The other day I was lunching with a group of moms when the conversation turned to a set of twins belonging to one of the women present. The twins are strikingly beautiful; the kind that makes people stop and stare. We were telling the mom how gorgeous her daughters are, when she waved her hand and said, “They take after their father’s side of the family.”
We all shrieked in unison, “WHAAAAT!” Because, let me tell you … the mother is beautiful. Her daughters look just like HER. I sat there, mouth agape, thinking about that as a realization crept over me that it makes me equally uncomfortable when people comment on my daughter’s beauty and tell me she looks just like me. I look at our baby girl, 11 months of pure perfection, and I just don’t see myself. I see her.
Women, in general, do not view themselves the way the rest of the world does. I’m not talking about the obnoxious ones with an inflated sense of self. I’m talking about your best friend. Your sister. Your mother. The people in your life who you marvel at because they are just. so. breathtaking. And when someone comments on it, and she argues with them … you just want to shake some sense into her.
Women, much more so than men, seem to struggle with saying “thank you” when someone gives a sincere compliment. We want to throw in some self-deprecation to cancel out the admiration, or worse, we don’t believe them – like they’re just saying it to be polite. (Who gives sincere compliments simply to be polite? I’ll tell you who. No one.) If you really stop to think about it, it’s stupid. The more people I’ve talked to about this, the more I’ve noticed some common themes:
When our significant other compliments us, we brush it off, roll our eyes, or completely ignore it. I do this all the time. Robbie, my husband, is very complimentary – but like my parents, I assume he is bound by some oath or duty to believe good things about me. So it’s basically like I think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and honestly, that’s rude of me. After some reflection, I realized that for me to brush off his admiration is equal to me telling him he’s an idiot with terrible taste. So I’m trying to work on listening to him, and trying to soak it in like I used to a long time ago when I was flattered by what he said and not deaf to it.
We don’t believe the truth that is being spoken to us. For multiple reasons, we do not believe we are good enough, pretty enough, capable enough … the list goes on and on. We all have issues, right? But men have issues, and they don’t argue with someone who pays them a compliment. They nod their heads like, damn right. You know what I like about men? They don’t apologize for themselves.
We are more comfortable accepting compliments on things we know we rock at. We all have things that we know we do well, like our homemade bread or organizational skills. Our skin? We’ll shake our heads and say “Don’t look too closely.”
Somewhere along the way, we got confused and started thinking that bragging and saying “thank you” are synonymous. They aren’t. Actually, it’s rude to argue with someone who is trying to pay you a sincere compliment. So shut it.
Our most favorite compliment? When you praise our children. I think all mothers have a deep fear that they are screwing up the most important task of their lives. So when someone notices their child and praises them, it’s like The Epitome of Compliments to the person who works so hard to raise them. Personally, I want to hug anyone who compliments my kids or asks to see my I.D. when I’m buying the wine I need to cope with them.
I’m not in a position to tell anyone how to fix this problem, but for the sake of my kids who will learn their behavior from me … I’m working on it. It’s a hard one! How do you react when complimented? How do you respond when your significant other compliments you?