Double-Edged Compliments

You know, sometimes the nicest thing is a compliment from a stranger.

Honestly, you expect your husband, your sister, parents, best friends, employees, lunch buddies, etc., to compliment you on a regular basis… well, just because you’re AWESOME and it’s only reasonable. It’s extra cool, though, when someone you don’t know, or don’t know well, has something nice to say to or about you.

But, there are some times when you get this random feedback and just think:

Because, while something may sound complimentary at first blush, is it really, people? Is it really?

To prove this point, I shall give you examples:

Example 1: Twitter conversation

Me: “I’m much more attractive now than I was in college.”

Former college classmate: “I don’t see how that’s possible.”

Okay, do you see what I mean. At first, that sounds complimentary, right? Like, oh, you were already super, earth-scorchingly good-looking in those days and nothing has changed. OR [ dun, dun, dun….ominous music ], does it mean, “Um, no. That’s about as likely as the Chudley Cannons winning the League. Or, you know, Johnny Timebomb being an upstanding moral citizen who’ll be a success in the NFL” (sorry – have to get those jabs in where ever possible). In other words:

Example #2: At a conference

“This is totally platonic, but your Twitter picture is really beautiful.”

At first, I was EXTREMELY flattered by this one. In fact, I might have laughed and used the term “selfie” (gag), and immediately texted my husband and said, “Hey, guess what this guy just said to me? You’re going to need to up your compliment game” (to which he replied with a Game of Thrones valyrian steel reference which just proves why I LOVE him).

But THEN, I thought about it. And, I’m a human, sitting here across the table from you. So, you mean my Twitter picture is beautiful and I, like the Ohio State football program, just can’t live up to the hype? Hmm….the next comment is why I had to take pause and contemplate this one because….

Example #3:

A first face-to-face meeting: “Uh yeah – you don’t look anything like your Facebook photo.”


So, this comment kind of reinforced the negative side of Example #2 (and made me super grouchy and grudgy – and I don’t forget these kinds of things. The Tate remembers.). However, I will point out that Example #1 and Example #2 were male and Example #3 was female, so the positive side of this could be that … she must be blind. Obviously.

Example #4:

“Wow – you look just like Janeane Garafalo.”

“Has anyone told you that you look like Janeane Garafalo?”

This has happened to me on two distinct occassions, and public service announcement: This is not a compliment (sidebar: just in case I ever get famous and Janeane reads my blog, I am not dissing you. You are not an unattractive human. Bear with me). I do not want to be told that I look like a celebrity. Not Janeane Garafolo. Not Winona Ryder. Basically, no one from any really awesome 90s movies. I only want to look like myself, unless you’re planning on comparing me to anyone that’s really really ridiculously good-looking like Elizabeth Taylor (which I have been told three times and have meticulously recorded so it’s currently washing out the Janeane-ish-ness) or something. Or to Kate Middleton (that sounds like a double-edged compliment itself, but it’s not).

Oh, here’s one more…. one time this guy with extremely short shorts and a very-haiiiii kind of voice stopped me to say, “Wow, your eyes are crazy gorgeous.” And then he turned to my husband and said, “And so are yours.” And winked. So, in conclusion, complimenting me as a segue to hit on my husband – also double-edged, also not cool.

So, there’s what I think about that. What’s the weirdest compliment you’ve ever gotten?


7 thoughts on “Double-Edged Compliments

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  1. Bwhahaha I love this. I was talking about a similar issue with a coworker the other day, when people say things that you initially take as joke and then afterward wonder if they were really joking. Like “


  2. Bwhahaha! I was talking with a coworker the other day about a similar issue: The joking comment that you later wonder if it was actually NOT a joke and they were being serious. The worst.


  3. Inconceivable!
    In similar news, we were at brunch in Little Rock once (only describing in case it was a regional thing) and our waiter told us we’ll have beautiful babies……why? because of my husband’s beautiful eyes. Seriously?! I don’t even get a little – ‘Nice shirt.’ or something? So, the question is – is a double-edged compliment better than none (when your husband is getting all of the glitter)?!


  4. So, sometimes I have shower-conversations with people I hate and one of my favorite things is to come up with seemingly nice, but actually kind of bitchy “compliments”.

    I’d never say them out loud, but it’s so satisfying to come up with these awful things to say to people. (I’m a horrible person when no one else is listening.)


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