A reader recently posed a question I would like to share with the community: Is there a right vs. wrong way to compliment a curvy woman?
I met a really attractive and intelligent woman at a party a few weeks ago. It was a public event at a museum. She was a columnist in her early thirties (I'm 27) and seemed very educated and sophisticated. She had classic curves - large bust & butt, narrow waist, shapely legs, etc., but not what I would consider "overweight," and was wearing an outfit that really flattered her figure. We had been talking for about a half hour and really seemed to develop a great rapport. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.
Then, things suddenly went downhill. There was a pause in the conversation and I commented that she had a “really nice, hourglass figure”. I thought she would take it as a compliment but instead she became deeply offended. She said, "Excuse me? Why are you talking about my figure?" I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but I think I only exacerbated things as she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She told me I was being "inappropriate" and with a look of complete disgust, WHAP!, she slapped my face and departed.
As I stood there alone rubbing my cheek, I was trying to figure out why she was so upset. It seemed like a harmless comment to me but maybe I don't understand women as well I should. I do have her email address. Do you think I should send her an apology note or should I interpret the slap in the face as a definitive way of saying she wants no further contact?
-Red-faced & Confused
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Glad you found me and thank you for sharing your story. First off, as a general rule of thumb, proceed with extreme tact and caution whenever you comment on a woman's figure. Most woman have dealt with some form of body image issues in her past and chances are, a degree of self-consciousness and self-loathing are still present in her everyday thoughts. Women are constantly comparing themselves to other women around us, and even a model will confess to have body insecurities whether or not they are justified. When in the presence of women, please try to divert the focus of the conversation to her talents, her interests, and all the great things she as a person can offer others. The type of woman I assume you are after likes to be appreciated and recognized for her abilities and what she can bring to the table rather than her physical attributes.
I don't think your comment was that inappropriate, however, but it does reveal some news that may not play in your favor: If a woman does not respond positively to something you said about her physical features, then she is most likely not interested in you as a romantic partner. What you said should have been very complimentary to the woman that is seeking it, but she wasn't and probably saw it as an unsolicited advance. The slap was completely uncalled for and also serves as an indicator of what you have in store for you in the future should you establish a romantic relationship with the woman. She is moody, defensive, and probably still dealing with some insecurities that you do not want to be a part of. A truly sophisticated woman may have said something about not appreciating your curvy figure woman comment (if it triggered something unpleasant for her) but would not have physically repelled you.
That said, I do believe in always moving forward with the best attitude possible so I think it would be a nice gesture of you to send her a follow-up email. Keep it short and professional and acknowledge that you regret having had said anything that could have possibly offended her. Don't expect her to write anything back but at least the ball is now in her court and you can wipe your hands clean from this experience.
Lessons to learn from this are: Education and "sophistication" are no indicators of how a woman will respond in a situation that rubbed her the wrong way, avoid pointing out a distinguished feature on a woman (even if you are trying to pay her a compliment) until you are well past the point of just meeting her, and focus on keeping the conversation on her non-physical assets. The best part of this is while the woman wasn't completely wrong in finding your comment inappropriate, she certainly didn't have to wig out over it so see it this way: You averted courting a hypersensitive and possibly high-maintenance woman. No matter how sexy her hourglass curves may be, they can't be sexy enough to have you constantly worrying about accidentally offending her.
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Have any insight to add?