If dating apps have taught us anything, it’s that men suck at communicating with women. (Not that women are always that adept either, but that’s an issue for another day.) Whether they open with a Googled pickup line or an unsolicited image of their junk, many women have taken a vow to avoid dating apps at all costs.

But there’s good news. New research from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China studied 116 straight women’s preferences in men, the variable was how he complimented her.

“We tend to form very rapid impressions about a person’s attractiveness in social contexts and thus for women, cues from language usage during initial encounters may provide a rapid first assessment of a potential mate’s intellectual and creative abilities,” the authors of the study explained.

Subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of 140 men based on their appearance as well as the compliment that accompanied the picture. These women were told that the man pictured had written the compliment after he was asked to imagine a first visit to a future girlfriend’s place. The key bit here is that the compliments were issued using literal or metaphorical language.

Men who were more creative in their compliments were often viewed as more attractive and intelligent than men who were literal. An example of a good compliment (a word I use loosely–you’ll see why) was “Your eyes are a gorgeous rainbow.” An example of a bad compliment was “Your lips are sexy.” See the difference? Although it’s fair to say the vast majority of us do want “sexy lips.”

Just be careful of what you say. Research reported by The Telegraph found that only half of women take compliments well, as many view these verbal affirmations as “backhanded.“ The best compliment, according to the survey of other 2,000 participants, is to compliment how thin she looks or that she looks–and I quote–“thinner than normal”. Are we sure about this? Anything weight-related sounds like trouble.

Anyways, the second best compliment, according to 40 percent of the survey, was to comment on her gorgeous smile. Some no-nos? Any comments referencing “large features,” anything makeup-related or comments that an outfit is figure-hugging.

Instead of developing my own conclusion, I’m going to leave this duty to a spokesman for the dental company who commissioned the research: “The study suggests women only get one compliment from their partners each day – and it is easy to understand why,” they begin. “Most men probably live in fear of getting it wrong, so don’t bother trying to be nice.”

Actually, scratch that. That’s terrible advice. Instead, just be careful who you compliment–a tip: they usually don’t mesh well with strangers–and be careful what you compliment. Honestly, just stay away from the word “big” altogether. Even when it’s intended as a positive, research proves time and time again that this kind of thing rarely goes well.