Giving Compliments to Men
April 14, 2007 10:54 AM   Subscribe

How do you tell a guy he is... hot?

Recently I've taken the plunge to post and respond to some personal ads. Once we get to the photo exchange part, I am feeling insecure about my approach for how to tell him that I find him (extremely) attractive.

I am seeking your feedback about what do guys like to hear? Even as a 43 year old divorced woman, my first response is to write back, "You're cute!" But I'm not 12; I have the fear that telling a guy he is cute will be perceived as juvenile. Do men, of any age, like or mind being referred to as cute? For some reason the phrase, "extremely attractive" sounds funny, weird, or too serious.

Since I've been mainly focusing my attention on reading the M>>W or posting to W>>M, and not the "casual encounters" section... I thinking that I'm not ready to say, "your photo makes me wet", or something else of the same ilk. I'm thinking a phrase like that is setting the wrong tone during the very beginning of email exchanges.

I realize that everyone is different, and the choice of phrase will be received according to his own base; and, I know just being myself is good advice. But I'd still like to get some suggestions for writing to guys. Is "You're hot" an okay thing to say? What are some good alternatives?
posted by chase to Human Relations (49 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You're cute is fine at your age, but does connote something distinct, flirty and affectionate rather than lusty and physical. "You look (so [fucking]) sexy in that pic" should do.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:03 AM on April 14, 2007

How about "You're easy on the eyes." Its cliché of course but it sounds more in line with the vibe you are trying to give off.
posted by mmascolino at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

It depends on your audience, I think, which you may know little about. "Cute" sounds to my ear pejorative, a description of an object instead of a person.

But, this is my ear. Someone from a different background will interpret it differently. Since you don't know his mind yet, you can't aim for subtlety. I suggest being more verbose -- what do you like? Write three sentences instead of a vague colloquialism.
posted by cmiller at 11:07 AM on April 14, 2007

I think a guy knows if he's hot. What you say probably isn't going to tell him anything he doesn't already know. And the hotter he is, the less likely it matters whether he hears it from you, IMO. He's heard it plenty before you came along.

If I were a guy looking for replies to my personal ad, I'd be more intersted in a woman's response to me in areas other than appearance. (Unless, of course, hookups were my only goal.)

I'm curious why you feel the need to let then know you think they are attractive. Isn't it true, guys, that just knowing a woman is interested is often enough? Does it really change anything in your perception of her if she flat-out tells you "I think you are hot?"

I met my husband through a dating site, and I can tell you that appearance was low on the list. I wanted compatibility, humor, someone who "got me" and someone whose could keep up with me intellectually. Once I found and got to know that person, they progressively became much more attractive.

Funny how that works...
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:09 AM on April 14, 2007

"You're cute" has a flirty, sexual overtone to it when used on an online dating site. You can definitely compliment someone's appearance, but I'd say something more like, "That's a great picture" or "your [eyes,chin,the shape of your face,crotch bulge against your tight jeans] really stands out in that picture" instead -- whatever made you think he was hot.
posted by SpecialK at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2007

I_L_B: It makes me move up the mental schedule for gettin' some, but other than that, I would accept it as a compliment and move on ... as I'm liberally salting my communiques with compliments as well ... or not writing back if the person didn't impress me.

FYI: I'm about 15 years younger than the OP, so take with a grain of salt... I don't know how that changes the perception.
posted by SpecialK at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2007

"I liked your photograph."
posted by astruc at 11:33 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think "cute" sounds really undergraduate. Instead say "handsome."
posted by Brian James at 11:36 AM on April 14, 2007

I think a guy knows if he's hot. What you say probably isn't going to tell him anything he doesn't already know.... I'm curious why you feel the need to let the[m] know you think they are attractive.

