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January 26, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

What are ways I can compliment my lover in bed when I don't find him as beautiful as he does me?

There are a couple different things going on here: he is very effusive with his compliments, I am not naturally so effusive (regardless of partner). He is very engaged with all of me when we're in bed (which I love love love), but I am very focused in my attentions (i.e. I cannot get lost in his shoulder blade or somesuch the way he can in mine). Then, finally, there's this: I just don't find him as beautiful as he finds me.

It's not that I don't find him "physically attractive"; I'm very attracted to him. But it's not because of his looks so much, nor do I find any specific part of him to be particularly beautiful. (He is not ugly by any means, but he is heavy and his handsomeness comes from the whole of his person, not his individual features.) My attraction to him stems more from how he uses his body, than from his appearance.

So, I compliment him on those things, but it still feels imbalanced when he's telling me how much he loves this part of my body or that part. I cannot come up with as many things to say as he does, and I worry that he thinks I am not as attracted to him as he is to me. (I worry that, like when someone says "I love you" and the person they love responds "thanks," he thinks that my non-reciprocation of his appreciations of my body is a sign of lack of interest, when, really, I am just interested in different things.)

What ways can I compliment him so that he'll understand how much I am attracted to him, and how much I value our lovemaking?

NB: He's not my boyfriend, he's my lover. Neither of us has significant others, but our relationship is primarily a sexual one.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about you compliment him on what he does, rather than how he looks. Being praised for the way you make someone feel is much nicer than being told things about your appearance.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:42 AM on January 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Why don't you just compliment him on what he's doing that makes you feel so good? Instead of "I love the way your bellybutton puckers when you kiss me", try "You make my whole body shiver when you touch me like that". See what I did there? He's still focused on you, but you are letting him know how sexy it makes you feel. I think he'll appreciate that more than "you've got some hunky shoulders, bub".
posted by qwip at 7:43 AM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


D'oh! One minute too late.
posted by qwip at 7:44 AM on January 26, 2010


So, I compliment him on those things, but it still feels imbalanced when he's telling me how much he loves this part of my body or that part. I cannot come up with as many things to say as he does, and I worry that he thinks I am not as attracted to him as he is to me. (I worry that, like when someone says "I love you" and the person they love responds "thanks," he thinks that my non-reciprocation of his appreciations of my body is a sign of lack of interest, when, really, I am just interested in different things.)

Unless he complains, don't worry about it. Dudes are usually just happy to get it on with a hot woman. They are less socialized to be paid attention to and all of that. Your physical actions say everything. I've always cared less about what a woman says to me than what a woman does to me. (mean women saying mean things excepted). In otherwords, compliments are generally less important to men than women and I wouldn't worry so much about it unless he brings it up.

but if it bothers you and you want something you do like, pay attention to the parts you do. Nobody is all bad physically--the crinkle of the eye when they laugh, the way his eyes follow you, the back of his leg--some of it has got to be nice to look at. Just pay more attention.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:45 AM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


He genuinely may not care. My last ex was also very effusive in his compliments, and I tried to match him -- until one day he just said, "you know, you really don't have to try so hard to say something back when I compliment you. I'm not keeping score. Just....accept the compliment." He was picking up plenty from my non-verbal reactions and responses, which were equally as effusive and expressive despite the fact that they weren't verbal, and he was perfectly fine with that.

Plus, that meant when I WAS genuinely moved to say something (I got so caught up in "a moment" once that I was suddenly struck by something and blurted out "my GOD, you're beautiful"), it meant that much more.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


If it ever comes up, you could say something like, "The way you compliment me is so sweet. I wish I was that good at expressing myself about that sort of thing." My ex-girlfriend was very effusive, and I was just as into her, but not as eloquent, so I said that sort of thing to let her know that I had the same thoughts/feelings towards her, but just wasn't able to verbalize it as well or as frequently as she was.
posted by threeants at 8:10 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


These threads on returning physical compliments from men and telling men you find them attractive might be of some help.

(The second thread is mostly about guys that you might define as "beautiful," but there are also many answers that deal with people who aren't obviously or traditionally attractive to anyone but the person they're with.)
posted by ocherdraco at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are ways I can compliment my lover in bed when I don't find him as beautiful as he does me?

Lie. It's nice to be told one is attractive even when one knows it's a bald-faced lie. Especially so.
posted by three blind mice at 8:38 AM on January 26, 2010


Lie. It's nice to be told one is attractive even when one knows it's a bald-faced lie.

