London - It really is a minefield out there for men. There they are on Mars, with their binary take on the world – their either/or, fried or scrambled, cut-and-dried approach – and here we are on Venus, filing our nails and nursing our labyrinthine, tricky little ways, ways that can be upset by something as inconsequential as a petal falling from a faraway tree.
Take compliments, for example. You’d think, if you were a man, that complimenting a woman on her appearance would add to the sum of human happiness. You might be right. But mostly, of course, you’d be wrong. It all depends on what he says.
According to a recent survey, women hate being told that they look “well”, since this is considered code for fat.
Looking well, you see, is the preserve of long-lived great uncles, dog champions and heavily pregnant women. On the whole, we women are in the business of looking mildly hungry and just slightly underweight – as if we’ve missed lunch or recently had our wisdom teeth out. That’s fashion for you.
Neither, incidentally, do we wish to be told that we look curvy, soft, voluptuous, pneumatic or huggable.
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.
If in doubt, he should try saying things like, “You look significantly thinner than Stephanie” or “I can almost see your ribs.” Works a treat.
“Most men probably live in fear of getting it wrong, and so don’t bother trying to be nice,”says the survey’s spokesman rather wistfully, which has got to be one of the little sadnesses of our age.
The problem for even the most well-intentioned man is that complimenting a woman is a treacherous tightrope walk over a tank of circling sharks; the poor loves can barely hope to get it right.
We women all have our own sensitivities, which a random complimenter could hardly begin to know.
Personally, I’m aghast if anyone ever tells me I look healthy. I take this to mean that I look like a farmer who’s been out all day combine-harvesting in a stiff wind.
Just last week, a well-intentioned someone said, “Wow, you look so much better than when I last saw you,” and I was annoyed for the rest of the day.
There are some pointers I can offer, though… a few tips on the modern art of flattery which should see men right:
* In answer to the classic query, “Do you like my red shoes or my blue shoes?” the correct answer is “I like ALL your shoes. In fact, they’re so lovely, why don’t you buy some more?”
* Being told that we smell nice can be creepy. It makes us think of vampires and those odd fellows who like sniffing shoes.
* Being too particular – “Maddy, what a fabulous Louis Vuitton Pont-Neuf Epi leather city bag” – is plain weird. There are some things (the agonies of childbirth, the precise appellation and provenance of a handbag) that only a woman should notice or know. You keep away from our Louboutins, honey, and we’ll keep away from your offside rule.
* The old “Does my bum look big in this?” question is a snakes’ nest of peril. The point is, if we have to ask, we know the answer already. It does. We know. So do the decent thing. Lie.
In short, then, the way to make a woman truly thrill with delight is to tell her she looks thin.
Hmm. So who’s basic now? – Daily Mail