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You liked the way she looks so you felt the need to tell her. Think about where that need stems from: You liked the way she looked. You thought she wanted to know. You felt the need to tell her what you think. You think compliments are always innocent or good manners. You think a man should compliment a woman or that women should be complimented in whatever way you see fit. Sounds like a personal problem, doesn’t it? Think about it.

There’s nothing selfless about complimenting somebody. Men (and women too) tend to “compliment” women under the following circumstances:

The “innocent compliment”:

  • I think you look good/attractive/nice/pretty and I wanted to let you know.
  • Its good manners to tell someone they look nice.
  • To show casual approval of someone’s existence.

Power:

  • I can get a smile out of her for my own gratification.
  • I can make “ugly women” feel good.
  • I have thoughts about her body that I want to share. Because my opinion is necessary/valid everywhere I go.

Pity/Power/Nice GuyTM:

  • She looks upset/she’s ugly, I bet no one ever tells her she looks pretty, so I will.
  • I was just trying to do a nice thing by complimenting her.
  • *Trying to get a date/sex/attention/(male/ego) gratification, offers compliment to get conversation going or get the required feeling and reaction you want out of her*
  • I don’t want to deal with who she is as a person or what she’s going through, so making her smile or hearing her say thank you for my compliment will make me feel more comfortable.

Right, you don’t know what she’s going through, who she is, or how she will react.  She’s not a painting in the fucking Louvre, so unwanted compliments can be objectifying as well and fall under street harassment.

As someone who gets unwanted opinions about my body/appearance all the time, I can tell you to never assume compliments/comments are wanted unless they are asked for. Oh how I wish I could get attention when I want it instead of only when someone else offers it!

Your opinion about a complete stranger’s body is always unasked for, which means they didn’t ask for it. Does that mean you don’t offer a compliment if you feel one coming on? No. It just means you need to be aware and accept the reality that everything is not about you and that person may not want to know what you’re thinking about them. Additionally, people don’t always care what you’re thinking about them.

At the end of the day, your compliment is an opinion. As an opinion it is sometimes unwanted and unnecessary, even if its intended to be a gesture of politeness. So don’t act like you deserve a smile and a thank you for offering it, or like you just saved the day of every woman you come across by letting them know you like the way they look.

If you offer a compliment (read as OPINION) and find out that she doesn’t want it, apologize and move on. As long as you remember that your thoughts on this person may not be wanted BEFORE you open your mouth, you should be fine. Be humble.

Read the initial commentary, since this article is in reaction to this post.

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