April 8, 2020 | Maria Cruz

People Share The Most Backhanded Compliment They Ever Received

Compliments are meant to be a nice way of letting someone know you admire them. However, not everyone who pays compliments seems to understand the nature of them. It’s a lot harder to accept a kind word when it’s immediately coupled with something hurtful, but that’s what happened here.


#1 Not in it For Looks

I remember this one “compliment” from my first girlfriend. This happened in high school and I was having a bit of a crisis about how I thought I had a terrible personality. So, she hit me with, "Well, I'm not dating you for your looks." I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know what she was going for, but still. Ouch.


#2 Average-Looking Man

I have a friend who works in marketing and she’s in charge of finding models for certain branding strategies. She came up to me and told me that she had a modeling gig that I would be perfect for. She was looking for a "very average-looking un-intimidating man to model a backpack vacuum cleaner." I took the job.


#3 Something’s Missing

My mom asked what I was up to via text one night. In my adult life, I’ve started cooking a lot more, so I sent her a photo of the dinner I made myself that night. After a moment or so, she responded with, “That looks great, honey! Now you just have to find someone to share it with.” Well, okay then. Thanks, mom.


#4 You’re an Eight

I had once had this one kid tell me, "I mean, you're an eight out of ten to me where most guys would give you a five or six." This was a 16-year-old boy's way of trying to talk me (who’s a 20-year-old woman) into dating him after I had said no multiple times. After he said that to me, I just laughed in his face.



#5 Wait, I Can Do Better

My friend, who knows nothing about how to talk to women, was told by my other friend that if he doesn't know what to say, he should give her a genuine compliment. It was a good idea in practice, but my not-so-eloquent friend got super stressed about not saying something cliché. So, he blurted out, "You really don't sweat much" to a girl he was dancing with. After realizing how that wasn't a great line, he immediately amended it by telling her, “You know, for a bigger girl." Needless to say, things didn't work out.


#6 Hide and Seek

One time, I was playing hide and seek with my eight-year-old cousin. She couldn't find me and had my mom come and help her. I heard her say, “Wow, for someone so fat, she's really good at hiding!" Even though my little cousin said that, my mom agreed. I texted my mom from my hiding spot and called them both rude.


#7 Almost Perfect

I went to Hungary once. While I was there, a couple of women from Arkansas came up to me and my friends and was like, “Do you speak English?” I told them that we did. They asked us some questions and we responded to them. They then said, “Wow, your English is almost perfect.” I’ve lived in Pennsylvania my whole life.


#8 Better Than Her

I was talking with an acquaintance about a ski trip with my wife. I told him how I loved to watch her ski, she was so graceful and fluid, and a better skier than me. “Come to think of it,” I said, “she is better than me at just about everything.” “That’s not true,” he replied. “Why not?” I asked. “You married better than she did.”


#9 Making it Worse

I was dating a girl in high school and was a bit rude, as most developing teenagers are. As I was getting older, I fell into a depression that changed my personality to an easier going one. During one of my depressive episodes, I brought up that I was at least happy I wasn't as much of a loser as I used to be. She said, "Well, you may have been a bit of a jerk, but at least you had ambition." It made me incredibly self-conscious, worsened my depression and we didn't last much longer after that.



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#10  Double-Take

I have a resting mean face and bad skin. I was conversing with the tow truck driver and it got to the point where we started talking about the company we keep. He had to take his sunglasses off and do a double-take when I told him I was 19 at the time. He asked for my forgiveness and told me I looked at least 30. Similarly, a nurse once asked if my 50-something-year-old father was my brother.



#11 You’d Be Pretty If… 

This one time, someone actually said to me, "You would've been really pretty if you had fair skin." I'm from the Philippines and the colorism there is unreal. If you’ve never been to the Philippines, whitening products are all over the place. I'm fairly brown-skinned, so yeah, I get those so-called compliments a lot.


#12 Gift of Gab

I was once out on a date with a very attractive young woman. For no reason, this random guy at the next table decided to approach us. He looked at me, shook my hand and said, "You must have the gift of gab or a really sparkling personality. Your date is beautiful." Thanks for the confidence booster, stranger.


