My lovely and talented friend shine wrote a wonderful blog about her allergy to nice guys complete with “foodgasmic” restaurant review.
I have the same problem with niceness. I get uneasy around compliments, especially about things I don't control. "Nice outfit"- I say “Thanks. I picked it out all by myself.” "You're real pretty"- Uh, I'll tell my Mom and Dad you think so. I’m sure it stems from a feeling on worthlessness, like I am somehow undeserving of compliments, though I don’t know where that comes from. Although it makes me uncomfortable, I recognize that others like and live for compliments, so I make sure to bestow them at regular intervals. “I love your shoes!” “Your hair looks especially great today.” Maybe because I was showered with compliments from my parents and then given the “truth”/tough love after whatever it was falls through.
[side note: to all the parents out there- Don’t lie to your kids. Be kind, but don’t lie. They will not appreciate it later in life.]
The 1st example that comes to mind is from high school. I dropped out of the arts magnet (a kind of special arts school within the school) because it conflicted with drill team. At the time, my logic was sound: I didn’t need to take art classes to create art or be an artist, but I did need dance to be a dancer. When I later dropped out of dance due to the highly bitchy nature of my coach, my dad said, “Well, you know you weren’t the best dancer. You should have stuck with art”. Thanks a lot! I realize I wasn’t the most gifted dancer in the world, but I was pretty good in comparison with the other girls on the team, and I had a lot of fun. I don’t remember you saying anything like that when I was dancing, always “good job!” and “great”. Furthermore, you were super supportive of my dropping art! Why didn’t you speak up then? At least that would have whittled your response down to only 4 words: I told you so. Would I have listened? No, but it would have been nice to hear an honest response when I asked his opinion. You’re not doing me any favors.
This may be why I’m weary of compliments. I don’t believe them anymore. For months, there has been a guy at the bar I hang out normally who flirts and keeps asking me when we’re going out. I assumed it was bar talk, the kind a good bar tender does with his regulars. I joked back, always. A couple weeks ago, he asked me again why I never went out with him and I told him I thought he was joking. You should have seen the look on his face, somewhere between offended and confused. It broke my heart. Naturally, I gave him my number. We’ll see what happens.
What was the point of this post? Oh yea, compliments are like Christmas. They’re full of the best thoughts and intentions, but it’s hard to hide the disappointment from your face. (Come to think of it, the same could be said for dating). It’s comforting to know that others are bound by the same idiosyncrasies as I am. Please, if you meet one of us on the street, don’t look directly at us. Don’t be weirded out if we don’t look at YOU directly. Speak in soft tones. Don’t be offended if we look at you funny after you’ve complimented us. If we just try to understand that no one is exactly like us, the world will be a better place. Certainly, there would be fewer awkward pauses.