A Question For The Ladies

A quick disclaimer: I’m not asking this to try and be mean, or make anyone feel bad, or anything, I’m just curious. I just want to know why this happens, and that’s even if anyone knows the answer.


Why is it that a man can’t tell a woman that she looks good without the woman belittling it in some way? I’m almost 35 years old and I can’t remember a single time that I told a woman she looked good and the woman didn’t say something to the effect of, “Yeah, right,” or, “Whatever,” or “You’re only saying that because you’re my husband/relative/friend”.

Is there some reason for this? I don’t get it. I’m also trying to avoid this later in life. I’m dreading the day that Baby E will do this to me. It will break my heart to hear her say, “Yeah, right. You’re only telling me I’m pretty cause you’re my dad.”

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68 comments on “A Question For The Ladies

  1. personally, it’s because I have next to no self esteem, so most times I don’t believe you. Other times, sure I’ll take the compliment, unless I think you’re trying to get something from me.

    • I can’t speak for every guy, but when I tell a woman that they look good, I mean it. I don’t do the ‘lying to make you feel better’ thing. So, when I say that, and the woman dismisses it, she’s basically saying that I’m either a liar, or I don’t know what I’m talking about. Either way it’s kind of a slap in my face.

      • One day I may tell you about all of my past relationships with guys as they’ve been, well, how to phrase this. Psychos, a stalker( ok that one wasn’t relationship but was an experience) JERK, pathological liar. Those fun types. Plus a sister who has told me my entire life that I’m basically worthless, so I become Leary, no not like Dennis, and am not sure how to take compliments. I don’t even take the “bravos” that my work hands out. It’s a job, it’s what I’m suppose to do.

  2. merbear74 says:

    I agree with Alice. It has much to do with a lack of self esteem.

  3. stephrogers says:

    Yep. Not Quite Alice has it in a nutshell. It’s because deep down we don’t believe it.

    • Not saying that you’re like this, but I’ve known quite a few women in my life that have constantly complained that their significant other never compliments them, but then does the dismissing thing when they do get complimented. Why should their significant other bother complimenting them if the woman is just going to write it off as nothing when they do?

  4. Mr. Atheist says:

    I am going to stay right here until I get an answer too!

  5. 1jaded1 says:

    Alice has it spot on. I’m going to add that when you are put down by a comment, it is so much more difficult to believe the good stuph.

    • AR Neal says:

      NQAlice and 1Jaded summed it up. For me (and I have a counseling degree, mind you, so I have analyzed myself…) it goes back to being called ugly by a male family member who, prior to that moment, I had idolized. Then, getting picked on in school, and on and on. And I still struggle with all that rubbish and I’m old now…

      • From birth till now, roughly 30 years, I had a sister putting me down nonstop, so grew up thinking I’m worthless, dumb, ugly, not wanted. Lots of work to get this far. Besides I have this thing about an iq that proves her dead wrong. But don’t tell anyone, I like the brains to be a surprise.

      • I guess I’m just different in that I don’t care what most other people think. There are very few people whose opinion matters to me. Plus, I tend to dismiss the insults instead of the compliments. Judging from the comments I’ve received on this post, I’m starting to look like a freak of nature.

    • 1jaded1 says:

      Night.

  6. Sofia Leo says:

    There are a lot of men out there who will compliment a woman in the hope of getting something back later. Some of us have been around assholes like that long enough that compliments = requests for sex, no matter the context. Conditioning.

    It’s also a way of belittling a woman if you work in a traditionally male dominated industry – “Surely someone who looks as good as you didn’t really do this complicated engineering job…” After awhile it becomes difficult to stop and listen for sincerity.

  7. rarasaur says:

    I’m not sure if it’s any different than TD’s post about compliment acceptance. Male or female, compliment about looks or compliment about writing… it’s all the same. Most people struggle with gracious acceptance of nice words. πŸ™‚

    For me, too, it also depends on the context. I think I said thank you to your recent compliment, but I don’t remember… still, I feel like when you post a picture of yourself just out of the blue like I did, the expected answer is “Awww, you’re so pretty” or some variation of such. It’s like when someone shows you a pic of their kid. You’re supposed to give compliments… and thus, I don’t take them that seriously. Which is ridiculous of course, because when I give a compliment like that, it’s always sincere.

    And now that I’ve finished writing all that, I think it’s nearly exactly what I wrote in response to TD’s compliment post, so I’ll once again refer to that, haha! πŸ˜€

    • You have a point Rara, me (not a woman lol) don’t do good with compliments, usually play deaf when I get them or simply say thanks.

    • Yes, Rara, you were indeed gracious while accepting my compliment, although you did feel the need to say that you should have put on makeup before you took the picture (You do not need makeup, my dinosaur friend). Even though that last sentence, and what I commented in your post are innocent enough compliments, a month or two ago, I wouldn’t have said them. Not because I don’t mean them, but I would have worried about how you would take them.
      As Sofia Leo said, a lot of guys compliment women just as a way to buttering women up or “getting something in return”. As a guy who doesn’t do this, it kind of makes me gunshy to compliment women unless I know them fairly well. While I wouldn’t say that we’re best friends or anything, we’ve had enough back-and-forth that I felt confident that you wouldn’t read those compliments and think I was hitting on you.
      I don’t know. I guess all I’m really trying to say is that sometimes, as a guy, it feels like a no-win situation.