#13 Toughest Critics

My mother never approved of me becoming a chef. After years of grind and struggle, I finally rose to the head chef of a busy, classy restaurant. Two years after I took the post, she finally agreed to come eat (a free meal) at my establishment. We went on my day off so we could enjoy a six-course meal together. She said, "Everything is so good, whoever you hired to cook this is really a good chef." I designed the entire menu and took inexperienced teens under my wing to teach them how to cook with perfection. Mothers are our toughest critics.


#14 Something By You

This one time, I spent a year weaving a nice bracelet for myself. After it was done, a friend of a friend saw it and cried out, "It's hideous!" I was a bit hurt but thought I could salvage the situation. When I told him that I had made myself, he just said to me, "Well, it's quite fine for something made by you."


#15 Just a Waitress

Someone asked who painted the pictures that I have hanging in my living room. When I said it was me, she said, "Oh, how great! So you're not just a waitress!" I'm pretty certain that was meant as a sincere compliment, but it did kind of betray the fact that she had considered me to be "just a waitress" up until that point.


#16 I Get It

I received all of these compliments from one girl I don’t speak with anymore. She told me things like “Oh my God, your dress is so cute! Did they not have a bigger size, though?” She also said, “Your hair is such a pretty color! It’s just a shame it’s so dead and fried-looking.” Lastly, “I think it’s so nice that you cosplay outside your body type.”



#17 Another Set of Lips

In art class, I did a series of stereotypical pop art lip paintings for funsies. My drawer partner thinks we're best friends because I'm a lesbian and he's gay. His personality is like a Canada goose trying to imitate Jeff Goldbloom. "Oh," he said. "Another set of lips. If you keep at it, I'm sure you'll eventually get really good at those." Joke's on him, my painting won $15 at an art show, which is a much bigger deal if you recognize I'm in high school.


#18 Wedding Day

On the day of my wedding, I had my hair and makeup professionally done. I felt so beautiful! At the reception, my uncle approached me and said, “You look so gorgeous, just absolutely beautiful!” And then without missing a beat, he added, “When I saw you, I didn’t even recognize you!” I mean, thank you? I think?


#19 Still Confusing

The first one is, "You're strong for a gay man!" I heard that while helping a co-worker lift something into our storage space at work and it still confuses me. The second one is, "I bet you have a pretty sister." That gem was said by an elderly lady also while I was at work, but I had lipstick and mascara on that day.


#20 Unintended Compliment

This is something that sounded mean at first, but, over the years, as I've thought about it, it was an unintended compliment. In the late 1980s, I was competing in the TN State Bodybuilding Championship. I was and always have been steroid-free. One of the "big" guys getting ready backstage said, “Gee, if this was steroid-tested, you’d win."


#21 My Only Language

I'm a foreigner and I was at a party in the U.S. for some family event. There was a kid there, he may have been between 12-13. He was asking me where I was from and different questions about my accent. In the end he said," You know, your English isn't that bad for it not being your first language." My face dropped. It is my first and only language. I laughed and proceeded to walk away. It's been years and years and I still think about it every once in a while.


#22 Two Rocks Together

My senior chief in the navy split apart my friend and I to work opposite shifts after we spent most deployment on our carrier working nights together. When we found out and asked him why he said, "You two are nice to look at, but when you put two rocks together, you make a boulder" and walked away. I asked, “Did he just call us stupid?” My friend said yes.



#23 Gaining Some Weight

I was severely underweight as a kid. When I was 15 years old, I decided to gain some weight. I ended up gaining about 25 pounds and became much more confident in myself. I also felt way better in general. After putting on the weight, my friend’s seven-year-old cousin told me, “Wow. You’re a lot fatter than Hannah!” Thanks.


#24 Don’t Really Care

I once got told I have such a calm demeanor that "you really don't care about anything.” It was my dad who said it and it cut pretty deep. He's a great guy and just doesn't understand being stressed, but the way he worded it made it feel really bad. He did instantly recognize his mistake and bought me lunch right after, though.


#25 Oh, You’re Smart

I'm 26 years old, but I look younger than my age. As you can imagine, people often expect me to have the brain of a 16-year-old kid. Once, I went on a date with this guy and we had an intellectual debate. Then suddenly, he told me, "Wow, you're actually smart." Yeah. I never went out on a date with him again.


