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13 Compliments That Men Actually Want to Hear

Appreciation and validation are big parts of any relationship. Here are the ways in which men would like to hear them expressed.

Praise is important in any relationship. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have a need to be appreciated and validated, to hear from those closest to us that we are good parents, good friends, good partners, good people. When we do something right — say handle a situation or task properly —  it’s nice to hear about it from our partners and friends and kids. When we make a decision, it’s often great to know our partner supports it. It may not seem like a big deal, but the right compliments for men are fuel that keeps us going, that help us stay productive and healthy and moving in the right direction. 

When it comes to compliments for men, the more specific is always better. That’s why we reached out to a variety of men about the kind words they’d like to hear more from their partners, friends, and kids. Some are looking for acknowledgements about their parenting skills, while others are interested in hearing about their mettle as husbands. Here’s what they said.

1. “I Appreciate All You’ve Taught Me.”

“My kids are all grown up now. They’re 18 and 20. I think the best thing you can say to a father is ‘I appreciate the lessons you’ve taught me.’ As a parent, all we want for our kids is for them to grow up as upstanding citizens of the world. And seeing them be molded into one is one thing, but for them to realize how hard you’ve worked and then show gratitude and appreciation is heartwarming, to say the least. I noticed this with my own father, too. When I once told him how grateful I was to have had those talks with him about fatherhood, treating other people, and just life in general, it was the happiest I’ve seen him. It was also one of the rare moments when he welled up and showed some emotion. I guess having been a parent myself and getting that assurance that you’ve done a good job is something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.” – Jack, 55, California

2. “Your Children Are So Kind.”

“At my children’s school’s parent/teacher evening I was blessed to hear that one of my children, in particular, is so kind to everyone.The teacher said that when they had a special needs child join the class my daughter was the first, and only, one to raise her hand when she asked who would like to show her around and take care of her for the first week of school. This warmed my heart. We give back to our local community, we make it a habit to take the children with us every time. I believe that as we visit homes and centers representing a broad cross-section of people who haven’t had the best start in life, she has learned to be kind and inclusive. Nothing can top that ‘proud parent’ feeling and hearing little things like this are treasures to hold onto when my patience is thinning!” – Tim, Wisconsin

3. “Your Friends are Great”

“I’ve known my circle of friends for more than 20 years. We grew up together. We went to university together. We’ve had loads of good times. So when I met my wife, I was so excited to introduce her to them. It was a little weird at first. I think they were jealous that I started spending so much time with her. But they accepted her, and she accepted them, and that was that. Since they’re such a huge part of my life, I’d love her to let me know that she also enjoys their company. They love her. They tell me all the time how great they think she is. And I know she likes them, but I’d never get tired of hearing her say it. It’s a great compliment to be told you’ve surrounded yourself with good people.” – Billy, 43, West Cornwall, U.K.

4. “I’ve Always Trusted Your Decisions.”

“I wish my wife would tell me that, even if it’s occasional. Recently, my marriage has encountered a sharp turn and I have always had to make good decisions to keep us on the move. My partner has been complimenting me on a lot of things but have never heard her complimenting me on the decisions I make, which makes me feel like my decisions aren’t sitting well with her. I wish she could realize how much a compliment like that would energize me, and give me the self-confidence to trust myself more often.” – Alex, 35, California

5. “You’re a Great Cook.”

“Ever since the start of the pandemic, I have been working from home. As we adapted, I took on the responsibility of cooking for my family. I even enrolled in several cooking lessons in order to better my skills, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good. But my family hasn’t shown a great deal of appreciation for my hard work, and the food I make. I’m pretty sure I’m a good cook, because my coworkers always compliment me when I bring in leftovers, or dishes for them. have complimented me on them. So, I’d like to hear it from them, just to boost my feelings of appreciation.” – Craig, 38, Texas

7. “You Get More Patient Every Day.”