Yeah. Why don't you respond by saying "thanks for the pic, let's get coffee / a drink / dinner sometime?" Or respond affirmatively to any standing invite. How would you feel if some dude's first response to your photo was "damn, you're hot"? I mean, I'm sure it would be flattering and boost your confidence and stuff, but it might set the wrong initial tone, more like "hey, let's fuck" than "let's go out and get to know each other (and then maybe fuck)." If your goal is more the latter than the former, focus on making plans for now and save the flattery for when you're ready to make out. It always makes the perfect impression THEN.
posted by rkent at 11:36 AM on April 14, 2007

I don't like the term cute. But I'm hypersensitive bordering on narcissistic.

"That is a great picture. You have nice *fill in blank*" is a good start.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2007

Er. Do you need to tell him? You haven't met yet, right? What if you tell him and he replies "yeah, well, that's why I chose that picture, because it makes me look 10 pounds lighter and the funny skin spot is airbrushed out, why else would I pick a picture for a dating site"?

If you meet him in person, then you can tell him, hopefully something along the lines of "Wow, you're even more gorgeous in real life then you are in pictures." (Or you can keep your mouth shut and resist asking why an old bald guy is posting pictures from his college life.)
posted by anaelith at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2007

I think a guy knows if he's hot.

No we don't.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think a guy knows if he's hot. What you say probably isn't going to tell him anything he doesn't already know.

I am a pretty average looking guy, I think. Not movie star, not elephant man. I remember asking a girl for her number and she said, "sure, you're a cute guy." To my memory it was the first time in my life hearing that from someone who wasn't my mom or who i wasn't already seriously dating.

It felt really really good. No one is ever sure you find them attractive until you tell them- even supermodels are famously insecure about their looks. And it's even moreso for men- because women's ideas of what's attractive vary so widely - even for guys who are generally considered "good looking" , there's still a large percentage of women in the world who won't be into him at all.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:51 AM on April 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

(wow the grammar in that last sentence is awful. at least I still have my amazing good looks, ha ha.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:53 AM on April 14, 2007

Things like "you've got great eyes" or "gorgeous smile" are sweet but not overbearing.
posted by judith at 12:00 PM on April 14, 2007

I think a guy knows if he's hot. What you say probably isn't going to tell him anything he doesn't already know.

Nah. Plenty of women are attracted to plenty of men whose only chance in hell to get on an Abercrombie & Fitch billboard would be to climb it. So most men are not so jaded as to dismiss a compliment about their looks. I would personally be wary about using "you're cute" right out of the gate, however -- according to at least one guy I know, it's got the ring of something you'd say about babies or puppies or a guy you just wanted to be friends with.

"You're hot" is fine, in its way (my boyfriend just got that from a woman at work a few weeks ago, and he was feeling pretty darn good about it, which I thought was cute), but if you actually want to connect with someone for something other than a hookup, it's not great as an opening line or the entirety of your message ("I like your photo" is probably better for that). How about a few sentences about something in his profile that you found amusing, or a common interest? And then, as for your closing sentence, something like "...oh yeah: you're hot [or 'handsome,' or 'have a great smile,' etc.], too."

Having said all that: I met my boyfriend online, and during the entire online dating process (which I did for about a year), whenever I initiated contact (as I did with my boyfriend), I never mentioned anything about their looks to begin with. I assumed the fact that I was contacting them in the context of online dating made it self-evident that I found them attractive.
posted by scody at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2007

Yeah, guy's might not know they're attractive. I, for example, have no clue.
posted by spork at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2007

Underplay it. Leave out cute, hot, sexy. If you remain communicating with him after exchange of photos it means he thinks you're cute. Guys will be happy that girls just keep talking to them, seriously. If you must write something I agree with judith and a couple of others have said. 'Beautiful eyes' has always made me feel, you know, appreciated/good looking. The 'cute', 'hot' or 'sexy' can happen in phone calls after meeting the first time perhaps.
posted by peacay at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2007

"You're cute" is perhaps a bit too teeny-bopper.
"You're hot" is very juvenile.

I'd go with what was said above: handsome. Or perhaps another adjective that integrates (IMO) the "hot" and the "handsome" -- something like, "what a striking picture!"

