Be careful about the things you say to your partner. Sometimes we say things that hurt their feelings inadvertently. Even without meaning to, there are subtle, backhanded “compliments” that your loved one will make that send the wrong message to the person the most. No matter how attractive you find your significant other, you could be unintentionally telling them the opposite of what you mean. Here are seven backhanded compliments you may not realize you’re making.
“You’re not my usual type.”
You may think that someone will feel like this statement sets them apart and makes them unique to you, but it only highlights the qualities you’re commonly looking for that they may lack. Instead of feeling like the most beautiful person in the room, they wonder what qualities you typically stay away from. This is a statement you can stay away from altogether. You can just as quickly tell them that you love specific attributes about them. That has a nicer ring, doesn’t it?
“You look good when you wear your hair like that.”
If you say this to someone, the first thing they’re going to think about is that it’s rude. They may wonder why you’re even telling them or wonder if you have an issue when it’s styled in other ways. This can make a person feel self-conscious and turn them off intensely. Another statement to stay away from is, “Your hair is beautiful. Is it real?” when you’re getting to know someone or they’ve switched their hairstyle up. This can be incredibly rude when said to people of color who often get contradictory and discriminatory messages about their hair when it’s in it’s a natural state. You can tell them, “I love your hair.” It’s ok to tell someone how great you think their hair is without going into the details of it.
“You’ve got such an exotic look.”
You may think that you’re pointing out their beauty, but this can be taken the wrong way. The only time you should be using the term “exotic” is best used for animals and cars. When you’re using it to describe someone you’re romantically interested in, the word comes off offensively, like you’re calling out someone’s looks or heritage. This is an indicator that you think their look isn’t standard. Instead of saying, “you’ve got an exotic look,” simply compliment them by saying, “I love your look.” This may open the door to discussing their background or ending up being a conversation about their outfit. It’s all about interpretation at this point, but it won’t come off offensively.
“You have such strong features!”
You may think this one is a compliment, but all you’re doing is pointing out something different or unusual about their looks to you. Telling someone that they are “unconventionally beautiful” doesn’t have the same feel as merely calling them “beautiful.” Instead, considering saying, “I love your…” If there’s something that you find striking, like their smile, tell them you admire it. Avoid the ones that might be taken negatively.
“You work too hard. You need to have more fun.”
This is often said to the people who spend a lot of time focusing on work and less time focusing on going out and socializing. The thought is that they are spending too much time engaged with their work, and they should be spending more time having fun. The truth is, only you can tell if you’re having enough fun. If you’re in a good place in your life, and you’re happy about the things you do, nobody can tell you that you should be living it any differently. If you notice that the person you’re with is stressed out with work, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help to lighten their load. Also, consider doing something nice for them like making dinner or taking them out when they have some downtime. This will send a message that you care about.
“Your skin looks so much better.”
If you notice that your loved one’s skin issues have improved, stay away from this backhanded compliment. Skin is already a sensitive subject, so calling that out will only make them more self-conscious. It’s something they may feel uncomfortable about it, and this only calls out the fact that you’ve noticed it too. Instead, consider saying something like, “you’re glowing.” This will make them feel beautiful while not calling out the change in their skin.
Another one to avoid saying it, “Your body looks better now,” after a significant weight shift. This is an especially sensitive one for women, post-partum, and those who have recently lost a lot of weight. Just tell them that they look incredible. This is one of the most loving and supporting things you can say to someone after their body has gone through such a significant transformation.
“You speak your mind.”
The first thing the person you’re saying this to is going to think is, “why wouldn’t I?” This is a statement often said to women when they share their thoughts and opinions. This is another backhanded compliment that implies that this woman is not your typical girl. If someone is standing out just by expressing their views, you might need to expand your circle of influence. Every person you’re around, including the person you’re dating, should be able to speak their mind and not have the spotlight on them for it.
Your significant other wants to feel loved and appreciated in the relationship. They want to feel secure, and this is often built through words and actions present in the relationship. You also want to feel respected, appreciated, and cared for when you’re with your loved one. When you or your significant other hears a backhanded compliment, it will not only hurt them but can derail the love in your marriage. Be mindful of the things you say.