      • rarasaur says:

        Ah, thanks, but no one really needs makeup. It just takes us from ordinary to fabulous. Just ask Le Clown. πŸ˜‰

        I get the no-win situation feeling, but I really do think it’s the same for girls, too. I’m always a little gunshy about hugs and compliments because… who knows what that looks like or feels like on the receiving end. At the end of the day, though, I can only try to be honest, and to not be creepy, and hope that those two things cover up any awkwardness. πŸ˜€

        As for your daughter, well, if she hears sincerity in your compliments to others, she’ll believe it when those compliments are turned on her. I’ve always trusted my dad’s compliments because he’s a honest guy, simple. πŸ™‚

  8. Katie says:

    Well, my personal thing with compliments is either a) I don’t believe them or b) they’re not good enough for me. As an insecure perfectionist, pretty much any man or really any one at ALL giving me compliments is doomed.

  9. As always these things run deep and usually go back to childhood. A simple “thank you” would be a better response, but she would have to believe it.
    If you don’t want that from Baby E two things have to happen. She can never hear her mother beating herself down over her outward appearance and she needs to be confident in who she is…this is very difficult, especially today when there is so much focus on looks for girls. I have a daughter too and it’s not easy.

    • I will definately try my hardest to make sure I never hear her say that. I just wish this society didn’t make it hard for women/girls to know how truly beautiful they really are.

  10. sortaginger says:

    Personally, lack of self esteem and being hurt by backhanded compliments. I don’t know if someone is being sincere, sarcastic or fishing for one themselves.

    I am trying to make better decisions about my friendships and ending toxic situations so that I don’t have to second-guess things. It’s just a hard habit to break.

  11. The Hook says:

    Women – and people in general- are neurotic and don’t respond well to compliments. And the ones that do aren’t worth complimenting in the first place!

  12. MissFourEyes says:

    I guess some are trying to be modest, some really are that modest. It all really does come down to self-esteem issues, like everyone else has already said. I’ll probably say thank you, but it’ll take a lot for me to actually believe it. I’ll keep thinking “What does he/she REALLY mean?”

    • Depending on the person, obviously, but even if they don’t mean it, isn’t the effort they put forth in offering up the compliment worth something? Like I said, though, it also depends on the person.

  13. TammyeHoney says:

    If I have a day that I look like the cats dragged me in my hubby says so…if I have on an outfit he likes he also says so… It is something about self esteem… Not all women get defensive…I think Baby C is going to be fine with compliments.

  14. goldfish says:

    Self-esteem and societal female public image. We’ve all had it drummed into our heads from little lasses that genuinely accepting compliments is smug and supercilious.

    I, on the other hand, just say thanks. πŸ˜‰

  15. I think we shall start a group. What are compliments and how should you respond.

  16. EagleAye says:

    It might also be a way of encouraging more compliments. I mean if someone tells you something and you say in so many words you don’t believe it, they’ll try to back up their point with proof (i.e., more compliments). Your side of the game is to just say more nice things. It’s like the old joke when the lovely lady says, “oh stop…” and then encourages,”no don’t. Keep going.”

    • A guy at work says that his wife does that and I don’t get it. If you have to ask for them, it seems like it would kind of diminish them.

      • EagleAye says:

        I think that’s the key to the whole game. It doesn’t *seem* like asking for them at all. If fact it’s *apparently* doing the opposite. So a lady cannot be accused of asking for a compliment, when in fact that’s exactly what she’s doing. It’s feminine logic, and that is often difficult for us men to grasp.

  17. Jo says:

    Mostly we love compliments and love hearing them and you men have no idea how much it means when you affirm that you think we look good, have done something good etc. However, we are embarrassed by them and well for me I feel if I just say ‘thank you’ that implies that I also think I look good and no woman really want’s anyone to think they think that. Stupid isn’t it. It is as other people have said to do with our lack of self esteem. However, never stop telling the woman in your life that they matter, look good, smell good, have done something that makes you think they are wonderful because that really does matter. πŸ™‚

    • I can’t speak for the rest of the guys out there, but I don’t think that when a woman says thank you to a compliment, she’s saying she agrees with it. I think she’s just saying thank you.
      And I have no plans to ever stop telling my wife and daughter how beautiful and wonderful they are.

  18. El Guapo says:

    Are you saying this to women you know, or random women in bars or on the street?

  19. I wish this was something I could help you with, but I don’t think that it’s within my power. All I can do is say that I hope that you soon discover how wonderful you are.

  20. Lady Lovely says:

    Well, an interesting comment thread. As a female, I don’t do this. If someone takes the time to compliment me, I’m very appreciative. The compliments don’t happen too often. It’s a stigma these days, that men don’t court women enough. Chivarly is dead. If more people complimented each other, women and men alike, would start to believe it’s true. I agree it has to do with self-esteem on the female part, but if the man is complimenting you, that should boost your self-esteem no? That’s just my humble opinion.

  21. Elyse says:

    I agree with Hook. It is difficult for most people to accept compliments (Twin Daddy wrote a post on that not long ago). Teach her to smile and say thank you.

    It is true that some people compliment others simply because it’s something to say — young girls do that all the time, or at least I did.

  22. It is relating to self-esteem. And also how much a woman has been told she looks good from a young age. If someone is regularly praised on their appearance, then they learn to take the compliment. However, if someone is regularly ignored or negatively compared to others, then they can’t learn how to take the compliment and will do down the gesture.

    It kind of sucks, and the worst is when kids go to school, particularly high school, where appearances suddenly start to matter.

  23. purplemary54 says:

    We’re taught to be that way. We have to fix ourselves up so that we look great, but we’re not supposed to acknowledge that we look great. Also, unless they are really well known to us, men giving compliments are seriously creepy.

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