Good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by davidmsc at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2007

I agree that you should wait. Making out (or during intimate moments thereafter) is the right time to tell a guy he's hot. I've been told I'm hot and if I'm not in the middle having sex with the speaker, it creeps me out a little.

I also agree that hotness should not be deduced from a photo, but rather in person. There may be a mannerism or feature that instantly cancels out the hotness you thought you saw.

Thirdly, email is not a good medium for this. You just really don't know how it's going to be read. Simple compliment or lasciviously leering?

Respond to his hot photo with a "Let's meet." Save the hot talk for whispering in his ear as you kiss his neck; should the occasion arise.

Good luck!
posted by nonmyopicdave at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I prefer "you're cute." In my experience, it can be a little awkward if somebody starts in with the heavy "you're hot" comments a little early; in my eyes it's too forward. It's not necessarily a bad thing to do, but please don't keep harping on how attractive you find them. It can be an uncomfortable thing to respond to.

On preview: Most of my experience is in person, so it's probably easier and less awkward over the interwebs.
posted by PFL at 12:28 PM on April 14, 2007

There may be a mannerism or feature that instantly cancels out the hotness you thought you saw.

This is so true. The first guy I ever contacted online looked incredibly hot (to my tastes!) in his photo, plus had a pretty darn cool profile in terms of interests, etc. But when we met, all sense of his hotness just vanished instantly -- yes, he was still a good-looking guy, empiracally speaking (he hadn't used a 15-year-old photo or anything), but we had absolutely zero chemistry, physically or otherwise.

posted by scody at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Nice photo, but surely someone this attractive would surely already be taken. Would you mind sending me one of yourself? I just want to make sure you're not _too_ good-looking for me."

"You're cuter than a bug on a pug on a rug. What were you thinking about when that photo was taken -- kittens, ice cream, and Japanese cartoons?"

"Good heavens, are you the only child of a supermodel and a superhero?"

"I hope you'll consider letting your future girlfriend dress you (whether or not that's me) -- you're way better-looking than any paper doll."

"Do you always look that slyly handsome? Or was that photo taken on a special occasion?"

"You're either extremely handsome or a genius with Photoshop. I must meet you."
posted by amtho at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2007

I'm sorry but amtho? Those lines just made me cringe. I think down to Earth honesty is far less creepy.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:43 PM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

yes, echoing miss lynnster: if you do comment on someone's looks, please don't try out a "funny" "line," especially in a first-time email. It's almost guaranteed to fall flat.
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2007

What's wrong with "I think you're kinda hot." Or even leave out the kinda.
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on April 14, 2007

I like your picture.
posted by Packy_1962 at 1:13 PM on April 14, 2007

I'd rather be called "cute" then "handsome" but that's just me.

But really it doesn't matter. As long as a guy knows "you're interested" and he thinks you're good looking. Worrying about first impressions on a dating site is really kind of a lost cause. There's no way to know how each individual person will respond to whatever compliment.

What you want to keep in mind is that how you complement a man might give him different ideas about what you're interested in. The more sexual you are, the more he's going to assume you're interested in sex. Calling him "cute" won't do that, but calling him "hot" might.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 PM on April 14, 2007

I think a guy knows if he's hot.

This is 100%, unequivocally false. And it's rather annoying to read, seeing as how you'd think women understood that men simply don't get complemented anywhere near the same amount as women do. It's not even an order of magnitude less often. It's probably, on average, two or three orders of magnitude (that's 100 to 1000 times) less.

Why? Who knows. But it's true. A guy will have absolutely no problem walking up to a woman and telling her in some way or another that she's hot as lava. A woman? She has to post a question on AskMe. You starting to see the scope of the issue here?

To the OP: Just tell him, "Hey, I just wanted you to know, I think you're hot." That's all. Don't mince words and say something you might not mean, or worse, say something that second-guesses your intent. He's hot. Tell him hot. Not cute, not delicious, not easy on the eyes. HOT.