I respectfully disagree -- sometimes it makes you even more depressed ("...oh, they're just SAYING that...they can't be honest with me, dammit").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:49 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The older I get the less my attraction is oriented around specific parts/aspects of a person. Food for thought, you could think more about his effect on you.
posted by rhizome at 9:01 AM on January 26, 2010


I respectfully disagree -- sometimes it makes you even more depressed ("...oh, they're just SAYING that...they can't be honest with me, dammit").

EmpressCallipygos, I'm sort of kidding here. The point being that this is not one of life's situations that one should take too seriously. We should all have such lovely problems. The both of them. This whole question is a storybook. The guy in question is having sex with a girl he thinks is beautiful. I'm guessing he's not feeling too depressed about his looks or lacking in self-confidence. Quite the contrary I imagine.

In such a situation, I maintain that if the girl who just laid your tiles smiles at you and says she thinks "you're beautiful too" - even if she does not really mean it - she cannot really go wrong.
posted by three blind mice at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2010


Definitely ask him if it bothers him before you try and fix it.

"Hey, I'm not a big compliment giver by nature, and I'm worried you think it's something about you. Should I work on giving more compliments?" or something along those lines will clear this up. If he hasn't said anything about it, it may not be all that important to him.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:14 AM on January 26, 2010


Unless he complains, don't worry about it. Dudes are usually just happy to get it on with a hot woman.

He genuinely may not care.

Yeah, I think this is probably the gist of it. I mean, honestly, I tell my SO how fucking hot she is all the time, especially in bed. But I don't expect - nor do I really want - her to compliment me in return. It would be kind of weird even.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2010


Yeah, I entirely sympathize with your worrying that it feels uneven, but personally I would rather people just accept the compliments I give them rather than try to think of something to say in return. Also, some people are better at giving compliments than receiving them; I don't know if this is the case for your guy, but I get immense pleasure from complimenting people and actually feel awkward when I'm complimented.

It's sweet of you to care, but try not to worry too much.
posted by Nattie at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2010


Nthing the suggestion that you may not have to worry about this as much as you think you do. All I have to go on is my experience as a gay man, but truly, at the end of the day... guys are guys. And from your brief description of your lover, he actually sounds like someone I'd probably be interested in. So this perspective may be of assistance to you:

I'm all but exclusively physically attracted to men who probably wouldn't be considered "beautiful" in the mainstream sense (hairy, heavy bear/cub types). That is to say, you won't see any of them on the cover of GQ any time soon, though I think they're smoking hot. I've gone overboard with compliments on some of my partners, for the very reason that I think they're gorgeous and I enthusiastically want them to know that I feel that way about them. It's occasionally been perceived as amusing/incredulous rather than flattering/charming. Worse, it can be taken as pandering. One guy finally got kind of upset after I couldn't stop raving about how handsome I thought he was, as if I was lying to him or trying to convince myself or something (neither was the case). I don't have a ton of experience in dating, so it was kind of a confusing thing to me- and a major bummer. In general, I just go with the flow and try to be a bit more coy these days.

I could go on about blah blah blah negative body image perception and yada yada men usually fend off compliments (both subjects are well-covered upthread), but my point is this: If he's no Adonis, he's almost certainly aware of this. If you were to suddenly start complimenting him from head to toe, there's a chance that you could run into the same wall that I have in the past. He probably doesn't lack confidence in himself in the sack, as he sounds like you consider him a very capable lover. So, if you're not picking up subtle cues from him that he'd like to be complimented more, just keep doing what you're doing. He's probably more than satisfied to have a person that he finds to be very beautiful in his life sharing intimate moments with him.

(Also: It just occured to me that I kind of presupposed that you were a woman and that this was a heterosexual relationship- my apologies if that's not the case.)
posted by kryptondog at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2010


Lie. It's nice to be told one is attractive even when one knows it's a bald-faced lie.
I agree, with some reservation. I mean, I know I have a pot belly, so complimenting my six-pack abs would sound empty, and might, as EmpressCallipygos says, backfire. But I know my shoulders, although nothing special, aren't hideous or anything, so a (possibly insincere) compliment about them would make me happy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2010


Enh, personally I just feel a bit hinky about encouraging dishonesty in relationships, but you've made the point that this could be a gray area.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on January 26, 2010


So, I compliment him on those things, but it still feels imbalanced when he's telling me how much he loves this part of my body or that part.

I have had similar issues with several former lovers. Relax and be happy with your dynamic. I know that my similar relationships were improved when I "got" that he loved to watch me accept compliments, and in return I made sure he knew exactly how hot he got me. I bet your guy would rather be sexy than pretty any day of the week.
posted by desuetude at 2:51 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.S. Compliment his cock, hands, tongue. From your question and tags, I'm thinking you can come up with some nice things to say about those particular body parts that doesn't require you to wax effusively on his physical beauty.
posted by desuetude at 2:55 PM on January 26, 2010


If you feel the need to compliment things you don't really like, lie. If you're a good liar. Lying is cool as long as you're complimenting something that someone could reasonably compliment.

