Imagine every morning giving your girlfriend the same compliment -- "Honey, that's a fabulous outfit!" Although the first time she may glow with appreciation, over the next several days she would not only come to expect the compliment, but start to wonder whether you are really being genuine. After all, every outfit can't be just as fabulous, right? The key to choosing the right frequency with which to dole out compliments is to make sure they are all honest and original.
Everything in Moderation
In an article for "Psychology Today," psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne argues that compliments lose their punch when they are given too often. The more you give them, the less they mean. When compliments are nonstop, they start to seem insincere and not well thought out. Dating coach Rebecca Dakin, author of "Why Too Many Compliments to Women Don't Work," agrees, saying that giving compliments too often can make you seem needy, desperate and lacking confidence -- whether it's true or not. Instead, giving less frequent, but always thoughtful, compliments makes you appear self-assured, assertive and stable.
Assess the Goal
When deciding how often to compliment your girlfriend, consider the reasons behind the compliments. According to the University of Minnesota article "American Compliments," we give others praise for a variety of reasons, including to express admiration, to soften criticism or preface requests and to reinforce positive behavior. If the majority of the compliments that you bestow on your girlfriend are designed to manipulate her behavior, it would be a good idea to cut back. If, on the other hand, your compliments are genuine expressions of your admiration, you needn't worry too much about frequency -- unless you are being overly sappy.
Types of Compliments
According to the same article from the University of Minnesota, the most common types of compliments are about appearance or possessions, followed by abilities -- least common are compliments about personality. If you really want to hit the mark, offer your girlfriend a larger proportion of compliments about her personal attributes. Since she has probably heard these less often, you can get away with complimenting her more.
Above all else, be genuine with your compliments, and you can worry less about how often you give them. If you find yourself speechless as she enters the room in a new outfit -- tell her. If her humor made you smile on a particularly difficult day, let her know. Stop keeping track of the number of compliments you dish out each day, and focus on the quality of the compliment -- in the end, that is what really matters.
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Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.
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