I have a good friend who has a very annoying habit of reminding everyone around her that she is cute. In almost any context, she can bring out the "but I'm cute, so ..." phrase in to the conversation. It's very unattractive. She's relatively young (mid-20s) and maybe doesn't realize that that kind of thing can really be tacky. How can I help her?
posted by peripatetic007 to Human Relations (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've noticed this tendency for a while, and then tonight when I tried to pay her a compliment she just started talking about how sexy her boobs are. I got pissed off, and she noticed, but we didn't talk about it because I couldn't express why I was so irritated.
If I didn't care about her I'd just let it go. I do care about her, obviously, but I also don't want to be a dick. So below is the letter I've drafted to try to get this point across. Not quite gently, but I hope with the love that I have for this person (who is an explicitly platonic friend of the opposite gender -- me man, she woman). We are very comfortable and relaxed around each other, and yet this kind of thing still happens, which makes me fear that it probably happens even more in contexts where she isn't as sure of herself. But it also means that I may be the best person to help her.
Proposed letter follows. Thoughts?
You are cute. You are hot. You are sexy. You are attractive. You know this. So stop saying it. There are (for me) two ways to interpret it:
1) I'm more attractive than you.
2) I'm fishing for a compliment.
The first choice is just a constant re-iteration that I should feel bad about myself for not being "cute." I know this is not your intention, as I believe you have a heart of gold. I mean that. But this is a real, plausible interpretation. In any group of people, you are singling yourself out as "the hot one" when you say this. Even if it is true -- no, especially when it is true -- it is grating and potentially insulting. Maybe not at first, true. At first it was cute when you called yourself cute. But the consistent repetition hurts.
The second choice is less hurty, but may be a bit more shallow. I know you pretty well, though, and I'm pretty sure that you aren't insecure enough to require constant ego massaging. Sure, everyone is insecure to some degree, but I know that you know you are hot. You get a lot of attention, almost all of it good, and well-deserved. After all, you are hot (see above). So, not that, I think. Another reason to fish for a compliment is to make sure that the person you are talking to is noticing you in a more-than-friends way, but we've covered that, so I know this isn't the case. That leaves me with the first choice, which makes me feel bad about myself.
And even if I am wrong, and there is a completely different reason for saying it, keep this in mind: I've been thinking about this a while, and I'm pretty smart, and I love you and believe in the goodness of your heart and soul, and these are the interpretations I've come up with. So it kinda doesn't matter where it is coming from -- a joke, a habit, whatever -- the fact is, someone who knows you pretty well is writing this.
Everyone likes to feel special, and everyone likes to feel wanted, and everyone likes to feel attractive. I'm sure it is GREAT when people agree with you when you say "I'm cute." But when is ANYONE going disagree? It's a conversation stopper. There's nowhere to go from there. Plus, it makes it so that any time someone tries to give you a compliment, they are simply agreeing with you rather than saying something meaningful.
Which brings me to tonight, and the reason I was so frustrated.
If I didn't like you, I wouldn't hang out with you, no matter what you looked like. If you don't believe that, then there is no reason for us to be friends. When I give you a compliment, it is because I'm happy that a friend of mine looks particularly good -- and for you, that's no small feat! It does NOT mean that I can see your boobs, and therefore you look good. If you wear a shirt which shows off your boobs and nothing else, I'll try not to stare ("hey! boobs!"), and I'll probably either keep my mouth shut or try to come up with something funny to say about your boobs. At this point in our friendship I feel like that's sort of fair game, but if it isn't please let me know. I've asked in the past, and you've said it's fine, but tell me FOR REAL.
More importantly, boobs are not your best feature. Your best features include your laugh, and the way you revel in making and eating awesome food, and your wit, and the way you can completely relax and enjoy a quiet evening, and your adventurousness and love of travel, and your generosity towards the people you love, and how excited you get to show people great new music, and your work ethic, and how much you live (and love) to experience and learn new things. Plus my cat loves you, and he's a great judge of character.
So, when I gave you a compliment, and you immediately said "oh, it's because of these," and then I clarified and it seemed like you didn't fucking believe me, it made me wonder if you see me as a shallow, ugly, petty person who is following you around like a puppy dog because of your cup size, but who is convenient to have as a friend for now because I happen to like to cook and watch the same shows as you.
Of course I know you don't think that, but sometimes jokes can be dangerous. I don't know how much credibility I have with you now, and I don't know if I've gone too far, and I don't know if you'll even like me anymore. I struggled with this A LOT, but I want you to be with people who love you and who deserve your love, and I worry that people will be pushed away because they feel like you are constantly reminding them that you are awesome. You are awesome! Just be you! You ARE cute and hot and smart and no one needs to be reminded!
And when someone pays you a compliment, just say thank you.