#26 Kiosk Guy

One time, I was at the mall shopping for some school clothes with my mother. One of those snake-oil peddling Dead Sea kiosk guys stopped me and said, “You’re beautiful. You could be a model. Like a big girl model. Plus-sized. You could be a plus-sized model!” In the end, my mom still bought a salt scrub from him.


#27 Deserve Way Better

"If I was going to leave my girlfriend for anyone, it would be you.” Why would anyone think that was a good thing to say to someone? Or that it would make me think he was anything but an utter fool? I don't know. I told his girlfriend what he said since she was an absolutely lovely girl and deserved way better than that!


#28 Extreme Apple Shape

Someone once said,  "Congratulations! When are you due?" I was not pregnant at the time. I’m just someone with an extreme apple shape who gains no weight anywhere else except my abdomen. Like, maybe I wouldn't mind the weight gain if I could at least get a 'donk out of it. But, nope. I just get comments like this.


#29 It Would Be You

We were standing in a big group and one girl started talking about the type of guys she likes. She explained that she was into guys with long hair, a beard and a bigger belly. Essentially, she seemed to be into guys who had the classic dad bod. Then she turned to me and said, “So, if I would go home with anyone, it would be you.”


#30 Grandma’s Comments

I lost 270 pounds, so I have some extra skin around my abdomen and on my upper arms. It's not terrible, but it's noticeable if you pay attention.  I was visiting my husband's grandma and as we were leaving, she told me, “You're so thin and you look good. But, walking around with dumbbells could help your arms look good too."


#31 No Makeup

Last summer, I decided not to wear any makeup for a while. I had a nice tan going and I liked my face better without any makeup on. Anyways, mom came to visit me and spent the entire time trying to convince me to put makeup on. Apparently, she believed that “you look so much prettier with it!” Thanks a lot, mom.


#32 Old Lady Hair

One time, my dad, God bless him, said, "Old ladies would love to have your hair.” He told me that when I was about 11 years old. I have really thick, curly, weird-shaped hair and at the time, I was super self-conscious about it. But looking back on it, I can’t say that he's wrong. It'll save me money as an old lady.


#33 Deceptively Intelligent

"You are deceptively intelligent." I’m a bigger dude, well over six feet tall and weigh about 200 pounds. I also have a shaved bald head and tattoos. I have gotten a comment like that more than once in my life. Every time somebody says that to me, I remind them, "You know that implies that I look stupid, right?"


#34 You’re So Alike

My aunt is a severely disgusting woman. I was having dinner at her house and she looked at me and her youngest daughter and said, “You are unbelievably alike. Your eyes, your face... even your hair! So long and dark. You’re both so pretty.” Literally a minute went by and she looked at my cousin and said, “I’m taking you to the hairdressers tomorrow, you look like a maid.”


#35 Missing Brain Parts

I had a dude in my barber’s chair the other day tell me that I would be a knockout if I was 130 pounds. Needless to say, I am not 130 pounds. I am a very happy and healthy full-figured woman. But, I don’t get these comments. I honestly think some people are missing the part of their brains that make them not be a complete idiot.


#36 Topping it Off

My sister and I were visiting our grandma with a friend. At some point, my granny noticed my sister’s shoes and said, "I like your shoes, they make your feet look small. But that's okay because people with big feet and a big forehead have a high IQ." Then she topped it off with, "You know I'm surprised you two turned out so pretty because your parents aren't very pretty people." Meanwhile, our friend was sitting behind her, dying of laughter.


#37 Handsome Troublemaker

After I got a buzz cut, I received an interesting comment. I asked, "Do I look like a troublemaker?" The person in question then replied, "Yes. But it's because you're Hispanic. You look like a handsome troublemaker. Some girls like that. But only girls your age, not my age." Um, okay then. I’m sorry I asked.


#38 Thanks, Brad

I once ran into a former colleague (and outside consultant). He asked me if I still worked for the same company and I told him that I was still there, but was promoted to a different position in a different division. His response was, “You never really seemed like you fit in there.” Thank you very much, Brad.


