My mom's side of the family all have PhD's in backhanded complimenting. I grew up getting things like:
"Oh my goodness would you look at those grades! You must work so hard! Your mom is so lucky, my daughter doesn't try hard at anything - not even her modeling career! Sure, she's gorgeous - but look at how much you try!"
Or my personal favorite: "You'll be so beautiful once you start to look more like your mother."
Spoiler alert: my mother has pale skin, straight black hair, and pale green eyes. I, on the other hand, am much more olive, have huge curly hair, and brown eyes. Unless we involved surgeons and some sketchy beauty practices, I was never going to start to look more like my mother.
Reddit user u/stellarscale asked:
And yeah, some of this sounds like exactly the sort of thing that they would say. So for those of you who have a "that person" in your life - be it a mom, a step mom, a mean friend, a boss, etc. - read this article with their voice in mind. It's weirdly therapeutic to realize you're totally not the only one who gets this stuff.
Faster Than You Look
After doing well in a 10 mile race, "you're a lot faster than you look." really means "Your fat @ss doesn't look like it could run 10 miles unless it was chasing a chicken wing on a fishing pole"
A judge told me it would benefit the community when I told him I was enlisting in the army. At first I thought he meant the overall world/military community would benefit from me being there.
Now I understand that it means "the community we're kicking your b*tch @ss out of will benefit"
Not If I See You First
When you say "see you later" and they say "not if I see you first." I just realized not that long ago that it implies that they will actively avoid you if they see you first.
Like when you see someone you know in a store, and you don't want to interact with them, you might even change aisles for a bit to not come into contact with them. That's like an example of what that retort means.
"This jacket is so awesome even you look good in it!"
"She is always dedicated to her principles, even in the face of policy and procedures that conflict with those principles." - my boss
The 5th Grade Note
In 5th grade, we had an end of the year going away party. We had beach balls that everybody got and we were signing them for each other and writing notes like you would at a yearbook signing. Most of the times it was something like
Hey have an awesome break -Signed Name
I passed my ball to a classmate that had sat next to me for most of the year. She filled up an entire section of the beach ball with a note to me. I didn't read it at the time but did later when I got home. It said something like this:
It was nice sitting next to you all year. You seem like a really cool guy, but sometimes you go over the top and are really annoying. Have a good summer and I'll see you next year.
I didn't realize at the time how annoying I actually was. It was kind of a revelation to me. Not only was it a genuine note, but it seemed like she knew I could be a better person. It was really on point for a 5th grader to write such a genuine note, I hadn't gotten anything like that before.
The subsequent years, I really changed how I was. I tried to be a nicer person that tried to make others laugh and be happy instead of annoyed. I was only ever an acquaintance with the girl that wrote it, but that note was actually a pretty pivotal point in my childhood.
So wherever you are, thanks neighbor. I needed that complement/insult that you wrote me on my beach ball.
Slave To Fashion
"I love how your style never changes. I wish I could stick with a look, but I guess I'm just a slave to fashion trends. I mean, would you just look at what I'm wearing? Lol"
At first I thought "Hey, I do have a nice, well thought out, classic look that I've taken care to cultivate. How nice of them to notice and take the time to say such a nice thing."
It wasn't until the next day that I remembered that the person who said that and I do not get along, at all, and it was probably an insult and a way to direct attention to their new outfit. I'm an idiot.
My ex's mother described me as 'voluptuous' and I felt like a curvy bombshell! Until the following week. I overheard her saying it was how you described someone when they were chubby but you didn't want to say.
Any compliment with the word "actually" injected in it. "You actually look good today" or "that was actually a good idea"
I'm just gonna go ahead and let everyone here know something. Southern people are assh*les. We are just really good at sounding sweet about it.
If someone from the south says "Bless your heart" they are telling you that you're being a p*ssy or that you got yourself into this situation.
If someone says to you "awh, Sweetheart" or "Sweetie" in any other way than romantically they are calling you an absolute idiot.
Last but definitely not least if you ever say something controversial or something you immediately regret and get told "Well, isn't that just Quaint" you basically just got told to shut the f*ck up and watch your mouth.
Think of Me.... Think of Me fondly....
When I was in elementary school one day we had to write down positive comments and "room for improvement" comments about each other. It was a lesson in handling criticism and giving out compliments. We would then read all of them for said kid and talk about it. When it came time to be my turn, I got no "room for improvement" comments or positive comments. At first I thought it was a compliment that I needed to improve nothing. Then this popular girl came up to me at lunch and told me it's because no one ever thinks about me so they had nothing to say about me. In hindsight, I was very quiet and shy and it kind of helped me get out of my box. But god damn did it hurt for a while. Yoinkie2013
Not so Cool....
I was told I was an intimidating uberc**t once. I thought it was a perfect compliment to my hXc punk rock teenager lifestyle, now I cringe to think about the nihilist trash bag I'm sure I was to deserve such a title. IndustrialPigmy
Still a plus...Giphy
So this only kinda works, but in 8th grade we had to write down a compliment about everyone in our class. One kid wrote, "You're okay." Lovealltigers
NOW I see!
I lost 40ish pounds and my coworker goes "I never really noticed how big you had gotten until now." I laughed and agreed but looking back - that's only something I can think! ashlyn0912
"I'm like, weirdly attracted to you." Why does it have to be weird? gaykeyyy1
IE, a guy I dated, is one of the most attractive people I've ever met let alone dated, yet he ticks absolutely none of my usual boxes - if anything, he's the total opposite, both physically and personality wise... we both though it was surprising an unexpected and...well, weird! That doesn't make it rude or bad.
But, some people do mean it badly - the, 'I'm weirdly attracted to you ...considering how ugly you actually are' kind of thing. onlycatscare
Dad used to tell me I "drank like a thirsty sailor." Thought it was a compliment because I was in elementary school and I thought sailors were cool. Realized as a teen that I had just chugged absolutely every drink and he was trying to get me to slow down. cryptidkelp
All by yourself?
Had to bring a notebook to piano lessons. One day I forgot, and the teacher wrote down the notes on a separate piece of paper. When I got home, I taped it to my notebook, and the next lesson she said,
Her: "Did you do this yourself?"
Me: *All proud and happy little kid* "Yep."
Her: "Good for you."
it wasn't until recently when I was going through my old notes that I realized I accidentally taped it together with two other blank pages, making them useless. And when I think back to it, she said it in more of a sarcastic manner. TheAbominableBanana
But I draw real, real good.....
At the 8th grade commencement, my teacher gave a short speech about each of the students. In mine, she said she was impressed at the speed and quantity of my drawings, and listed a bunch of things she thought I drew.
She did not mention the quality of the drawings at all, and none of the subjects were things that I had actually drawn. I get the feeling she didn't know me very well and that was all she could come up with, so I wasn't too mad about it.
The real problem was that she didn't mention that I got my work done first, so my dad got really pissed that I was drawing instead of working, and good luck trying to convince my dad of anything when he's angry. At this point in my life, I was still pretty afraid of him in general, so that didn't help either. Aperture_T
Family can be brutal!Giphy
My boss telling a new hire, "We treat each other like family." Apparently I'm the ex-husband. ambermage
I'm an Artist!
I'm a musician/guitarist. One time at a large jam, I sang and played a song that I just kind of picked out by ear. Never actually looked up the chords or anything. Afterward, someone commented, "That was an interesting arrangement of that song!"
At first, I thought he was saying he liked it. The more I think about it, I'm pretty sure it was his nice way of saying, "I know the correct way to play that song, and that wasn't it." toonces