8 Annoying Date Compliments & How To Respond

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“Do you always wear those glasses? Because you have really beautiful eyes.”

Exterior, Dimly-Lit Three-and-a-Half Star Ethnic Restaurant with Ostensibly “Romantic” Ambience — Night

BOY: Hi, E____? I’m J____! (Hugs GIRL stiffly after she offers him a hand to shake.)

GIRL: Hey J_____. Nice to meet you! So is this the place?

BOY: Yeah! Isn’t it great? By the way, you look really, really pretty tonight. Like, gorgeous. Stunning. I’m almost ashamed to walk in there next to you. (Chuckles; snorts.)

GIRL: (Contorts her face as if the smell of raw sewage is drifting through as she searches for an appropriate response.) Er … Umm … Thanks?

And that is one way a bad date can start. There are other ways, of course: one party shows up an hour late (if at all), or drunk, or severely under/overdressed, or not resembling the photos from their online dating profile in any way/shape/form. But while those latter examples tend to be of the dealbreaking variety, the misguided compliment doesn’t have to be.

Listen up, people: your date is bound to be nervous when he/she first meets you, perhaps even at a loss for ANYTHING AT ALL to say. Some of the time, this will lead to your date blurting out some completely inane or overwrought compliment. Instinct might compel you to cringe at the word-vomit that just splattered all over your shirt, but pump the brakes. This date can still be saved. Just fire back one of these ready-made responses and you’ll put your new friend at ease straightaway.

The key, as you’ll soon find out: a little dose of irony. Flattery appeals to the ego in all of us, which could elicit a blush and a mumbled, incoherent response (e.g. GIRL above, “Er … Umm … Thanks?”). Deflecting the compliment with self-deprecation says a) you are modest and b) you don’t get super awk just because someone is crushing on you.

Plus: The Ultimate Guide To Flirting

The Compliments:


“You look wonderful/beautiful/gorgeous/stunning/(insert superlative praising someone’s physical presentation here).”

It’s annoying because …


It’s cliche. And shallow. Pretty people know they’re pretty. Try commenting on something they don’t necessarily hear from every other person they’ve ever dated.


An appropriate response:


“Aw, thank you. You look great as well.”


Even if you don’t mean it, this is the most graceful way to steer the conversation away from bland comments on one another’s looks and into the realm of whatever it is interesting people talk about on dates.


“Omigosh you’re, like, sooo funny.”

It’s annoying because …


Now that he/she has voiced an admiration for your humor, you probably feel as if you have a funny-guy/-gal image to live up to — and the moment you start trying to force comedy, your routine becomes significantly less funny.


An appropriate response …


“… Looking? Yeah, I’ve gotten that before.”


Have a joke ready at your disposal; shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, you are allegedly sooo funny.


“You’re a keeper,” or any similarly loaded allusion to your hypothetical future together.

It’s annoying because …


This one is self-evident but I’ll state the obvious: outing yourself as a stage-five clinger is a bad look on first dates.


An appropriate response …


“Ha. You won’t be saying that an hour from now. I’m only good at the first half of dates.”


In most cases, the statement above will have you planning your exit strategy at once. That said, you still have half a drink/meal to get through, so try to brush off the crazy-talk and be as cordial as possible until you can gracefully depart. Don’t test the wrath of the dating gods by responding in a**hole-lese — it could take months to wear down the bad karma you’ll incur.

Plus: A Hilarious but Painful Reminder of Why We All Need to Stop Playing Mind Games


“I liked X, Y and Z about your online dating profile.”

It’s annoying because …


Most people like to pretend as if they haven’t pored over the various photos and minutiae that comprise a dating profile once they meet in the flesh (even though both parties probably have). It’s still sort of embarrassing to admit that this is a great way for people to meet, in 2012. Cultural and social norms can’t always keep pace with technology.


An appropriate response …


“Oh did I say that? I wrote that so long ago; I don’t even remember what I jotted down.”


Yeah, so this is an outright lie, but it’s also an effective way to ensure that you guys talk about your real lives instead of your digital ones from that point forward.


“You and my parents/BFF/estranged step-cousin thrice-removed would get along so well.”

It’s annoying because …


Much like the “keeper” comment, this qualifies as the type of presumptuous future-speak that will send a first date running for the doors.


An appropriate response …


“Oh yeah? Why’s that? Tell me about them/her/him.”


Boom. Free conversation topic. Divert the conversation away from yourself and onto this person your date just mentioned.


“You smell nice.”

It’s annoying because …


Ok, so if you guys are necking in the back of a cab post-date, it’s totally kosher to say this. But if you’re sitting adjacent one another ten minutes after meeting, it’s sort of creepy and over-intimate.


An appropriate response …


“Oh, that’s actually the perfume/cologne you’re smelling; not me. But yeah, I agree: it smells great.”


Now brace yourself for the impending “You’re soo funny” and refer to item #2.

Plus: 8 Good Reasons To Have A One-Night Stand


Anything overtly sexual, e.g. “You look like you give great blowjobs” or “I bet you look good naked.”

It’s annoying because …


It’s the most inappropriate thing you can say on a first date. According to a few (platonic) girlfriends whose opinions I solicited for this column, there are men out there who actually say things like this.


An appropriate response …


“Are you serious? Don’t be a f**king pig. No wonder you don’t have a girlfriend.”


You tell him, girl. Don’t pull punches. Men who think it’s acceptable to speak to a woman like this need to be put in their place a few times in order to learn that R-E-S-P-E-C-T stuff Aretha was always going on about.


The backhanded compliment — usually characterized by a carefully emphasized “but”: “You have a nice smile, BUT …” or “You really have some good opinions to offer, BUT …”

It’s annoying because …


Being critical of your date is a terrible way to endear yourself to them.


An appropriate response …


“I’m really having a great time with you tonight, BUT we’re definitely never going out again.”


There are way too many fish in the sea to be offering second chances to people who don’t make an effort to, like, be nice to you.