#39 I Said You Were Cute

My grandmother is honestly great at backhanded compliments. Just a few weeks ago, when I was eight months pregnant, she said, “It doesn’t matter how heavy-set you are, pregnant women just look cute!” I told her it was rude and she insisted that she gave me a compliment. Her defense was, ”I said you looked cute!”


#40 Mundane Writer

When I was in ninth grade, we had to write a short story for English class. One of the rules was that it had to be realistic. I wrote about a kid who loved to read and realized that he wanted to be a writer. My English teacher pulled me aside and told me that I did a great job and should consider getting it published in the school's literary magazine. I was thrilled with the comment until we got the actual papers back. I got an A- while some of my friends got As.

When I asked him why I got an A- after he said he liked it so much, he explained that it wasn't amazingly written. He said it was just pretty much the only paper that was actually mundane like he asked for instead of super dramatic stories of kids fighting off gang members or going on adventures or something similar.


#41 Sorry, Too Manly

There was a girl that I knew one time. I always thought she was smart, pretty and funny. She eventually became single and I thought I would ask her out. So, I wrote her a nice email asking her if she would like to go on a date with me. She replied, weeks later, "Sorry. You're too manly for me." I am pretty "manly" in a boisterous way, so I got the insult. It still makes me laugh.


#42 Proving Me Right

I was three weeks into my first job in a telecom career. After troubleshooting a difficult issue after a storm swept the area, I had to build data fill and provision new cell sites to replace. I had to do this on the newer platform we planned to migrate to in a month, since the old hardware was ruined in a flood way ahead of schedule. My boss said, “I caught a lot of flack for hiring you, thanks for proving me right.”


#43 Slithering Away

I was going to a friend's house party and there happened to be a girl there who I had never gotten along with. She was already pretty partied out. Now, we’re usually just civil because both our guys are best friends. Anyway, I got out of the car and made my way to the house and out she came, slithering up to me with her best friend. She then said, "Hey, you look... Your hair looks clean today.” Yeah, thanks.


#44 Prettiest Girl in School

In the eighth grade, one of my guy “friends” told me that all the guys in the eighth grade agreed that I was the prettiest girl in the class. Or at least I would be if I would just lose 20 pounds. I’m 38 years old now and it still haunts me. To this day, I still think sometimes, “If you only lose 20 pounds…”


#45 Not a Pretty Woman

A few summers ago, I was out eating with my aunt. She said to me, "You know, when you were younger, you really resembled your grandmother and she was not a pretty woman. But your features have really changed and you're growing up to be such a pretty young lady." Thank you, aunt of mine, for calling me an ugly kid.


#46 You’re Hired

I was interviewing for a job as a personal assistant. The interview went great and sure enough, at the end, he said, “I think you’re a perfect candidate. I’m happy to offer you the position. My wife will be so pleased, she wouldn’t let me hire an attractive girl, but she’ll have no problem with you!” However, I’m not sure how backhanded that actually is.


#47 One of the Beautiful People

When I was at a dive bar in my early 20's, some guy told me I played pool pretty well "for one of the beautiful people," as if being somewhat attractive meant I should be bad at pool. He then went on to tell me that my life was so easy because of my looks and because of that, I must be a conceited, spoiled brat.


#48 Genuinely Meant It

I stopped into a fancy restaurant while on vacation and was woefully underdressed. A girl in the bathroom said, "I love your sweater. I wish I was brave enough to wear what I wanted and not care what people think." But she said it like she genuinely meant it. It took me several years to realize she was probably insulting me.


#49 Trolling Her Hair

I received a nice backhanded compliment after getting a haircut. I walked in, my husband saw me, smiled and made a face. I just said, "You don't like it." He replied, "I do, it's just that you look like Bridget from Trolls with the way they flipped it. It's meant to be endearing." Sadly, my hair is now in a ponytail.


#50 Still Hurt

At the time (in early high school), I had never worn makeup in public and didn’t know how to put it on. So, a friend did me up one night and we went to some school event. Several guys there said to me, "Wow, you should wear makeup more often!" And like, I know they were mostly just shocked by the difference, but it still hurt.


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