The Implications Of A Compliment
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The Implications Of A Compliment

What do they really mean?

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The Implications Of A Compliment
OV Guide

Compliments can mean many different things, be delivered in a variety of ways, and can have endless permutations of meanings… or really no meaning at all. They can hold truth or lies, and be scattered around like leaves in the wind or found as rarely as a diamond in a cave wall. Discovering one sole purpose or meaning of a compliment is probably an impossible feat, but how they function in the context of Colgate is a bit fuzzy, or so it has appeared to me lately.

I wonder, what makes one compliment different from another? It could be the content of the compliment. Is it the person delivering the comment, or the receiver? Maybe it’s the context of the situation. Or, is it the implicit, between the words information that can make compliments affect a situation so differently? It is probably a combination of all of these things put together.

Now, I am having a hard time putting all of these elements together, and it seems tedious, to sit around and think about what compliments mean. But, they are part of how we interact with each other, especially in a sexual context, and they’re something we don’t normally consciously think about, but they can heavily influence how we perceive others and ourselves, through them. They work in very strange ways. Here are some observations I have been collecting about compliments and how they function at Colgate:

  • It is much easier to compliment someone you’re interested in digitally, like over text or Tinder, rather than face to face. I hypothesize this is to minimize commitment, possible rejection, and augmentation of “the feels” for said person. Oh the feels, we’ll talk about them another day.
  • It is rare to see guys complimenting other guys, especially when the content of those compliments goes deeper than their cool t-shirt.
  • Girls compliment girls often, but those comments are usually centered around appearance; the deeper offerings come when trying to reassure someone of her value.
  • Generally, when a guy compliments a lady, it is seen as hitting on her.
  • When a lady compliments a guy, it’s seen as boosting his ego or coming onto him.
  • If a compliment comes from someone we’re interested in, it’s well received.
  • If it comes from someone we’re not interested in, it’s “just friendly,” or “creepy.”
  • Compliments are thrown around like confetti in a crowd of intoxicated students, and liquid courage leads many people to say the things they want to say to someone and probably wouldn’t express sober.
  • Compliments tend to make people uncomfortable, even though deep down humans crave approval and appreciation.
  • It is much easier to accept shallow compliments than meaningful, heartfelt ones, but true compliments are more memorable and lay a foundation for a meaningful relationship of any kind.
  • Sometimes when you’re at Frank or the Coop and the guys who work there compliment you, they’re not making passes at you, they noticed you weren’t smiling and were trying to fix that… it’s ok, just chill. They’re nice dudes.

That was ground-breaking, life-changing, I know. While that little list may not have been, consider this: out of those 11 observations, how many of them have sexual implications? I counted 8 that have some kind of relation to or connotation of sex. That’s a pretty sizable majority, I think this speaks to the larger picture that a lot of comments do have sexual implications, I would even go so far as to say intentions, behind the nice things we say and hear. Now that is a little more powerful.

I think it is easy to conclude that daytime compliments, sober words of kindness, and endearing chats between friends are much different than the compliments that escape tequila-coated lips under the fall of darkness, or in the grasp of drunkenness or the confusion of a classic Friday night amongst people of all different intentions. Or is it? Maybe that cutie from your class said “you look really nice tonight” when you sat across from each other on the cruiser because your nighttime attire really does make you look great and is different from the glasses and sweaters they see you in during class. Maybe they saw you sans glasses and sweater and in their tipsy cruiser haze, decided that your brains combined with the way you look tonight are something they want to be a part of. Who knows.

But isn’t that the question, then?

How do we know what anyone means when they say it, especially when our own judgment mixes with their words the second those frail phrases leave their lips?

And what about when class cutie the next Monday says, “hey, that’s a great sweater you’re wearing today,” what do you do then? Does everyone who tells you “you have a great smile,” or “you have a big heart,” or “you look great in those pants,” trying to get in your pants?

Probably not. Or maybe. Like I said, sometimes it feels there’s no way to know for certain. However, I’m sure you’re killing it with that winning smile and those perfectly tailored pants… so let me just say, “d*mn honey, you look great today.”

xoxo- Abby

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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