Okay guys, seriously now, FFS.
I promise you, I like a compliment as much as anyone, and yes, today I was looking particularly nice in my silk Laura Ashley dress that I found at the thrift store for $10.
(I had to throw that in there. It is a fabulous dress. My shoes were pretty hot, too.)
However, I swear sometimes, you guys just blurt out whatever's in your heads instead of thinking about what you're saying. You do not follow up "you look nice today" with "except for that arm", and point to the Thermacare patches I have wrapped around my wrist and hand. A compliment followed by a criticism is not a compliment.
(I'm not even going to go into the stupid idea that men expect women to always meet some arbitrary beauty standard, because it makes me clench my teeth until they crack.)
I assume, though - at least for the ones of you I'm giving the benefit of the doubt - that you aren't really looking to score, and you aren't really telling me that I don't meet your standards, you just want the attractive lady to smile at you. I understand this, I do. It's a nice thing when someone attractive gives you the glad eye; it puts a spring in your step and a song in your heart. But for God's sake, please think before you open your traps, okay?
Because I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to give away a few girl secrets here, and tell you how to give a chick (you may not call her that; only we can call her that!) a compliment she's actually going to enjoy, rather than making her wonder if you're pulling some creepy power play to make her feel like shit for not living up to your high standards of feminine allure. I'm not sure y'all deserve the instruction, but I'm feeling generous, and I have to write about something before I disappear for the weekend.
#1: When you see a cute woman, your first impulse is going to be to try and get her attention any way you can. This is not clever, and it contributes to women feeling that most men think of women's bodies as public property to be commented on as they see fit. For the love of all that is sweet and good, DON'T CONTRIBUTE TO THIS PERCEPTION. It makes women hostile, and they will start to snarl at you instead of smiling, and then no-one's happy. Remember, she's a person, too.
(A surprising number of men seem to forget this.)
When you see her - say she's standing in front of you in the checkout lane - don't blurt out something without getting her attention first, and for God's sake, DON'T TOUCH HER. You really want to avoid being creepy at this point (well, any point, to be honest), and avoid putting her on her guard (as she will run away from you very fast, and you will not have the opportunity to tell her that she looks nice). Say something like "Excuse me, I just want to tell you that you look really nice in that dress", or "I hope you don't mind me saying so, but your hair/those shoes/blah blah really suit you". This lets her know that you understand that it can be a little weird getting an unsolicited compliment from a stranger, and hopefully will also give her the message that you are not a threat (this is very important for a woman to be able to enjoy a compliment).
Any variation of the above is a big improvement over my experience of "you look nice today", especially since it was said in a monotone, and the word "today" tends to give a woman the uncomfortable impression that she has been watched for a while, in that "today" is a follow-on from "yesterday" or "last week".
EXTRA SPECIAL GIRL TIP: Stalking is not a compliment. It usually ends in death for the woman involved, and as such, is really, really, scary and not a joke. Avoid the impression of being a stalker at all costs.
#2: This is very important! Once you have given her the compliment, SHUT UP! Use your casual observational skills, and see how she reacts. If she doesn't make eye contact, smiles briefly and/or without showing her teeth, or hunches her shoulders slightly, she is not interested in making conversation. Yes, even if she say "thanks". To her, you are a stranger, and it's quite likely she might find you threatening. Are you standing very close to her? Are you staring? Are you considering what she would look like naked? She can tell. Trust me.
Conversely, she may just be in a bad mood, or very busy, or simply not in the mood/lacking the energy to strike up a conversation with a man she does not know. Respect her reaction! She is not a bitch for not being all smiles and gratitude - yes, you decided to compliment her, but she doesn't owe you anything for it. In fact, if you think she does, get the fuck out of here, I don't want you sliming my blog. Men like that make it absolutely miserable for women, and they're the ones to blame if she isn't particularly charmed by your compliment. Blame the slimeballs that called her names for refusing to agree to sex with them right then and there, not her for her reaction.
#3: Allow her to choose whether she continues the conversation. If she gives you a small smile, says "thanks", and then says nothing more, she doesn't want to talk to you. Don't keep saying inane things to her in an effort to make her talk to you, let her be. You paid a compliment, you got a smile, what more are you expecting? Your little moment is now over. Getting mad at her because she doesn't want to talk to you further just makes it more likely that the next woman you try this on will ignore you completely.
We compare notes. I'm just sayin'.
What this comes down to is that two people are participating in this verbal exchange, and if one is unwilling to go further, then the other must respect that, or else they're being a jerk. Yes, even if you try to justify it with "I was just trying to compliment you!". This, contrary to popular male belief, does not make it all better. By demanding more from a woman than a simple "thanks", you are saying "my wants are more important than yours".
This makes a woman twitchy, because history (in general, and in her personal experience) is full of men who demand her time and energy, even if they have no right to it. Some have used that very trick to demand access to her body, and many of them have called her despicable names when she refuses to comply. There is no reason for her to think of you as the exception, and if you get mad at her for it, then you've just proved you aren't the exception. It is very important for you guys to understand that women will fear you if they don't know you, because painful (and often horrifying) experience has taught them to be fearful. If you find that insulting, then blame the men who stalk, rape, and kill, not women for trying to avoid being victims.
Yes, even when it's "just a compliment!". We're not as vain as you might think; we can manage our days perfectly happily without getting compliments from men we don't know. Pay the compliment, by all means - if you want to. But don't expect anything more than a thank you. A smile is a bonus. If that's not good enough, then don't blurt out backhanded compliments to strangers, and don't pretend that you're just trying to be nice. We know that you want in return is a smile, and if you're lucky, maybe something more; we're not stupid.
And we're not really interested in the abuse we get from guys that refuse to accept that we don't owe them anything. We'll gladly give up compliments if it also means that we don't get called the c-word or the b-word or the w-word any more.