Backhanded Compliments

Backhanded Compliments

What is a backhanded compliment? Are you accidentally making this faux pass? Well, I have all the tea for you and let me tell you, it is piping hot! A backhanded compliment is a compliment that you give to a friend, a colleague, anyone really, and it is not a compliment at all. It is laced with insult, sometimes disguised so well as a compliment that you do not even realize it was there in the first place. Maybe you do not even realize that you are doing it, and now you feel terribly guilty! Well, let me help you out, read the backhanded compliments listed below. If they sound like something, you have said before, maybe try to change how you word your compliments. Maybe do some productive self-worth and try to figure out what you should be saying instead. 


“You look so comfortable!”

Imagine that you are going to a wedding and you spend hours getting ready. You pick your dress, do your hair and makeup, and then get told that you look comfortable. Not nice, not pretty, not beautiful, but comfortable. You will end up feeling insecure all night; this is not a compliment at all.


“Wow… don’t you look nice?”

The pause in the beginning and ending the statement in a questioning tone implies that you either do not actually look nice or perhaps are overdressed for the occasion. Either way, instead of feeling nice, you are then left to contemplate what they wanted to say.


“You did so much work today!”

This may seem like a compliment, and maybe they meant it as one. But really, it just highlights that on most days, you really do not do much work at all.


“Those earrings are so nice; my grandma would love them.”

The word nice already makes them seem mediocre, but adding that your grandma would like them also implies that they are perhaps outdated. Mind you; the compliment giver may mean nothing by this. Perhaps they love their grandma’s style.


“This dress doesn’t really work for me; I don’t have the curves for it. It would look so much better on you!”

Are they calling you fat? Are they saying your curves are nice? Is it being implied that you need to lose weight? You’ll never know; all you can do is smile and say thanks and then be left wondering and tugging on your clothing. 


“You look so good! It must have taken all morning.”

Not only does this imply that you do not look good usually but that it must have been so hard for you to look this good because it is so different from how you usually appear.


“I never cry; I could never get that upset!”

Imagine you just received heartbreaking news, or you got in trouble at work. And you begin to tear up a bit and try to find a calm space to be sad alone. You happen to run into one of your friends or co-workers and they say this. Not only does it make you feel weak and stupid for crying. But it implies that there is something wrong with being connected to your emotions.


“I get it; you just don’t really care about anything. That’s good! For me, I think you have to put your best foot forward always.”

Imagine you had a conflict with someone, and they say this to you. Not only does it diminish your feelings on the subject, but it implies that your emotion regarding the conflict is not valid. It is okay to stand up for yourself.

Next: 100 Good Comebacks


“Your house is lovely, it’s so cozy and comfortable.”

The beginning is nice, the house is lovely. But the use of the words comfortable and cozy implies that perhaps you did not put enough work into your house.


“I could never spend so much time on my appearance in the morning. I like being natural.”

You are out, having a good day; you feel like you look good, presentable, and put together. Then someone says this to you. Immediately it makes you feel terrible. First, it implies that this must of taken you all morning. Then it implies that you somehow work on your appearance because you are insecure. Try to remember that it is usually the other way around when someone says something like that.


“Loving the retro look!”

This implies that you look outdated, out of style. They could of just said that you look stunning, but instead, you are left wondering if you look out of place.


“You should smile more; you look so much prettier with a smile.”

First, this implies that you do not look pretty without a smile. Then it implies that you, for some reason, owe the world a good mood. Girl, you do not owe anyone anything.


“This is such a nice dinner. My grandmother used to make it all the time back in the old days when they were short on money.”

There is a lot to unpack here. You invited someone over; you made dinner, you cleaned your house. And then they say this. The nerve. It implies that you did not really try hard enough for them and that the meal you are serving is cheap compared to what they would serve you.


“I just love myself more when I eat healthy; I feel so gross when I eat how you eat. But if that works for you then that is great!”

Not only did they imply that they are better than you because of their eating habits. But they are also actively calling you gross, and now you feel uncomfortable eating the food you brought for your lunch.


“That is such a cute car; I had the same model for my first car when I was 16.”

Your car is cute, not nice, not impressive but cute. It diminishes the work you put into getting the car and it implies that you should have a better one by this age.


“Your art is so unique, I never see anything like it. Does this style sell often? It is so different.”

This implies that your art is not in style and that all your hard work is wasted because, ultimately, it is not good enough to sell.


“Hey man, have you been working out? You’re looking pretty slim lately.”

You are at the gym, trying to bulk. Trying to get some muscle and a bodybuilder says this to you as they flex their muscles. Not only do they make you feel out of shape, but they make you feel as if all your hard work has yet to yield any results in comparison to them. 


“I love your makeup. My niece watches tutorials and does it just like that.”

This implies that you do not really know what you are doing, yet it is disguised as a compliment.


“Homemade is so nice; you cannot get this kind of stuff from the store. You can tell you made this yourself.”

They could really mean this as a compliment, but on some level, it can also imply that your product is not good enough to sell in a store.


“Wow, what a strong smell. So pretty”

Imagine you buy a new perfume, and you are so excited to wear it. Then someone says this to you. You would feel terrible, and it’s not like you can just wash off the scent.


“You look so much healthier now!”

Imagine someone says this to you after you lose or gain weight. You’d feel sad for your past body, which really creates a whole list of problems.


“You care so much. Good for you for trying your best!”

This implies that you are trying too hard and still, somehow, it is not good enough.


“I love how confident you are! I could never just dress so casually.”

This implies that you did not really try, and it is just them high-fiving themselves and implying that they are better than you.


“I love when you wear your makeup natural, so pretty!”

This is a compliment, but it can also make it seem as if you arent usually pretty when you wear heavier makeup.


“You are such a high energy; I do not know how you do it!”

Once again, this seems like a compliment, but it is not. They are really just telling you to calm down.


Overall, we need to be more understanding of each other and perhaps think before throwing our insecurities at other people as compliments. 

CJ Dearborn
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CJ Dearborn
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