To compliment is to offer a polite expression of praise or admiration. To covet is to yearn to have or possess something.
I’m going to give a valuable lesson in becoming a lady or gentleman. When you are preparing to offer a compliment, or if you receive one, you can tell the difference with one simple question: Is this polite?
While the word polite is completely subjective, for most well-developed human beings, deciding what is or is not polite is simple. If there is an offense taken, intentional or otherwise, it is no longer a compliment.
When speaking with a person about an object or feature, which they possess, there tends to be a little more wiggle room when it comes to covetous statements. “I would kill for Lauren’s eyelashes!” Statements of that nature tend to not be taken as covetous, but a simple compliment on Lauren’s eyelashes. I’m positive Lauren would not take offense.
Then there comes the statements about people. This is where it gets tricky. It is not uncommon for people to compliment people on their partner. It is a lovely thing to know that the partner whom you have chosen and has chosen you, is a good looking individual. Personally, I am proud when men and women have pointed out that The Man is a good looking person.
With that being said, when you begin speaking about someone’s partner as though they are a celebrity, or some random individual who waltzed into a bar, you are crossing a line. By addressing a person’s partner as though they are removed from their intimate position they hold, it becomes offensive.
It’s not an acceptable form of behavior at any age. This is blatantly disrespectful to the attractive person’s partner, in addition to being disrespectful to the attractive person. It is not acceptable to reduce a person to their physical features and then tell his or her partner how sexy and irresistible you find them. When you behave in such a manner, you have not only crossed the line from complimenting into coveting, you have blown that bad boy up with a hand grenade and rode into the endzone atop a unicorn, accompanied by glitter cannons.
If you feel the need to compliment someone on their partner’s looks, remember their intimate connection, and ask yourself: How would this statement that I’m out to make affect me if I were in this other person’s shoes?
Learning the difference can save many wasted moments of stress and heartache, and perhaps even a friendship.