15 Compliments That Hurt More Than Insults, and How to Deal With Them

3 years ago

“Wow, you actually look beautiful today. Makeup can really work its magic on anyone.” This is the perfect example of a backhanded compliment, where the remark sounds pleasant but is actually more brutal than an outright insult. But some possible backhanded compliments like, “I wish I could be as straightforward as you, but I always try to get along with everyone,” are harder to recognize.

We at Bright Side take a look at some common remarks that are masked as compliments, yet somehow sound insulting, and give some advice on how to respond to them.


When someone says this, it makes you wonder if they mean you only look great despite being old. Still, it could be a real compliment (though phrased badly) so you could simply take it as a good thing. Or you could say, “Thank you. But I think age is just a number.”


This can come off as an insult because it sounds as if they’re saying the picture is nice because it doesn’t look like you. Again, you could just laugh it off, or say, “Thank you. I do look much better in real life, don’t I?” just to see their reaction.


Some people may mean this as a true compliment because they think a slimming look is pretty, but some may actually say this to make you feel bad for the shape of your face. You could just take it in as something positive or add, “The hairdresser is really good!” to steer the conversation back to the good haircut.


This could either be a teasing between people in a close relationship or an actual insult. It implies that they think you are not good enough. You could go, “Thanks! See, I didn’t give up because I knew you were wrong.”


Unless the person is feeling nostalgic when they say this, they really are trying to belittle your choice of dress. You could reply and say, “Thank you! Your parents must have had good fashion sense.”


It could just be that the person is merely stating a fact. But since a big clothing size is often seen as something negative, they could be trying to make you feel bad about yourself. Instead of focusing on the possible insult, highlight how it does look better on you.


First you’ll feel touched, and then you’ll feel attacked. The second part is totally unnecessary, there’s no way they really want to compliment you. You could respond with, “Oh, I love her voice!” or “That’s so sweet, I didn’t know I already sound like an actual singer.”


By saying this, they’re trying to make your efforts appear small. They’re implying that your hard work is not the reason you did well. You could set them straight by telling them about all the hard work that went into it, or agree with them by saying, “Sure, but luck is nothing without great effort.”


That’s like saying you won or did well only because you had more free time than others. As if you wouldn’t have gotten what you did if everyone had the same playing field. You could explain by saying, “It’s important to make time if something is worth it. Maybe I wanted it more.”


Usually, remarks that come with “at least” are not real compliments. They’re more of a consolation because they think you’re lacking something else. But they may be said with good intentions, so you could just thank them. Or say, “Wouldn’t trade that for anything else.”


It’s hard to not take this as something spiteful because it’s similar to someone saying you didn’t do anything to succeed but did anyway. Give them a taste of reality with, “It’s not what you’ve got, but what you do with what you’ve got.”


It’s one thing to be happy for your baby, but it’s another to be excited that he doesn’t have any of your features. Just say, “He sure is cute, but I’ll make sure to teach him to be kind to people too.”


This could either be teasing between people who have a close relationship or a cruel comment. It’s basically saying you don’t deserve your partner. Instead of snapping back at them, just tell them the truth — that you didn’t need any tricks to find someone who loves you to marry you.


This comment makes the assumption that women are weak, but that you’re an exception. You could politely correct them by replying, ’Thank you. But I think you meant to say ’You’re a strong woman.’’"


“Today” here sounds like a condition, like they’re saying you don’t look beautiful on other days. Still, they could really mean to give you a pure compliment. You could take it as a real compliment or tease them by adding, “But don’t I look beautiful on other days too?”

Which of these have you personally experienced? How did you react and what did you say? Let us know in the comments!


The first I played soccer with friends (and friends of friends) one guy told me "wow, you kick very well for a girl". Of course I was so angry! But he was the goalkeeper who... I had just "goaled" ;)

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