Receiving compliments always feels good but sometimes they can feel flirty rather than friendly. Often innocent and friendly compliments are mistaken as flirting, which can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations. There is a very fine line between complimenting and flirting. The confusion has created awkward situations, ruined friendships, and even relationships.
You can be having a friendly conversation with a neighbor and your partner may assume you are flirting with them or they are flirting with you.
An innocent compliment from a good-looking friend can leave confused for days.
Or a friend might start avoiding you after you gave them a compliment that they mistook as flirting.
In-office settings such confusion can even mean a harassment case.
This is why irrespective of the fact that you are at the giving end or receiving end, you need to be very careful about differentiating between compliments and flirting in your communication.
Compliments are general while flirting is more in-depth and personal. For example, “that’s a nice blue shirt” is a compliment, and “blue makes your eyes pop-out” is flirting. That is easy. However what if they say “blue looks really good on you”? Is it a friendly compliment or flirting? Honestly, it can be both, it all depends upon context, tone and some other factors.
This means what kind of social situation you are in.
How close are you with them? If you share updates about each other’s personal life it is more likely that it is an innocent compliment and nothing more.
Were you alone or in the company of other people? Because most people will not flirt in the presence of other people unless they are super bold. However, if you have people around you but the other person is acting as if you are the only person there with them, this is a bold flirtatious move. Flirts are usually very focused on the person they are trying to attract.
Have they complimented you before? If they haven’t and this was out of blue it could be an attempt at flirting.
How frequently they compliment other people, because some people are generally very friendly and casually compliment others frequently.
What is the scenario? Are you just stepping out of an official meeting and they appreciated your input in the meeting followed by “blue looks really good on you”. This could be a genuine compliment. However if you have just arrived at the office and they handed you a cup of coffee followed by “blue looks really good on you” they are probably trying to flirt.
When giving out genuine compliments people have a casual tone. While flirting people emphasise on their words and space the sentence apart to create the impact of words. This is an easy give away for differentiating between friendly compliment and flirty.
4. Eye contact
When flirting people make prolonged eye contact for the same reason that they space their words. They want to create and impact. They will frequently make eye contacts and give you a smile. This is an attempt to hold your attention longer than a casual compliment can.
5. Physical touch
If they touched you on your hand, shoulder, cheek or back it is more likely than not that their intentions were flirtatious. The other person is trying to indicate they will like to take things further from casual and friendly. If you are uncomfortable with it, you are in your right because physical contact without consent is crossing personal boundaries. If this made you uncomfortable you can express it to them directly. If in office settings you can report to HR.
If these pointers helped you better understand differences between genuine compliments and flirting, do not forget to share it with your friends to help them understand too. After all, complimenting is an art.