Fatherly

13 Compliments That Women Actually Want to Hear

The right compliment goes a long way. We asked 13 women about the ones they'd like to receive more often.

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Oct 04 2021, 6:32 PM

Compliments — thoughtful compliments, that is — are powerful things. They indicate to others that you take notice, that you identify the effort that has been put into something or a particular talent they have. When you deliver one, it makes a person feel seen and appreciated. As husbands and partners, it’s crucial to deliver compliments to your wife, to make it clear that, yes, you saw that hard work, or noticed a change, and wanted to make sure she knew.

The best compliments for women, much like the best compliments for men, are defined by their specificity. Saying, “Great work with the kids this morning” is one thing; saying “The way you handled that tantrum this morning was so great. You’re such a good mom.” is another completely.

So what kind words do women want? We asked a variety of women to tell us the compliment they want to hear from their partners more often. Chances are your partner will appreciate hearing something along these lines. Here’s what they said.

1. “I love the way you think.”

“I come from an Asian family but spent a large chunk of my life in Canada. It’s one thing to agree or disagree with one’s opinions, it’s another to recognize that the way someone thinks is unique to them and appreciate their point of view and character. Growing up, I used to shy away from expressing my opinions too much to avoid confrontation. But having someone who matters to you tell you that they appreciate your way of thinking shows that they are willing to know you on a deeper level and would help me be more comfortable expressing the full spectrum of my emotions in front of them.” – June, 25, East Asia

2. “You’re a great mom.”

“It would be a dream-come-true if my husband would tell me that I’m doing a great job as a mom. I know that he thinks I am, but it means a lot to actually hear it. It’s not easy to balance being a business owner and being a patient, caring, and attentive mom to a 5 year old. Most days, I feel like I fail pretty miserably. I realize I could compliment him more for the same things. It’s hard when both of us are doing so much. My child doesn’t dole out compliments, which is why I crave more positive feedback from the only other person who sees just how hard I work.” – Becky, 46, Missouri

3. “We’re proud of you.”

“I’m a lesbian mother of two. I’m self-employed, and I’m a very driven person. I’m always trying to better myself. I would love to hear the people I love say that they’re proud of my accomplishments. My parents rarely said anything like that growing up, and my partner doesn’t really shower me with praise or compliments now. And that’s okay. It would just be nice to know that I’m seen, and recognized, as someone who’s accomplished some great things. One day, when they’re mature enough to understand, I hope my kids will say it, too. That would be an amazing thing to hear.” – Gina, 40, California

4. “Thank you.”

“I know that’s not a typical compliment, but I take it to mean that my roles in my family are recognized and appreciated. I work. I run the house. I organize everything for our two teenage children. I understand these responsibilities are part of my role as a wife and mother, but hearing a ‘Thank you’ for…whatever…would make everything so worth it. I know my husband appreciates all that I do. But, again, hearing it instead of assuming it makes a big difference in how I feel. I want to know that my contributions are valued, thought about, and noticed. That would be the best compliment of all.” – Alison, 49, London, UK

5. “I love your drive.”

“Growing up, I played sports, and hung out with friends. I was smart, but I don’t feel like it was ever really noticed. As an adult, I’ve excelled in my role as a project manager for a big corporation. I am also working on many side hustles, and I get understandably overwhelmed due to all the stress that comes with running a business. I think my partner recognizes how hard I work, but he doesn’t communicate that with me. I would like to hear how much he appreciates all the things I do and how I work hard to make our future better. People tell me about how strong I am and how nothing ever brings me down. I am always the one that uplifts people and listens to their problems, and I am the one that people think I got it all together, but In reality, I do not. People like me also need encouragement and a support system. We need the world to tell us how hard we work, too.” – Trysta, 31, Georgia 

6. “You’re so good at remembering.”

“I kind of have a way of always remembering little things. Big things, too. And stuff that happened a long time ago. If someone did something for me ten years ago, more than likely I will never forget it and will acknowledge it too. I remember who helped me the day of my wedding. I remember who stood up for me in school. I remember birthdays. There are individuals who I remember and acknowledge their special day in some manner every year despite them never, ever remembering mine. So, I would like them to say, ‘Thank you for remembering.’ I’d love to know that I make them feel special by remembering them, and never forgetting those important things.” – Chantay, 44, California

7. “Your best is enough.”

