I'm not sure if it has to do with our poor body image as a nation, the constant barrage of airbrushed advertising, or simple false modesty, but for some reason we women seem nearly incapable of accepting a compliment. (I used to be one of them, and I'm still working on it, but I've gotten a lot better at it over the past few years - through conscious choice - mind you. It has definitely made a difference - particularly in my romantic relationships!)
First of all, let's review some popular ways NOT to respond to a compliment (I've heard some version of just about all of these within the past 30 days), and then we'll discuss why these responses are so destructive to your romantic relationships:
"You're just saying that..."
"This old thing?" (or any variation stating or implying you really don't like the thing they just complimented you on)
2. The Denial:
"You have to say that - you're my husband/boyfriend/mother, etc."
"No I don't - my hair looks awful!" (etc.)
3. The Insecurity Grab:
"You don't think it makes my (body part) look big/bad, etc.?"
"Really????" or "You really think so?"
4. The Deflection:
"Yours is nicer/prettier/better."
"Thanks, but I wish it was more (different)..."
Obviously there are many different variations on these themes, but these are some common examples - I'm sure you've heard many more from the women in your life! So let's talk about why these responses are so damaging to the complimentor - especially if the complimentor is a man.
The Put Down: Obviously the reason this one is so unpleasant can be seen right in the title - no one wants to be put down, especially when they were trying to do something nice - like pay you a compliment! Put-down responses in some way, shape, or form belittle the giver - in this way they are quite possibly the meanest and deadliest type of response. Implying that someone is stupid for complimenting you, doesn't know what they are talking about, or has bad taste for liking something you are wearing is a sure-fire way to ensure you never get a compliment from that person again.
When it comes to men, putting them down is one of the worst things you can do if you care about your relationship with them - especially if you do it in front of others! Giving a put-down response to your husband's compliment at a dinner party may seem like nothing to you - but trust me, it's far from it to him - and may explain why you get the silent treatment for the rest of the evening.
The Denial: This type of response is also very destructive to your relationships - especially if you're in a relationship with a man. Similar to The Put-Down, this response calls into question the complimentor's sincerity, taste, and perhaps even sanity, by vehemently denying the compliment - and sometimes even making him have to defend his point of view and appreciation of you. It may be the most direct of all compliment rejections, and consequently the complimentor immediately feels rejected as well - which obviously is never good for relationships of any kind!
The Insecurity Grab: This type of response displays insecurity in a poorly-veiled attempt to get further compliments or reassurance from the giver. It usually accomplishes its goal in the short term, but may cast doubt (even if only subconsciously) into the mind of the complimentor as to whether he/she truly did mean it, especially if this type of response occurs frequently. While not as immediately hurtful or destructive as the first two response types, it definitely can become quite tiresome over time, and will eventually lead to fewer compliments coming your way.
The Deflection: This response attempts to brush off the compliment by deflecting attention elsewhere. Therefore it may be overlooked, so it's not as immediately dangerous to your relationships as some of the other response types, but you will want to watch yourself on this, and see if you often deflect compliments in this manner. Sometimes it's so subtle that you may not even notice that you do this unless you look out for it. Sometimes a deflection can come across as rude (similar to the Put-Down), and it also expresses a degree of insecurity which you may not really want to project.
Reviewing the responses above, you may be wondering how harmful these truly are to your romantic relationship. Does the way you respond to a compliment truly make that much of a difference to your partner? In short, yes, it does - especially if done repeatedly to the same poor complimentor!
Let's get something straight - which I maybe should have pointed out right off the bat:
Yes, your man does think you are beautiful, sexy, funny, smart, fun, and interesting!!!!
If he didn't, then he wouldn't be with you! It really is that simple, although there are undoubtedly dozens or hundreds of other things that he loves about you - even if he doesn't always say it. Paying you a compliment is one of the ways he is trying to tell you how much he loves you (and men, if your woman compliments you on something, the same thing applies). By denying his compliment, you are denying his love, and even worse, in a way you are telling him he is wrong to love you! (And you know how much men love being told they're wrong...)
There is a reason why the phrase is to "pay" a compliment - because compliments are valuable, and they are a way that others can show that they value something about you. By rejecting a compliment with any of the above types of responses, you are basically devaluing yourself, at the same time as making the payer of the compliment feel bad/silly/dumb, etc. for giving it you! Think back to the last time you complimented someone, and they responded in one of the ways listed above.... How did that make you feel? Not good, that's for sure!
And it's not just about romance - learning how to accept a compliment gracefully can also improve your interactions with just about anyone. Letting people compliment you can actually make both you and the complimentor feel good! Why deny yourself - and them - the pleasure of appreciating something about you?
So how do you accept a compliment?
Just say 'Thank You!"
It sounds simple, but it may actually feel a lot harder than it looks when you first start doing it, especially if you're in the habit of rejecting compliments. You may feel the urge to continue talking, or to change the subject, but don't do it! Just say "thank you," and stop talking, OR, if you must, pay the complimentor a (sincere) compliment in return - just be sure you're not deflecting.
This will take some practice, and you won't get rid of all your old compliment-rejecting habits overnight, but as you get better at it, you'll probably notice more and more compliments flowing your way, as people realize that complimenting you can actually make them feel good as well!
Even more importantly, as a woman, accepting your man's compliments will make him feel that you understand that he loves you, treasures you, and appreciates you, and he will do all of these things even more as a consequence, making your relationship even stronger over time.
And now you may wish to pay this blog post a compliment - so in advance, I will say....THANK YOU! :-)