the two of you interact, as opposed to the kind of complement that's easy to default to (Nice shoes!). This is backed up by the fact that several people said it - its a gut reaction to meeting you both as a unit.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:39 AM on March 2, 2009

I'd say both a mix of boring "nothing to say" comment and "you physically match." My wife and I are different in body types and height, but we're affectionate and can be silly together (mostly amongst friends).

But I also heard it with my sister-in-law, who is more my height and body-type, but we were just shopping together. It was odd, and a bit funny.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on March 2, 2009

"You look good together" can be a combination of things. Maybe your bodies move well together and people are picking up on that; you look comfortable in each other's personal space and natural when talking or laughing together. Maybe when you're around her, you light up in a way that your friends like seeing, and it's a compliment to both of you (rather than "You look great with her!" which leaves her out). Maybe you share a fashion sensibility and have complementary quirkiness? Maybe she's the kind of person your friends have long imagined you with and are happy to see with you in person. Pick one or all, but...you look good together.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:51 AM on March 2, 2009

It probably means that you and your girlfriend appear compatible and it looks like you two get along well. But, if these are people who you know reasonably well, it might also mean that they weren't that crazy about your previous girlfriend(s); it may be a subtle hint that you're on the right track.
posted by Simon Barclay at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2009

Mr. WanKenobi and I have gotten this quite a bit over our six years together. In looking through photos of us I'd say that a lot of it has to do with our physical ease/giddiness around each other--my smile in most of our pics together is the real, toothy unflattering kind that I can usually avoid in pictures of myself alone. But I think it also has a lot to do with our physical similarities--we're about equally attractive, about the same height, with similar coloring. As a note, we're not terribly into PDAs--we're not making out in public when we get these compliments--but are often holding hands or just in physical contact with each other.

I've given people this compliment, and it wasn't an empty compliment when I've given it (or an underhanded one). I usually mean that the couple is about of equal attractiveness and physically comfy looking together. I've certainly seen couples that didn't look good together (usually when one partner is much better looking than the other)--but I would never tell them that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm one of those girls that say that. I usually say it because the couple compliments each other. It's not even necessarily that each person is very attractive. But, it's mostly because the couple makes each other look happier and in some instances, more attractive.
posted by kochanie at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think Simon Barclay's onto something with that too.

In my case, its a compliment my SO and I get and is kinda easy to pinpoint... we're actually very different in every aspect, especially looks. People who use this compliment towards us almost always seem to be saying something along the lines of "you guys really seem to click" or sometimes as much as subtly stating how happy they are to see people overcoming differences.

It appears different people obviously use it for different reasons and cases though so you've got a number of possibilities for yours.
posted by nzydarkxj at 11:34 AM on March 2, 2009

Sorry, but I think it's a crap statement. That kind of thing has no objective value, or if it did, it would just be some kind of animal appreciation of attractiveness.
posted by trotter at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2009

My partner and I get this a lot. My one friend who's able to articulate why she says that says it's because our demeanors complement each other and we seem at ease together. I also think it's because we kind of have a similar look (kind of cutely pudgy alternadork).
posted by matildaben at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Honestly I now get this a LOT with the mister, where I never did with any of my prior partners, despite that we have a pretty significant age gap and different backgrounds. I'll hazard a guess that it's a combo of physical similarity (height, body type, hair and eye colour; despite that we are in no way related he *really* resembles my dad at that age...) and some "intangibles" -- we are both cyclists, both huge nerds, both similarly employed in similar fields in the same industry, both into Nikon cameras and Macintoshes, and of course last but not least, we seem to "jive" way better than I have in the past with others. There's more joy, more closeness, more subtle physical contact. I think it boils down to a combo of chemistry plus we really "get" each other, and the physical similarity is just a bonus. People never fail to give us the "man you guys are a really cute couple" line.

Of course cynical me sometimes wonders if it's just a knee jerk stall while they reconcile some
mental math... It does tend to happen more in bars or restaurants after we both get carded and they see "196x" on my licence and "198x" on his. Or from family members who are aware of the age diff and don't really know what to think.

So... ymmv.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2009

People have said this to me at times, more so with some boyfriends than others. In most of the situations I've had this compliment, I was dating a person who looked a little like me- in two cases me & the guy had similar colouring and somewhat-matched facial features (ie, we both have prominent noses and sharp chins, or whatever).

The other person I heard it about looks totally different than me (different colouring, face shapes, etc) but we have very similar personalities, so I think we tended to make the same facial expressions, speak with similar cadence, and stand/sit with matched postures.

When I've dated people who I don't resemble in any way, and with whom my personality and energy has little in common, I don't remember being told we looked good together, even though we may have been good matches.

I think I would say "you look good together" to a couple like Benjamin Bratt & Talisa Soto, who have such similar facial features and vibes- but maybe not as likely to Sasha Baron Cohen & Isla Fisher, who, although they're both really awesome and hot as heck, don't look as physically matched to me.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:11 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I suggest this since I have never once heard of a couple that "did not look good together" or "looked wrong together."

That it's not said doesn't mean it's not thought. Sometimes, you just know a couple isn't going to work yet they can't see it, but you don't sabotage their chance by spouting potentially self-fulfilling prophecies.

I think "look good as a couple" means people find it easy to imagine the relationship as long-term and healthy. The couple exudes potential, and has no obvious red-flags.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2009

I think it means that you are of a similar attractiveness level and although you share some attributes (body type or whatever) or sense of style, the ways in which you differ are pleasingly complementary. I've gotten this a lot with my wife; although we are often taken for sisters, we don't really look alike, our coloring is very different. I think we look like "a set."

As an example, matildaben, you two are just some serious cute. You obviously are different but have pleasingly similar smiles. If I met you, I think I'd say you look good together.
posted by Morrigan at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2009

Chemistry. Duh.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:54 PM on March 2, 2009

It's a physical thing - you appear to be physically compatible, and will have attractive offspring. Compare and contrast with, say, Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. Some people you just look at together and go "Gah. How?" You aren't those people.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:07 AM on March 3, 2009

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