“Growing up, I strived to meet my parents’ approval. I got a good education. I stayed fit and made my living as a successful model. But they never told me the one thing I needed to hear the most. I’ve realized it’s the same void from my romantic partners. I need to know that I am enough. I want to hear that I’m worthy. Not when I’m in a cocktail dress at a fancy event — I need to hear him say it when I wake up in the morning and my hair is a mess. I need to hear him say it when I’m exhausted after a long week, when the house is a disaster and the dog throws up. Tell me I’m enough, that my best is enough, that my failures still make me enough. To me, that’s love.” – Kathy. Sarasota, 43, Florida

 8. “You’re such a badass.”

“As women, I feel like we fall back on ‘You look great’ as a default compliment we don’t hear enough. I don’t mind being told that, but I’d much rather hear my husband tell me what a badass I am. Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t give up trying to fix a broken faucet. Or maybe it’s because I stood up for myself at work. I think it’s just a rare thing for a husband — any husband — to see his wife as a badass. But a compliment like that would go a long, long way with me, and truly boost my confidence for the long haul.” – Michelle, 37, Pennsylvania 

9. “You make me laugh.”

“It’s almost impossible to make my husband laugh. He thinks things are funny, but it’s very rare for him to just break out in a fit of laughter. The first time I saw it was Borat. I think the most recent time I saw it was when he kicked off football season by rewatching the Key & Peele sketch where they do all the football names. Every now and then, though, I make him genuinely laugh. I feel like we have the same sense of humor, he’s just a tough nut to crack. I love his/our sense of humor, so hearing him say I make him laugh would be a big high for me. Knowing he thinks I’m funny makes me believe he genuinely enjoys my company, and I love that feeling.” – Christine, 40, New York

10. “I like you.”

“My husband and I love each other. But, do we like each other? Sometimes I’m not so sure. It goes both ways, of course, but I feel like hearing my husband say, ‘I like you’ would mean way more than the ‘I love you’ we both say when we’re hurrying out the door, or racing to run errands. ‘I love you’ seems almost like an obligation. But, ‘I like you’ seems genuine. There’s something about me — maybe more than one thing — that he likes. It’s the simplicity, too. Like back in school, ‘liking’ someone was so pure and easy. Love wasn’t really a thing. But if you liked someone, then you liked everything about that person. I’d like to be liked.” – Alli, 33, Ohio 

11. “You don’t give up.”

“I got fired and laid off from several jobs while my husband and I were dating. He stuck with me, and helped me through a lot of tough times. I just finished getting my masters, and I’m finally in a place where I feel like I’ve succeeded. So I’d love him to acknowledge the fact that I never, ever gave up. I wanted to. And, like I said, he was there to help and encourage me. But, ultimately, I got where I am because I worked hard, stayed focused, and didn’t quit. I never thought something like that would matter to me, but I think it would fill me with pride to hear him express how impressed he is with where I am now, versus where I used to be.” – MacKayla, 39, Indiana 

12. “You’ve taught me so much.”

“I talk way more than my husband. He processes things internally, and I’m the opposite. So whenever he has a problem, when he’s ready, I’ll be the first one to start discussing it with him. Usually the problem gets solved, one way or another, which I guess is a win. But I’d love to hear him say that I’ve actually made sense to him. That my words have helped him grow, or change for the better. I don’t want to talk at him, I want to talk with him. I want us to evolve together as a couple, and it would mean a lot to know that the advice and encouragement I’ve given him has stuck with him all these years.” – Mary, 46, Florida

13. “You’re my person.”

“This is something we used to say to each other when we first started dating, and began realizing we had a future together. We don’t say it a lot anymore. He was the first one to say it all those years ago, and it was so touching, cute, and romantic. I’ll never forget how amazing it felt to be someone’s ‘person’. Not his wife. Not his partner. Not his soulmate. His person. It made me giddy, really. It was just such a unique way to say all of the things we love about each other at once. I really think it’s the best compliment I’ve ever received, because it makes me feel like I’m the center of his universe. I wish he said it more often, because it makes me smile as big as it did the first time I heard it.” – Lynn, 35, North Carolina