Isn't it true, guys, that just knowing a woman is interested is often enough?

Hilarious. OF COURSE NOT.

Does it really change anything in your perception of her if she flat-out tells you "I think you are hot?"

Yes, absolutely.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:33 PM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

I thinking that I'm not ready to say, "your photo makes me wet"

You sound like what you're looking for is someway to say exactly that, but not so directly. In short you want flirt a bit, let the guy know that his photo puts sex in your mind, and you're open to the possiblility later. So, a few examples:

"That's a pretty good photo of you."

"Whoa (or wow), nice eyes (or some other fetching feature)."

"Nice, that photo's a keeper."

"You look quite handsome in that photo."

As for cute, depending on what you're looking for, his reaction to being called that might tell you a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:59 PM on April 14, 2007

I am feeling insecure about my approach for how to tell him that I find him (extremely) attractive

"Can I buy you a drink?"
posted by dobbs at 2:04 PM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Wow, I better clarify!!

I didn't say, "Guys know when they 'aren't grossly repulsive' or when they are 'merely acceptable' or even 'mildly attractive.'

I said, "Guys know when they are hot," which in my world is more of a determinable (if still not quite definable), factor.

Hot = I want to do you. Am I wrong?

Cute = nice smile, etc., all the things other posters suggested.

The OP wanted to tell a guy he was "hot." Her next choice was "cute." If your alternative to "hot" is "cute," then what exactly IS the guy? If he's "hot," that's one thing. If he's merely "cute," that's another. Is cute the anti-hot?

OK, guys, maybe you are clueless as you whether you fit either of these categories... but... if your looks are such that someone is prompted to tell you that you're hot, odds are you at least have a clue that you have something going on.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:08 PM on April 14, 2007

odds are you at least have a clue...

No. Sorry.

(I am personally not an attractive person, however I have male friends who are, and they have no idea. The only exception I can think of at the moment also happens to be a self-absorbed ass, so in my view the fact that he knows he's hot is merely coincidental -- he'd think he was hot even if he weren't)
posted by aramaic at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2007

I'm dipping my toe into the murky pool of internet dating atm. I have to say that, as far as I'm concerned (and I make no claims to be generally representative) the whole cute thing would be a bad angle to take at the beginning. If you're contacting me, of all the thousands of lonely men on internet dating sites, I think there is an unspoken assumption that you may find me less then hideous.

But don't talk about it straight away. Whilst it may well give my ego a welcome boost, it won't further your cause greatly. Rather, I'd look for something more conversational, something where you can spark some sort of conversation, rather than physical complements. If there's text in the profile talk about something there instead - let the rest come in due course.

That said I am both still single and thoroughly English and hence viciously repressed - your target market may differ!
posted by prentiz at 2:27 PM on April 14, 2007

Ehh. Discussions about whether definitively hot guys (vs. eye-of-the-beholder hot guys) know they're hot aside, just saying "You're hot" has a very high potential to come off a little desperate. Nobody wants to tread that path.
Go for handsome and/or a specific complement (smile, eyes, etc.), as suggested upthread.
posted by willpie at 2:35 PM on April 14, 2007

OK. Forget what I said, it's not on point anyway.

I agree with all the other posts who say that it's best to be wary of photos anyway (and I can speak from experience that this is SO true). Don't think your initial communication needs to contain any reference to what you think of his appearance.

If you give any sort of compliments based on a photo, then find in person that said photo is way off-base, 10 years old, or of a totally different person, etc., then you have to eat your words. People lie. People send misleading photos.

Say something like "You look a lot like _________" and insert the name of the celebrity their photo looks the most like.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2007

Prentiz, I think you're hot.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:52 PM on April 14, 2007

It really doesn't matter how you put it. A compliment is a compliment. If a woman -- or man or old woman or little girl or old man or little boy or monkey or mongoloid -- told me that I am nice looking, I'd be flattered and glad to hear it. Just make the word choice unambiguous. Don't say "you look interesting" or something equally dubious.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:58 PM on April 14, 2007

cute is perfectly fine at any age. it sounds not overly serious and shouldn't freak anyone out but at the same time does indicate you like him.
posted by krautland at 3:00 PM on April 14, 2007

Ask to meet him for coffee. Then when you stand up to greet him, instead of taking his hand forcefully grab his crotch and scream "I WANT THIIIIIIIIIIS!" He will get the message.

