Deciphering Compliments from Female Flattery

In Thoughts on February 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

It’s like a guy telling you he really cares about you for the first time… you either know somewhere deep within that he’s telling the honest truth or you have a nagging reservation that he’s telling you what you want to hear (maybe even need to hear) in order to get on your good side.

There are compliments and then there’s flattery. Compliments are an expression of praise, accommodation or admiration. Flattery, on the other hand, is excessive or insincere praise, accommodation or admiration. Figuring out which one we’re a victim to is often an almost impossible task.

So, while I was prepping myself for a cocktail party in the locker room last week, no less than 3 ladies turned to me and said, “Oh my gosh, I love your dress!”. It was then up to me to determine whether I believed all (if any) of these ladies’ compliments or questioned their sincerity.

The trouble with knowing whether to believe a comment is compliment or flattery is that we’re all familiar with using flattery in the guise of a compliment and it forces us to wonder how often others do the same thing back to us! It’s like lying by omission. When I put on my disco-ball stilettos and heard, “I love your shoes!” I wondered whether it was truth or her lying by omitting the latter half of her thought, “I love your shoes… because they’re so out of control you look like a fool, which makes me look even better standing next to you.” When a guy tells you, “You’re beautiful.” you have to wonder whether he thinks you’re beautiful, period… or whether he thinks your beautiful when he thinks you might sleep with him.

Perhaps one of my most recent run-ins with a compliment that may have been flattery in sheeps-skin was that of a girl who said a string of things throughout the evening ending with, “You’re the prettiest girl in the room.” Seriously, what do you do with that?! Who says that!?

When I’m in the locker room I tell people when I like their shoes. I tell girls when I think they’re beautiful (and it usually catches them really off guard). I try my best not to keep a compliment inside because I’m shy or wishing they’d compliment me first.

It didn’t take me long to realize that girls who don’t talk to me will do so if I take the initiative to compliment them first. Tell a girl you think her hair is cute (and mean it) and she’ll be your best friend for the next hour. (The implications of that statement on the power men have over us is scary, but that’s another conversation in itself.)

I went into the locker room the other day to change into a cocktail dress and intense red lipstick for a party and didn’t get the reaction I’d expected. More girls spoke to me during that hour of preparation than the entire two hours I usually spend at the gym! Were they sincere compliments? Were they filling me with bullshit comments because I was the person to get close to at the moment? I don’t know… but I do know that I refuse to put myself in a situation where people would question whether what I say is true. I don’t want to flatter people to their face and gossip behind their back, slowly becoming insincere in everyone’s eyes but my own.


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