If he has funny looking ears that you hate and you compliment his ears, it's a dumb lie. If he has intersting hair, look at it moonily and tell him you like the way it feels in your fingers.

Really, lying seems like a lot of effort to go to for minimal returns...I would rather have my partner be engaged and thinking about how we can have mutual fun, instead of thinking about what they're obligated to do for me.

Otherwise surprise him with random creative compliments at random times. When you feel it.

I like your x is a bit boring.

Oh man, that was hot. Do it again.

Now that's a compliment.
posted by kathrineg at 12:36 AM on January 27, 2010


Your post hits really close to home... in fact, I'm on the other side - I tend to be the one giving effuse compliments to my lover.

Here's my 2 cents...

Don't lie. Most guys will pick up on a lie, and inevitably it will come back to bite you in the butt. As others have mentioned, compliment him on the way he makes you feel, on the qualities you do like about him, on how he makes you feel special and attractive... along with his, ahem, cock, tongue, hands, etc. This will mean a lot more to him then saying you get lost in his shoulders or some other remark that he probably won't get (honestly, why the hell would I care about my shoulders??). Call me old fashioned, but men are far more visual then women and when I tell a girl that she looks sexy, is beautiful, has pretty eyes, I like this part of her body, I love that part of her body, etc, it's because I mean it, not because I need to hear similar compliments in return.

As far as the male psyche is concerned, we tend to be a little (a lot?) more arrogant about our looks... bottom line, we think we're more attractive then we really are. Most men can admit that women don't base attraction entirely on looks (trust me, we notice when a beautiful women is with an "ugly" guy because we say "damn! how did he get that?!?"). Most men can also admit that while he may not be the best looking guy on the block, she's with him for a reason, which means she finds him attractive on some level... beyond that, we don't give it much thought.

Hope this helps!

I should mention that this hits perhaps a little too close to home - Lily?
posted by mrrisotto at 6:53 AM on January 27, 2010


It seems like one of the best things this guy has got going for him is that he doesn't seem to care that he's heavy and he's got at least one girl panting after him. So you might want to compliment the fact that he's a cocky bastard, which is apparently the case.

Also, you may be developing feelings for him. This is a pretty boyfriendy question.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:47 AM on January 27, 2010


The other physical thing that you can compliment is his reactions. Look, we all look ridiculous in the throes of passion, at least in our own mind's eye. So when your lover tells you how much he/she loves your shudder/stammer/string of profanities/openmouthed gaping in a way that makes it clear that they're not BSing, that they really find this sexy...well, that's a brilliantly intimate compliment.

Another advantage of this approach is that you're also telegraphing that you like doing these things to him which make him react thusly, i.e. you're not enduring his bulk just because he gets you off.
posted by desuetude at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2010


I wouldn't worry about the imbalance. This may be a stereotype/gender thing, but I've found with the partners I've bothered to talk to about this stuff that the sort of reciprocal complimenting is neither expected nor missed if it's not there. That said, I think most people appreciate a sincere compliment and I think having someone who is not conventionally attractive gives you an opportunity to flex your mind a little when telling him the things you like about him.

- First off what you said, that you ARE attracted to him and value your lovemaking, is totally okay. You can say that flat out.
- Moving off of that, the things he does for you sexually, you can appreciate technique, form, skills or whatever. A favorite compliment of mine is "I don't know what you're doing but that feels awesome!" As you said, how he uses his body.
- Leaving the visual range for a while. Things like having a nice scent, having a great voice, being really adept with his touch, all of them are comment-worthy complimentary things. Liking the way someone smells or sounds is nice, especially because it's pretty clearly liking them as they ARE and not just how they may be lucky enough to have chosen to present themselves, if that makes sense.
- Similarly, minutiae. The way a particular spot on their body feels to you, or how warm their skin is, or how tightly they hold you, or the color of their eyes, or their smile or the hair on their forearms. Compliments that say "I pay attention to you"

I'm aware that you are looking for bedroom talk and not the sort of "I treasure you" boyfriend talk. Not all of these suggestions scream "you're hot!" at someone. That said, they do say "I likebeing with you in this way" which I think is the message you're trying to get across.
posted by jessamyn at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, I can't believe no one has mentioned this.

I have never met a guy who didn't love to be complimented on his masculinity and strength. This seems to matter far more than general beauty or attraction to particular features.
posted by desjardins at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2010


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