“Parenting is hard, no matter how natural it feels. As the son of a first grade teacher and a pediatrician, I have always been comfortable around children and love to interact, tell stories, play, create, and explore. But finding the time and patience to parent is not always easy while owning my own business, making exercise a priority, adding a role as a non-profit Executive Director, and being a supportive spouse. I don’t need reinforcement that I’m a good dad, or I’m fun, or funny. But the acknowledgement of how hard it is on our hectic days — especially as the three children/young adults get older, but still want us to help make decisions — would be great. If I am viewed truly as more patient, I know that translates to more supportive, more loving, and more fatherly.” – Ray, 53, Denver

 8. “You’re ‘Man Enough'”

“I always grew up wanting to be a masculine man. Ever since I was a kid, it was something important to me. To hear my wife say that would make my day. These days, almost every boy and man is in some way confronted by the challenge of not being masculine enough. I’ve always felt insecure about the issue, and not being ‘man enough’. So, hearing a compliment like that from the most important woman in my life would help me acknowledge and validate all of the efforts I’ve made over the years. I want to be a strong male role model for my wife and my kids, and hearing her tell me I’m doing a good job would make me feel strong and accomplished.” – Sumeet, 32, India

9. “You’re So Creative.”

“I have a lot of creative hobbies. I paint. I sculpt. I sketch. All of these are things I do to relax, but also because I’m really passionate about being creative. My wife does compliment what I do, but I often feel like she’s just saying things in passing. She doesn’t ask about my projects, or what inspires me, or anything below the surface. I try to take an interest in her hobbies by learning about them, and then complimenting her as genuinely and often as I can. And I guess I just don’t feel like that’s reciprocated. At least not in a way that makes me feel like she cares a ton about what I’m doing.” – Andy, 39, Pennsylvania 

10. “You Look Great.”

“I’ve been working really hard to lose weight and get healthy. And I’ve lost about 20 pounds since last year. My wife has noticed and encouraged me, but it feels obligatory. I want her to be attracted to me, and to tell me that. I’ve worked to get where I am for myself, but it’s also to get my body back to where it was when we met, fell in love, and constantly told each other how attracted we were to each other. I tell her all the time how great I think she looks, and I mean it. Now that I’ve gotten pretty close to my old self, I want to hear her compliment me on it. It would make me feel so great about the work I’ve put in and, more importantly, desired as a husband.” – Robert, 44, Florida

11. “I Believe in You”

“I’m not the most confident guy in the world. My wife knows this, and she’s very respectful of my oversensitivity. What would mean the most from her, though, is to hear she believes in me. I just switched careers, for example, and I’ve been incredibly anxious about it. It’s been such a stressful time, and I’m doing the best I can. I would love to hear her tell me she believes in me. Like grab me by the face, look me in the eyes, and just completely overdo it with reassurance. I know that’s incredibly needy, but it would go a long, long way in helping me feel like I can do this.” – Jim, 39, Ohio

12. “I Trust you, and I’m on Your Side. “

“I feel like I fight a lot of our battles alone. Like, recently, we had an issue with our neighbors that got pretty heated. Long-story-short, they were being assholes and I wanted to call them out on it. My wife didn’t want to start anything. I think she said, ‘Leave me out of it.’ And that happens a lot. Not just with neighbors, but when we have issues we need to face together. Hearing her say she’s on my side would be a compliment because it would make me feel like we’re both on the same team, and that she’s committed to our relationship in the face of that kind of ickiness.” – Christopher, 36, Indiana 

13. “You’re a Good Father.”

“So much of parenting is just winging it and hoping you’re doing the right thing. We have a new son, and I can’t even begin to describe how many days I just go to bed thinking. ‘What the actual ^$%* am I doing?’ My wife telling me that I’m doing a great job — or even a good job — would go such a long way in making me feel like I’m giving my kids a good life. I try to tell her all the time what a good mother I think she is. And sometimes I even ask her outright: ‘Am I doing a good job?’ I know it’s unrealistic to expect her to say it every second of every day, but once or twice a day would reassure me that I’m not screwing up all the time.” – Jon, 38, Maryland