Alternatively, call him dignified or handsome. "Cute" is lame for people over 23.
posted by schroedinger at 3:05 PM on April 14, 2007

As a 45 year old man, I have been called "cute" and don't take offense to it. It's just a common word used to tell someone you find them attractive. I have also been called adorable, handsome, good looking, nice looking, and a few others. (I am not saying these people have any taste, btw.) But the point is, I am not going to complain about whatever word is used as a compliment.

Sure, maybe some men think "cute" should be reserved for babies and puppies, but I don't think they would be insulted. "Hot" MIGHT be considered by some to be too sexually suggestive for someone you have just met.
posted by The Deej at 3:09 PM on April 14, 2007

I think astruc's "I like your photograph" is perfect. (The phrase "the opposite of fugly" also occurred to me, if you want something a bit more direct yet lighthearted.)
posted by rob511 at 3:53 PM on April 14, 2007

Agreeing with a few previous posters, but with a slight twist...
Telling someone they're attractive right out of the gate will probably make them feel great. ..(as mentioned above, not everyone who is hot, knows they're hot...and even if they do, it's usually nice to hear again)...however, that *doesn't* mean it will improve your odds of attracting them.
For fear of being called out as someone who "plays games" I would say that you're giving up too much by telling someone he's attractive right off the top. You're already going out of your way to make contact with this guy. Also telling him he's hot/cute/moisture-inducing is too much.
The whole hard-to-get thing is a cliche, but there's some truth to it.
Embarassingly, I spent a few years watching the show "Blind Date" (I also watched "Larry Sanders" reruruns, so don't judge too harshly) and I noticed something quite interesting. In the brightly lit petri dish of ridiculous dating experiments that the show represented, a few undeniable patterns popped up again and again. One of them that surprised me was this:
If one of the daters *ever* admitted to finding the other attractive early in the date, it would turn out badly. At best, things might proceed to a brief physical dalliance, but never something that grew into what looked like mutual respect. Now, if the issue of attractiveness came up much later in the date, things sometimes turned out fine. But if it happened early, it was the (non) kiss of death.
I hesitate to say you could learn anything about anything from "Blind Date"...but in this case, maybe reruns of low-budget, ultra-cheesy, lowest-common-denominator reality dating shows can really help you find love.
posted by Ziggurat at 5:16 PM on April 14, 2007

just be direct, that's purely what guys are suprised by
posted by edtut at 6:04 PM on April 14, 2007

Yeah, those "lines" I wrote are pretty cheesy; something like that _might_ work with good context, but in a first e-mail, I guess you wouldn't have much context. Probably those counseling to avoid commenting on someone's appearance are right.

The idea of online dating intrigues me, which is probably why I even tried to come up with something here, but I guess I'd be pretty bad at it.
posted by amtho at 7:00 PM on April 14, 2007

"Whoa (or wow), nice eyes (or some other fetching feature)."

Okay, do not tell a guy he has "nice eyes" That's a complement for ugly people.

honestly, for a guy you need to be as direct and straightforward as possible.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on April 14, 2007

The fact that you're responding to what he's posted online lets him know that you find something attractive about him...but wait until you've met him in person before you say anything to his face.
posted by brujita at 12:27 AM on April 15, 2007

My new lady-friend calls me a beautiful man... This is as unexpected as it makes me happy. Maybe it's right for you too?
posted by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus at 5:45 AM on April 15, 2007

Don't let 'em dis you, amtho... That was good material.

For someone for whom sense of humor is Job One, they'd be a good filter...
posted by baylink at 6:29 PM on April 15, 2007

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